Spreading The Numismatic Word
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43 posts in this topic

241 posts

Through multiple channels.

 

I have had so much fun over the last few months talking to my coworkers about coins that I have decided that I would like to try to get more people interested.

 

I am going to put a daily Random Coin (Or currency) Fact on my Facebook page. Tonight, I talked about the 1943 copper cents and their value.

 

I am also going to get a Harris coin folder (Lincoln Cents) and a roll of cents for all of my cousins' kids. There are around 12 of them right now. I will also include a note about numismatics, why I enjoy the hobby so much and offer them any help if they choose. Hopefully the hobby will stick with one or two of them.

 

 

Marcus

 

See more journals by Texan's Coins

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Consider getting one of David W. Lange's books about early coin albums and folders. Fascinating information not available elsewhere.

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I think the best way to get someone hooked is to get them filling up a folder of coins. None of the denominations are really easy any longer so it hardly matters which. Just tell them to save the nicest one they can find with the least wear.

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The best thing that could happen to increase interest the hobby (as opposed to increasing interest in coins as "investments") is a price crash so that ( a lot) more coins are (a lot) more affordable to more collectors, especially in US coinage.

 

There have been numerous threads in the past discussing various aspects of this topic. Every single post I have read (literally), either here or on PCGS, ignores the lack of affordability in the price level. But by some miracle, others (whether collector or not) are supposed to be interested in coins that few or none on either forum will ever buy or want.

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" Every single post I have read (literally), either here or on PCGS, ignores the lack of affordability in the price level. But by some miracle, others (whether collector or not) are supposed to be interested in coins that few or none on either forum will ever buy or want."

 

Yep. This is a direct impediment to hobby growth. The cult of TPGs and the huge markups in the cost of commonplace coins has also damaged future expansion.

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Every single post I have read (literally), either here or on PCGS, ignores the lack of affordability in the price level.

 

There's absolutely no reason a person can't collect US coins that are affordable. These run the gamut from early coinage to moderns. It includes foreign coins that circulated in the US, heavily worn large cents, 41/2 step Gem nickels, or PL clads. Indeed, the sky's the limit since there are also the coins called "tax tokens" as well as various quasi-official numismatic material. All it takes is a little imagination and a great collection can be assembled on a shoe string. A few years ago I suggested that AU-58 19th century coinage was hugely overlooked. These are ofttimes Gems that collectors rescued from circulation but in those days they went begging. Now they are highly sought.

 

Don't expect to be able to put together a registry set for a few dollars but an extensive and important collection of state issued coins can literally be assembled for less than $100.

 

 

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Your reply is a perfect example of how both forums ignore the lack of affordability.

 

As I explained to you many times in the past, most collectors (never mind potential ones) aren't interested in the coins you continually use as examples. Your preferences and what you consider acceptable are in the distinct minority.

 

It isn't a matter of being able to complete a (better) registry set. It is a matter of collectors being able to afford what they actually want to buy, and by this I am not referring to "trophy" coins or anything like it.

 

In the past, I have disclosed that my collection is worth about $50,000. This is certainly in the top 20% among US collections by value and maybe closer to the top 10%. I am easily priced out of a lot more than the top 10% (by value) of US coins, even among US Mint circulation strikes and proofs, never mind patterns, colonials, etc. That is, unless my "collection" were to consist of a (very) low number of coins. It isn't nearly as bad with world or ancient but its become a lot worse since 2002 which is when I started buying coins similar to those I own now. How do you not see it?

 

I am using myself as an example but regardless of how you want to measure it and the cut-off you want to use, the percentage of US collectors who can afford the same percentage of US issues is lopsidedly correlated in a negative sense.

 

With world and ancients, I agree with you a lot more but it is still getting worse.

 

A (much) lower price level would do a lot more to increase the interest among prospective collectors than any other comments I have ever read on either this forum or PCGS, none of which I believe will ever make any substantive difference whatsoever to future "average" middle class collectors. And by this I mean as a hobby, not for more affluent "investors".

