Trying to figure our what government action has materially affected me

This was spurred by a discussion my wife and I had this morning about the presidents we have had thru our lives (born in 60 and 61). We have long commented that our political positions primarily reflect our philosophical and emotional views, rather than our personal material interests. We’ve been having a hard time coming up with any significant governmental decision that has significantly affected us - other than WRT our state of mind.

Here is our info. We are both white, upper middle class Americans (family income well under $250k), as were our parents. We are both college educated, as are our kids. We and our kids are all heterosexual. Our kids are gainfully employed. Any tax policies and such affect our savings/wealth/income one way or another, but we are so far from living paycheck to paycheck, that it really doesn’t affect our lives. Pretty much the only question I have is how long I want to keep working, to ensure what level of income/comfort we enjoy in my retirement.

Emotionally, we prefer to live in a society that values the environment, that pursues some level of equality, and that provides a decent “safety net” to those less fortunate. I prefer to live in a country that is not invading other countries. I’m glad gay people can marry and be as unhappy as heaters. :wink: Etc. But none of that really directly affects our personal health and well being. To the extent that we agreed we feel emotionally “better” under Democratic presidents, we acknowledge that many people feel similarly under Repubs.

Just about the only thing I can come up with is that some deregulation has made my life unnecessarily complex. Perhaps a stupid example - the ease of dealing with one phone/energy provider outweighed any dollar savings of having to choose among varied options. But that’s pretty darned minor. Again, the emotional effects - my perception that dereg has been done to advantage the moneyed providers more than the end users - outweigh any personal $/time costs/savings.

So, 2 questions.

  1. Do any of you feel similarly?
  2. Can you suggest some policies that I am overlooking that have significantly affected me?

It’d be pretty hard for the ACA to have had no effect on you one way or another.

EDIT: Oh also there was this virus that spread throughout the entire world that you may have heard about.

The Clean Air and Clean Water acts were huge. (Under Nixon)

Reagan both won the Cold War and sadly enabled the rise of the sociopathic Billionaires. Trickle down was a very bad policy.

Believe it or not, the moon race/landing did spur some really important technologies.

Arpanet led to the Internet and the modern world. It was a cold war communication safety concept.

Only by 3 years, but hopefully the 26th Amendment that lowered the voting age to 18 was utilized by your wife and yourself.

Bush the Lesser initiated a 2 front war without raising taxes to pay for it. We’re still not completely out of this mess.

Thx - but I still think most of those fit under the “psychic” rather than “physical” effects.

I guess support for the Arpanet is a candidate - presuming t would not have occurred independently otherwise.

And yeah, I guess I voted in a couple of elections when I was a kid. Not sure how much that vote cast for John Anderson changed anything! :smiley:

The interstate road system certainly makes my like a lot easier. And, I’m not sure why you’re pooh-poohing the clean air and water act – those really made a difference to our environment.

OK - as a middle class guy living in midwest suburbs, how exactly as the EPA affected me? Is MY air/water cleaner to breathe/drink? I’m not trying to be obtuse. And I strongly support past and increased future environmental efforts.

ADA - how has it affected me? Other than encountering curb cuts and ramps? I’m happy some people have increased opportunities/access, but less that thrilled with some aspects of the ADA. But again, those affect my feelings, not my day to day existence in the world and society.

OK, interstate roads. That’s probably a good one. Tho kinda remote.

And, I should add the Social Security Act - far predating me, as I’ve worked for SS for 35 years and intend to draw on SS bens eventually.

Good to enlarge the list. But doesn’t change my underlying premise that I’m not really affected by the vast majority of what goes on in my state and national governments.

You’re in suburban Chicago, yes? Your air, here in the Chicago area, is undoubtedly considerably, even visually, cleaner than it was in the early 1970s. We still have air quality action days from time to time in the summer, but nothing like the smoggy summer days from back then.

And yeah - COVID has affected me. Probably could look into other aspects of the FDA as to what drugs have/haven’t been approved. Sure would have been fine if they never allowed direct drug advertising to consumers! :wink:

Okay - the air is cleaner. And we don’t have the alewives piling up on the beaches! :smiley:

I’m a white, upper-middle-class male, living probably within 30 miles of you, Dinsdale, and a few years younger (born in 1965). A couple of things that the government has done that have materially affected me, but may not have affected you:

  • When I was first going to college, my family had suffered some serious financial setbacks. We qualified for Pell Grants, which helped me to pay for a college education.
  • I worked as an independent consultant for two years (2015-2017); I am a type 2 diabetic. Thanks to the ACA, I could actually purchase individual health insurance for myself and my wife during that time; prior to the ACA, health insurance companies could have simply refused to offer me health insurance, at any price, due to my pre-existing condition.

