The Nahployment 'Crisis'

Stereotypically, that grandad would also have a wartime pension and GI benefits (low cost mortgages, low interest loans, tuition for postsecondary institutions).

(I’m guessing what, maybe half of the adult male population served in WWII)


The myth of the well-off single income average household is just that - a myth. We have only gotten wealthier since then. It’s just that we also demand more.

In 1958 the average family income was $5100. In terms of purchasing power, a dollar today would buy about 10.5% of what it could in 1958. So it’s equivalent to about 48,500

Who is this ‘we’, Sam? You’re Canadian. Max is talking about United States Government programs.

Anyway, to both your points, things were better when we had more socialism, thanks for the concessions.

Sorry for the truncated message before, Ran out of edit window. Reposting the whole thing:

The myth of the well-off single income average household is just that - a myth. We have only gotten wealthier since then. It’s just that we also demand more.

In 1958 the average family income was $5100. In terms of purchasing power, a dollar today would buy about 10.5% of what it could in 1958. So it’s equivalent to about $48,500 today. The median individual income was $3700, or roughly $35,400 today.

The median family income today is about $67,500, or almost $20,000 higher. But more importantly, the median individual income today is $44,225. In other words, individuals today make almost as much as entire families did in 1958.

We didn’t move to more 2-income households out of necessity - we did it because our values changed. We spend more on our kids, we send more of them to college. More peoole live in very expensive cities. The average house size has almost doubled since the 1950’s, while the average famiky size has shrunk.

In 1958 a typical family had a telephone, a single TV, and a house of between 900 to 1200 square feet, with one or maybe one and a half baths if tou were lucky. One car (a lousy one by today’s standards), no air conditioning, no cell phone bills, maybe a washer and dryer but probably not if you were lower middle class, and not much else. Microwaves were a luxury.

Today, you can live like that on one income, no problem. Move to a small town or city with cheap real estate, buy or rent a modest 50’s era saltbox bungalow, have a single used car which will still be way better than new cars back in the day. You can even have the internet and a cell phone, which will make you information-rich beyond anything someone from the 50’s could imagine.

The 'system hasn’t forced us into two-income households. Our rising expectations and demands for more luxury and entertainment were all that was needed.

And how many families were out there where the mom didn’t work outside the home, but Dad had two full-time jobs? Many women also did various things at home, like child care, market gardening, custom sewing, etc.

It’s also socially acceptable for married women to work outside the home, whether they have children or not, because they WANT to.

I have actually been meaning to make a cost-of-living topic for some time now. It’s been at the back of my head since my minimum living wage proposal and John_T’s “live off the government dole” topic. I recently made a budget for my own lifestyle, with interesting results: I can’t afford it!

I think I’ll finally make the topic later tonight.


More socialism in 1958? You have to be kidding. This was before the Great Society. I know you will trot out high marginal tax rates, but no one paid them.

Here is the amount of tax revenue as a percentage of GDP:

In ‘Socialist’ 1958, the federal government took in 16.55% of GDP in tax revenue.

In the current Capitalist dystopia, the federal government took in… 16.36% of GDP. But it spent a hell of a lot more, because of crazy deficit spending and unfunded mandates.

Spending data makes it clear that the ‘socialist’ 1950’s is a complete myth:

In 1958, federal government spending was 17.2% of GDP. By 2020 it had jumped to 31.4% of GDP - not quite double what it was in 1958. And this year because of all the Covid relief it’s at 44%.

Now let’s talk about regulations. The Federal Register was instituted in 1936 to record all federal regulations.

The first edition had 2,620 pages.

By 1958 the register had grown to 10,579 pages.

Today, the Federal Register has 72,564 pages of regulations - almost seven times as many.

Please, give this libertarian the 1958 level of taxation, spending, and regulation. If that’s socialism, I’ll take it.

Oh, and before you remind me again that I’m not American, Canada followed roughly the same pattern, except we actually went more socialist in the 1970’s under Trudeau, paid a huge price for it that took 15 years of ‘austerity’ to pay for, then actually shrunk our government smaller than yours for a time before we elected Trudeau’s idiot son.

