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Contrasting the US to Canadian approach to the middle class
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besson3c
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Dec 30, 2014, 06:21 PM
 
My theory was that the US caters to the middle class by making stuff as cheap as possible (i.e. gas, booze, day-to-day manufactured products), while Canada caters to them by giving them higher wages and a strong safety net.

I did a little very crude research on this, and it turns out I wasn't quite right. Granted, this research is not at all exhaustive or scientific, but still I found these results interesting. I looked at high school teacher salaries between the US and Canada:

US: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/...Teacher/Salary
Canada: High School Teacher Salary (Canada)

The medians (when doing currency conversion) are actually the same - around $44k USD. This data looks to be taken from a bunch of US cities, and three Canadian cities.

So, my theory was not right. However, the ceiling for what you can earn as an experienced teacher is far greater in Canada. Teachers seem to be a microcosm of America when we talk about stagnant wages and there not being ladders of opportunity:

US: Experienced High School Teacher Salary (United States)
Canada: Experienced High School Teacher Salary (Canada)

The median is $59k USD in Canada vs. $51k USD in the US. However, in Canada your salary can go up to $81k USD. Anybody know any US high school teachers making $81k?

This does not factor in benefits packages, which is very important in the US for obvious reasons. What strikes me as being interesting on the Canadian side of things speaking purely based on personal experience (which may mean absolutely nothing) is that the plans seem to include a lot of services like psychiatric care, preventative health care, insurance packages for various life changing events (e.g. divorce, death, etc.), and much longer maternity leave. My experience in the US has been that the benefits packages revolved around providing full or low deductible health care coverage. Perhaps a crude way of paraphrasing: US benefits insure that you are vertical, Canadian benefits insure that you are vertical and at your best.

I'm sure there are tons of flaws in this research, but I thought I would add some context to the discussion about the middle class in the US.
     
el chupacabra
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Dec 31, 2014, 01:51 AM
 
Perhaps a crude way of paraphrasing: US benefits insure that you are vertical, Canadian benefits insure that you are vertical and at your best.
Keep in mind teachers don't work for 4-5 months a year, getting multiple breaks spaced throughout the year. They get every holiday and weekend off, and the actual time dealing with students is often only 6 hours a day. Any other time they need for grading or lesson plans can be done at home or any laid back setting. Also, the education requirements for being a teacher tend to be low. What would you say they're making per hour worked and do you think it's worth it? Do you think all the breaks they get are insufficient in helping them to be "at their best"?

At what point do we say the benefits + pay are going a bit overboard in relation to the job performed? Perhaps Canada is going to far with the benefits. And on another subject are we sure these benefits really add much to one's wellbeing... preventative health care? psychiatric? Divorce? All these things just sound like part of life to me, it seems over-kill to have insurance/benefits for all of it.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 31, 2014, 02:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Keep in mind teachers don't work for 4-5 months a year, getting multiple breaks spaced throughout the year. They get every holiday and weekend off, and the actual time dealing with students is often only 6 hours a day. Any other time they need for grading or lesson plans can be done at home or any laid back setting. Also, the education requirements for being a teacher tend to be low. What would you say they're making per hour worked and do you think it's worth it? Do you think all the breaks they get are insufficient in helping them to be "at their best"?
Sorry, but this is incredibly backwards.

For starters, teachers spend more time with kids than pretty much everybody often including the parents, so why wouldn't you want them to be as well compensated as a doctor or lawyer or anybody else?

Secondly, I have no idea where you get this notion that they have 4-5 months off, or that where they physically reside when they grade or prep lessons (which takes a significant amount of time) is relevant - it's work, isn't it? Should all workers that work from home be paid less?

As far as the question as to whether they have enough breaks to be at their best, this is well outside the scope of this thread. Teachers are just an example case here, although I admit to indulging you with these comments and rhetorical questions.

At what point do we say the benefits + pay are going a bit overboard in relation to the job performed? Perhaps Canada is going to far with the benefits. And on another subject are we sure these benefits really add much to one's wellbeing... preventative health care? psychiatric? Divorce? All these things just sound like part of life to me, it seems over-kill to have insurance/benefits for all of it.
It all depends, but there are plenty of studies which show how dealing with issues in the early going can be more cost-effective than a crash and burn, depending on the context.
     
andi*pandi
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Dec 31, 2014, 12:37 PM
 
Not to make this totally about teachers, as Besson said that was just a first example he grabbed. You could probably find a similar "full-time" employee with similar pay. However:

Math lesson:
School ends: ~June 24; School begins: ~August 29 = Summer vacation: ~ 9 weeks
Feb, April, and Christmas break: 3 weeks
9+3 = 12 weeks = 3 months off, not 4-5.

Add to that, that during the summer, teachers frequently plan curriculum for the coming year, so the summer isn't really OFF. When my husband was teaching full-time, with various classes/preps, he certainly worked more than a 6 hour day. At school 7:30-3:30 (8 hours) eating lunch standing up while monitoring the cafeteria or running to the copy center. After dinner grading/planning from 7-11. 12 hour day, no overtime.
     
el chupacabra
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Dec 31, 2014, 12:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Sorry, but this is incredibly backwards.

