Careers, Finances, and the American Dream

When looking at the world around me, at least the American world that I am surrounded by, I have found a principle that I want to instill in my children’s understanding.  We are a society that puts a value on subject matter specific knowledge.  Jack-of-all-tradesmen who have not mastered anything are not rewarded for their well-rounded intermediate skills.  For example: engineers are broken down into several different categories from aeronautical to mechanical to manufacturing to electrical to robotics, etc…  Even artist are split by skill sets: oils, pastels, graphic, sketch, cartoonist, water-color, and on top of this all the different methodologies within each field such as impressionistic, contemporary, Renaissance, etc…  Children should be exposed to as many career areas as possible based on their innate abilities that are discovered through testing, observation, experimentation, or whatever method as a parent or educator that you can lay your hands on.  Then teach them early how to develop a course of action for pursuing those interest and creating a career out of it.  That doesn’t mean that they cannot change their mind, but at least they will remove some of the risks and errors in making their career choice(s).

Now the other issue that inevitably arises from this line of reasoning is whether or not to pursue a career for monetary reasons.  Money in itself is not an evil.  In the end though, each person has to figure this piece out for his/her self.  Now as it relates to your children what if little Jacob decides he wants to work as a pizza delivery guy for his living.  He likes the flexibility, the late nights, the benefits with the main chains, etc…  He is very serious about this including his love for pizza that he eats four nights a week.  Financially this might work great for him while he isn’t married with three kids.  But once the bills start piling up for doctor’s visits, pregnancy and birthing expenses, a higher gas bill, mortgage or the rent increases for space issues from having a larger family, and more, then the pizza delivery gig ends up not paying enough to make things happen on the home front.  Now this leads Jacob into a world of confusion as he struggles to figure out the next career move for him.  The most obvious would be a management position with the pizza company.  The issue is that not everyone is cut out to be a manager and now Jacob is put in a position (management) that he is not supposed to be doing, but that he has to do to bring home the “bacon” (cash, health benefits, vision and dental insurance, life insurance, etc…).  This has become his American Nightmare in the midst of pursuing the American Dream.

Ahh, that great facade, the American Dream.  Post Depression and WWII it seemed to be a nice house with a picket fence, two kids (one boy, one girl – not that people had a choice), the husband had a job that allowed the family to purchase the ever developing consumer goods market such as a new car, television, radio, washer and dryer, refrigerator, and more.  Women were expected to perform the critical role of home-maker during this period to help develop their children into well-rounded citizens while the men would come home and play catch with their sons (baseball or football), and let their little girls sit on their lap telling them all about their day.  The American Dream (AD) was cultivated and further emphasized by consumer based companies and the media.  The reality is that it wasn’t the American Dream at all.  It was a scheme created that would entrap us and enslave us to the consumer goods market.  Today the American Dream seems to consist of a large house to store all of our stuff in the two car garage, while putting everything else stashed in boxes in our walk-in closets for each room.  Folks want a very nice ride or two….or three.  A $4,000 car is unacceptable because it might break down during the course of the year.  That wouldn’t be a problem but consumer debt has risen to a point where we are trying to control cost by getting nice stuff that doesn’t break down since we can’t afford such a predicament because the cards are maxed out, Sallie Mae school loans are lingering, and the home mortgage takes all of one spouse’s income to afford.

People, getting slapped in the face by reality doesn’t do any good if you don’t wake up.  The reason life is tough is because of our spending habits, not the economy.  Figure out your American Dream.  What do you want out of life, or more importantly how can God use you today where you are to make a positive impact on the lives of others?  Seriously, asking yourself that one question every day, praying about it and for others you come into contact with daily, and reading/studying the Bible (ewww, that thing is so outdated…not really, give it a try, start with the book of Proverbs and Paul’s epistle to the Galatian churches) will greatly enhance your awareness of the needs of others and how you can make a difference in their lives.  Your work will take on an entirely new perspective.  HOWEVER, you can’t continue delivering pizzas if the home front is not taken care of.  There is a responsibility to your family to provide for their needs (while recognizing that you have to do the questioning stuff above first and trusting God to look after your needs).  But that doesn’t make sense so I guess the point of this post is to put it out there for you to figure out.  I am still working on it.

Daddy Moose

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5 thoughts on “Careers, Finances, and the American Dream

  1. Tincup says:

    I don’t believe in least the Christian version of it…but I liked aspects of your post. There are many great ideas contained within the bible…and if the true Jesus were to be followed…we might be in a better place.

