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Old 01-06-2010, 01:59 AM
Location: Florida
1,779 posts, read 3,484,888 times
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Originally Posted by jjacobeclark View Post
That's debatable. I think a Black man would've had an easier time getting a job in a factory in Detroit or Pittsburgh back in the 60's than he would today. Manufacturing was the backbone of our country; it provided decent wages and benefits to people (of all colors) without college educations.

Today, households require two incomes just to survive, let alone prosper. Women no longer have the choice of being homemakers. Households used to be able to survive on one income, and people had huge families back then. A family could own a house, a car, maybe a boat if they were lucky, put away money for retirement and their kids' college, and they could still afford to take a vacation every summer, all off of a single income earner. Those days are long, long gone.
I agree it really is debatable.

Housework and child care haven't gotten any easier since the 50's/60's the only difference is now women must do all that plus have a job and are much more likely to have to do that by themselves than they did back then (single mothers much more common). Is today really a higher quality of life?

Community dances turned into ecstasy and alcohol fueled parties rife with unsafe sex and manners such as holding doors open and being polite disappeared.

Families have to struggle even with dual incomes and crushing debt, back then a single income was enough.

And kids....instead of playing outdoors, now there is a bunch of dangerous substances and electronic poison rotting their brains and leading to an obesity epidemic.

The quality of life was much better back then.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:17 AM
Location: SF Bay Area
14,330 posts, read 19,538,449 times
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With the exception of the 8 horrific George Bush years, now is better. Bush took us back to a time when domestic concerns were ignored in favor of warmongering, neanderthal diplomacy, and divisiveness, certainly before the last century.

Now is a better quality, especially with President Obama at the helm.
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:07 AM
Location: Queens, NY
3,576 posts, read 6,653,266 times
Reputation: 1423
uh...lol at debatable.

i like that i don't have to drink out of a colored water fountain.
i like that i am not forced to sit at the back of a bus.
i like that i don't have to walk miles and miles because my family can't afford a car ("most families had a car"...yeah, ok...think about the whole and not just one race, here...)
i like not being spit on, called out of my name to my face (because some ppl still think it but won't say it nowadays)
i like chillin with my friends that are not the same race as i am without anybody worrying about ppl looking at us "funny," or trying to kill us
i like that my mom was nobody's maid
etc. etc.

my grandmother was a maid for awhile and my mom drank out of a colored water fountain. hell no i wouldn't take the 50's or 60's over now. are you crazy??

funny story. this lady asked my mom where her tail was back then.
in the 40's, my grandmother and her friend went to a store and were thirsty. her friend got the idea of dranking out of the white water fountain. so they did. someone caught them and yelled at them. her friend told that person to kiss her ...well, you know. and they ran the hell outta there.

its funny now but very gutsy then. its just plain stupid that we, we meaning americans, were that dumb...were stupid enough to let race divide us. it still does but not so much as it did then.

prominent black leaders were killed trying to get equal rights for all. ppl were lynched, beaten, hang from trees, terrorized for us to live the way we live now.

lol at working in a factory. screw that. while other ppl owned businesses that we worked in for much less? na son.

i like ownership. even if i'm likely to make less than my counterparts due to my race, at least it is much higher than it used to be and at least i have more opportunties to get ahead and one day own my own business than i would have back then.

again, hell no to the 50's and 60's. i'm good.
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:37 AM
11,172 posts, read 22,366,973 times
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For a middle class white person the general consensus I've seen from people who lived in that era is that life is much easier now with technology, but the standard of living and the "happiness" or quality of life was much better back in the 1950's-1960's. Rarely locked doors because of a lack of crime in most places, didn't worry about people in your own country - only others across the seas, were much more involved in their lives because they didn't spend half of it behind a computer or a TV, no traffic, more in control of their lives since things moved on a human level instead of the current global level where if you don't keep up you just get booted.

I would probably have taken the 50's and 60's.....as a white middle class person. Adjusted for inflation the actual wealth of the "average person" has been going down for decades now. It makes sense though - back then we ran the world and most others were getting over wars or living without a modern economy. We supplied the world and reaped the benifits. Now we're somewhat artificially proped up because technology is making things cheaper, and mostly because we're shelling out our prior earned national wealth to other poorer countries who can give us things extremely cheap.

