All the "It Can't Be Done" and "You're Just Trapped In The Rat Race" is baloney.
For some that's true. For others it is not. It is the others I speak of, not brilliant and successful X-ennials such as yourself. I would suggest that someone like you would succeed no matter the odds.
Hey - Flattery will get you noeverywhere, buddy
But, while brilliance can make you m/billions if you are the Particular Right Kind of brilliant, generally, it's not superior IQ that makes one wealthy, but superior discipline.
Someone like me on the other hand gets by no matter what, but never really finds success. Lesser men and women stumble along the way. What of them? Do we simply leave them behind? Casualties to be expected for those who would succeed?
I think most of those are suffering not because they lack the opportunity, but because they lack a plan and will to apply it. I do financial counseling for free on the side - few people come to me because they've got six figure incomes and don't know what to do with it all. Usually it's the people that you are describing; those who feel they are barely hanging on, on the margins, etc. I've worked with folks who technically made less than minimum wage, and with folks whose monthly minimum payments were greater than their monthly take-home pay. I've not yet come across a hopeless case.
The basic principles aren't rocket science - they're actually pretty simple: get out of and avoid debt, live on less than you make, save and invest over your entire working life.
I'm working with one couple right now with three kids on a single income of $20/ hour, with a mortgage, medical, and credit card debt. We've spent the last couple of months or so meeting regularly to go over how to structure certain things (what kind of life insurance do each of you need? How do we structure getting out of debt?). He's 32, she's 28. Even if he never gets a raise (and he will, he's a good worker), they'll probably be (inflation-adjusted) millionaires by their mid 60s. That's not exactly F You Money, but it is something that will allow them to retire in comfort when they get to that point. That's a pretty typical result. Application of wise principles and prudence over time produces bounty. :shrug:
What you seem to be saying is that things are fine the way they are. All we need is a Republican president, a strong military, and a weak government and we're good to go into the next century.
I think you may be projecting onto me. Much of our society today is literally better than anyone has experienced at any time in human history. That is not the same as Everything Is Fine The Way It Is. Some of the worst things that we have and do isn't linked to economics, but, we definitely have created an unsustainable public fiscal nightmare. When we are no longer able to pay out promised benefits in real terms... its gonna get ugly .
I also think that the way we currently try to help the poor actually often harms them, sometimes deeply. That's terrible policy, and those programs should be upended and reorganized recognizing their unintended consequences and adjusting for them (Full Disclosure: I really think we should replace our current regime of transfer-payments to a single Negative Income Tax of -50% on all monies not earned below 200% of the poverty line). That we punish low-income workers for getting married or earning a raise is insane.
There are other scenario's for which one's ability to grow is and will remain strongly limited. Severe Disability. Death of the single-income-earner in a household. But for the vast, vast majority of Americans, opportunity is wider open than at any other time in human history, and is achievable.