28 September 2015

Remember when "America was great" ?

An article in The Atlantic reminds us of conditions in the 1950s...
Everyone agrees that the midcentury boom times began after Allied soldiers returned in triumph from World War II...

In 1950, America led the world in GDP per capita. Even by 1973, it had only sunk to number two. Jobs were so plentiful that male employment peaked at over 84 percent. Unemployment, when it did strike, didn’t last long. Housing was cheap. Gas was cheap. Movies were cheap. If America was ever “great,” it was great in 1950, and one can sympathize with a desire to recreate those economic conditions, if not the social ones.
And those economic conditions were achieved in a period of strong labor unions, high taxes, and Big Government...


  1. Spotted recently:

    Conservatives: Let's go back to the good old times of the 1950s.

    1950s: Had 92% income tax for the mega wealthy which allowed for households with a single breadwinner. Had minimum wage high enough to get somebody through college.

    Conservatives: No... not that part. The sexism and racism part is the one I like...

  2. As Colbert says, we ought to be "re-becoming the greatness we never weren't."

  3. They were achieved as a result of trillions of dollars of global GDP being destroyed in a worldwide calamity that left tens of millions dead and the US as the only developed country with intact industry.

    1. Pretty much.

      WWI and WWII were extremely lucrative to the United States. In both instances ,the wars served to rejuvenate a sluggish (pre-1914) economy and the Great Depression (WWII).

      The cost to humanity and the planet wasn't worth the economic windfall.

  4. Number of pages in the Federal Register:
    1950 = 10,000
    Today = 80,000+

  5. Not such a great time if you were a member of a minority, or thought Karl Marx might have some insight into the nature of capitalism. Terrible time to be a non-conformist. And then there was The Bomb. Yeah, good times.

    However, the point you make at the end--the "false nostalgia" of some conservatives--is poignant.

    However, the point you make at the end is indeed relevant.

  6. Of every age, we can say with Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It just depends on what we choose (or can we even help it?) to prioritize. Some can see only or mostly the good, while others can only seem to see what was wrong with it.

    One day, perhaps, if the Lord tarries, we will one day look back on these days with such nostalgia.

  7. My parents moved into a cold water flat in 1950 in the SOHO section of NYC for... $15 a month. An unskilled laborer, my father recalled he could quit a job in the AM, get another that afternoon. No one who wanted to work went without the bare minimum of a roof over their head and food to eat. In 1973, I attended a tuition free city university from which I would eventually graduate from.

    Now I get to see those jobs come back to our country (literally) by the boatload on any given day on the backs of container ships sailing under the Golden Gate right into our living rooms...

  8. http://www.thenation.com/article/in-america-you-can-work-hard-play-by-the-rules-and-still-get-screwed/


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