@BananaPeel I have Schwab as well, and routinely annoy my friends by praising it to the high heavens. Within my Schwab, I have three accounts (checking, brokerage, IRA), with the former feeding into the latter two via automated transfers. Why I love Schwab: -Unlimited ATM fee refunds (this is unbelievable; I genuinely don't give a shit where I withdraw money now, because it comes right back at the end of the month). -No fees on anything. -Easy synchronization with a solid brokerage that offers a good array of commission-free ETFs. This means that you can buy stocks here and there, with no penalty for executing lots of orders. -Really, really good customer service. The downside is no physical branches. But unless you work in a cash industry (e.g. waitress, bartender, dog walker, drug dealer), this is usually not a problem. I have a backup no-minimum, no-service B of A account with a couple hundred dollars in it for this reason, but I haven't deposited cash in probably a year. Anyway: Schwab.
@theballgirl We'll have to agree to disagree then. Life is a series of trade-offs between risk and reward, known and unknown, novelty and stability. Deciding to quit your job and move to a depressed, rural environment with few contingencies is a major risk, whether or not you live in a country with universal health care.
@theballgirl Children are expensive, but the costs can be reasonably estimated beforehand. Obtaining insurance, and then getting pregnant, and then checking whether or not your insurance covers your pregnancy suggests a lack of foresight, rather than a broad indictment of the US healthcare system (which, again, has lots of problems). Similarly, there's nothing wrong with leaving a city in which you feel miserable. But moving to a remote island with thin savings and no job prospects, prompted by a marriage on the rocks, also displays a lack of foresight. Her husband has marketable and transferable skills; obtaining a job first, and then moving somewhere, would have prevented the author's pickle. I understand where StuffIsThings is coming from when he defends the author; American healthcare is a mess, and that mess bleeds out to people who we don't typically think of as high-need. But the author's issues are only marginally the result of a messed-up healthcare system; they are more a result of poor planning.
@theballgirl The fuss is that the author, in fact, did have health insurance. She was covered under her husband's plan when they lived in New York. They decided to leave that plan in order to satisfy their wanderlust. No one here is denying the system sucks. That's a no-brainer and it doesn't take a narcissistic personal essay to make that point clear. In life, we work with the tools we've got or try to improve them. Hopefully Obamacare will improve on this, but in any case it'll be an iterative, long-term process. Making the point that our healthcare system isn't as good as Sweden (or wherever) is hardly groundbreaking. This is a game that can be played all day long. In Sweden, personal bankruptcy doesn't liquidate unpaid debts nearly as quickly as in America. I am sure Swedish people complain about this, and ask how a civilized society allows members to spend years wracked with personal debt. There's nothing wrong with asking these questions—about health insurance or debt or whatever else. But taking risks requires an understanding of the consequences should those risks not work out, no matter the safety net that exists.
I'm having trouble understanding this essay, or at least what I am supposed to take from it. The author is almost 30, has few substantial assets in which she was an equity participant, and is about to (maybe) embark on a new career journey as a yoga teacher. Is this just personal testimony? Or is there something to be gleaned here? Serious question, not trolling.
I don't like this approach to the issue, telling end users that there is "blood on their hands." A few years ago, all the talk was about the horrors of Dickensian sweatshops in China. We no longer talk about Chinese factories in this way, because eventually China's industrial economy, based on a growing export sector, forced up domestic wages and quality of life. Google 'Foxconn factory pictures' to see what a modern Chinese factory looks like. It may not be your dream workplace but it is decent. The problem here is not our demand for inexpensive clothing, but Bangladesh's rampant corruption and casual approach to the rule of law. Lax code enforcement and endemic bribery will lead to building collapses, no matter what is being manufactured in the building. A shoddily constructed building is a shoddily constructed building. In the wake of the collapse, Bangladesh needs to up its enforcement and oversight. Saying, "I won't buy clothes from Bangladesh and you shouldn't either" is more or less the same thing as saying, "Thousands of Bangladeshis shouldn't be employed in that country's foreign-export garment industry," which is the same thing as saying, "Those thousands of Bangladeshis are better off unemployed, in one of the poorest countries on earth." Which they are not, as they would probably tell you. This needs to be a serious learning experience for Bangladesh, but to cut off a major part of this country's economy will harm Bangladeshis far more than it will help them.
These "It's The Economy" stories in the NYT tend to be more flip and cute than insightful; this is no exception. I despise the "Deep Thoughts" section, in particular. And to answer your question, Logan: The low-skilled poor folk are in the outer boroughs, where their rent burdens are in general not so high. I'm in these apartments most days for work, and countless rent rolls have crossed my desk. Most people would be surprised at the typical rents paid in some of these forgotten neighborhoods (much of the Bronx, for example).
@jr I’m interested in the author’s emphasis on name-brand education versus practical training—of acquiring a social signal that is perceived to have value, rather than a demonstrably marketable skill set. In this, it appears that both the authors’ parents and the author were a bit short-sighted, and definitely captivated by prestige. The author's parents concertedly cultivated their daughter’s life, earned the right to put a Dartmouth bumper sticker on the family station wagon, and then what? Gave each other high fives and took a nap? Like many parents, they probably assumed that the quasi-meritocratic privilege of the Ivy League—the old boy’s network, the superior buoyancy of resumes with fancy names—would smooth everything out. That their work was done. They, along with their daughter, had acquired an expensive and prestigious credential, time to turn off the lights. So it seems to me that, far from caring about their daughter’s “education,” writ large and philosophical, the author’s parents emphasized their child’s marketability to colleges, under the mistaken and elitist idea that college is destiny. Once they “succeeded,” what more was there to do? Probably just encourage their daughter to “follow her passion.” I wouldn’t feel guilty if I were the author. Her parents fought tooth and nail to lead their daughter to the water. But there was never any water there—it was a mirage, an upper middle-class echo chamber. And no one was standing there, her parents included, to tell her, “your degree is a piece of paper; your skills are what make you useful. Learn useful skills.”
@halfheartedyoga Amen - if your business requires unpaid labor to function, you are not good at business. Supply and demand all that, but at a certain point you gotta draw the line at "if people work for me, I will pay them."
@stuffisthings Good point. In America, we seem to have decided that wage labor is the appropriate way to sort out who gets what, with dollars as the medium of exchange. I think that's why the wages from your government job are perceived completely differently from a SNAP recipient. In the latter case, it's like, "You're not holding up your end of the bargain, so here are some restrictions to reinforce stigma and encourage you to get a job, whatever it is." Which brings up an intriguing question: At a certain point, when productivity is so high that many "middle-skilled" workers can't find jobs (they were taken over by China, robots, whatever), is it economically more efficient to just pay these workers and tell them to hang out? Or give them a choice: Say, we'll pay you X to hang out, but maybe you want to trade your labor for wages in the hope that you can make more than X. At a certain point, romanticizing wage labor may hinder efficiency. And to the last point: You are totally correct, but it's still a hassle. In the same way that pulling out an EBT card at the grocery store has a certain stigma, and thus (hypothetically) discourages sustained reliance on the program, having to barter for booze is probably less convenient than just having the cash to buy it.