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Old 08-22-2011, 12:55 PM
 
Location: MN
378 posts, read 638,483 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
No it hasn't.
Having an X vs your grandfather not having an X is not in itself a measure of anything significant.

The main distinctions of difference of whether those things that surround us...
is the debt associated with having that X and how many of our neighbors were employed in creating that X.

There is only an illusion of having more.
The material standard of living is most often quantified by per capita real GDP. This figure has risen significantly.

Are we happier now? No. I posted a study supporting this.
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:59 PM
 
9,856 posts, read 14,043,505 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
No it hasn't.
Having an X vs your grandfather not having an X is not in itself a measure of anything significant.

The main distinctions of difference of whether those things that surround us have real value to us...
is the debt associated with having that X and how many of our neighbors were employed in creating that X.

There is only an illusion of having more.
Over the last four decades the middle class has shrunk (so that we are on the same page, I am defining this as families making between $30k and $100k/year in today's terms), where the poorer class (those making under $30k/year in today's money) has stayed the same.

Over the last four decades the middle class has been moving to upper class status. As households, people make more money now than they used to in the past (adjusted for inflation of course).

We as middle class America have more today than we used to. If we started living a middle class lifestyle again, we would have many less problems. Do you have any actual numbers to back yourself up?
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Old 08-22-2011, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Here.
15,454 posts, read 14,014,113 times
Reputation: 18080
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The old black-and-white argument. An economic society must be either ALL capitalist or ALL communist. With no logical or rational analysis to look for ways that the two sectors can be blended. You mean anti-extremist sentiments?

Give me a rough overview about how capital and public-sector can cooperate to form a model economic society. Or admit that you are an extremist, and continue to rail against the anti-extremists.
Oh, I believe in a "blended" economy. But when you have more people working as government bureaucrats and pencil-pushers than you do creating wealth as factory workers then you are bound to see the economy decline.


I think a rough overview on how the capital and public sectors can cooperate would be:
  1. Our government insuring that all products sold in America be made in accordance with our laws. That includes all imports. Products that don't meet this requirement will be tariffed at such a rate that they have no cost advantage for American consumers. In fact, I am in favor of a much broader use of tariffs.
  2. Government take a more active role in promoting and preserving our businesses. Too many people have elected too many politicians who demonize companies and fail to realize it is companies that create jobs.
  3. Government allowing cooperative efforts between companies and between companies and banks, similar to the Japanese system of kieretsu. Unfortunately, we are stuck on the anti-trust laws that at one time may have made sense, but are now a great handicap.
  4. The government can limit imports from a certain country so that they do not exceed our exports to that country.
  5. Governments, especially city governments can cut a lot of the red-tape and taxes that makes opening businesses burdensome.
  6. End the misconception that the government can do a better job running things than private enterprise. The only reason to have the government perform some function is because the free market is unable to, not because of the illusion that the government can do a better job of it. I have no problem with the government running the military or police and fire departments, but why should the government take over something that is already being provided privately, e.g. medical care.
  7. Reduce the burden of government. The tax laws are way too complex. I'm not talking about the tax rates, I'm talking the laws that no one can understand. Make all other regulations simpler. We have to reduce the advantage that foreign producers have. Either we need to lower our standards or require what I suggested in #1.
  8. End the false belief that we as humans can possible exist without harming the environment in some way. Yes, companies should not be allowed to pour poison in the drinking water supply, but many of the laws (or attempts at laws) are based more on political fear-mongering than factual proof.
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:02 PM
 
Location: San Diego California
6,797 posts, read 6,624,776 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hnsq View Post
But looking at national averages, you find that the average individual has much more today than they did 50 years ago. Our standard of living for middle class has risen dramatically.
This statement is debatable.
50 years ago you could maintain an "middle class" lifestyle on one income. It did not even have to be a particularly good job to provide a middle class lifestyle. I remember one family in our neighborhood where the father was a auto parts counterman and they managed to afford to buy a 3 bedroom home in San Diego, and he raised 10 kids!. Try that today.
While the cost of gadgets and do-dads have gone down, they are for the most part things that are not really what you call necessities.
The other thing that is also far different now than then is the amount of income that goes to interest.
50 years ago, most people only paid interest on their home and perhaps one car.
Today people are so far in debt, a sizable chunk of every paycheck goes to paying interest on everything they bought for the past 5 years or so.
They might have lots of junk, but for the most part, they don't even own it. They bought it on credit and will be paying on it for a long time to come.
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,188,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Exactly. They want toys. Is that your definition of "standard of living"? It is the toys that have gone up in price, not the essentials of living.
The toys have gone down in price, for example computers are dirt cheap today where as they were a luxury item just a bit ago.

