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Old 09-30-2010, 11:33 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 18,925,657 times
Reputation: 16881

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
It's all very interesting.

In a certain way, the Standard of Living for all Americans is higher than it has ever been. I am a young 24 years old, but even I remember comparatively austere times: back when most people had to find a payphone to make calls from anywhere but home or work, back when the answer to any factual question was NOT on your fingertips, back when you actually had to develop film before you saw your pictures, etc. By most measures, the American middle class has it the best of all the world's middle classes: bigger houses, bigger yards, more luxurious cars, and more consumption opportunities (even a worker here can own his own boat, four-wheeler, RV, or horse - and many can own all of them). Try to live a relatively middle class life (3,000 square foot home on 1/2 acre with two SUVs, a boat, a Jetski, and an RV) anywhere else than the U.S. and a select few other countries and see how much it will cost you in local terms. You'll be shocked.

The dark side, however, is a lot of this prosperity is saddled in debt - debt that will stay with most of the middle class for a lifetime, barring any hyper-inflation (and certainly in that case, the almighty bankers will find plenty of counter-measures). To make matters worse, healthcare costs are ascending at an alarming rate, and because of our odd healthcare system which ties health insurance to a job, medical bankruptcy is always a possibility. This causes the majority to feel stress (anticipation of a negative event). I think on the macro level, the stress of having to face potential drastic decreases in one's standard of living (and the actions that follow from that sense of foreboding, e.g. not taking vacation because of fear of one's employer thinking they are lazy) is much more of an issue than an actual decrease in standards of living.
I think the toys are better or simply replacements. My digital camera is more expensive than the brownie I had but I don't have to spend money to see what pictures came out or who's head got cut off. My cell is safer in and emergency than having to find a payphone and hoping it works. These are differences in technology.

The debt is another matter. If I had a huge debt and a good income I customarily would think of myself as doing well because of the income. But eventually the day of reconing comes and you can't pay minimum or its been raised too high. I've never considered the thing you bought on your credit card to be yours if you still carry the charge a couple years after you bought it. Your just renting it from the bank. To me the real worth is the cost of living including those credit card bills minus you income. I have family which would have qualified as broke because they were by the end of the month. We have to get back to credit being what you use for *needs* you have to fufill (like getting a new washer or getting the car fixed) and for true emergencies, not just to buy what you want via instant gratification. That is the most prevalant problem. Generations were taught to plan and save and decide if it was really wanted/needed. With credit we can see it and its riding home in the trunk. I wonder how much of the "stuff" that fuel credit card debt is stuff that would have been passed on if you had to think on it.

We see people who appear middle class with all the stuff but they are struggling with what to pay for and what to wait til next month, hoping it can be next month. Maybe they have a house but the couldn't afford one now. One should evaluate their real economic level not by what they have but by what they could afford if they had to buy it now to be real. Even with a house, if its value is less than its morgage and they couldn't buy it even at the depressed price its deal in reality time.
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:32 AM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,652 posts, read 16,308,770 times
Reputation: 6797
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightbird47 View Post
I think the toys are better or simply replacements. My digital camera is more expensive than the brownie I had but I don't have to spend money to see what pictures came out or who's head got cut off. My cell is safer in and emergency than having to find a payphone and hoping it works. These are differences in technology
True. I wouldn't think of digital cameras or cell phones exclusively as "toys", however - they also have innumerable practical applications and have certainly contributed to economic growth. I can take a digital camera on an estimate of somebody's house or business and E-mail it to the installers so they will see what they will need to get the job done; before, you would have to either a) have an installer go on the measure (which they often cannot), or b) bring your usual supplies, only to find that you have to pick up other supplies, which costs gas money and possibly money that would otherwise not be spent buying in bulk. Plus, my digital camera serves me perfectly well as a "toy". Cell phones are another thing that have certainly contributed to economic growth, both in the first world as well as the third: a Nigerian farmer can get quotes or prices over the phone almost instantly, where in the past he would have to make a dangerous and costly day's trip.

