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WHEN “UP” IS NOT THE ONLY WAY

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 5, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– What direction are we headed, “Up” or “Down”?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

If you listen to members of the “Greatest Generation,” those surviving the Great Depression and beyond, you hear stories of hunger, unemployment, desperation, sacrifice, and austerity. It was a point in our history when the middle class hit rock bottom. If you talk to people from this era though, they will also describe a time when the family pulled together and worked unselfishly to make ends meet. Families maintained vegetable gardens, canned fruit, raised chickens and rabbits, sewed and knitted, put cardboard in shoes to extend their life, walked to school, turned the heat down during the winter, and wasted nothing. Children sold newspapers and ran errands, some quit school prematurely in order to work to support the family, men sold apples, bottles were saved for their deposits, and everyone understood the value of a mere penny. To illustrate, when I was in Junior High School in Chicago, back in the 1960’s, I remember an incident whereby my family was going out for dinner. My father was driving, and we had just left our driveway when my brother discovered four pennies in his pocket. Thinking the coins were nothing but junk, he rolled down his window and threw the pennies out into the street. When my father saw this in his rear view mirror, he slammed on the brakes, and barked at my brother to get out of the car and pick up every penny he had thrown out. Yes, my father, who grew up in the 1930’s, understood the value of a penny, a lesson he taught not only my brother, but myself.

In later years, the “Greatest Generation” would look back proudly on surviving these difficult times. They recognized they had hit rock bottom but were buoyed by the knowledge they could only go “up” in their station in life, not down. It created a hunger and drive that propelled them to victory in World War II. They weren’t afraid to tackle anything.

Following the war, many veterans took advantage of the G.I. Bill and enrollments in college swelled. The ambition and determination of the Greatest Generation led to the “Up” years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the Middle Class grew in leaps and bounds thereby making life more comfortable. Unlike their predecessors, the “Baby Boomers” did not experience the pains and difficulties of the preceding generation. Still, their parents pushed them to excel. What the boomers lacked in drive, they made up for in education. The boomers were spoiled though, a trait that would be inherited by succeeding generations.

There is no question, Generations X and Y had it easier than the Boomers. Today though, the concepts of sacrifice and drive have been supplanted by a sense of “rights.” Now, a college education is expected, as are high paying jobs, expensive cars, travel, fine food, and other material possessions. Unlike the Greatest Generation who fought to survive in the greatest economic disaster of our history, today there is a sense of entitlement. Whereas our predecessors had a sense of “Up,” young people today are faced with both “up” and “down.” Historically, the thinking had been to continuously think “upwards,” but we are now faced with the brutal reality of failure and a downward spiral.

It is easy to say life is what we make of it, but economics plays a dramatic role as well. Could we survive another Great Depression? Some say we came perilously close in the last few years. Not true, government safety nets helped prevent disaster. It’s still an interesting question. I would like to believe we could if, for no other reason, than out of sheer necessity. However, the struggle would require considerable sacrifice which is now a foreign concept to many of us. It’s somewhat unsettling to realize succeeding generations will not have it as good as their predecessors, that they may go “down” as opposed to “up.”

When you are at the base of the mountain, you have the comfort of knowing you can only go up, but if you are halfway up the mountain, you come to the realization it is now a two-way proposition; you can either continue to climb or fall into the abyss. Whereas the Greatest Generation had nothing to lose, today the stakes are dramatically different.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PRINT ON-DEMAND (POD) – VERY COOL – Finally, a “do it yourself” approach for book publishing.

LAST TIME:  WRISTWATCHES – Are they still status symbols?

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7 Responses to “WHEN “UP” IS NOT THE ONLY WAY”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A T.P. of Boston, Massachusetts wrote…

    “Spot on, Tim.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A D.H. of Indianapolis, Indiana wrote…

    “Tim, what a wonderful essay. My folks were active players in “The Greatest Generation” — Dad fought with the Marines in the South Pacific and Mom built fighter planes in Long Beach, California. Both were born in 1921 and spent their teen years in those home gardens you talked of. We Boomers were wildly spoiled by comparison, certainly at least until Vietnam. But nothing like the kids of today. The memory of Vietnam kept us out of another conflict with people who didn’t fight conventional wars; meanwhile we built the USS Ronald Reagan, which when fully loaded with planes constitutes the 4th largest air force in the world and, with two nuclear reactors, can stay at sea for 20 years. No one in their right mind would fight us conventionally, so we have secure generations now, too entitled, too spoiled, too driven by marketing images, who these days are defining themselves with tattoos instead of achievements.

    But I am a griping geezer. Forgive me. Again, nice essay.”

    Like

  3. Alton Walston said

    Ah Brother Tim,  The great generation did have something to lose. It was called “honor” and if they had not of pulled together they had the same chance of failing as do the people today.  Your question on surviving another depression: I think that only a very few would survive. The survival of the fittest is nearly  upon us.  During the depression, folks not only worked but knew how to work. Today our population is so staffed with those on the government hand out programs that  if they were to stop, a total collapse of our social structure would indeed collapse. The reason is the we are not at almost 50% of the population garners most if not all their income from government sources. When our credit rating was good,we were able to finance the programs and help a lot of the needy. Today the needy instead of being grateful for what they get believe they are as you said “Entitled to it.”  When the government hand-outs cease, those who never learned to work with be trying to take it from those who have it.  I don’t see a solution in sight as the election is truly a bribery.  Nobody in Congress is going to vote for any program that cuts votes.

    ________________________________

    Like

  4. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    Not a pretty picture. Is it??

    Like

  5. […] WHEN “UP” IS NOT THE ONLY WAY […]

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma wrote…

    “The state of our youth, the current generation is a real concern to me. Although they may have (2) ways to go; up or down; the problem is not this but the fact that they may not care which was they go or if they go anywhere at all!”

    Like

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