For starters, teachers spend more time with kids than pretty much everybody often including the parents, so why wouldn't you want them to be as well compensated as a doctor or lawyer or anybody else?
I could go all over the place with this. On one hand I could say the argument is NOT about how invaluable teachers are (or any position for that matter), but how over-saturated the field is, and that dictates pay. On the other hand I could say I do want them to be paid as much as doctors, meaning I'd like the salaries of doctors to come down... ...Which the pay of every fat cat in healthcare would come down if big insurance and big government weren't doing so much to manipulate the market and bottleneck the supply of employees. Yes, the topic gets too broad eventually but to establish your original question you'd have to analyze every job in the 2 countries and determine why the pay is what it is; I don't think it's about one country taking the middle class more seriously.
Secondly, I have no idea where you get this notion that they have 4-5 months off,
About 3 months (maybe a little more) off for summer - fall break, Christmas break, spring break, add roughly another month.

or that where they physically reside when they grade or prep lessons (which takes a significant amount of time) is relevant - it's work, isn't it? Should all workers that work from home be paid less?
This part of the job is definitely less stressful. Let me put this way; an 8am-2:30 shift is 6.5 hours a teacher has to be at the work place, that includes lunch break. In most professional jobs I know that pay more than teachers, people work 8-5, 9 hours dedicated to their work day, since more and more employers don't consider lunch hour part of your shift. On top of that they get homework to keep up to date in their field. their homework is often more difficult than grading papers or lesson plans that can be used over and over from one year to the next. Grading papers can be done in front of TV.

As far as the question as to whether they have enough breaks to be at their best, this is well outside the scope of this thread. Teachers are just an example case here, although I admit to indulging you with these comments and rhetorical questions.
I actually thought this was the primary topic, it was the concluding statement that related well with the title.
It all depends, but there are plenty of studies which show how dealing with issues in the early going can be more cost-effective than a crash and burn, depending on the context.
True but how often do people use it? Regardless I find it kind of a gimmick. i.e. cancer would be significantly less deadly, almost a 100% curable if people got routine cancer tests every 6 months, but that will never happen because it costs insurance inc too much money. Cancer is generally curable if found early. It's a good example because it's one sickness everybody is thinking about, it's a current epidemic, and it's scary as hell.
     
Uncle Skeleton
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Dec 31, 2014, 01:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
At what point do we say the benefits + pay are going a bit overboard in relation to the job performed?
That was exactly the OP's thesis: one viewpoint is that we should care whether there is a middle class, because it is important for a healthy economy, and the other viewpoint is that we shouldn't care, and the effects on the economy be damned.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 31, 2014, 01:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
I could go all over the place with this. On one hand I could say the argument is NOT about how invaluable teachers are (or any position for that matter), but how over-saturated the field is, and that dictates pay. On the other hand I could say I do want them to be paid as much as doctors, meaning I'd like the salaries of doctors to come down... ...Which the pay of every fat cat in healthcare would come down if big insurance and big government weren't doing so much to manipulate the market and bottleneck the supply of employees. Yes, the topic gets too broad eventually but to establish your original question you'd have to analyze every job in the 2 countries and determine why the pay is what it is; I don't think it's about one country taking the middle class more seriously.
No, I think it is about our culture, society, and valuation of services and skills. There is an over-saturation of athletes trying to be major league baseball players too, but that doesn't stop teams from handing out lucrative contracts to the best players. Why? Because they value these players enough to attach this price tag to them.

Determining who the best baseball players are is fairly easily measurable compared to a teacher, and fans are happy to support the best players via ticket sales, cable subscriptions, merchandise, etc. I see no reason why, in theory, we couldn't value teachers the same way if we chose to do so.

About 3 months (maybe a little more) off for summer - fall break, Christmas break, spring break, add roughly another month.
What about the hours they put in when they're on? EMS workers tend to have long shifts followed by days off, would you suggest that they have cushy jobs? What about the time needed to prep, plan, meet, etc. during this time off?

Why are we even talking about time off anyway? How is this relevant to pay advancement? Whether you are an entry level teacher or an experienced one, the parameters of the job remain similar.

This part of the job is definitely less stressful. Let me put this way; an 8am-2:30 shift is 6.5 hours a teacher has to be at the work place, that includes lunch break. In most professional jobs I know that pay more than teachers, people work 8-5, 9 hours dedicated to their work day, since more and more employers don't consider lunch hour part of your shift. On top of that they get homework to keep up to date in their field. their homework is often more difficult than grading papers or lesson plans that can be used over and over from one year to the next. Grading papers can be done in front of TV.
You really, truly have some ridiculous and backwards ideas about the profession. I don't even know where to start here. Why are we even talking about this? The OP was about pay advancement.