Quote:
The debt is another matter. If I had a huge debt and a good income I customarily would think of myself as doing well because of the income. But eventually the day of reconing comes and you can't pay minimum or its been raised too high. I've never considered the thing you bought on your credit card to be yours if you still carry the charge a couple years after you bought it. Your just renting it from the bank. To me the real worth is the cost of living including those credit card bills minus you income. I have family which would have qualified as broke because they were by the end of the month. We have to get back to credit being what you use for *needs* you have to fufill (like getting a new washer or getting the car fixed) and for true emergencies, not just to buy what you want via instant gratification. That is the most prevalant problem. Generations were taught to plan and save and decide if it was really wanted/needed. With credit we can see it and its riding home in the trunk. I wonder how much of the "stuff" that fuel credit card debt is stuff that would have been passed on if you had to think on it.

We see people who appear middle class with all the stuff but they are struggling with what to pay for and what to wait til next month, hoping it can be next month. Maybe they have a house but the couldn't afford one now. One should evaluate their real economic level not by what they have but by what they could afford if they had to buy it now to be real. Even with a house, if its value is less than its morgage and they couldn't buy it even at the depressed price its deal in reality time.
I agree. The problem is the difficulty of getting out of that mindset. Also, you have to remember those who did everything right, and then had some tragic event occur.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:41 AM
 
Location: San Diego California
6,797 posts, read 6,639,309 times
Reputation: 5180
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
It's all very interesting.

In a certain way, the Standard of Living for all Americans is higher than it has ever been. I am a young 24 years old, but even I remember comparatively austere times: back when most people had to find a payphone to make calls from anywhere but home or work, back when the answer to any factual question was NOT on your fingertips, back when you actually had to develop film before you saw your pictures, etc. By most measures, the American middle class has it the best of all the world's middle classes: bigger houses, bigger yards, more luxurious cars, and more consumption opportunities (even a worker here can own his own boat, four-wheeler, RV, or horse - and many can own all of them). Try to live a relatively middle class life (3,000 square foot home on 1/2 acre with two SUVs, a boat, a Jetski, and an RV) anywhere else than the U.S. and a select few other countries and see how much it will cost you in local terms. You'll be shocked.

The dark side, however, is a lot of this prosperity is saddled in debt - debt that will stay with most of the middle class for a lifetime, barring any hyper-inflation (and certainly in that case, the almighty bankers will find plenty of counter-measures). To make matters worse, healthcare costs are ascending at an alarming rate, and because of our odd healthcare system which ties health insurance to a job, medical bankruptcy is always a possibility. This causes the majority to feel stress (anticipation of a negative event). I think on the macro level, the stress of having to face potential drastic decreases in one's standard of living (and the actions that follow from that sense of foreboding, e.g. not taking vacation because of fear of one's employer thinking they are lazy) is much more of an issue than an actual decrease in standards of living.
It depends on how you define "standard of living". It is true that we have access to more gadgets today than in the past, and to some extent they make some aspects of life easier, but there are some very important considerations about the past many people born in the past 20 or 30 years are not aware of.
The amount of time that people have to work just to survive at a basic level is much higher than it used to be. Suicide rates are much higher. People live under much more stress than in the past. Laws rules and regulations infringe on almost every aspect of our lives now, and that was not the case in the past. People do not respect each others rights the way they did in the past, there used to be higher standards for manors and behavior. I can remember when it was common practice to leave your front door standing open all night when it was hot in the summer. People were more relaxed, where today they live in a constant state of low level paranoia. To me those are the things that determine your standard of living.
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Old 10-02-2010, 12:12 AM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,652 posts, read 16,308,770 times
Reputation: 6797
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhcom View Post
It depends on how you define "standard of living". It is true that we have access to more gadgets today than in the past, and to some extent they make some aspects of life easier, but there are some very important considerations about the past many people born in the past 20 or 30 years are not aware of.
The amount of time that people have to work just to survive at a basic level is much higher than it used to be. Suicide rates are much higher. People live under much more stress than in the past. Laws rules and regulations infringe on almost every aspect of our lives now, and that was not the case in the past. People do not respect each others rights the way they did in the past, there used to be higher standards for manors and behavior. I can remember when it was common practice to leave your front door standing open all night when it was hot in the summer. People were more relaxed, where today they live in a constant state of low level paranoia. To me those are the things that determine your standard of living.
That's "quality of life". It's very subjective and related to, but not the same as "standard of living", which is defined in primarily economic terms.
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Old 10-02-2010, 02:35 AM
 
