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Where is the land of opportunity?

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More than a month ago, my son, Aaron, wrote an article on this site which caused me to feel uneasy.  I never said anything on the site about it because he is entitled to his own opinions, and I did not wish to interfere with that.  I did talk to him about it, though, just to share my thoughts and give him something to consider.  I believe we are OK about it, and I don’t think that my writing this article will cause him any embarrassment.  If I thought it would be uncomfortable for him, I would not write this.

Opportunity

Opportunity

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Why did I feel uneasy about what my son wrote?  Well, in his article entitled “Why I would Live in America” Aaron talked about his feelings of why he might want to live permanently in the United States.  For those who are not following this, let me just clarify that Aaron was born in the USA, and when he was 3 years old, we moved to the Philippines.  Aaron is 18 now, and he is on a journey back to the USA for the first time in the past 15 years.  Aaron has been in the USA since March of this year.

Since graduating High School in 2013, Aaron has been trying to decide what he wants to do with his life.  I have been trying to help him along on his journey of discovering his life’s ambition, but so far it has been a difficult decision for him.  I feel that during his few months in the States, he has learned a lot, and he is getting closer to being able to set out on a path.  One of the things that Aaron said in his article is that “America is the land of opportunity” and that he could see that there were work opportunities there which he felt did not exist here.

Is it really the land of opportunity

Is it really the land of opportunity?

When I read this, it made me feel pretty discouraged.  Frankly, it made me feel that I had failed my son.

Throughout my life I have been an entrepreneur, and I could always find ways to make money while doing things that I enjoyed doing.  I actually started doing entrepreneurial pursuits back when I was just 9 years old.  If it happened before that, I don’t recall, so I say that is when I got started.  Pretty much since that age, I have had jobs of one type or another.  I started early.

Over the years of my son’s life, I have tried to teach him about being entrepreneurial, putting his brain to work, figuring out ways to make money that were “outside the box” and generally not following the crowd. In many ways, I feel that I have been successful in showing him the way that I have been successful in life.  But, when he wrote about the great opportunities in the USA, it did not sit well with me.

Over the decades, the United States of America has been known as a “Land of Opportunity”.  However, I feel that in the past few decades, the opportunity has faded.  It is not entirely the fault of any certain politician, or political party.  I feel it is greatly due to the “maturity” of the market in the USA.

I got into an email discussion about this with a very close friend of mine.  I will not name that friend, but if he wishes to join the discussion here, he is welcome to identify himself.  I only leave him nameless for his own privacy, and he can make the decision about that.

Let me share some of the thoughts that I mentioned in the discussion with my friend.

The discussion got started by my telling him about Aaron’s upcoming article (this friend is also a friend of Aaron’s), and how it made me feel uneasy.  His response to that was that he did not agree with Aaron’s thought because he felt that geography had no influence on opportunity.

I felt that was a pretty good point, but I had additional thinking that I wanted to share with him.  Here it is:

Aaron wrote the article about wanting to live in the States.  One of his reasons that he said he would like to live there was that it is the land of opportunity.  He said that basically there is so much opportunity there, and really no opportunity in the Philippines.  He said that he does not have a college degree so he can’t get a job here, but he can get so many jobs in the USA.  I thought to myself, “I have failed.”  I try to show people how they can earn a living online, live here and earn from elsewhere.  A college degree is of little importance.  This kind of thing… yet my own son does not understand what I have been telling him day in and day out for years on end?  Damn, it really cut, and still gives my heart pain to think about it.  Almost brought tears to my eyes, I could feel them coming.  As far as a college degree, we have encouraged him to go to college, but he has no interest.  He can follow in my footsteps so easily, if he just does it.  I do know one thing.. it is time for him to get off the pot and do something.  Go to school, get a job, or learn how to work for himself.  He is 18, nearly 19, and it is just time to do something.  I love him dearly, but I am not going to support him for the rest of my life, that would not be fair to him.  Even if it means that he will get a job in the USA, that is his decision.  But, I, for one, believe that there is MORE opportunity here in the Philippines than there in the USA.  He does not realize that the way he talks about the USA is the USA that I grew up in, and you.  It is a thing of the past, and only getting further and further away from current reality.  Yes, there are problems with the Philippines, but this country is moving in the direction of improvement.  The USA is moving in the opposite direction 7 days per week.

