Holt on April 17, 2011, 08:49:12 am
We still have a better life on average that 99% of all the people who ever lived.

True. Fortunately here in the UK this mess means that we're unlikely to see anarchists in force for a long time.

quadibloc on April 17, 2011, 09:48:23 am
In recent years, the standard of living in the US, as measured by the amount of food, petrol, clothing, cooking, and air conditioning the average person can afford has been falling like a stone, a state of affairs partially concealed by increasingly fraudulent statistics.
This is quite true.

In 1966, it was still the case that what people saw, from looking around them, was that if you behaved yourself in school, didn't do drugs, didn't get into trouble with the law, once you graduated from high school, even if you didn't make it into college, you would be able to get a steady job, save your money, buy a car, pay off a mortgage, raise a family, and so on.

A few years later, this all fell apart, and it hasn't been fixed yet.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 09:55:11 am

In 1966, it was still the case that what people saw, from looking around them, was that if you behaved yourself in school, didn't do drugs, didn't get into trouble with the law, once you graduated from high school, even if you didn't make it into college, you would be able to get a steady job, save your money, buy a car, pay off a mortgage, raise a family, and so on.

A few years later, this all fell apart, and it hasn't been fixed yet.

I doubt that is true but even if it is you are picking one year and saying look how great it was then.  It is a better idea to look at the trends.  The long term trends are moving up since the invention of the printing press.  They really accelerated with the Industrial Revolution.  Don't you agree that your life is better than your ancestors?  All of them.  Think about medicine and technology.  Whenever I get an earache I think about what I would do before penicillin.  I would suffer.  Now I don't have to.

I have been thinking about my I-Pad recently.  It has improved the quality of my life.  That is just one small example of how thing are better.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 09:57:36 am by GlennWatson »

Holt on April 17, 2011, 10:25:50 am
This is quite true.

In 1966, it was still the case that what people saw, from looking around them, was that if you behaved yourself in school, didn't do drugs, didn't get into trouble with the law, once you graduated from high school, even if you didn't make it into college, you would be able to get a steady job, save your money, buy a car, pay off a mortgage, raise a family, and so on.

A few years later, this all fell apart, and it hasn't been fixed yet.

Didn't really fall apart until the 90s. Really the boomers and Gen X were a bunch of spoiled cunts. They never actually had to put up with a world where things didn't come easy for them.

quadibloc on April 17, 2011, 10:44:07 am
They never actually had to put up with a world where things didn't come easy for them.
It's only the leading-edge boomers that actually had things "come easy" for long enough that they could get their careers in place. And they faced other problems that people in later eras did not.

Trailing-edge boomers, and people in Gen X, saw the success of the leading-edge boomers, but they didn't get to succeed in the same fashion themselves. Now, maybe expecting the government to somehow manage the economy so that getting a steady job would be just as easy for everyone who came after the leading-edge boomers, forever and ever, is unrealistic. I view that, on one level, as irrelevant. The government is supposed to try to do what the people want, not give back talk.

On another level, though, I acknowledge that government doesn't have magic powers to make land for housing near major cities, or oil, appear out of thin air. If the population grows, some resources will be in short supply.

But there's another thing to consider. Those lucky leading-edge boomers - yes, they were able to get steady jobs coming out of high school. Many of them, though, raised families while living in cramped apartments, and could afford very little in the way of material luxuries. The people who say we are richer now than we were in the early 1960s are not entirely wrong - they have facts and figures to support their case.

What has really happened is that we are richer, but we feel poorer. The distribution of wealth is less equitable, but people still have more than they used to at all levels, even if things have improved more for the rich.

So there's no problem, right? People are just spoiled and envious, and it's their greed, not their poverty, that leads them to support evil socialist demagogues?

Would that it were as simple as that. The real problem is that the financial threshhold for what really matters in life, marriage and a family, has risen far more quickly than our level of material production. Or the material goods that count for that - housing and automobiles - haven't fallen in price like some others, thanks to cheap imports from China.

How do you fix that? Without taking away the equal rights women gained in the 1970s to have any jobs that they're qualified for?

Holt on April 17, 2011, 11:48:10 am
All the boomers grew up in a world where work was easy to find. There being more people than work was something that was rare for them while for younger generations like Gen Y it is the norm.