True but how often do people use it? Regardless I find it kind of a gimmick. i.e. cancer would be significantly less deadly, almost a 100% curable if people got routine cancer tests every 6 months, but that will never happen because it costs insurance inc too much money. Cancer is generally curable if found early. It's a good example because it's one sickness everybody is thinking about, it's a current epidemic, and it's scary as hell.
If there were non-invasive cancer screening tests that could give a complete body scan and not cost a fortune, why wouldn't insurance plans be all over things that can reduce their overhead?

I think the difference (and this is also veering WAAYYYY off topic) is that US insurance companies struggle just to get people to be able to pay for their basic more mundane expenses while keeping their costs for treatment in check (given that they have to write off some claims) that insurance plans that offer preventative screening type stuff are too costly for most. Those that can afford for this level of care can pay for stuff out-of-pocket anyway.

I don't think it is arguable that Canadian benefits packages are a little more luxurious on the health side of things given that the big liability of day-to-day coverage is already accounted for.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 31, 2014, 01:43 PM
 
To others to whom this is unclear: this thread is about the middle class in America and the incentive to boost your earnings and opportunities within this class - i.e. the so-called ladders of opportunity.
     
Cap'n Tightpants
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Dec 31, 2014, 02:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
Keep in mind teachers don't work for 4-5 months a year, getting multiple breaks spaced throughout the year. They get every holiday and weekend off, and the actual time dealing with students is often only 6 hours a day. Any other time they need for grading or lesson plans can be done at home or any laid back setting. Also, the education requirements for being a teacher tend to be low. What would you say they're making per hour worked and do you think it's worth it? Do you think all the breaks they get are insufficient in helping them to be "at their best"?

At what point do we say the benefits + pay are going a bit overboard in relation to the job performed? Perhaps Canada is going to far with the benefits. And on another subject are we sure these benefits really add much to one's wellbeing... preventative health care? psychiatric? Divorce? All these things just sound like part of life to me, it seems over-kill to have insurance/benefits for all of it.
Add to this that lesson planning and grading are much more automated now and the teaching tools much more advanced. Compared to even just a decade ago, teaching isn't as mentally or physically demanding anymore.
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Dec 31, 2014, 02:39 PM
 
I think that you need to pay attention to the not-so-obvious as well. Wages and benefits don't tell the whole story, not all teaching jobs are alike.

It's the reason that private school teachers are twice as likely to have a Ph.D as a public school teacher, yet they tend to make a fair amount less. It's because working for a private school is a far better experience than slogging through the bureaucracy and BS of public schools. Many people are willing to take less for a better work environment.

So in reference to teachers specifically, how about we work on making public schools and public school teaching jobs NOT SUCK. That would be a start.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 31, 2014, 02:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
Add to this that lesson planning and grading are much more automated now and the teaching tools much more advanced. Compared to even just a decade ago, teaching isn't as mentally or physically demanding anymore.
Are you kidding? You couldn't be any more wrong.

Teachers now have to deal with:

- constant standardized testing, a decline in educational performance and various compensations in the form of new policies to deal with this
- changing cultural attitudes pertaining to entitlement, work ethic, etc.
- increased distractions, sexual activity, ADD, etc.
- pressures to prep students for schools with increasing tuition rates, scholarship competition, etc.
- in many cases decreased funding, class size issues, etc.

Is this gut feeling stuff?
     
Cap'n Tightpants
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Dec 31, 2014, 03:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Are you kidding? You couldn't be any more wrong.

Teachers now have to deal with:

- constant standardized testing, a decline in educational performance and various compensations in the form of new policies to deal with this
- changing cultural attitudes pertaining to entitlement, work ethic, etc.
- increased distractions, sexual activity, ADD, etc.
- pressures to prep students for schools with increasing tuition rates, scholarship competition, etc.
- in many cases decreased funding, class size issues, etc.

Is this gut feeling stuff?
Nope, not kidding. I don't believe those are as relevant as you think. We had tough testing schedules when I was in school >25 years ago (every semester), we were crazed sex fiends too, ADD was rampant (only they didn't quite know what it was), there were shoestring budgets (we had to share textbooks in most classes), etc.. Don't act like these are new challenges.
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besson3c  (op)
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Dec 31, 2014, 03:35 PM
 
I don't think I want to get into challenging what seems to be your gut feeling, at least not now.

How about the original subject?
     
SSharon
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Jan 1, 2015, 02:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
True but how often do people use it? Regardless I find it kind of a gimmick. i.e. cancer would be significantly less deadly, almost a 100% curable if people got routine cancer tests every 6 months, but that will never happen because it costs insurance inc too much money. Cancer is generally curable if found early. It's a good example because it's one sickness everybody is thinking about, it's a current epidemic, and it's scary as hell.
This isn't exactly true. Blind screening for illness doesn't have nearly the same accuracy as when there are specific indicators that there is a problem. I'd have to dig it up, but I recall reading about a study wherein the group receiving annual cancer screenings performed less well than the group that was only screened when there was a medical reason to do so. Unnecessary screenings meant more time in hospitals and therefore more exposure to infections and more false positives resulting in additional exams and unnecessary medical procedures and medications.
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Jan 1, 2015, 12:59 PM
 
I'll try to help get this boat turning in the right direction...
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
To others to whom this is unclear: this thread is about the middle class in America and the incentive to boost your earnings and opportunities within this class - i.e. the so-called ladders of opportunity.
Do you draw a distinction between ladders of opportunity and (what I guess I'll call) elevators to it? What I mean is, does the beneficiary of this advancement have to power themselves up it, or should we have expectations that it's just a matter of putting in your time and waiting for success to be delivered? I feel that this is a major sticking point between the middle-class idealists and skeptics.
     