All of what you wrote about Opportunity was interesting, and mostly I agree. Like you said to me, I don’t 100% agree with everything you said, but I also believe that we are each on the same wavelength. Where I disagree is minor, but I believe that there is SOME geographical element to opportunity. This is one of the reasons why I believe that there is more opportunity here in the Philippines when compared to the USA. The reason I think that is because the USA is simply more developed. Things that can be done to make money, for a large part, have been done there. Of course, new stuff comes along all the time. But, for example, you mentioned my gift company, WowPhilippines. There are already a ton of such gift companies (online and off). When I started Wow, I was the FIRST such company here in the Philippines, and it gave me a number of years where I basically had no competition in the business. Now there are literally thousands.

Here is another example that is similar to Wow. Something like Teleflora, 1-800-Flowers, etc. In the USA there are a bunch of companies that you can call one number and they will get flowers delivered anywhere in the country. Believe it or not, no such thing exists in the Philippines. Wow is about the closest thing to that. One of the reasons is that credit card use and acceptance is not fully developed here. Another reason is that Credit Card USE is more limited here. Another one is that in these small towns all around the country, supply can be difficult to come by.

So, my point is that there is more OPPORTUNITY to do a business like that here, because the business is already mature in the USA with a lot of big companies competing. In the Philippines, it is still in its infancy, and even a small player like me can get into it and develop such a business. So, that is what I mean about more opportunity here. Anyway, in general, the USA business market is much more mature than the Philippine market, leaving a lot of holes to be filled in here, and that, in my view is opportunity.

One more point on the “opportunity”. As I explained about the USA being more mature than the Philippines business market, etc…. there is a big advantage to that. If a guy like you or I, who moves here from the USA is interested in business, we can just look at what we miss here. We can say, boy it sure was nice back in the States when business x was so convenient, but they don’t have it here. Hey… why don’t I start that kind of business here? You know it is a business that works, because it succeeded in the USA, and the odds are that it will succeed here too (in most cases). It has already been proven as something that people want and need. It just has not made it here yet, and a little guy can take advantage of the absence in the market, before the big boys here finally catch on. 🙂

So, I wanted to share this with LiP readers.  I decided to share it because of a comment I got a few days ago from Scott.  Scott mentioned that he felt there was a lot of opportunity here in the Philippines, more than in the USA.  He also said that many people that he talked to about this felt that he was crazy. So, for Scott, I think you are right, you are not alone!  And, by the way, after explaining my thoughts to my friend, he also pretty much turned around and felt much like I do, that the Philippines is loaded with opportunity!

To my son, Aaron.  I hope that you read this article too, and that it helps you decide what is best for you.  I am not saying that there is no opportunity in the USA, because there IS!  But, there is a lot of opportunity in the Philippines too.  One of the big differences, though, is that in the USA it is a lot bigger market where the competition is brutal, and you probably need a lot of money in most cases if you want to break into the market.  In the Philippines the market is immature and a small player like you or me can make a big splash!  Good luck to you, son!

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Tom Popp
Tom Popp
6 years ago

Hate to say it but you both are partly right. The USA is moving away from being the Land of Opportunity, and Philippines is Improving. But where each stands, kind of depends how you look at it. As an Entrepreneur, Philipines may be preferable, but for a young guy starting out, well, he can get his start here, but he should not plan on moving up the ladder too fast. Regulations and politics here just love startups, but too many big Corporations have influence on business regs. You pretty much have to fight your way into the “Big Leagues” the… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Popp

Hi Tom – Whatever he does, I would not consider Aaron to be an OFW, since he is a US citizen. He acts and thinks a lot more American than Filipino. In terms of opportunity, I think that Aaron could do fine getting his start in the Philippines, since he can work for me, and work his way into becoming more of a partner to me than an employee.

Thanks for your comment, Tom.

Michael
Michael
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Popp

I feel you Bob, or at least I had similar thoughts some 30 years ago when I counseled my sons according to what I knew and how I felt when they were about to finish high school. Neither of the two went about earning a living the way I wanted them to, but both left my house fully aware of the fact that I was probably their most user friendly source of information and free advice. Despite my advice to stay away from the military, my first-born enlisted in the Air Force, side-streamed himself into the Air Force Academy Preparatory… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael

Thank you Michael. Lots of good examples there. The most important thing you said, in my view, was at the end… “Stay Flexible”. That is the key for us parents! You gotta let the kids take their own path, and hopefully give a bit of guidance along the way!