 

However, its self evident hardly anyone with any financially meaningful

"investment" in their collection is in favor of this outcome because of their pre-existing financial commitment.

 

If you have read the recent thread on PCGS soliciting opinions when the hobby peaked in the US, I agree with those who expressed the opinion that the type of collecting you described was most popular in the 1960's. The number of collectors may be somewhat larger since 1999 but proportionate to population, I believe its much lower and dominated by those who spend what presumably would have been considered substantial sums back then.

 

So to summarize, yes I agree what you said is an option but no, I don't believe proportionately, very many active (as opposed to casual) collectors are interested in the option you described or anything like it.

 

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If demand is larger than the supply - prices rise. How would you prevent collectors from paying what they want for a coin they very much desire?

 

Or am I still not understanding what you are trying to say?

 

 

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As I explained to you many times in the past, most collectors (never mind potential ones) aren't interested in the coins you continually use as examples. Your preferences and what you consider acceptable are in the distinct minority.

 

 

You said US coins are not affordable. I say this is nonsense.

 

The only US coins that aren't affordable are the relatively few that everyone is chasing. Everything else sells for peanuts.

 

Sharply lower demand and prices for US coins would not be beneficial to the hobby. It would merely allow some individuals who can't afford widely collected and expensive series to begin collecting them in higher grades.

 

There are over a trillion coins that have been produced now and half of them survive. I can assure you there will always be affordable coins. Many of them are quite attractive and quite scarce and cheap. If you can't afford to live in the rich part of town then do what you can where you are.

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So to summarize, yes I agree what you said is an option but no, I don't believe proportionately, very many active (as opposed to casual) collectors are interested in the option you described or anything like it.

 

Everyone not only wants to keep up with the Jones' but they want the exact same things. Well... ...tough luck. Some coins are unique or so rare you'll never have a chance to buy one. It's the nature of the beast.

 

If you have a shoestring budget you can't collect uncirculated bust half dollars. It's just that simple. Perhaps you can trade up to them but you can't buy them on a shoestring because they are POPULAR and scarce.

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my collection is worth about $50,000. This is certainly in the top 20% among US collections by value and maybe closer to the top 10%.

 

What is the basis for your estimate? I would argue that the data is not available on aggregate values or number of collections.

 

Apologizes to Marcus for responding to the tangential discussion. You are a true champion of the hobby!

Edited by jgenn

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If demand is larger than the supply - prices rise. How would you prevent collectors from paying what they want for a coin they very much desire?

 

Or am I still not understanding what you are trying to say?

 

 

I wouldn't.

 

What I am saying is that the price level because of the demand "shuts out" a substantial number and percentage of (potential) collectors out of what they would like to buy and therefore, makes it less interesting than it would be if the price level were lower as it used to be a long time ago.

 

The variety in US coinage (which traditionally is what most US based collectors mostly or exclusively buy) is large enough to where, when combined with the culture of collecting and the level of affluence in the middle class, is and has been enough to keep coin collecting popular.

 

But as a prospective collector, when 25%, 50% or even more of is out of their price range, surely it should be evident that many who otherwise would be collectors won't be.

 

The OP was discussing spreading interest in numismatics. I am aware that its a personal preference and varies with each (potential) collector.

 

What I described which should be completely obvious and self-evident is one of the biggest obstacles to any efforts to increase the collector base among most Americans who increasingly cannot afford it. The other one is the much larger number of recreational alternatives versus the past.

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I find this a fascinating thread, because it addresses both the future and affordability of the hobby. About the affordability of the hobby, I had nowhere near the budget when I started as I do now. Most everyone starts small and works their way up.

 

For instance, a YN cannot typically afford MS Bust Halves, but they may be able to afford a VG example. I've seen many a YN proud to own that one VG Bust Half. Maybe that's why I enjoy type collecting as much as I do because that's how I started. Coins that are old AND affordable are very appealing to the new collector.

