I was reading an interesting profile of Paul Krugman in New York Magazine. A particularly good passage:
“Back in 2006, when he was writing The Conscience of a Liberal, Krugman found himself searching for a way to describe his own political Eden, his vision of America before the Fall. He knew the moment that he wanted to describe: the fifties and early sixties, when prosperity was not only broad but broadly shared… [His wife] suggested that he describe his own childhood, in the middle-class suburb of Merrick, Long Island…
Would he prefer Merrick in the sixties to his current life? ‘Knowing that I am in fact me, this is a much better society for me to live in. And not because of the money but because it’s more open, more tolerant,’ Krugman says.”
The whole article is quite good, and Krugman is an interesting guy. I’ve been re-reading Conscience of a Liberal concurrent with Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland. Both very good books, and both of which examine the issue of, as the above article puts it, “the Fall”.
I’m sure it’s partly exaggerated “good old days” stuff, but still, it’s amazing how relatively peaceful and prosperous people say that the country was back in the fifties and early sixties.
It's all about spending power. Think of a house that sells for a hundred grand today, back then it sold for ten grand. A new car today twenty four grand, back then twenty five hundred. Back then minimum wage a buck sixty and hour. To have the same spending power today as back then for the same things it would have to be sixteen dollars an hour. Any wonder why minimum wage doesn't count for much today?