So, How's That Whole "American Dream" Thing Working Out For You, Downwardly Mobile White Girl?

Illustration for article titled So, Hows That Whole American Dream Thing Working Out For iYou/i, Downwardly Mobile White Girl?

This is Crappy Hour, in which Moe and Wonkette's no-longer-Anonymous, no-longer-Lobbyist full-time political blogger Megan Carpentier intstant message about all the news in the morning's papers that's actually too serious and grave to really employ for punchline purposes once the meds kick in. Today in earnestness: why are the middle-class black families of the sixties more likely to be lower-class now? Does it really matter when Benazir Bhutto calls on Pervez Musharraff to resign? And what's Fred Thompson smoking?


MOE: Hey! So! What's up?
MOE: Are you planning on going home for Thanksgiving? Because this story is making me think I should skip that altogether, except that beyond going home, I have to go to a wedding that weekend in Columbus. I'm seriously, like, getting air rage in advance.
So anyway, if you want to just skip it and come to my house...
MEG: I have decided, personally, that Thanksgiving is way further off than next week. It's definitely like 3-4 weeks away.
sorta like those "upcoming" election in Pakistan are further off than people think
MOE: Oh, okay! If Pakistan's where you want to start, um...well to be honest I kind of don't get what's supposed to happen here. I mean, when you control the army, you're pretty much fucked unless the army decides they want a new leader, right?
Or the army gets sick of the army, and then you have to get a democratically elected leader to fund and sign off on diplomatic immunity for a band of meathead mercenaries, right?
MEG: I mean, is it just me or have you sorta always gotten the impression that Uncle Pervy isn't that smart?
Like, why did that seem like a good idea, to have Bhutto and her own "army" come back to share power to quell protests?

MOE: Oh hey, and speaking of which, Blackwater is telling everyone Eggnog massacre, and the like, haven't affected their ability to get government business! And yeah, that's what I don't get. It's all so confusing, though. I remember Sharif and Bhutto hating on each other, and then I was in Hong Kong when Uncle Pervy came in and writing about the stock markets and I remember calling up some broker in Karachi who was all, "Yeah, this will probably be good for the market in the longer run, so whatevs." Except he didn't really say "whatevs." What happened to the hot lawyers? Did they beat them all up? When Bhutto says, "Resign, motherfucker," is that sort of like if Sean Penn said the same thing to Bush? Except with more violence?
MEG: I think the hot lawyers all got beat up and/or arrested last week. Now it's just the old, grumbly ones left and everyone just thinks they're crazy, sorta like Sean Penn. I mean, that porn star 'stache...
Speaking of crazy/stupid, did you see Fred Thompson is calling for us to expand our military to 1 million soldiers? Like, he's missed the whole "the military has trouble recruiting because the economy doesn't suck so hard and no one wants to go to Iraq to die" thing?
I'm sorry, let me rephrase: 1 million ground troops
Like China, or something. He doesn't just want to invade Iran like the rest of the Republican field, eh's out to make a name for himself by suggesting we invade China!
MOE: I don't know why we need to expand the military when we have such a thriving mercenary industry already!
MEG: Mercenaries are just like lobbyists, only not as smart, I think.
MOE: I have no problem reinstating the draft.
MEG: Wow, really?
MOE: I mean, much to my chagrin I would probably be considered too old to serve, but...


MEG: Too true, plus right now only men are eligible for selective service because we're all such weak and delicate flowers.
MOE: I'd do it like Israel, man.
Fuck your pansy college education.
MEG: Or half of Europe.
MOE: And Singapore! Singapore too.
It's funny about Singapore.. like, first they breed an entire population for optimal smartness, and then... they make them all join the army? It's gotta be the dweebiest army in the world.
MEG: I wouldn't want to live in Singapore, but ti's probably small enough to defend easier.
Unlike our borders.
MOE: Well yeah and it's not an oasis of riches surrounded by impoverished Islamist countrie....oh wait!!!!
MEG: So, Singapore is Israel, only with more caning and less gum-chewing?
MOE: And well, the Chinese are in charge, and yeah people hate on them because they're rich and they own all the businesses, but there are more than a billion of them so it's kind of another story. Anyway, the big news today is that Pew study on middle-class African Americans of the sixties actually being downwardly mobile. We have to talk about that, even though we are very much middle-class Caucasians. There are a lot of theories posited as to why this would be, but I'm pretty sure Bill O'Reilly is going to blame hip-hop. So just a simple question, how did the whole "class mobility" thing work out in your family?
MEG: Actually, I think my family probably proves the study. My grandfathers had high school educations and served in the military and my grandmothers stayed home. My parents both got college educations and work (now) for the state, and my sister's a neuroscientist. I mean, we're moving up in the classranks, but, just slightly. I'm bringing down the average what with this whole "professional blogger" thing.
Also, I found it fascinating that the decline in incomes in the african-american community comes mostly from the decline of incomes among men, whereas the rise in the white community is due to the rise in incomes among women
MOE: All things considered, I feel like, with the income gap doing what it has done, there are so many downward forces on class mobility in this country, a few variables — real estate holdings in the wrong side of town? lack of education? institutional racism? plain-old everyday racism? a crackhead in the family? and, oh yeah, a legacy of slavery?? — can really knock you back a couple notches. I'm definitely downscaling from my parents' lot, and it's not for lack of trying. Although some of it could be for lack of trying.

MEG: I, personally, blame it on rampant consumerism. Everyone has to have a plasma TV and a new car and is pushed to get a fancy college education on credit and buy a house with as little money down to take advantage of tax breaks and "appreciation" and then furnish it from Ikea
MOE: Oh, but rampant consumerism; how would our GDP continue its inexorable climb upward without it? And speaking of, Wal-Mart sales are up!! All is right in the world.

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While my parents are both university grads (Dad has two master's degrees, though both are Canadian earned), they are immigrants. Both Mom and Dad got white collar jobs shortly after they arrived. Immigrants to Canada today, no matter how well-educated they are aren't so lucky. Many are PhDs are driving cabs! But anyway, in terms of earning power, Mom and Dad bought their first house in the suburbs (though not in the best of areas) by the time they were in their mid 20s. I'm 28 and still living with them. By the time they had me in their early 30s, they had two cars and a nice house in a new development. I don't see myself doing that in a couple of years. I'll be out of my parents' place, but it's very unlikely that I'll have that kind of lifestyle. I might have a condo, but not a 2,500 sq ft house with two cars.