 

Today we live in a "I want it now society." In other words, if it involves saving money to buy, then we want no part of it. Saving up to buy the coins I wanted is how I obtained my first gold half-eagle. Yes gold was not as expensive in the 70's as it is today, but even at that it took a lot of time busting suds at $2.10/hour to get that coin. Today that coin resides in a MS-62 PCGS holder and it's likely I'll die owning it. That common date half-eagle has much more sentimental value to me than it does numismatic value.

 

Marcus, if you do find someone more than interested in getting started in the hobby, consider buying them a redbook. I literally had the pages of my first redbook fall out! I was constantly thumbing through that book dreaming of the coins I'd buy if I had the money. If you can't dream, you may not have much of a future in this hobby. Oh the joy when I bought that first half-eagle, to finally own a coin from the back of the redbook that wasn't a commemorative! Today I have realized more of those dreams than not. Yes, I still do not own a coiled hair Stella, but oh well, that's definitely not a show stopper for me!

 

Plugging holes in an album for me is still a lot of fun that I'll probably never grow out of. Less than 10 years ago I plugged a Mercury Dime album with coins I bought in so-called 200 coin unsearched lots. With them, I was able to fill most of that album with the best coins in the lot and resell short sets of the coins that were doubles. No I didn't find a 16-D, either of the 21's, nor either of the overdates, but hey, I had a blast! When I was finished plugging that album, I went back to grade each of the coins using an old ANA photograde guide. Talk about hours of fun!

 

I also have an album of Jefferson Nickels that I put together of coins picked from circulation. Interestingly, there is a boatload of pre-1960 nickels out there just waiting for the picking. Then there's the elation of finding the occasional silver nickel in circulation! Marcus you are on the right track.

 

Finally, if a person doesn't enjoy even the simplest of numismatic pursuits, how in the world will they enjoy the more complex and yes, more expensive aspects of hobby?

Gary

 

 

Edited by gherrmann44

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As I explained to you many times in the past, most collectors (never mind potential ones) aren't interested in the coins you continually use as examples. Your preferences and what you consider acceptable are in the distinct minority.

 

 

You said US coins are not affordable. I say this is nonsense.

 

The only US coins that aren't affordable are the relatively few that everyone is chasing. Everything else sells for peanuts.

 

Sharply lower demand and prices for US coins would not be beneficial to the hobby. It would merely allow some individuals who can't afford widely collected and expensive series to begin collecting them in higher grades.

 

There are over a trillion coins that have been produced now and half of them survive. I can assure you there will always be affordable coins. Many of them are quite attractive and quite scarce and cheap. If you can't afford to live in the rich part of town then do what you can where you are.

 

This reply is for both of your posts.

 

We are going to have to agree to disagree and you can refer to my reply to Afterword as well which is where I attempted to better explain my primary point.

 

The number and percentage of coins which aren't affordable to most US collectors are not relatively few in number. It is a large number and percentage. Moreover, since most US collectors have traditionally collected sets, I don't believe the relevant benchmark is just individual coins.

 

Let me give you an example. Barber halves are expensive for the average collector but in the context of US collecting, hardly elite or anything near it. By my standards, they are somewhat scarce for a US series but hardly rare and there are no "keys". A complete set in VF probably costs $25k or near it. Its an unpopular opinion but I consider that amount an exorbitant outlay given what is actually being bought.

 

This series was expensive to most collectors when I started collecting in 1975 but I can provide you with any number of others which have increased far more than income and prices.

 

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This reply is for both your's and Jglenn's.

 

Placing my collection in the top 10% or 20% was a guess. If there are as many as two million collectors in the US, there may be as many as 200,000 worth as much as mine but certainly not 400,000. Not unless "collections" including the large number of speculators (aka, "investors") buying bullion substitutes which they own as multiple. I suspect it is actually less than 200,000.