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Jan 1, 2015, 01:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
... and the other viewpoint is that we shouldn't care, and the effects on the economy be damned.
Strawman.
     
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Jan 1, 2015, 01:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
I'll try to help get this boat turning in the right direction...

Do you draw a distinction between ladders of opportunity and (what I guess I'll call) elevators to it? What I mean is, does the beneficiary of this advancement have to power themselves up it, or should we have expectations that it's just a matter of putting in your time and waiting for success to be delivered? I feel that this is a major sticking point between the middle-class idealists and skeptics.
What in the world is a "middle-class idealist" or "middle-class skeptic" supposed to be?
     
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Jan 1, 2015, 01:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I don't think I want to get into challenging what seems to be your gut feeling, at least not now.

How about the original subject?
Given the lower cost of living in most of the US, and their benefits packages, I think a $50k salary for teachers is quite good. In areas where living expenses are substantially higher they should (and generally do) make more.
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besson3c  (op)
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Jan 1, 2015, 04:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
Given the lower cost of living in most of the US, and their benefits packages, I think a $50k salary for teachers is quite good. In areas where living expenses are substantially higher they should (and generally do) make more.

Should there be advancement opportunities for a profession such as a teacher (just as an example) where they can potentially earn much more, say $80k, or something like that?

My answer to this is that it's a matter of valuation, and part of this so called income disparity is fueled by what we have chosen to value.
     
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Jan 1, 2015, 04:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Should there be advancement opportunities for a profession such as a teacher (just as an example) where they can potentially earn much more, say $80k, or something like that?

My answer to this is that it's a matter of valuation, and part of this so called income disparity is fueled by what we have chosen to value.
"Chosen to value"? I'm not even sure what that means.

Of course there's a means to earn more, get a more advanced degree and move to higher position or administration. In many (most) US states a person needs only a 2-yr degree and a teaching certificate to teach in a public school. $50k + benefits is a good salary for a person with an associate's degree.
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Jan 1, 2015, 11:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
Strawman.
I don't think so. Isn't the post to which I replied a case of exactly that? How can one answer a question about the eroding middle class with a claim that the current middle class is already overpaid for the work they do, without constituting turning a blind eye to the question of the importance of that middle class in the first place?

Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
What in the world is a "middle-class idealist" or "middle-class skeptic" supposed to be?
Bear with me, for I did not say "middle-class skeptic," but I do wish for a term to refer to those individuals who are skeptical of the idealistic claim that the halcyon golden age of American Exceptionalism was due in no small part to the existence of a strong middle class. So I am happy to go along with this term for the time being. There are people who believe that (A) the times of America's most impressive economic progress coincided with the times of America's middle class's highest prominence, and (B) that it's more than a correlation and furthermore that it is the latter that caused the former, and even that (C) we have no hope of sustained prosperity without mimicking that dynamic, and if we just bolster the middle class then it will bolster us. There are also people who are skeptical of this logic, or at least a few of the steps needed to arrive at the conclusion.

I'm not deriding either side here, I hold both positions (I know that in text it's all too easy to read in a sarcastic tone, which I don't intend). But I'm a little disgusted when both sides make rookie mistakes like failing to acknowledge even the question, let alone the other side's valid points.
     
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Jan 2, 2015, 01:08 AM
 
The middle class in the USA are well paid, by and large. The problem isn't their income, it's their habits after they get paid (horrible debt to income ratios, poor buying decisions, no savings, few investments).
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Jan 2, 2015, 01:43 AM
 
To be fair, there was a long stretch where good investing was simple. You could get 10% without even trying.
     
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Jan 2, 2015, 02:30 AM
 
Still can as long as you stick to broad market funds.
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Jan 2, 2015, 03:05 AM
 
"Canada's approach to the middle class vs US's approach to middle class"; who's approach in Canada? Who's approach in the US? Just as a nation in general? It kinda matters. What I see is the mid class of the US getting exactly what they ask for. When things don't work out, instead of accepting responsibility for supporting policy based on stuff they didn't understand, they blame other people for being greedy, dumb or corrupt.

The interesting thing about teaching is it's one of the only occupations that gives you 1/3 ( or more if you count weekends) of the year off while maintaining a middle class salary.