Of course if you're black, gay, a woman who wants to go far in life, etc. things are much better now as far as opportunity, but again that comes with all the increases in stress of the modern time.
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:56 AM
Location: Western North Carolina
4,948 posts, read 7,875,344 times
Reputation: 10420
I don't think GREED had permeated the corporate world the way it has today. I also don't think corporations and special interests had as much control over our government as they do today, and have had for the past few decades.

The measure of a good corporate leader was measured largly on how well his workers were doing, and how good THEIR quality of life was. Not today. If the CEO is making mult-millions and the stock holders are getting dividends, the company is considered "successful", regardless if jobs and benefits have been taken from the workers (and ultimately, their families) in order to achieve those profits. For shame.

We have lost our industrial base, and this has repercusisons for all of us. This has hurt our overall quality of life.

Are women better off? Not so sure.

I would have LIKED to stay home with my children for a little while after they were born but didn't have a choice because we needed two incomes, as most families do today. I'm not sure if this is an improvement in the lives of women. Then again, I am thankful that there are so many job opportunities out there for women, and that equality is much better in the workplace. Anti-harrassment laws are strong, and that is a GOOD thing.

However, our health care system is a dismal failure, again, due to corporate greed.

I'm a single, full-time working mother who can't afford to go to the doctor because I can't afford my emjployers outragerously priced insurance premiums, and can't afford to pay out of pocket.

My 20 year old daughter can't find a full-time job with benefits, even though she really wants to work full-time, and therefore also has no insurance. She also can't afford to go to the doctor. (If she had a child out of wedlock of course, and went on welfare, she would qualify for free medicaid. Ridiculous.)

These things, more than anything in my opinion, are what has hurt America, and our quality of life, in present times. Fancy electronic gizmos don't make a better quality of life.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:39 AM
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,284,915 times
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We don't worry about our kids being paralyzed for life by polio anymore.

Also it's still possible for many families to live on a single income. Just own one car (or less), live in a tiny house, own one tv without cable. Never take a vacation farther than the local state park. Don't use air conditioning. Don't buy clothes, make them at home. Don't eat out ever. Don't expect your kids will go to college.

If we had health insurance that only covered treatments available 40 years ago, it would be a lot cheaper too. It would pay for removing your appendix, a few basic antibiotics, maybe pap smears and physicals. If you had a heart attack, you would get bed rest and not much else. Cancer? Go home and die. Need an organ transplant? Sorry.

Last edited by oakparkdude; 01-06-2010 at 08:51 AM..
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:55 AM
5,721 posts, read 9,086,134 times
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Originally Posted by Rachael84 View Post
1950s definitely. I was born in the wrong time period. My family has always told me that.
I second that. I'm an anachronism in the current culture. 50's would definitely be a less stressful period in which to live.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:01 AM
7,594 posts, read 9,446,457 times
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This is probably one of the most interesting topics ever discussed on City-Data. You could easily write a 500-page book on this topic.

In general, in a very broad, INCLUSIVE sense, opportunities are better for ALL Americans now, but in a quite a few categories, the 50s-60s would win. More affordable housing, one-income only households, much less violent crime, no drug-ravaged neighborhoods, etc, are all indicators in which the older generation would win.

I think that one of the biggest ironies of American life in the 20th century is that for members of the "Greatest Generation", who had miserable, poor childhoods in the Great Depression, and then were drafted to fight in WWII and Korea, and overcame all that, actually saw their lives IMPROVE as they got older, as they were able to afford homes and sustain their families on one income, in sharp contrast to younger generations, who,it seems, "peaked" in their childhoods and young adulthood, only to face great economic difficulties hrough job loss, underemployment, and high uncertainty in life, in general as they got older. This is very evident to me, now, in the year 2010.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:17 AM
1,604 posts, read 3,501,875 times
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I'd say the 1990s (up to 2001) was much better for everyone! Much better than either the 50s-60 or now. You had:

