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Much has been made about how oblivious ol’ Mitt seems to be about the struggles a lot of people who don’t have rich parents face.

His “borrow money from your parents” line seems to sum that up.

I don’t think it’s a callous disregard for the majority’s struggles – I really do think it’s oblivion. Just run o’ the mill cluelessness.

I can see how he could be oblivious. I could have been, too.

I went to college on scholarships. Not one full one, but three smaller ones that added up to a full ride (minus summer courses, and plus reimbursement from my employer* at the time for half of summer costs my largest load summer). I lived at home, and split the costs of books with my father. I worked part time to full time, depending on my course load, and also worked internships. At one point I had two jobs.

All an example of putting in the hard work, right? Building it myself? My father would think so. Has said so, even.

The way I see it, I had the following advantages:
1) My parents’ income placed us solidly in the middle class. Sometimes the upper-middle. We had a house, cars - reliable cars. I never went hungry, though there were lean times during layoffs and what not.

2) My parents made education a priority. I’m not talking about a kid old enough to make education a priority themselves – I’m talking take us to the library and museums and do our homework with us and talk to our teachers even when we were in preschool priority. Private school (also requiring above-average income) so that their precocious 4 year old could start Kindergarten early priority.

3) I didn’t have any learning disabilities. I did not have to learn on an empty stomach. There was always money for school supplies, needed or wanted, always time to help me understand a word that was new, always time and energy to have a conference with a teacher or visit the school should an issue arrived. I was not abused (though I did get many needed and well deserved spankings). I was not neglected. I was loved.

4) I test well. I met the threshold for ACT scores to qualify for my state’s in-state scholarship program. Others who are smarter than me, but do not test well, did not meet the needed score.

5) I had a place to live past the age of majority. Hell: I had a place to live before that.

6) I had a reliable vehicle to get me to/from a campus 30 minutes away.

7) My father’s union membership awarded me my next largest scholarship, again based on test scores. If he hadn’t had a Union job, I would not have gotten this money.

8) The school I went to offered me a scholarship – again on test scores.

9) I qualified for another scholarship (voice) that *I was able to decline* because I didn’t think the time input equaled the monetary gain. I will repeat: I was financially stable enough, personally and within my family unit, to turn down free money. Because it was inconvenient.

10) Money again – between my job(s) and my parents providing free room and board, I was able to take more-than-full load semesters and maintain my grades while doing so. If I had been worried about rent, or food, this would not have been the case. I was able to take an unpaid internship due to not having to worry (that much) about money; just had to earn enough at my “real” job to afford my car insurance, gas and half of books.

11) There was always – ALWAYS – the expectation I would go to college. And never the question about if it would be paid for. I grew up not only understanding I could go to college, anywhere, for anything but also that my parents would front the bill. Thankfully they didn’t have to (scholarships, plus I chose an in-state commuter school instead of the pricier ones I was accepted to), but still: I knew I could pick anywhere, and have the cost fronted. Most people don’t have this – they have to worry about how to pay for it, even if it’s just how to *help* pay for it. My own children will foot part of their bills – but are as lucky as I was, in that I am willing and hopefully at the time will be able to help pay as well.

12) Not to put too fine a point on it – but I lived in a country that had a free public education system – so once I was out of private school, I still could go and learn. There was an infrastructure in place (roads, electricity, running water, community involvement and government security) that allowed that education to be safe, secure and predictable. My parents themselves were high school graduates, and considering our home state/their home town also had another advantage: they are white. This was conferred to me at birth, pure luck on my part.

So yeah OK I’ve worked hard. Still do. But I see how all the cards had to stack up, all the planets had to align – and I’m not only proud of myself, but thankful at all the luck that added up along the way. I could have been born elsewhere, or even in the same town but to different people, or suffered an illness or injury at some many, many things could have worked against me, but didn’t.



*rinky-dink job at a fast food joint. I hung in there from high school until my senior year of college, and qualified for reimbursement for half my summer tuition that summer. Woot!
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This subject makes me think of two men I know. We'll call them W and Z.