I probably wouldn't have followed the path I did if I'd been able to land a similar job to teaching. I place more value on free time than money. When I was young the standard 3 weeks vacation didn't do it for me. 1 week for my side of family, thanksgiving. 1 week my partners side of family, xmas. And 1 week left to split between ourselves and both sets of friends. I watched many people lose relationships as their job took over their life. But it was ok, because they had upper mid class income in exchange... I put a lot of effort into trying to negotiate my employer to pay me less, in exchange for a 32hr work week or more days off. Small employers could make some accommodation, the big companies everything was non negotiable. People talked like I was crazy. How could I... want less money? I mean... I wouldn't be able to buy as much.... stuff.... to sit and collect dust..... The 40hr work week is set in stone based on what the middle class wants. This is because the mid class believes in a fallacy.

We like buying lots 'o stuff...
therefore we should strive to make more money.....
by working more hours for someone else...

Such philosophy doesn't make the bank for most people.

I realized if I wanted to have income + time for meaningful things like traveling, volunteering or relationships; Becoming independent of the company by having a business was the only answer in a society where more value is placed on ability to be a consumer than freetime. Wealth correlates with free time but not if you work for someone else.

The things the general ethos of Americans advocate for as "good things" or good policy come across as superficial if not outright immature and immoral. The things they advocate for are the very things that destroy their quality of life and make them bitter.
I have respect for the 3rd world people who are poor, yet happy, friendly, with strong relationships with their community members. They have this without super power highways and superpower shopping center infrastructure.

I honestly don't see how we can talk about how to improve the lifestyle of the middle class while not talking about the quality of life for the people that are victims of outsourced slavery. It seems people don't care or are clueless as to the extent that people's lives have deteriorated in the 3rd world due to economic relations with the U.S..

Some things to consider: Is your TV not super huge, and flat and smart compared to the 90's? Is your gps phone a step down from paper maps of the past? What parts of middle class lifestyle have gone down in your opinion? In my opinion they would be the same things that diminish our quality of life i.e, min-wage laws, dependence on stocks, running out of easily accessible resources, increased population or competition, deteriorating environment, increased housing costs, smaller lots, lack of exceptions to 40hr work week, and bailouts/inflation are leading to the degradation of middle class. Yet people have been proponents of these things. Tuition costs have outpaced inflation, but who's advocating we cut college employees pay? People complain about outsourcing when it's their job at stake but dont vote with their dollar when it comes to buying made in US goods.

I think correlating "America's most impressive economic progress" with the existence of strong middle class is oversimplification. What about correlating it with in-house manufacturing? Or lack of safety regulations? Lets not forget how many Americans used to die on the job, and how much modern safety protocol costs the economy. When modern Americans don't like the cost of safety, they outsource it to a place that doesn't have such regulations. And the worst part of it isn't big business, it's the middle class who early on supported such business, while letting the made-in-america folk go under.
     
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Jan 4, 2015, 10:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
Still can as long as you stick to broad market funds.
In the short run, yes.

In the long run (next 10 years), no way in hell.

Mean reversion of earnings is a bitch.

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Jan 5, 2015, 10:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
"Chosen to value"? I'm not even sure what that means.

The demand part of the supply/demand equation includes a "how much one is willing to pay" component to it. This is the part of your "anybody can be wealthy" belief system that is flawed. We pay/value different things for certain skills, and while this is within a range, it usually has a fairly set floor and ceiling. For example, if you are the best baseball player in the world you will be paid more than the best teacher, because we as a society have chosen to value this skill over most other things.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 12:33 PM
 
Baseball players are paid more than teachers because their salary is distributed from millions of fans.

An individual fan may only be paying eyeball time for advertisements. Compare that to what people spend to send their children to private schools.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 12:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Baseball players are paid more than teachers because their salary is distributed from millions of fans.

An individual fan may only be paying eyeball time for advertisements. Compare that to what people spend to send their children to private schools.

I get that. I'm not making the argument that I would expect the salaries to be equal, just that there is a sense of valuation and a limit on what we are willing to pay tied into this. We could, in theory, decide that as a state we are going to pay our teachers much higher (or lower) salaries than we do. Point being, supply and demand exists, but demand relates to what we are willing to pay for that thing. Demand may be one thing when that price is x, and a totally other thing when that price is y.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 01:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I get that. I'm not making the argument that I would expect the salaries to be equal, just that there is a sense of valuation and a limit on what we are willing to pay tied into this. We could, in theory, decide that as a state we are going to pay our teachers much higher (or lower) salaries than we do. Point being, supply and demand exists, but demand relates to what we are willing to pay for that thing. Demand may be one thing when that price is x, and a totally other thing when that price is y.
For me the disconnect is at the "willing" part. It implies there is someone making a decision about what society values. Like a top-down planned economy. I think it's more accurate to describe it as the outcome of millions of individual "votes," none of which individually make a difference (much like the literal votes we cast in a democratic republic ), and no one is in control of (nor in a position to make a change to) the final outcome. And much like other vote-based decisions, the degree of detail possible in decision making falls orders of magnitude short in comparison to the type of distinctions that could ever be relevant to this topic. I could exaggerate to say that the voting public can impose their will on whether or not we have one pay-scheme or another (eg Obamacare, and you could still easily argue that it is out of the voters' hands), but even then it would still be impossible to claim that a voting system could make decisions on which item within that scheme cost x compared to y, or more/less than a different item.