-A stable and growing economy without the extreme bubbles (including the dot com bubble, which compared to the housing market bubble, wasn't as traumatic when it popped).
-Everyone in all socioeconomic classes rising their standard of living, a growing middle class, and a rare phenomenon of the the income gap actually narrowing.
-Women and minorities being treated MORE equal than today, and there was no pressure of being politically correct. Just to treat everyone like you would want to be treated.
-Wars were at a minimum (after the Gulf War, which wasn't really that traumatic compared to the War of Iraq/Terror), and the most many people in the military did were tours at military bases in peaceful countries.
-The media wasn't trying to manipulate people that genuine morality and being one's self was a sin. Being a non-conformist and independent-minded was seen as a positive thing.
-Movies and TV shows depicted and celebrated regular people doing everyday things. The genuine and normal people & families were the protagonists and main stars. Hollywood praised actual actors that contributed to something (whether in acting or outside of it), and paid little attention to talentless dramawh*res and heiress sluts
-Cultural and racial diversity back then was something that just happened, usually with the people who were truly educated, intellectual, or just open-minded in general. It wasn't bragged about or something that was used for show. And it didn't include the most intolerable people from each race/religion to be in a close vicinity and "tolerate differences."
-Parties were actually wilder, but people were still more dignified and sincere about it. Parties consisted of just having a good time and letting loose, not going out to "see and be seen." Parties were bigger and louder, but were more genuine and social and less stuck up and cliquey.

Originally Posted by MassVt View Post
I think that one of the biggest ironies of American life in the 20th century is that for members of the "Greatest Generation", who had miserable, poor childhoods in the Great Depression, and then were drafted to fight in WWII and Korea, and overcame all that, actually saw their lives IMPROVE as they got older, as they were able to afford homes and sustain their families on one income, in sharp contrast to younger generations, who,it seems, "peaked" in their childhoods and young adulthood, only to face great economic difficulties hrough job loss, underemployment, and high uncertainty in life, in general as they got older. This is very evident to me, now, in the year 2010.
This is definitely evident for me as well. Even though I have a secure job that has a lot of promise (whether I stay here or work somewhere else), I do see a quality of living overall decline rapidly. For me, this is why I credit the quality of life as very great in the 1990s (being born in 1987), particularly compared to the recent 2000s. My ultimate wish is that America could relieve the 1990s in a sense (or at least achieve a 1950s quality of life without the racial and female discrimination).
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:24 AM
11,172 posts, read 22,366,973 times
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^ yeah, except for the unbelievable crime rates in the early 90's (which were strongly concentrated in select areas), I think the 80's and 90's were pretty good.

Awesome economy, people still socialized with strangers without the extreme fear that anyone you don't know naturally wants to kill you, etc.

I honestly think one of the things that disturbs me most about the modern age is that people seem to spend almost all their time either on computers, smart phones, playing video games, listening to Ipods, or watching TV and DVR. I mean how many times do you hang out in a group and notice that more and more people are obsessing with their phones? Facebook, games, texting, etc.

I was just talking with my friends how we feel so lucky to have grown up in the 80's before a childs life evolved into computer games, cell phones and TV. I mean we use to watch TV, but we'd still just run outside about 80% of the time and our parents weren't terrified we were OUTDOORS ALONE and they didn't know exactly where we were. Now it seems parents think that everyone out there wants to destroy their children, and they have constant contact via cell phone. I appreciated being able to run outside and play as a 10 year old and trust that I can work basic things out and come home without adults instilling a constant fear in me.

It seems almost amazing that in the 50's and early 60's kids in the middle of huge cities like Chicago and New York would just run outside in the morning and be around the neighborhood playing and going to corner stores, alleys, etc. until dark - most said when the streetlights went on that was the universal sign that you'd better get home. They'd just go from house to house, no one ever called or anything, and parents really never knew exaclty where they were.

Drop a couple 10 year olds in Chicago or Brooklyn now and have them run the streets alone from dawn to dusk and you'd probably have people saying the parents should be arrested for endangerment. Back then the people I've seen interviewed and have talked with said kidnappings and random crimes really never entered into the equation. You were just a kid out playing in the back alley or around the neighborhood. Things have changed GREATLY in that sense. Everyone use to know everyone else on the entire block, all the store clerks, etc.
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