 

Comparing mine to top registry sets is an apples to oranges comparison because those and others like it not public are a tiny fraction of the total. In absolute terms, there are certainly a large number of collections more valuable (but not necessarily better) than mine, but this still represents a distinct minority.

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Finally, if a person doesn't enjoy even the simplest of numismatic pursuits, how in the world will they enjoy the more complex and yes, more expensive aspects of hobby?

 

I am going to highlight this extract but this reply is intended to cover all of yours.

 

I agree with your points and its apparent to me that the replies I have received here are making more out of the point than what I meant, probably partially because of my prior posts on this topic in other threads.

 

I know what most US collectors buy and presumably since they buy it, it is interesting to them. I never said it wasn't or should not be.

 

The primary reason I believe US numismatics is not as popular as it was in the 1960's as a recreational activity is because of the much larger number of alternatives which did not exist in the past, an example being video games. My preference for a lower price level isn't going to do anything to change that and I certainly don't believe any other suggestion I have ever read here or on PCGS is going to either.

 

For those who choose to become collectors, the price level is a factor. I find it hard to believe anyone can claim that it isn't. How much of a factor just depends on the individual but it should be self evident that the fewer options available to collectors, the less interest they are going to have. This is a much bigger factor for collectors of US coinage than any others.

 

I don't know how much of a factor it is but it is common sense. I suspect but cannot prove that many collectors quit for this reason, certainly at least temporarily. I was one of them.

 

I am also aware of the correlation between age and a collector's budget. I first collected at age 10 and after numerous iterations, resumed it permanently at age 33.

 

Since you bring up economics, it should also be evident that the trend since at least 1999 is negative because the typical American's financial position (income and net worth) is stagnating or in decline. I understand this is already reflected in the price trend of "collector" coins but still doesn't change the fact that more Americans have less discretionary income for collecting.

 

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The number and percentage of coins which aren't affordable to most US collectors are not relatively few in number. It is a large number and percentage.

 

Perhaps I phrased it poorly.

 

The US has minted some 500,000,000,000 coins and only ~30,000,000 are valuable enough that they have been slabbed. But even amoung these slabbed coins that are coins that are exceedingly inexpensive relative their availability. How about coins that are exceedingly well struck in XF or even MS-60? Some series are often poorly struck and some dates within those series are awful. You could probably obtain a hammered '26-S buffalo in Fine for the same price as a poorly struck one, for instance. Even in MS-60 the premium wouldn't be great though I shudder to think what a hammered '26-S looks like in MS-60.

 

People on a budget simply need to be more creative in defining the sets they are going to collect. Whether you're spending thousands or just a few dollars the object is always quality and rarity. All rare coins are not expensive and neither are high quality coins.

 

And then there's always scrip and tokens that have been used as money. Most people don't realize it but most scrip and tokens like bus tokens aren't widely collected by condition. This means you can find tokens that are very rare or unique in excellent condition literally for pennies. Tax tokens are state issued coins and most of these are tough in Unc and much tougher in Gem yet they wholesale at about 4c each.

 

Even in just the US it's a very big universe out there.

Edited by cladking

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"What I am saying is that the price level because of the demand "shuts out" a substantial number and percentage of (potential) collectors out of what they would like to buy and therefore, makes it less interesting than it would be if the price level were lower as it used to be a long time ago."

 

 

 

What you are saying is so obvious it went 'under' my head. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, this financial challenge exists. It existed "a long time ago" as well.

 

It limits what one can collect, but it does not prevent one from collecting.

 

The only way to change this would be to eliminate demand, which by its very definition would lower collector interest - not raise it.

 

As for the topic of this thread, does anyone even know how many coin collectors there are today? Is there a shortage of collectors? Is there any reason to believe that young people in sufficient numbers to sustain the hobby are not becoming interested in numismatics?