W grew up in a good, loving family, middle-class-ish, that cared about him and supported him emotionally, mostly, but gave very little attention to his schooling beyond choosing a school. No help with homework, no college prep, no focus on getting him scholarships. Heck, he didn't even study for the SAT. He went to community college and basically stumbled onto a good 4-year private school through not much more than dumb luck. He took the initiative to apply, was smart enough to get accepted, and worked hard and took out some loans to pay for school. His college professors in his major took it for granted that he would go to grad school and made sure he applied. He eventually ended up with a paid-for PhD, mostly due to the subject he chose to study and where he went to school.

W is brilliant, charismatic, charming, and hard working. That being said, he had some incidents of dumb luck that he managed to make the most out of, which strongly benefited him. Had he gone to the college he had originally planned to attend, the likelihood that he would have gone to grad school is honestly pretty minimal. He would have gotten a good job, but probably not a great one, and would probably not have gotten his Ph.D.

I know less about Z's story. Z has no contact with his family now and from what he's said I gather than his growing up was...not in a loving family. He was on his own in early teenagerdom and I believe was homeless for awhile. He has authority issues and is not good with putting up with the sort of crap you have to deal with in college before you get to study the stuff you want. (He was in college for awhile.) He works a not-quite-crap job, lives with roommates, and has a kid out of wedlock that he sees every other weekend. Z is also 8 years older than W.

Z is very smart but wants you to know he's very smart, which makes him seem less intelligent, and hard working, but only on what he wants to work on. If he could find the right project in graduate school he could do well, except for the fact that he can't get over himself enough to get through college. He is flaky, immature, and broke.

I feel like Z's story could have been a lot more like W's if he had started out in similar circumstances as W. That being said, Z still would have needed to get over himself in order to do well, a problem which W has never had. W had opportunities Z didn't, but also took initiative and pounced on them as they presented themselves. I haven't known Z long enough to know what opportunities he missed earlier in his life, but I'm pretty sure there were some.

Luck or work? Yes.
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Also, Annagail wrote that post, not Windchasers.

~Annagail, get your own frakking name already, dingbat
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Luck or work? Yes.


Which in no way diminishes the hard work done. Just acknowledges that luck had some play in it as well.

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I grew up in a very poor family. My mother worked at least two jobs (sometimes more) while I was growing up as a teenager. I'm the son and also oldest but I do have three younger sisters. I mowed lawns from the time I was twelve (I didn't have my own lawn mower, I asked if I could use theirs). Graduated high school with a -D average. They were glad to get rid of me. Through my there again, gone again father I managed to qualify as a union carpenter. In the 1970's 12-14 dollars an hour was pretty good income for a 20 year old kid. I followed construction all over the southwestern US for about 8 years. Around 1978 I was working on a power plant build in Pueblo, CO in the middle of winter. My team was removing forms that had been built for concrete pours and there was about 1-2 inches of water on the deck. We had to crawl though this to take the forms down. While you're doing it, it doesn't seem like a big deal (body heat and all that). When we finished I noticed that my Levi jeans were frozen solid from the knee down. Yes, they clanked when I walked. I decided then that construction was not a life long calling for me. Ahh, this is running on much too long and I'm pretty sure everyone else has a similar story.

I retired as a system administrator for a large telecom that used to be MCI. I worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity that was offered to me. I could not have done that without mentors. I'm still 6 credits short of a BA degree.

You're right imp, luck does apply.

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I decided then that construction was not a life long calling for me. Ahh, this is running on much too long and I'm pretty sure everyone else has a similar story.

I retired as a system administrator for a large telecom that used to be MCI.


What happened to the middle of your post?

You quit and with your frozen jeans, went to MCI and applied for a job as a system administrator? That doesn't seem right some how.

How did you get from unemployed carpenter to system administrator.

Inquiring minds and all.

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My path was almost identical to yours, point by point, with the exception of #6 (I lived on campus) #7 (it was a Big Corporate scholarship, not a Union) and #9 (Mine were all really straightforward).

But I have never, ever taken for granted the fact that I was *lucky*. I saw a lot of people I grew up with who didn't have parents who supported them in their desire for education - who actively discouraged them, actually.

I also saw people whose parents COULDN'T support them in their desire for education because they either didn't have the means or were themselves too messed up to help in any way.

I am good at what I do. I work hard. But I don't for a second kid myself that I didn't have major advantages to begin with.

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Three long scrolly stories.