I would hazard a guess that a significant contributor to the outcome is simply the ratio of server to patrons... a single 2nd-base player serves millions of fans simultaneously, and those fans will use that service every year of their lives. Meanwhile a single 2nd-grade teacher can only serve hundreds of students simultaneously, and each customer will only require that service for 1 year in their whole life. Even if a person pays 100,000 times more for education than for baseball, the baseball player still makes twice as much, all else being equal.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 01:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
The demand part of the supply/demand equation includes a "how much one is willing to pay" component to it. This is the part of your "anybody can be wealthy" belief system that is flawed. We pay/value different things for certain skills, and while this is within a range, it usually has a fairly set floor and ceiling. For example, if you are the best baseball player in the world you will be paid more than the best teacher, because we as a society have chosen to value this skill over most other things.
Why should a teacher with a 2 year degree be paid substantially more than a service tech with a 2 year degree, especially when the tech works more hours in a given year? At least here, a starting teacher makes more than a starting police officer or an EMT.
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besson3c  (op)
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Jan 5, 2015, 02:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
Why should a teacher with a 2 year degree be paid substantially more than a service tech with a 2 year degree, especially when the tech works more hours in a given year? At least here, a starting teacher makes more than a starting police officer or an EMT.
What is it with you guys and tying salary to total hours worked? That is not the be-all-end-all. Like I pointed out before, EMS workers tend to work in long shifts with many off-days. If they worked 30 hours while a injury lawyer (just to pick on a random profession) worked 40, if they had an equal amount of training and education, should they be paid equally?

Should a musician that works 60 hours/week make as much as that lawyer or EMS worker?

Whether you consider this a "vote" (as Uncle Skeleton put it), a reflection of our values, or however else you want to characterize this, my point remains: many kinds of work has a set upside to it, which is what is wrong with your way of thinking, IMO. For example:

The middle class in the USA are well paid, by and large. The problem isn't their income, it's their habits after they get paid (horrible debt to income ratios, poor buying decisions, no savings, few investments).
It's also their skills and passions, and to some degree, the American "I've got mine, **** you" attitude.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 03:02 PM
 
Education? You are also comparing creative types who's creations are worth $ like a musician. A typical Computer tech only has his wits and background to sell. They don't create any new items as a rule. perhaps you should examine the culture differences between blue and white collar workers, unions, creative types, entertainers & Sports folks, media types, engineers, and scientists etc.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 03:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
Education? You are also comparing creative types who's creations are worth $ like a musician. A typical Computer tech only has his wits and background to sell. They don't create any new items as a rule. perhaps you should examine the culture differences between blue and white collar workers, unions, creative types, entertainers & Sports folks, media types, engineers, and scientists etc.

Are you making a point here? If so, I'm not following you...
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 03:33 PM
 
I don't think the 2 year degree for teachers is a national, or even common, standard. Perhaps in some backwater areas. In MA, my husband had to have his 4 year BS degree to be hired, and it was encouraged that he "actively" pursue his masters, in order to teach at public school for $32K/year.
     
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Jan 5, 2015, 08:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What is it with you guys and tying salary to total hours worked? That is not the be-all-end-all. Like I pointed out before, EMS workers tend to work in long shifts with many off-days. If they worked 30 hours while a injury lawyer (just to pick on a random profession) worked 40, if they had an equal amount of training and education, should they be paid equally?

Should a musician that works 60 hours/week make as much as that lawyer or EMS worker?
In that instance, I was tying them to level of education, not necessarily number of hours worked. However, since the teacher makes more than the EMT, while working less hours, it seems that teaching is already more attractive (especially factoring personal risk, length of shifts, and benefits).

Whether you consider this a "vote" (as Uncle Skeleton put it), a reflection of our values, or however else you want to characterize this, my point remains: many kinds of work has a set upside to it, which is what is wrong with your way of thinking, IMO. For example:
Indeed, and with more fringe benefits usually comes less pay. Many lawyers do make a lot of money comparatively, but there's also a glut of them and few make very much out of college, when they can find a job in an established firm.

It's also their skills and passions, and to some degree, the American "I've got mine, **** you" attitude.
You think that's distinctly American? Well, that's part of your problem, right there. Also, if that's some thinly-veiled jab at me, then you know ****all about what I do.
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Jan 5, 2015, 08:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
I don't think the 2 year degree for teachers is a national, or even common, standard. Perhaps in some backwater areas. In MA, my husband had to have his 4 year BS degree to be hired, and it was encouraged that he "actively" pursue his masters, in order to teach at public school for $32K/year.
Sounds like a glutted market to me, here they're apparently more desperate to hire.
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besson3c  (op)
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Jan 5, 2015, 10:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
In that instance, I was tying them to level of education, not necessarily number of hours worked. However, since the teacher makes more than the EMT, while working less hours, it seems that teaching is already more attractive (especially factoring personal risk, length of shifts, and benefits).