Robert Burke
6 years ago

The true questions is where is the future? Hint…its not the U.S

anthony bosetti
anthony bosetti
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Burke

you are correct robert it’s not here.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago

Hi Anthony – Nice to hear from you, my friend. I think there is some opportunity in the USA, of course, but Aaron can find a lot of opportunity here if he chooses to work with me and follow my lead. Nothing would make me happier!

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Burke

Hi Robert – Unfortunate, but it appears that you ande I are seeing the same forecast!

Martin Why
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Burke

I agree.

Robert Burke
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Burke

Yes….sad to say.

Kapampangan Riderbrian

your right bob and i agree with you but even knowing how this country is collapsing at record speed there is jobs, here even minial jobs that you cant really get there in the philippines i understand your sons illusion and its understandable being in a place where jobs are hard to come bye and if u get one your working for peanuts but the nice thing as you said the euntropranural oppertunity is better in the philippines i totaly agree and i experienced opening a bar in pampanga was with ease and less restrictions and making money was easier… Read more »

Bob Martin
6 years ago

Hello Kapampangan Riderbrian. You offer a lot to consider there, and I find the things you say to be worthy of thought. The good thing is that since Aaron wrote his article, his views have shifted a little bit toward my position. I think that he sees things more clearly now.

Cy
Cy
6 years ago

I don’t feel like the USA is currently the land of opportunity. Maybe someday it will be again, but for now things aren’t looking so rosy. The unemployment level is very high (despite what the official unemployment rate says). The number of people out of the workforce is as bad as it was in 1977. Finding a decent job right now in the USA is next to impossible. I’ve never seen things worse in my lifetime. Yes, it’s possible to find part-time work making minimum wage, but for anything more than that…forget it. Things aren’t looking so good for entrepreneurs… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Cy

Hi Cy – Right now, I don’t see very much opportunity in the USA. There are hamburger flipping jobs, walmart jobs, etc… but as for real opportunity… it is a lot less than it was in the past. One big things is that where there is opportunity, the threshold to take advantage of the opportunity is quite high. It is very expensive to be an entrepreneur in the USA, whereas it is a low entry threshold n the Philippines.

Steve Gray
Steve Gray
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Don’t forget the possibility Bob that Aaron may not want to be an entrepreneur, and may not want to sit at a computer all day thinking and doing the types of activity that you enjoy. While some opportunities have been lost in the US, there are many still available. The work for tradesmen and craftsmen are going begging for workers, and at very good pay scales. This goes to areas like carpenters, electricians, oil field workers, truck drivers. While these wouldn’t appeal to you, perhaps that would appeal to Aaron. Just a thought. For some reason, we as a country… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gray

Hi Steve – Not quite sure why you would connect being an entrepreneur with sitting at the computer all day… many entrepreneurs don’t even use a computer But, truth is that Aaron could be no happier than being at a computer all day. He lives for tech stuff. That is just how he is. 🙂 Everybody keeps saying he might not want to be an entrepreneur, and I understand that. But, I know Aaron better than any other person on earth, except for my wife, and I know what he wants. It is just a matter of how to reach… Read more »

Tito Joe
Tito Joe
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

welcome to the wonderful world of grown up kids. I have watched my own spawn forge his own path it it is NOTHING that I ever thought he would follow or do. In fact I tried desperately to steer him in another direction. He went his own way. He is content and at peace with himself, which now that I think about it is way better than being “happy”. Whatever that really means. Our kids god bless them all, actually have learned a lot from us…..they have followed or are following their hearts and are blazing their own trails. I… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Tito Joe

So true, Joe! Like you said… he blazed his own path, that is what we all have to do, I guess.

LB
LB
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Dear Bob, i’ve done a lot of welding in my life and i can tell you that it is a nice job, for those who like to work with their hands and can take a certain amount of abuse to their body. From the beginning to the point where you reach a good level of welding you’ll have some satisfaction, like realizing that you can make a beautiful weld that needn’t be ground or finished and you did it very fast. The problem with welding, and cutting and grinding steel, that are all parts of the same trade, is that… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  LB

Hi LB – Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. I appreciate it greatly. I know about nothing in regards to welding. It is not something I have ever done or had an interest in. I don’t know why Aaron is so interested, but he is very interested in welding. If he wants to give it a shot, I hope he succeeds! He would have to do it in the States, though, in my view, because trade type laborers make so little money here in the Philippines. I know that in the States, those kinds of workers can make… Read more »

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

There are still plenty of entry level non-hamburger flipping jobs for a dedicated, eager and DEPENDABLE employee here in the US. Say at the 30 K starting salary with college–40 or 45 with experience—true, maybe not what a successful entrepreneur earns…but maybe he just doesn’t have the desire to be his own boss.