First, there is an organization called Mary's Meals. They supply a hot meal to children in the most desperately poor countries in the world. The meal is often the only nutritious food that a child might get in the day. But there's a catch. You have to go to school in order to get the meal. So because this is, often, the only good meal a child is likely to get, parents who might ordinarily keep a child home to help with younger children, or might order them to work, are willing to let the children go to school. The education they get will help at least some of them break out of the poverty they live in. So, kids in one town might get a meal, and an education, but kids in another town, where there isn't a meal available, will get neither.

Second, back in June there were a number of articles about a high school student named Dawn Loggins. She was raised in such stark poverty that you can't believe still exists in this country. I'm not talking about working poor, I'm talking about no electricity and no running water. But in one move (out of many in her life) she went to a small country school where teachers saw unusual promise, and managed to get her caught up with what she should know, and when her parents moved away without telling her, teachers and guidance counselors helped her find a place to sleep and a job cleaning the school. She graduated from high school and she's going to Harvard. If she had been less brilliant, if teachers and counselors had not taken extra steps to make sure she was caught up in her studies, if they hadn't helped her find a place to live instead of calling Children's Services, she might not be thinking in terms of college.

Third, around the same time, there were also some stories about a black kid in Cleveland named David Boone. He hasn't had a regular home since he was in 8th grade and some people from a gang shot up his home. Sometimes he stays with friends, sometimes he sleeps in the parks during the afternoon and studies in subway stations at night. He is brilliant and focussed, and was accepted at an unusual school where you don't pass a class until you get an A. He's going to Harvard too.

In all three cases a lot depended on luck. If you live in a poor village in Malawi, and there happens to be a Mary's Meals kitchen in your school, then you are likely to get an education. If Dawn Loggins had lived in a larger town, or been handed over to Children's Services, she might not have graduated and be headed off to college. If David Boone had been shot, or killed while sleeping in the park, he might not even be alive.

It was luck. Yes, there's a lot of determination and hard work involved, but there was also some luck of the draw.

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impolite wrote: His “borrow money from your parents” line seems to sum that up.

Yet a lot of entrepreneurs do just that. Steven Spielberg borrowed money from his mother to finance his first movie, an amateur 8 mm adventure film with his friends. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn.

When Bill Gates was in the eighth grade, the Mothers Club at his school used proceeds from Lakeside School's rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric computer for the school's students. In 1975, Gates dropped out of Harvard after talking this decision over with his parents, who were supportive of him after seeing how much Gates wanted to start a company.

The meme that Romney allegedly said "all" young people need to do is borrow money from their parents is divisive and petty. That's not what he meant at all...and you know it.
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I have enjoyed all these posts. It is nice to hear form rational people that realize that luck and good fortune are a big factor in attaining success. Of course the hard work and determination are probably a grater factor, but without a few lucky breaks many would find success much harder to come by.

There are also the collective efforts that often go ignored or even despised. We are fortunate enough to live in a place that has a wide spectrum of educational opportunities along with the safe and stable society that allows us to take part in them.

I appreciate appreciative people.
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However many people have the same or better opportunities as you, but throw it all away due to poor choices. Do not sell yourself short: while luck played a role, the primary factor in your success is still hard-work, motivation and desire.
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Everything I have, I worked da*n hard for. My mom and stepdad only graduated HS. My real father skipped town when I was 5 or 6 since he didn't want to pay child support. My parents didn't have a clue of how to look for colleges, let alone try to guide me through the process. I graduated from a catholic high school with about a B average and never applied to one college. There was no money for it and I would have to figure it out alone.

After about a year and a half of working at a law firm as a secretary, I knew I was bored and needed to go back to school. Started at a community college part time, moved out with my sister and proceeded to work full time and go to school part time at night. Those years are kind of a blur I was so busy.

Ended up getting my BS in Finance from DePaul and working in the financial services industry. The mix of experience in the industry and having my degree allowed me to move up the ranks. After working in this industry for a while, I realized that I was lucky to fall into this industry. Usually, you have to have an Ivy School pedigree and it's who you know, not what you know.

My older sister is also in this industry, however, my little sister is happy working as a receptionist and living paycheck to paycheck. My older sis has an Associates Degree and little sis did not finish college.

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