This conservative talking point about the evils of “regulations” would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Conservatives like to portray federal regulations as limiting personal freedom, when the vast majority (if not all) of the 72,000 pages you cited are health and safety regulations on industry. Do you like tainted food? Contaminated medicine? Polluted water? Dangerous working conditions? This is what conservatives are arguing for when they rail against “regulations”. I understand stockholders make more more money when unburdened from public safety measures. But profit at the expense of public safety has a name: greed.

We need more regulations, not less.

The tree of liberty profit must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots consumers and tyrants workers.

It would help if we had more detailed figures (e.g. 1936 versus today pages of regulations pertaining to specific subjects such as cybersecurity, genetic modification, satellite launch downrange safety, etc).

And the percentage of households with multiple earners has been slowly decreasing for decades. From earlier:

Your view of socialism (higher tax rates, more laws) strikes me as odd. I thought that socialism was things like government intervention in the private marketplace to engineer social outcomes. You know, like the U.S. did in the 1940s and 1950s with regard to housing and education.

“In 1947, six million families were doubling up with relatives, and half a million were in mobile homes, barns, or garages according to Leigh Gallagher’s book The End of the Suburbs.

The government responded with intervention on a massive scale. According to Harvard professor and urban planning historian Alexander von Hoffman, a combination of two government initiatives—the establishment of the Federal Housing Authority and the Veterans Administration (VA) home loans programs—served as runways for first-time homebuyers.

Initially created during the ’30s, the Federal Housing Authority guaranteed loans as long as new homes met a series of standards, and, according to von Hoffman, created the modern mortgage market.

“When the Roosevelt administration put the FHA in place in the ’30s, it allowed lenders who hadn’t been in the housing market, such as insurance companies and banks, to start lending money,” he says.

The VA programs did the same thing, but focused on the millions of returning soldiers and sailors. The popular GI Bill, which provided tuition-free college education for returning servicemen and -women, was an engine of upward mobility: debt-free educational advancement paired with easy access to finance and capital for a new home.“

Funny, isn’t it, that there were no regulations over internet commerce in the 1950s, and likely nothing about things like asbestos in clothing or lead in pipes if we go back to the 30’s. It’s almost like you need to expect more regulation as new information and technology is developed.

Slight quibble: You receive a pension if you retire from the military after a (generally) 20-plus-year career. This would only have applied to a small percentage of those who served in WW2.

I encountered something recently that made me think about the current nahployment crisis. The “servant crisis” of the first half of the 20th century. I’m not a historian, so I’m certainly getting details wrong, and maybe I’m even confused about the big picture.

Prior to the 20th century, servants were very common. Unless you were a servant, there was a good chance you had one. A live in maid to cook, clean, etc.

Starting in the early 20th century (or before) the poor working conditions and bad pay (sound familiar?) for servants meant that many left as other opportunities became available in factories or wherever. For a time these open servant positions could be filled with immigrants and African Americans moving from the south, but those people also left for better positions. The two world wars also played a big part in the lack of servants.

Hence the servant crisis. Middle class homes could no longer afford to hire servants, and it became more expensive for the wealthy.

The rise of labor saving devices in the home, such as washing machines, vacuums, etc, was a response to the dwindling servant class. Lack of humans to do the work caused the machine replacements, it wasn’t machine replacements putting people out of work.

No pension, but my father was in the Navy for a grand total of four years in the 1950s to pay for his college tuition and he’s still using the VA medical system almost 70 years later. Socialized medicine!

That’s your problem - you assume @Sam_Stone was using the term ‘socialism’ to refer to the economic policy that goes by that name. That’s not what he meant (and of he is capable of defining that term, I’ve never seen him do so). Socialism just means “something I [a conservative] dislike”.

See also: Communism, Marxism, Woke/Wokism, Fascism, Anarchy, Unconstitutional, Elitist.

Feel free to use interchangeably.

Agatha Christie is reported to have said that she “never thought she’d be rich enough to afford a car, or too poor to afford a maid” - the point being that cars became cheap and labor expensive.

I’ve heard that one reason the Romans didn’t advance technology as much as they could was because they had an ample supply of cheap and slave labor. Certainly they were technologically advanced for their time, but they often just turned to manpower to get things done rather than invest in innovative mechanical devices and technological solutions to do the work. So I guess the trade off between cheap manpower and machines has been going on for a long time.