Without college, yes it will be tough to start much above 20 to 25K a year–perhaps 28K for a manager assistant at a restro or cinema–but yeah that borders on burger flipping.

I wish the best.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Hi Pete – It is not really about the money at all, it is about doing something challenging and that can be rewarding – personally and financially – in the future. Something like working in a restaurant would bore Aaron. He, I am pretty certain, would want to work in something more technical. He has good tech skills and knowledge, and it is what he enjoys.

We will see what happens, but I think that in the past few weeks, he is starting to see the light, and feel that he has a path to follow!

Cy
Cy
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Pete, I’m not so sure about those jobs you mentioned. My brother, for example, is long-term unemployed and he has a BS in accounting with experience. He lives in a fairly large city, too… Nashville. He’s even tried applying for some basic bookkeeping jobs paying $12-$15 an hour. No takers. Things are nuts right now.

Gensan
Gensan
6 years ago
Reply to  Cy

Cy, I have an acctg degree too ( from the Phils.), and there are still a lot of acctg jobs in the US. He may want to try working for a small acctg firm or revisit his resume’. Sometimes companies will not hire you if you’re overqualified.

Dan Tyler
Dan Tyler
6 years ago
Reply to  Cy

Bob, This is a great post! So many good opinions prove how complex making a living really is. Comments rightly show that there is a big difference between making a living and prospering from a career that is both financially AND personally rewarding. My father fifty-five years ago could make more money working at the Ford factory stacking bumpers than many people make today in the U.S. These were the decades that a college degree or factory job ensured a lifetime of financial success. Those days are gone forever. Two years ago I went to truck driving school to earn… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan Tyler

Hi Dan – Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your comment. You know, I have often said in the past that here on LiP, the comments is where you will often find the gold! It sounds like you feel the same. When you speak of things like information products and that sort of thing… you are speaking my language, my friend! 🙂 You are very correct that like your friend in Brazil, once you get into a niche, you still have to be active, keep moving forward and always learn and change to keep owning that niche! I have… Read more »

Joel Dwire
6 years ago

I notice how you say the boy is 18 and it is time he did something. Too late . The teaching to be a leader starts way before 18. You , and most others are also missing the fact that the USA is the land of opportunity for people that actually want to earn a living with their hands and their back. This is scorned by the elite, aka , college graduates . There is a satisfaction that is derived from actually building, fixing something that that the ” educated ” sheople will never understand . Mike Rowe has stated… Read more »

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Joel Dwire

Hi Joel Dwire Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you hvae not been following this saga. I have been posting about this for the last 5 years, and I have been teaching Aaron about this kind of stuff since he was about 10 years old so so. So, right now might be too late to get started, but this process has been ongoing for a long, long time. We are just getting to the point where the rubber hits the road. 😉 Your part about earning your living with your back and your hands, I find to be mostly… Read more »

Robert Burke
6 years ago
Reply to  Joel Dwire

It is never to late…. Never….

Gensan
Gensan
6 years ago
Reply to  Joel Dwire

Ugh! You just lost me on your last statement.

breehat
6 years ago

I think both of you have valid assertions. But we cannot blame Aaron for what he perceived to be as opportunities. He is young, and he sees America as a different world compared to where he grew up in (the Philippines) . Also, he may see the world in America in a different perspective than you do . We can’t say for now, that there’s no opportunity for him to thrive and excel here, and we can’t say also that the Philippines can assure him opportunities available for him that he desires providing him happiness, success and satisfaction. I think… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  breehat

Hi breehat – I don’t think that I have “blamed” Aaron at all. I think that as his father I am trying to guide him, although his decisions are for him to make, but I see nothing wrong with guidance. No blame, though. I am not sure where you got the idea that I said that the Philippines can assure him opportunities. No country or person can assure anybody of opportunities. Only he can go out and get that. I just feel that there is more opportunity for him to go out and seize in the Philippines. Thanks for sharing… Read more »

breehat
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I think both of you have valid assertions. But we cannot blame Aaron for what he perceived to be as opportunities. He is young, and he sees America as a different world compared to where he grew up in (the Philippines) . Also, he may see the world in America in a different perspective than you do . We can’t say for now, that there’s no opportunity for him to thrive and excel here, and we can’t say also that the Philippines can assure him opportunities available for him that he desires providing him happiness, success and satisfaction. I think… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  breehat

Understood, thanks for sharing, breehat.

breehat
6 years ago
Reply to  breehat

Blame , I used that word as a “general context” …not you . But as a reference, if anyone tries to make it something as a “result ” of something that is undesirable, unacceptable or unnecessary. Sorry , I did not make myself clear. That’s why I used the word “we”.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  breehat

I understand. Thanks for clarifying.