Good examples. I’m not able to identify any similar ones for myself.

Just seems a little odd, that I - and many others - put so much attention to political developments. Elections, pending actions, etc. But that seems out of whack with the degree to which the outcomes of those actions really directly affects me.

Maybe that reflects my privileged status, or something else. Or maybe I need to adjust my perception.

To be clear, I am a firm supporter of government action. I am quite far from libertarianism.

I get where the OP is coming from. My personal situation did not change during the Trump years (in fact, due to happenstance, I made more in those four years than the previous 30 combined). It was profound embarrassment and horror that depressed me primarily. But for those of us who are rightfully considered privileged, it’s true a lot of government programs don’t affect us directly.

However, government action does materially affect us. Cleaner air and water isn’t just “nice,” it keeps things like PCBs and dioxins to a (hopefully) safe background level. Keeping my kids on my heath insurance until age 26 wasn’t essential for our family, but a good thing. Same with banning exclusions for pre-existing conditions. That was huge for some people I know. Al Gore’s internet certainly changed my life.

While not gay ourselves, we have gay friends who can now marry. I think that “materially affected me” but you might have a different view.

We don’t risk jail (in state court at least) for using marijuana now and then. During our lifetime, in large part because of the government, cars are safer and airplanes fall out of the sky less often. So, maybe we’d be dead if different policies had been enacted. Or maybe our kids would have been drafted and sent to fight overseas.

Just off the top of my head: Labor laws have made work more comfortable for a vast number of people. Banking regulations have kept our money protected. Product safety regulations have kept us from being killed. Clean water is a thing. Our legal system (mostly) works.

If you don’t notice these things, it’s because they are working. If they weren’t there, you would surely notice.

That’s a good one. In my case, I was in an auto accident in the '90s, when a deer ran out in front of my car while I was traveling at ~60mph. My car was seriously damaged, but likely thanks to improved safety measures in automotive design, I was completely uninjured. Had that been in a 1960s or 1970s vintage car, it could well have been far worse.

If you ever worked for anyone else (e.g. at a building not owned by you) and didn’t electrocute yourself, fall on a broken railing etc. etc. you can thank as many safety standards as you like. Having worked in a couple countries without such good enforcement of safety standards (and seen a few injuries) the difference is real and noticeable. “Reduction in risk” is a quantifiable thing, that could be phrased in probability/chance of loss for you directly over your lifetime, even if you were one of the lucky ones who was never injured.

In a kinda related way, here in the Chicago area, it is very common for people to complain about overly onerous building codes, required permits/licensing of professions/trades. But, the homes around here seem to be pretty well constructed.

In contrast, for a brief period we lived in a state with far fewer such regulations. The condition of the housing stock was shockingly poor. We had contracts on 2 different homes which structurally failed inspection.

During my own lifetime, most of the Federal government policies that have affected me are the environmental ones- specifically clean air ones. The tax cuts have generally been pleasant, in the sense that I didn’t have to pay as much.

As far as the state government is concerned, a decision to deregulate college tuition impacted me personally fairly hard- my first two semesters, I was paying the regulated, capped rate. My last two I was paying the unregulated rate, which was quite a bit higher, and I accumulated more debt as a result.

Along with that, some of the various actions that the Fed has taken have affected my financial dealings- mortgages, student loan consolidation, etc… insofar as I was able to refinance/consolidate after some of those actions and get advantageous rates.

I suspect the telecom deregulation in 1996 set the stage for a lot of what I currently use/do on the internet, but I wasn’t quite enough of a user to actually see the changes that it wrought.

County and city stuff generally has much more perceptible effects- things like property tax rates, police funding, sanitation worker shortages, vaccination sites/appointments, etc… are something I can see in my tax bill, how often I see cops patrolling, when the trashmen come get my trash, getting my kids vaccinated, etc…

How about taxes on gasoline? Here in CA we pay the most due to local and state gas taxes. This is avoided by driving less or driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, but still.

Also, zoning in your city - again local/state related. If your area welcomes/discourages certain industries, or restricts home building (driving up prices).

Looking at this from the other side of the aisle…local and state government actions can create abrasion:

  • Depending on where you live, regulations on guns and ammo
  • Pandemic shutdowns and various mandates related to the pandemic

Fewer dead people = abrasion. :roll_eyes:

I know. I know. I am just saying government action can affect people directly, even if it means forcibly saving/bettering their own lives, if they believe it or not.

I think this is important. Without experiencing an alternative, it’s just normal reality.