It's like a party. Imagine the pre "greatest generation" group of generations set up a big party for everyone. Lots of great food in a nice house and plenty of entertainment. The Greatest Generation came alone, took some food and then went and had a big fight in the pool which killed most of them. After that they wandered off looking for someone else to fight and eventually got picked up by the police and thrown in a cell. The Boomers came along and ate until they were sick, then ate some more. Took all the best entertainment for themselves and generally just made a mess and consumed as much as they could. Gen X came along, got to have some of the nicer stuff left behind that the boomers hadn't eaten yet and the boomers were even nice enough to let Gen X play with some of the stuff they'd taken. Then Gen Y came along. By this point there was nothing left except the shit the boomers didn't want and they noticed the message on the fridge that said they'd be the ones cleaning up after the party. Course Gen Y gets a bit pissed, tells the Boomers to stop shitting on the walls and being prats but the Boomers just continue and Gen X defends them because they think the boomers are their friends. Then the millennials come tearing into the party and their complete inability to discern right from wrong appeals to the boomers who take them in as their little pets and get them to raise some more hell for Gen Y to clean up.
Mind you by this point Gen X have noticed they'll probably have to clean up some of the mess too and are starting to grumble a bit but they're still too loyal to their buddy to actually do anything to stop him.

That is our world. That is what rampant unrestrained capitalism has accomplished.

J Thomas on April 17, 2011, 11:56:03 am

In 1966, it was still the case that what people saw, from looking around them, was that if you behaved yourself in school, didn't do drugs, didn't get into trouble with the law, once you graduated from high school, even if you didn't make it into college, you would be able to get a steady job, save your money, buy a car, pay off a mortgage, raise a family, and so on.

A few years later, this all fell apart, and it hasn't been fixed yet.

Yes, but the real good times were from something like 1947 to 1970 or so. Before that we had the war and the depression. Before that there was a boom that didn't affect the majority of people much. The 20's were great for the minority of people that the media of the time paid attention to. Before that it was a series of booms and busts. There were lots of subsistence farmers who got left out of the booms but during the busts they got farm hands who helped out until there were actual jobs.

Bicycles made a big difference. Automobiles made a bigger difference. Telephones were important -- my great-aunt told me how it used to be, when the people closest to the lowlands saw the cop cars come up the road they'd call up the party line. "Law's coming in. Law's coming in." So everybody knew ahead of time. But electricity didn't matter much to country people until the REA during the depression. They used oil lamps until then, and cheap kerosene in place of whale oil was a pretty good deal.

Throughout the 19th century what made America a pretty good place to live was that we still had places you could homestead your own farm, and we had lots of resources to exploit, despite lots of immigration we never got that much of a labor surplus, and the government didn't do much. They drafted a lot of people to fight the Civil War, they set up official banks and "regulated" them, but mostly they just weren't very active.

But what we think of as prosperity -- lots of urban and suburban people who owned their own homes, bought new cars every 3 years, ate meat 4 or more days a week, had working catastrophic health insurance, and could afford newfangled devices like air conditioning, TVs, etc -- that was basicly 2 or 3 decades.

Now we have much better toys to buy but they don't sell that well. Like, as of last September Apple had sold 7.2 million Ipads total, out of 300 million Americans. It's a toy for affluent people. My family has one desktop for each person plus a laptop that gets used by whoever is going out, but a whole lot of families have only one computer to share among them all. There are still families that don't even have a computer unless you count the kids' nintendo or the offbrand MP3 players.

I pay $100-150/month for air conditioning on top of the eletric bill 7 to 8 months a year, because my wife likes it cold. Lots of people can't afford that but they do it anyway. How many people even had air conditioning before the 1960's? Lots of big companies got air conditioning for their computers first, and then later they got it for the office workers too.

So here we are, with frozen food that used to be available only fresh from French chefs, and 250 channels on TV, and telephones with enough call blocking etc options that they can't follow the instruction manual, and more electronic gadgets than they can pay attention to, and SUVs and MacMansions, and they can't pay for it all. They feel pinched. They feel like they aren't as rich as they used to be. The more new stuff that comes out that they can't afford, the poorer they feel.