Indeed, and with more fringe benefits usually comes less pay. Many lawyers do make a lot of money comparatively, but there's also a glut of them and few make very much out of college, when they can find a job in an established firm.
My point is that you can't just come up with some sort of salary setting algorithm based on level of education, number of hours worked, experience, benefits, and whatever else. Salaries are set based on need, need is a reflection of what we value as a society.

Sometimes prices and what people are willing to pay for something cannot be explained away by some sort of rational explanation. How do you price a bed? I've seen mattresses that cost several thousand dollars, and there are no doubt people that are willing to spend even 5 digits on a bed, just because it appeals to their psychological makeup. They'll justify it with rationalizations about how important sleep is, but they don't really know that if they buy this mattress they'll sleep x more hours in a month, or how good those hours will be, it just feels good. It's compatible with their gut feelings. They also don't know what that mattress is really worth.

You think that's distinctly American? Well, that's part of your problem, right there. Also, if that's some thinly-veiled jab at me, then you know ****all about what I do.
I don't think it's distinctly American, but I think this attitude is very prevalent in America, and more so than a number of other countries.

Why would this be a jab at you? Like you said, I don't know **** all about what you do.
     
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Jan 6, 2015, 01:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
My point is that you can't just come up with some sort of salary setting algorithm based on level of education, number of hours worked, experience, benefits, and whatever else.
Right but all those things factor into supply and demand which dictates price. i.e. A doctor requires min 8-12 years education in US, which is 1 reason why they're in demand and cost so much. I lived with a teacher for 16 years. Teaching requires a 4 year degree in anything and a certificate, and teachers can have the experience of a lifetime on every summer break, if they so choose. Point is there's lots of people who want to teach, and who are competing for the positions, because they love the job. That drives the price down. If you could even say it's low - honestly lots of jobs have people working for 25-30k /yr for the first few years out of college, after a while you can climb up a little.
Salaries are set based on need, need is a reflection of what we value as a society.
Salaries are based on a ratio of Need vs supply. Need = Demand. Supply and demand. There is no getting rid of this law of nature. We definitely need teachers and value them greatly, but the supply is even greater than our level of need or value.

You really don't want to analyze what teachers make per hour, instead focusing on salary. I don't know why... Work is all about $$ / hr. If you really want to look at annual pay then we must consider the teachers who choose to work during their summer break who end up making money hand over fist. At least they have an occupation with extra free time where they can choose to work more if they want more money.
Sometimes prices and what people are willing to pay for something cannot be explained away by some sort of rational explanation. How do you price a bed? I've seen mattresses that cost several thousand dollars, and there are no doubt people that are willing to spend even 5 digits on a bed, just because it appeals to their psychological makeup. They'll justify it with rationalizations about how important sleep is, but they don't really know that if they buy this mattress they'll sleep x more hours in a month, or how good those hours will be, it just feels good. It's compatible with their gut feelings. They also don't know what that mattress is really worth.
People are living longer all the time due to advancements in technology based on things we never took seriously in the past, such as how we sleep. Having the right bed can prevent people with certain conditions from getting cancer, among other health issues. It could be worth the investment. Nevertheless I get your point, and these same kind of people you speak of are also the ones more likely to spend more on their kids education, through extra tutoring, or by living in neighborhoods where they can vote with like-minded people to constantly increase funding to schools, or pay for private school.
     
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Jan 6, 2015, 10:48 AM
 
I feel like this thread is still missing the essence of the original post.

Debating how much teachers should make or what salaries in general should be is indeed interesting, but what I'm most interested in is the idea of advancement.

If you have maxed out on your salary a few years into a specific job, if relocating or switching jobs is not an option, isn't this a problem? If you believe in the power of the free market to motivate, doesn't the prospects of promotion help encourage self-improvement?

This isn't to say that there are no prospects for advancement as a teacher, but as pointed out, it looks like the ceiling is lower in the US. For a job as important to society as a teacher, should the ceiling be higher? (This is obviously a leading question, I feel it should be). Should the very best teachers with the most advanced degrees be rewarded and encouraged to climb the latter?
     
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Jan 6, 2015, 11:33 AM
 
Is this still about the middle class? Is "middle class" and "climbing the ladder" the same thing, or does "climbing the ladder" refer to climbing out of the middle class into the upper class?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Jan 6, 2015, 11:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Is this still about the middle class? Is "middle class" and "climbing the ladder" the same thing, or does "climbing the ladder" refer to climbing out of the middle class into the upper class?
I guess that depends on how you classify each class, but all I'm talking about is the potential for a significant salary bump over time with good performance, say from $30-40k to $70-80k or thereabouts, depending on the cost of living for that location, etc.?
     
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Jan 6, 2015, 12:58 PM
 
Thought I got the point your OP was trying to make, but now I don't think I got it at all. What's the point?
     
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Jan 6, 2015, 01:00 PM
 
What part don't you get? I don't feel like rewriting or rewording the entire thing, esp. since you have a history of not getting my points. I'm glad we are dealing with this though.
     