Steve Ames
Steve Ames
6 years ago

I agree with you about entrepreneur opportunities being greater in the Philippines that in the states but remember not everyone wants to be there own boss. The job situation is not what it was 20 years ago. One more thing there is another flower site in the Philippines which I have used, it is Philflora, they are quite good.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve Ames

Hi Steve – I sure do agree that not everybody wants to be their own boss, and I will add that not everybody SHOULD be their own boss. It depends on the person. Aaron is a very independent type of person, though, and has expressed that he is looking for a type of work situation where he is not tied down to a single project and is free to do what he wants. Independence is what he is looking for, so I think self employment is right for him. Maybe he will jump into the conversation and express what he… Read more »

Jamie
Jamie
6 years ago

Bob: First of all, I do not agree with you that a college degree is of little importance. I understand that you have done well for yourself, never having completed college. But I can pretty much guarantee you that you would not be saying a college degree is of little importance if you had completed one. This is just my opinion, but I felt it needed to be said. Completing a college education is a valuable life lesson. Secondly, your son may not want to follow in his dad’s footsteps. This is not a failure on your part. An entrepreneurial… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Jamie

Hi Jamie – I have no problem with you disagreeing with me about college… we are all entitled to our own opinion. I see no benefits that a college degree would offer me in the line of work that I do. Now, keep in mind, I did go to college for 3 years, I just didn’t get a degree. So, I know there are benefits, but I see no reason to think that the piece of paper (or sheep skin) would be of any value to me. 🙂 If my son does not wish to follow in my footsteps I… Read more »

Jamie
Jamie
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Don’t know what it was, but once I got my 4 year degree doors opened for me and my income substantially increased. You have to experience it to really understand what a difference it can make.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Jamie

But it is not for everybody. I have no college degree. I went for 3 years and the boredom almost killed me, so I quit. Never looked back, and I am quite happy with the life that it afforded me.

Jamie
Jamie
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Again, as said above I can pretty much guarantee you that you would not be saying a college degree is of little importance if you had completed one. Sounds to me like you are just trying to justify dropping out of college. No offense intended, but if you are going to put your personal life out on the world wide web, you gotta be able to take a little constructive criticism.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Jamie

Jamie – You really don’t know anything about my life, my friend. I am glad that getting a college degree was a good thing for you, and I congratulate you on that. I get your message, you have told it to me so many times, that I don’t know this or that about what a college degree would do for me. Look, it ain’t gonna happen. I am 53 years old, and I am doing fine. Is there any reason why we have to keep driving this same point home day in and day out? I have taken your “constructive… Read more »

Jamie
Jamie
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob: It seems like I touched a nerve. I am sorry if I offended you. I will be fine with ending our discussion on this matter at this point. On another point, happy upcoming anniversary to you and Feyma. You may recall that you and I were married on the same day. I married my wife in Digos, on 08-28-1990. I have been following your site for several years.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Jamie

Thank you Jamie. You didn’t actually touch a nerve, except the continuous repetition of the same point over and over.

Feyma and my anniversary is on 8-9, so we were a bit ahead of you. Yep, Silver Anniversary this year!

Jamie
Jamie
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Our Silver Anniversary (25 year) is coming up!

Hey Joe
6 years ago

Bob Arron may not be talking entirely about entrepreneurial Opportunity. There are many good paying blue collar jobs in the USA and entry level to thes jobs might seem easier to him. For example, in the airline Industry there is many skilled jobs that can be entered as an apprentice so to speak. but to work your way up the ladder to the higher paying jobs You must first learn the trade well enough to get Licensed. This requires many hours of study and practice but it can be done. That is just one example of many I could name.… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Hey Joe

Yes, I know that Aaron may not have entrepreneurial opportunity in mind, but based on the things he has told me over the years, I feel pretty certain that is his longer term destination.

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