saying "working 50+ hours a week at minimum wage to support a family IS NOT a model to base a society on" is not the same as saying "free candy for everyone!" ... one of the main points of almost every labour movement was (and still is) the notion that work HAS to pay off. more often than not tho' it seems like you're expected to get a shit pay and bad working conditions when you're doing important jobs like cleaning toilets, serving people or delivering mail/goods (yes, you read it right i used the term IMPORTANT).
but it seems only the "masters of the universe" are allowed to live a decent life - because they are "job creators". it's not like the accumulated wealth of the few is the surplus of the labour of many. and how dare the many to reclaim some of the results of their labour ...
may i introduce you to a fellow called Kar Marx?This attitude is what I hate most about the left wing. Its so incredibly patronising, so mind-blowingly condescending. "noone is responsible for their poor decisions, noone is to blame for their actions (or inactions) - its all society's fault, brainwashing them". Frankly complete and utter bullshit. People can, do and should escape situations like the one Frug described every day. The fact that his friend does not is his own fault, lack of willpower and poor character.welcome to consumerism mate.
a more patronizing person would point out that the bloke is more or less the victim of one of the greatest crimes perpetrated on the "common folk" in human history, but then we all are to some degree.
"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living."
on the one hand you got the notion that society progresses, that you WILL live a better life than your parents. that a capitalist society IS the best social order, because it will give you everything you'll need and even more - because if it won't, it will be at best the second best social order. (this also becomes important in the backdrop of social revolutions in the 20th century and the following clash of the systems between liberalism/capitalism and socialism/communism.)
beginning with consumerism almost at the same time (1930s onwards) a new paradigm established itself - that progress can be quantified in the number of electronic consumer products in your house (technology is *always* a nice and dandy way to evaluate progress .. you just have to compare specifications of some machines, not think about such complex and boring things like "society", "equality", "justice", "freedom to/from" etc.) ... afterall it's quite easy to sell stuff before it breaks, when you can establish a notion of "technological avantgarde".
not living up to that idea of a progress in living standard, would mean that you failed all the ideas that your parents held dear ("go to school, learn something, start working, live a better life than we did"), it would mean that you failed yourself ("everyone told me i can be anything if i just tried hard enough .. but i can't be everything"), it would mean that you failed the narrative of a liberal/capitalist society we live in ("work hard enough and you will receive what is due")
sure, there are different strategies available to cope with this discrepancy (or better: contradiction) between expectations (held by you, by your parents, by society) and the reality ... you can embrace these expectations by transcendending them in some sort of protestantic work ethic, you can embrace it in a profane way by living up to the standards of consumerism no matter the costs ...