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Jan 7, 2015, 12:17 PM
 
How can your main point be about the middle class, if you don't know what the middle class even is, you haven't thought about it before now, and even now that you are prompted to try to pin it down you have no interest in doing so? Or am I wrong to infer that the main point is actually about the middle class, despite the thread's title and opening sentence?

That's the part I don't get.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Jan 7, 2015, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
How can your main point be about the middle class, if you don't know what the middle class even is, you haven't thought about it before now, and even now that you are prompted to try to pin it down you have no interest in doing so? Or am I wrong to infer that the main point is actually about the middle class, despite the thread's title and opening sentence?

That's the part I don't get.

The question of what the middle class is is not central to this thread, although that would be an interesting thread.

What is is whether however you define the middle class (or poverty class), what is their growth opportunity to earn more over time sticking in their line of work via promotion, gaining experience, getting additional degrees, credentials, etc.
     
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Jan 7, 2015, 02:13 PM
 
There is no "Middle class", and never has been, that's an illusion. There's the working class (the proletariat) and the aristocracy, those who must work and those who only work if they choose to. Modern society has also created a large underclass that lives on social assistance, and they actually have more in common with the latter than they do the former. However that aside, a person doesn't easily break out from the working class, even the highest earners in our society (pro athletes, movie stars, neurosurgeons) are still reliant upon continuously providing goods or services to make a living, unless they want to see their net worth drop.

In the working class, there's always going to be a cap on what a service will pay, whether it's in the public or private sector. Given current currency values, paying teachers $80k+ per year isn't sustainable unless people want to pay substantially more in taxes (and the school is in an area with a stratospheric cost of living, like Honolulu). Every field has wage caps and some are more rigid than others, based on demand, so if a teacher wants to make more they'll either need to change professions, presumably within the field of education, or change their habits and thought processes regarding the nature of finances and wealth building.
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besson3c  (op)
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Jan 7, 2015, 02:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
In the working class, there's always going to be a cap on what a service will pay, whether it's in the public or private sector. Given current currency values, paying teachers $80k+ per year isn't sustainable unless people want to pay substantially more in taxes (and the school is in an area with a stratospheric cost of living, like Honolulu). Every field has wage caps and some are more rigid than others, based on demand, so if a teacher wants to make more they'll either need to change professions, presumably within the field of education, or change their habits and thought processes regarding the nature of finances and wealth building.

Which again comes back to our society and what we value. It costs more in taxes in public school systems in Canada too, but as stated in the original post, assuming those numbers are true, the ceiling is higher.

But this is not just about what we can afford, because you can also reduce the floor as well to save money, so that your entry level people in various occupations have to jump through hoops to work their way up.

Maybe some of the disconnect here is my misunderstanding though. My understanding of this so-called broken ladders of opportunity premise is that there allegedly isn't opportunity like there once was to be promoted and climb your way up.

Are we all on the same page now that this is thread is about advancement and not about what specifically a particular salary should be set to? I think what I'll do next is use that same site to compare salaries between experienced and inexperienced workers in another field. Any requests for what that profession should be?

I think I'll avoid information technology, because this field is immensely complicated with how salaries are structured, particularly in Silicon Valley.
     
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Jan 7, 2015, 03:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
The question of what the middle class is is not central to this thread, although that would be an interesting thread.

What is is whether however you define the middle class (or poverty class), what is their growth opportunity to earn more over time sticking in their line of work via promotion, gaining experience, getting additional degrees, credentials, etc.
If one earns more over time, isn't it supposed to be because of getting better, not because of sticking in the same spot? My view of a standard career was that seniority and experience brought you higher positions, more responsibility, and along with those higher compensation. Not that you stayed in your same entry-level post and merely collected more money for it each year.
     
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Jan 7, 2015, 03:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
If one earns more over time, isn't it supposed to be because of getting better, not because of sticking in the same spot? My view of a standard career was that seniority and experience brought you higher positions, more responsibility, and along with those higher compensation. Not that you stayed in your same entry-level post and merely collected more money for it each year.
Exactly. This is about those opportunities to advance into those higher positions and gain more responsibilities and higher compensation.

Isn't this what the debate in this country is about? People that are stuck in their jobs with stagnant wages with allegedly few prospects to work their way up?

A teacher is an interesting job because while a teacher could become a principal, that's a totally different gig. There aren't official "super teacher" titles, just good teachers and bad teachers. So, the advancement for them might not come in a new job title, but recognition for their work. If you are flipping burgers, there is no way to measure the best burger flippers, and being the best burger flipper wouldn't come with the same sort of potential as being the best teacher, where the best teachers can literally change lives and transform communities.

My point is, creating these ladders is tricky. We can't just create super teacher job titles, and measuring effectiveness is also very difficult. However, I think most of us should agree that the best teachers should be able to increase their compensation and work towards some advancement over what they had on day one of accepting the job. The question is what, and how should these ladders be implemented?
     
 
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