 

 

 

 

Edited by Afterword

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As for the topic of this thread, does anyone even know how many coin collectors there are today? Is there a shortage of collectors? Is there any reason to believe that young people in sufficient numbers to sustain the hobby are not becoming interested in numismatics?

 

 

 

I believe the hobby is growing by leaps and bounds right now. It's not obvious because many of these newbies aren't spending a lot of money on coins right now so the demand doesn't manifest in the price of '16-D dimes or 1804 dollars yet. But it does show up in low priced indian cents, buffalo nickels, and Ike dollars. As time goes on these collectors will gain experience and confidence to spend larger sums of money and will collect more expensive and more diverse areas.

 

It's just going to take time.

 

But planting seeds while we're waiting certainly won't hurt.

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Cladking,

I have to say that I do agree with you that the hobby is growing in leaps and bounds. My life partner and I have done a similar thing as to what Marcus described with her cousin. He's 17 and shown an interest in numismatics, so we bought him a loupe, a redbook and have given him some coins from all over the world. And the kid loves it! It's great to be a mentor to a young numismatist!

 

However, I want to touch on what you said about not seeing price rises in US key dates. Actually, from my experience, we may never see that part of the hobby impacted by the newer collectors. This is because, once again in my experience, the traditional collecting of US series by date and mintmark seems to be on the decline, especially among younger collectors. From what I've seen, and do myself, many younger collectors are finding a much stronger interest in non-US coins and are pursuing them much more strongly than they pursue US coins. Also, the series collecting mentality in that part of the hobby is becoming less popular as well.

 

Look at all of the amazing Custom Sets on here. It really shows where collecting is going. I know for myself, I've pretty much abandoned traditional series collecting to focus in on my custom set of my own design. It's been the best collecting experience of my life and it's so liberating!! Just because I like the Panama-Pacific Half Dollar doesn't mean I want to build a set of US commems. I just like that one coin, and following my own design allow me to enjoy all of the single coins I enjoy from all over the world without bogging myself down with collecting a whole series. My life partner has always collected this way since she started in 2008.

 

This is also how almost all of the young numismatists I know collect. They just buy what they like and leave the rest and build a set out of what they like. They also want something truly unique, which series collecting does not allow for. They're more likely to buy one or two really nice Barber Quarters of a common or somewhat scarce, but affordable, date in high grade and then move on to the next coin that they want in their cosmopolitan collection. Most of these collectors will never be in the market for a 1901-S or any of the other keys if their current mode of collecting is maintained, which I really feel it will be. The new generation is taking a different path than the traditional one. I consider myself one of the older members of the new generation at age 35, and I know that this is how I plan on going for the foreseeable future. The custom set mode of collecting seems to be the way of the future.

 

Just my thoughts and observations and to Marcus, kudos for sharing the hobby with others!!

 

~Tom

Edited by Mohawk

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This is my response to your first post.

 

I probably wasn't completely clear either, or apparently it appears I was not. I was taking a different angle in this thread than in our prior exchanges. I wasn't stating there was an insufficient supply but a more limited variety due to the cost of so many series and types, even for what are "collector" coins by any definition.

 

Of the maybe 4000 US Mint circulation strikes and proofs, a substantial number and very noticeable minority are not affordable to most collectors. Numerically, the majority are affordable but this is disproportionately concentrated in the same series . I only gave one example (Barber halves) but most likely, there are coins which others here (maybe most) consider more affordable than I do to the general collector population or don't think there is anything unusual about it that they are not, if they agree with me otherwise.

 

I am aware that creativity can be used to collect as you state. This doesn't change the fact that a substantial or at least noticeable percentage of types and series are still out of reach of most collectors. Buying in the lowest grades is an option but I still don't see why anyone here expects most of the collector base (never mind non-collectors) to have an interest in them when hardly anyone here or on PCGS does now.

