You pulled yourself up by your bootstrap and did it all by yourself. Except, of course, for all those federal student loans.
I rate societies like I rate machinery and weapons. If an average 19 year old can't be trained to become proficient in a weapon in six months, it's a bad weapon. If a car designed by the kids who got straight a's in high school is too overengineered to be maintained by the kids who spent high school cutting class to smoke dope under the bleachers
then its a bad car. If you have to be a genius and a hero to have a stable life in a society then its a bad society. If Joe Sixpack cannot find regular work, if people who work with their hands are on the edge of poverty, if that half of the labor force that is not college educated is under continual downwards mobility pressure from third world competition then its a bad society.
Sam, that was so well said that I intend to paraphrase it, and use it over and over again in conversations and in writing. That's really the most eloquent and succinct statement on the subject I've read to date.
Your contributions on this thread are masterful and ought to be mandatory reading. My dad worked in a cardboard factory and my mother in a garment factory. My experience in their household tells me you are right on target on populism, Reagan Democrats and the working/lower middle class.
From a former critic, keep up the great work.