    • Daddy Moose says:

      If you enjoy reading theological/philosophical material then I highly recommend The Case for the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas and Michael Licona. The basic premise is that using the books of the Bible as separate works instead of some awe-inspired compilation plus a few other historical text will show that the claims of the resurrection are not only plausible but the only explanation for what happened. I enjoy it because it removes the circular argument of whether the Bible is inspired or not (because it says so…even though it doesn’t say so).

      If the teachings of Jesus were followed then the world would look a lot more Jewish and lot less Helenistic for Western cultures. Heck, Western culture as we know it wouldn’t exist. It is really the theology of Paul that with his Greeco-Roman-Jewish influence on applying the teachings of the early church that lead to modern day Western culture as we know it. That is an arguable point though and one that I am not certain of will hold up under scrutiny but it seems plausible on the surface.

      I have read one article from your blog and will check out more. Thanks for reading. Also, check into if you are interested in getting paid to write (even though it starts out minimal).

      Daddy Moose (Keith)

  2. Kim Laurence says:

    Makes a lot of sense, Keith, as always. You have a lot of wisdom. There is a book I just heard about that goes along with that, that they were featuring on Focus on the Family by interviewing the author. It is called something like, “Living on Less to Have More.” I don’t know the exact title, but the whole idea fits in with some of the things you have pointed out. I also want to commend you for working so hard to provide for Heather and the children. You are one of the hardest working people I know. What a blessing it is to have you for a son in law!

    • Daddy Moose says:

      I had to go back and read what I wrote. I am going to try to start blogging again weekly but who knows if I can keep it up. There have been a lot of little things popping up in my career search and life search that I need to write about to help me figure out further that I don’t know anything. Ha! Thanks for the praise. Working hard doesn’t always equate to success though, and that is the frustrating part for me right now. If we got paid based on work ethic alone then I think I would be swimming in a loaded vault full of gold. But it just doesn’t work like that. I don’t want to be rich. I just want to be able to give my family American needs: health insurance (or the ability to pay for all medical bills out of pocket ourselves), two dependable cars, a big enough house for Heather to run her own business out of while creating learning spaces for the kids and places for folks to stay when they visit, and enough money in the bank to help out those in need that God lays on our heart to hook up. It just doesn’t come easy to get to that point and I don’t know that I want it to, but I sure wish it would happen faster.


      • Daddy Moose says:

        Here is the background on what happened. We were out aerating and seeding lawns. This family was getting done early because it was going to rain. When we got there I see the husband in a wheel chair rolling my way. Then everything that you read transpired, including the thoughts. I thought it would make an interesting blog to see my thoughts from this run-in with a wounded soldier.

        Provision wise my family is fine. We live within our means, and sometimes above them but I work extra when that happens to keep the cash flow going. I know that we are not suffering in our daily lives right now. I mean I ate so much food today that I could have fed twenty people in a starving nation. That might be a slight exaggeration but you get the point. We have stuff, stuff, and more stuff. If I got that hungry it would all get sold, especially if my kids need medical care or food. I also see medical care as a privilege and not a right. This is the first time I have had to live that out though and yet I am still digging into taxpayer dollars to keep my kids covered. So there is some disconnect between what I believe and how I am living, other than for Heather and I. I just understand that we have some great and amazing health care stuff here in America that other places don’t have. If I can sacrifice to get it then I should but we aren’t willing to sacrifice to do that so we don’t. Sacrifice what? Time. We have a lifestyle that we like to live and it doesn’t include working third shift in a factory to where I never see my family because my hours are so crazy. We would rather take the risk of something bad happening and not being able to cover it.

        When it comes to my military service, 100% yes I regret getting out when I did. Had I done another tour, especially to somewhere like Afghanistan, then I would feel better about getting out when I did. I also backed out of going to war with one unit because I didn’t believe I would be able to do the job they wanted me to do without getting either the team killed or innocents killed (or both). That is what put me on the conventional side. I don’t regret that decision but it weighs extremely heavy on me knowing that people were depending on me and I backed down when they needed me. I was replaced by a far more competent guy, but I should have been there. Then in the other unit I had a lot of young guys who respected me and looked to me for leadership, as they did others. I have maintained contact with a couple of them and they say I did what I needed to do and they don’t look down on me at all. But I know what the right thing to do was. It is not about the cause as much as the guys I let down. It is not that I wanted to die or get injured, but what I did was easier than the cops who put their necks on the line every day they go to work in the states. I guess I have some sort of warrior complex. If I am not holding a gun and blowing stuff up to right some wrong in the world then I am not a man. I know that is messed up but that is how I feel about the whole affair.

        Now here I am a pathetic lawn technician making grass grow and killing weeds with chemicals that will probably kill me down the road from exposure.

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