The issue is that people have more toys not that the toys are more expensive, but at least from personal observation people are putting the most money into their home and cars. For $2,000 one can go out and buy a flat screen, computer, Wii, Xbox, some games and it will last years. On the other hand, the mortgage, maintenance, taxes, etc on a large home is likely to cost you $1,000+ more a month and a more modest home.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
My dad, an unskilled, uneducated factory worker, made enough money in one hour to pay for four movie tickets, a paperback novel, a gallon of gas, a chocolate malt, and a pack of cigarettes. Today that would be $50 an hour.
Unless your dad was vastly over paid this isn't an accurate memory. Movie tickets in 1955 were ~$.60 and the minimum wage (started in 55) was $.75/hour. So 4 tickets would be 3.2 times the minimum wage, once you include all the other stuff your dad would have made 6 times minimum wage... Unskilled, uneducated factory workers didn't get made 6 times minimum wage in 1955....or any period...

Its amusing to what degree people romanticize the past.
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,188,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhcom View Post
50 years ago you could maintain an "middle class" lifestyle on one income. It did not even have to be a particularly good job to provide a middle class lifestyle. I remember one family in our neighborhood where the father was a auto parts counterman and they managed to afford to buy a 3 bedroom home in San Diego, and he raised 10 kids!. Try that today.
You could easily do this today, just not in San Diego which has become one of the more desirable areas of the country.

Romanticizing the past really doesn't get one anywhere....
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:22 PM
Status: "But in the aggregate..." (set 26 days ago)
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,331 posts, read 69,479,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
Romanticizing the past really doesn't get one anywhere....
This isn't romanticizing anything.
This is about accurately comparing the PURCHASING power of a single wage relative to a family lifestyle.

Too many seem too eager to dismiss the paucity of the current situation...
regardless of how well gilded the cage they live in may have become.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:12 PM
 
5,656 posts, read 17,945,850 times
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"You take a middle-class American family today, get rid of expenses for internet, cell/smart phone, cable/sat TV, netflix, give them one simple car, a smaller house, eating out becomes the rare exception, no buying computers, no video game console and the $60/pop games for it, etc. they'd make it on a single income just like people did in the 50s and 60s."

yes, we live this lifestyle (mostly) - all that money we save.... we now spend on doctor and dentist bills - everytime we walk into one it is between $100 and $300!!! and yes, we have insurance.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:43 PM
 
16,374 posts, read 19,580,717 times
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There are many people home at 2pm on that suburban street. They just don't answer the door to strangers any more. They park their car in the garage, so you can't really tell if they are home or not.

And the automated checkouts at the grocery store...there are some highly paid IT folks in an office creating enhancements to the software, and traveling salespeople staying in hotels from town to town, selling that system to the next grocery chain. And those little coupons that are printed for you at checkout....there is another group of IT folks behind that system...actually an entire corporation...based in the USA.

And the automated telephone system, another group of IT folks programming the IVR system...and a highly paid voice person to create the custom voice phrases.

Even though it appears there is nobody working in that store, there are cameras everywhere, and a team of folks on the second floor of the store, watching the cameras. There is a local company that sold them the cameras and they have a maintenance contract to keep them up and running. They come after hours to maintain the equipment, so the customers don't see them.

Inventory at that store is more automated these days. Instead of keeping a written list of items that are out of stock, they paid big bucks for an automated inventory system, which employs IT workers, support staff, managers and sales people and engineers. They are housed in a highrise, out of sight (and apparently out of mind).
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Texas
44,257 posts, read 56,740,512 times
Reputation: 73534
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
You are speaking as if the standard of living is the same today as it was 50 years ago, but its not. People made due with much less 50 years ago than they do today.

Today a single income family can have a better standard of living than they would 50 years ago, so it doesn't "take" two incomes instead people decide they want more. They want a bigger home, they want two cars, they want more toys for their kids, they want more expensive vacations, etc.

Exactly. It doesn't cost more to live today. It costs more to have more crap...that would be true in any era.

What do people do? My highly skilled MBA wife is overseeing a team of people who oversee thousands of retirement accounts.

What do I do? Stamp out disease wherever I can find it.

But if you knock on my door at 2pm on any given weekday, it's likely I will answer the door. In hopes you are the UPS man with my latest amazon.com package. Otherwise, I usually ignore the doorbell...no one good comes around and rings the doorbell anymore.
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