Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oh For the Good Ole' Days

Many of my co-workers are unhappy because things are not like they were when their parents and grandparents were our age. In the late '40s until about 1970 it seemed like America was on a roll and could do no wrong. A highschool graduate could be married and own a house before they were 21 and look forward to a life of affluence. People thought it would only get better and better.

Sadly, it was not to be.

I refer to that time period as a hyperprosperity. It was a period that is probably unique in our history, a golden age so to speak. It's not likely to come back in such a manner.

It was caused by a convergence of three things, that simultaneously went right for America, allowing us to briefly go into abnormally high prosperity.

1. After WWII almost the entire industrial world was in ruins, but America, and a couple of other countries, came through intact. For a few years we had the world's only functional economy and the rest of the world was depending on us. Of course things were going to be good. When the rest of the world's economies caught up it hurt us and slowed us down because we now had competition.

If there is another war of that scale, I doubt that America will be unscathed this time.

2. It was a generation that survived the Great Depression and won WWII. They believed nothing was impossible and had a CAN-DO attitude, an understanding of sacrifice, and the discipline brought on by hardship. We baby-boomers had it way to easy and as a results we lack all of the above. (However, I believe this is the one that can be revived and restored, but it will take work and a massive change in attitudes.)

3. The Baby Boom. A lot of children being born is good for any large-scale economy. I don't know, however, if it is possible or wise to create another such baby-boom. (There are Christians on both sides of that argument and I don't want it here.)

America is going to prosper, and be a great nation for a long time, but that particular golden age is gone and not coming back. Any political program designed to bring it back is doomed to fail. I wonder what can bring on a new golden age.

We had it so good then that we don't realize that we really don't have it all the bad today. In many ways we are richer and better off than the Americans of that golden age, but we just don't realize it because it is no longer easy to enter the middle class right out of High School. We need to compare our lives, not only to 50 years ago, but also the rest of human history and rest of the human race. We say America is going to hell in a handbasket while the rest of the world is beating down the door to get here and get a piece of our prosperity.

We do need to make it as good as possible and we can still have a good life. It just won't happen the same way it happened 50 years ago.

4 Comments:

Blogger Lone Pony said...

Very true Shoprat. I say that often. I won't ever complain again. I've come a long way. I have a good job and I'm free. That makes me very happy.

9:38 PM  
Blogger NEO, SOC said...

The first fix is winning the Intellectual Revolution. It is getting people back to the correct way of thinking. Rediscover character and commitment and we may have a chance.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Great post, and good points on how it happened. There was one other fairly intact industrial nation, Russia. Through sheer will they moved most of their manufacturing to safer areas of the country, while dealing with the Nazi onslaught. Unfortunately the commie model didn't work out for supplying the world.

For a good look at "poverty" in America today, check out this Heritage study on it.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg1713.cfm

10:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Great Post, ES! I agree totally. Yes, you now need a degree to do well, but stop whining, get back to school and crack open those textbooks and the sky is the limit. I can't tell you how many times I have met people from other nations who are degreed professionals but will take ANY job just to get over here.
CP- I'd have to disagree with your view that the USSR was relativly unscathed in WWII. True, they moved a lot of industry behind the Urals, but they also destroyed at least as much to prevent it from being stolen by the Germans. Also, 20 million dead (most of them in the prime of their lives)bled the counrty white. USA lost less than 500,000 which was hardly a drop in the bucket for a nation of 140,000,000. I like to say "the Soviets won WWII in Europe with our help, and we won the war in Asia (with a little help from the USSR). I'm sure I'll get some catcalls about that, but look at the history, and you'll see that I'm right. They beat the Germans at Stalingrad, and it was all down hill for the Germans after that. They were pushing them back long before we opened up the second front.

12:38 PM  

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