16,434 posts, read 20,177,988 times
Reputation: 9565
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhcom View Post
It depends on how you define "standard of living". The amount of time that people have to work just to survive at a basic level is much higher than it used to be. Suicide rates are much higher. People live under much more stress than in the past. Laws rules and regulations infringe on almost every aspect of our lives now, and that was not the case in the past. People do not respect each others rights the way they did in the past, there used to be higher standards for manors and behavior. I can remember when it was common practice to leave your front door standing open all night when it was hot in the summer. People were more relaxed, where today they live in a constant state of low level paranoia. To me those are the things that determine your standard of living.
I couldn't agree more.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:42 AM
 
3,133 posts, read 4,091,010 times
Reputation: 4131
[SIZE=2]Maybe it's me, but wouldn't deflation help the economy somewhat. Lowering prices would enable many people to not have to slash and burn their budgets that much, and therefore the damage with regards to sales may not be as steep to buisness.
I submit this sounds simplistic and I know I'm missing something, so could anyone please help me out?
[/SIZE]
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:17 AM
 
Location: San Diego California
6,797 posts, read 6,639,309 times
Reputation: 5180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizzles View Post
[SIZE=2]Maybe it's me, but wouldn't deflation help the economy somewhat. Lowering prices would enable many people to not have to slash and burn their budgets that much, and therefore the damage with regards to sales may not be as steep to buisness.
I submit this sounds simplistic and I know I'm missing something, so could anyone please help me out?
[/SIZE]
Deflation is painful in the short term due to losses in asset values. Mainly real estate and equities. In the long term it lays the foundation for economic expansion by bringing asset values in line with real earnings. Depressions occur when assets are being purchased with debt instead of earnings. They are an economic reset button that brings values and wages back into balance.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:44 AM
 
8,265 posts, read 11,211,395 times
Reputation: 4788
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhcom View Post
The amount of time that people have to work just to survive at a basic level is much higher than it used to be.
I disagree. From what I've read the amount of money people spend on the basics of food/housing/clothing is a much smaller portion of their income than in the past.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:35 AM
 
Location: San Diego California
6,797 posts, read 6,639,309 times
Reputation: 5180
Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
I disagree. From what I've read the amount of money people spend on the basics of food/housing/clothing is a much smaller portion of their income than in the past.
Don't believe everything you read. I have lived thru both, and anyone who was working and supporting themselves 40 or 50 years ago will tell you it was much easier then. The caveat to that is if you are surviving off of social programs today, I suppose it is easier. But if you are working a lower wage job it was easier then. Cheap oil, lower taxes, and high employment, made everything easier and cheaper. Prior to the mid 70's inflation did not really exist. $75 rent, $100 used cars, $.25 gas $.18 bread. You really did not need to make much to survive.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:02 AM
 
48,508 posts, read 88,602,322 times
Reputation: 18188
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhcom View Post
It depends on how you define "standard of living". It is true that we have access to more gadgets today than in the past, and to some extent they make some aspects of life easier, but there are some very important considerations about the past many people born in the past 20 or 30 years are not aware of.
The amount of time that people have to work just to survive at a basic level is much higher than it used to be. Suicide rates are much higher. People live under much more stress than in the past. Laws rules and regulations infringe on almost every aspect of our lives now, and that was not the case in the past. People do not respect each others rights the way they did in the past, there used to be higher standards for manors and behavior. I can remember when it was common practice to leave your front door standing open all night when it was hot in the summer. People were more relaxed, where today they live in a constant state of low level paranoia. To me those are the things that determine your standard of living.
I was rised in the 50's and people even at work do not work as hard now days. Tehere was a interestig reality show produced by BBC on conditions during WWII on theire homew front. Bascailly they found people who loved the idea of living in thsoe times. They put them thru the same conditions living i a home but tehy did not of course have thee stress of actaul bombing. Just living truend these people off what they had thouhgt. They bascially said they were always so tired just getting things doen they were always stressed out;besides physically exhausted. We have it made now days compared to the past.
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