There was one generation that had pretty near as much as it could imagine. Just one. Now there's a lot of stuff we could buy if we could afford it, that's available to somebody else. But not to us. The middle class is shrinking. It takes a lot more stuff to feel middle-class than it used to.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 12:22:51 pm
The government is supposed to try to do what the people want, not give back talk.

Why do you say that?

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What has really happened is that we are richer, but we feel poorer. The distribution of wealth is less equitable, but people still have more than they used to at all levels, even if things have improved more for the rich.

I agree with most of that.  But I would say we are better off than say the peasants of the middle ages in relation to the nobility of our time.

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How do you fix that?

You don't.  Jesus said the poor will always be among us.

sam on April 17, 2011, 12:23:26 pm
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In recent years, the standard of living in the US, as measured by the amount of food, petrol, clothing, cooking, and air conditioning the average person can afford has been falling like a stone, a state of affairs partially concealed by increasingly fraudulent statistics.

According to Russ Roberts and the economists he interview weekly that is not true. 

There are quite a lot things that are obviously false, yet no academic (libertarian or not) dares doubt them publicly.  Academia is a police state.  Economists are allowed to be libertarian, within certain limits, which limits tighten every year.   Doubting government statistics is one verboten topic, one of a great and increasing number of such topics. 

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 12:25:01 pm
All the boomers grew up in a world where work was easy to find. There being more people than work was something that was rare for them while for younger generations like Gen Y it is the norm.

It's like a party. Imagine the pre "greatest generation" group of generations set up a big party for everyone. Lots of great food in a nice house and plenty of entertainment. The Greatest Generation came alone, took some food and then went and had a big fight in the pool which killed most of them. After that they wandered off looking for someone else to fight and eventually got picked up by the police and thrown in a cell. The Boomers came along and ate until they were sick, then ate some more. Took all the best entertainment for themselves and generally just made a mess and consumed as much as they could. Gen X came along, got to have some of the nicer stuff left behind that the boomers hadn't eaten yet and the boomers were even nice enough to let Gen X play with some of the stuff they'd taken. Then Gen Y came along. By this point there was nothing left except the shit the boomers didn't want and they noticed the message on the fridge that said they'd be the ones cleaning up after the party. Course Gen Y gets a bit pissed, tells the Boomers to stop shitting on the walls and being prats but the Boomers just continue and Gen X defends them because they think the boomers are their friends. Then the millennials come tearing into the party and their complete inability to discern right from wrong appeals to the boomers who take them in as their little pets and get them to raise some more hell for Gen Y to clean up.  Mind you by this point Gen X have noticed they'll probably have to clean up some of the mess too and are starting to grumble a bit but they're still too loyal to their buddy to actually do anything to stop him.

That was the most complicated analogy I have ever seen.

sam on April 17, 2011, 12:30:51 pm
Do you know what America's biggest health problem is.  We eat too much.
Do you know how much Americans spend every year on our pets?  We spend between $16 and $41 billion a year.
We are all but unassailable militarily.

China has recently acquired the capacity to sweep us from the ocean in a wide area around China.

We have a stable electoral system.

We do not have a stable electoral system.  Every year there is more fraud than the year before, and the day fast approaches when the losers will not accept the outcome.  The recent judicial election in Wisconsin was only close because of fraud.  Further fraud will push a judge over the top who intends to act as legislature and executive.  And if that does not cause the losers to mutiny, sooner or later there will be a fraud that does.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 12:32:52 pm
Yes, but the real good times were from something like 1947 to 1970 or so.

Not counting segregation, lack if civil rights for Blacks, smoking, the Cold War, possible nuclear annihilation, polio, no Internet, I could go on and on.  

The idea that we donít live in a Golden Age anymore is just not born out by the facts.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 12:36:19 pm
China has recently acquired the capacity to sweep us from the ocean in a wide area around China.

Maybe, but I am more concerned about the area about the USA.  WE are all but unassailable.  So is China I guess.

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We do not have a stable electoral system.  Every year there is more fraud than the year before.

No system is perfect but we have been doing well for over 200 years.  That a pretty good record of elections.

Holt on April 17, 2011, 12:51:52 pm
That was the most complicated analogy I have ever seen.

Second most complicated I've ever seen.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 12:53:14 pm
That was the most complicated analogy I have ever seen.

Second most complicated I've ever seen.

Please share the first.

 

anything