 

In world and ancient coinage, US collectors who are used to paying a lot more and who far more often buy for (quasi) "investment" are driving out local collectors by inflating the price level and seems to me, will eventually make a disproportionate percentage of the better coins (quality and scarcity wise) unaffordable to them as well.

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Actually, from my experience, we may never see that part of the hobby impacted by the newer collectors.

 

Yes. I very much agree and even predicted that they would be more interested in type collecting, world, and more diverse areas of numismatics and exonumismatics. This is caused by several things but not least of which is the incredible array of coins being released by world mints. Of course the internet may play a huge role in bringing knowledge of all sorts of arcane fields as well as the opportunity to acquire them.

 

It's going to be a hoot to see what this next generation collects and how they evolve as numismatists. I only wish I had foreseen some of these changes many years ago rather than more recently.

 

I suppose I'll be a little disappointed if there's no interest in sets but "to each his own".

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What you are saying is so obvious it went 'under' my head. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, this financial challenge exists. It existed "a long time ago" as well.

 

It limits what one can collect, but it does not prevent one from collecting.

 

I never said my claim did prevent anyone from collecting.

 

I don't consider many of the coins in my series affordable to most US collectors either but no one has to remotely be a multi-millionaire to collect them. The primary challenge is in finding them, not having the money to buy them as it is with practically every US coin.

 

I have mentioned pillar coinage many times in my prior posts. Assuming I could find the coins, I could complete the Peru half real from 1752-1772 in AU for maybe $10,000 and in MS for maybe $25,000. Maybe not cheap but a small fraction of what comparable US coins (numismatically) cost.

 

 

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I believe economics is going to limit a substantial increase in collecting in the United States unless it is increasingly skewed to the more affluent. I expect the majority of Americans to become poorer or a lot poorer over the indefinite future.

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A strong "middle class" is required for economic growth and civil stability. We have to invest now in a promising future for everyone if that future is to be realized.

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A strong "middle class" is required for economic growth and civil stability. We have to invest now in a promising future for everyone if that future is to be realized.

 

I agree with your first statement. I'm not sure about the second.

 

In any event, there is no free lunch in life. Someone is going to have to pay back today's exorbitant debts one way or another. Numerous political economic promises will also be broken because what cannot possibly be paid, will not be. The combination of the two will result in a declining standard of living for most in this country and in many instances, elsewhere.

 

Unless future collectors are increasingly from among the more affluent, they are going to have (a lot) lower capacity to pay.

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Buying in the lowest grades is an option but I still don't see why anyone here expects most of the collector base (never mind non-collectors) to have an interest in them when hardly anyone here or on PCGS does now.

 

If you're right that US coins are too expensive then collecting lower grades is certainly a way to still collect the coins people like. There's nothing wrong with an 1822 dime that did exactly what it was intended to do and circulate extensively. Such a coin can be quite attractive to those who can appreciate a well worn yet undamaged gem. Many coins are culls by the time they reach AG so the number of 1822 dimes in this condition can't be very high.

 

Of course if these coins were a great deal less expensive then more people could collect them in AU/ Unc. If they remain expensive or increase it will just push the demand down to lower grades.

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"I never said my claim did prevent anyone from collecting."

 

The quote below sounds like you were saying that, to me.

 

 

"What I described which should be completely obvious and self-evident is one of the biggest obstacles to any efforts to increase the collector base among most Americans who increasingly cannot afford it."

 

 

 

You are starting to dance and I have two left feet, so I am going to bow out and watch from the sidelines.

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"We have to invest now in a promising future for everyone if that future is to be realized."

 

 

 

Unfortunately, a lot of people are not interested in a promising future for everyone. Only for themselves.

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A strong "middle class" is required for economic growth and civil stability. We have to invest now in a promising future for everyone if that future is to be realized.

 

Schools were wrecked by the federal government and all the money is being funneled to the wealthy. With two generations of uneducated and undereducated people it's hard to believe that the middle class won't continue to shrink. It's not going to go away over night though any time soon.

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