Were the any ways in which "the olden days" were better than today?

It’s often said that some Trump voters want a return to the 1950s, and then it’s pointed out that the 1950s weren’t actually a good time - there was segregation, more racism, more sexism, less environmental protection, etc.

But were there any ways in which the 1950s (or any previous historical period) ***were ***actually in fact better than today? I’ve read that people were a lot more honest back then, something about how “a stack of newspapers could be left in an open vending box for 5 cents each and at the end of the day the vendor wouldn’t be short a nickel” (as best as I can recall the quote verbatim.)

Well, in the U.S., tax rates on the rich were much higher and (possibly as a result) there was a much less extreme lopsidedness in wealth distribution in the country. I have this suspicion that Mr. Trump isn’t going to do much about this one.

I also suspect that the lack of 24 hour internet/cable news meant that people FELT safer because they we’re constantly being exposed to news about the latest improbable disaster or crime.

I was born in '54, so I don’t remember a lot about that time. Were “Duck and Cover” drills still a thing? I can speak to the early 60s when I started school, and I’m sure this was valid in the 50s - kids walked to school without their parents fearing kidnappers. I suppose you could argue that things were cheaper, but compared to wages of the day, were they really? I don’t know.

The issue is that for middle class white people, there was a lot to like: full employment with jobs that paid enough to support a family with a single breadwinner, television for entertainment, less worry about pedophilia, etc.

If you weren’t white and middle class and above, then things were less good.

And American.

A lot of the reason that the 1950s was so gang-buster for Americans, economy-wise, was that the vast majority of the rest of the world was either incredibly impoverished or had its industry mostly destroyed by WWII.

It wasnt as crowded back then. We had cities but getting out of them was just a short drive. Many peoples homes backed up to open fields.

The economy was less financialized?

Stock trading and speculation ( aka: “Wall Street” ) was once a sector of the economy. To hear the talking heads today ( or least couple of decades ), Wall St = “the economy”.

At least in the US, crime rates were lower. People didn’t live as well, but they were happier.

Not really - that is, the effective tax rate on the rich was not that much higher than they are today. And of course there were a lot less rich then.

People had lower expectations, which is not always a good thing but also not always a bad one.


Your cite does not show that crime rates were lower – they were between 4.1 and 4.9 per 100,000 in the '50s and they were in that same range in the 2010s. Your effective tax rate for rich people stops before the recent tax law change came in, of course, and is still 6 points higher than 2014. You don’t think 6 percentage point higher taxes is that much? Weird. Anyway, tax rates for the very wealthy are lower now than they were in 2014, but I doubt we have the data yet.

Back in the fifties, there were fewer effects of climate change, likely with fewer extreme weather events (although I’m having trouble finding that exact cite).

As other people mention, people sent their kids to school on their own without worrying about it, not because there was any less risk, but rather local events didn’t get as much national coverage, so very unlikely crimes remained mostly out of the public conscience.

Back in the fifties, people didn’t have to provide tech support for their parent’s devices, because those devices didn’t exist yet.

It was much easier to get a job. You’d look at the classified ads in the paper, fax over your resume, get a phone call, go over for an interview, rinse and repeat until someone hired you. It would take a couple of weeks to a month to get an offer if your references were good.

Now, forget it.

Less worry about pedophilia, but so much pedophilia!

Really I can think of only one metric that was better: less people.

The balance between income and cost of living allowed for a single breadwinner to support a family. And, a person without post-secondary education could earn a decent living (again, able to support a family). That was partly the availability of well paying manufacturing jobs, and partly that mid-level office jobs didn’t require a degree. I would say that these were objectively positives. Now, saying that these jobs weren’t available to women or people of color doesn’t negate that they existed.

Right. So the top 1% are richer now, so they should be paying much higher tax rate than the top 1% in the 50s (that’s how progressive tax rates work), but they aren’t.

Well, it was allegedly pretty nice back when we were all subsisting as hunter-gatherers and just ate what was already growing or roaming there. No android phones or 18 year old scotch or Beethoven string quartets, and the medical care was pretty asysmal, but the work week was akin to a half-day’s effort spread out over a week. Less violence, and what violence there was was less ubitously at the hands of our own species. Life out in nature, pristine and beautiful (albeit also sometimes deadly and definitely untamed).


Polio was good…

Ooh, that’s an excellent point that I should have picked up on. Tax-whiny sites like taxfoundation.org also complain that the very richest also pay a larger share of the taxes now – of course they do, they have a much larger share of the income than they did in the good old days. Their share of the tax burden has increased slower than their share of the income.

One way that the olden days were better is that people shared the same reality. Everyone watched the same news and got mostly the same information. Those news outlets tried to be careful and issued corrections. Now, people get their news from many sources, many of which are little more than someone ranting, or, worse, actively distributing misinformation. So, people are in their own reality bubbles where climate change is a hoax, the earth is flat, people never visited the moon, Seth Rich was murdered because he leaked e-mails, and so on.

No. None. Not even for the rich, elite white folks was it better in any sort of quantifiable way. The country was poorer in every way in the 50’s than it is today. It was sicker as well. People died younger and from things that can be cured today. An average person today has access to goods and services from across the globe that even the richest person in the 50’s didn’t. Just like in the 50’s the average person had access to goods and services that even the very elite a 100 or so years before had access.

Consider your newspaper example. 5 cents was the equivalent of $.50 today, but that’s just inflation. The average annual salary in the early 50’s was a touch over $3k per year, or about $1.75 per hour…and, of course, you had to work a hell of a lot harder for that buck 75 then than you do today, and there were fewer goods and services available. Today, it costs something like $2 for a news paper, but the average hourly rate is close to $30/hour…and, you can get your news from around the world pretty much for free. Your entertainment options, including the news, are essentially, things folks in the 50’s couldn’t even dream about. The real world purchasing power of your dollar today wrt what you can actually buy is off the charts compared to what people in the 50’s, even rich people, could get, pretty much across the board.

It was also riskier, as a lot of the safety stuff we take for granted wasn’t there for most workers, regardless of skin color. Life in general was more dangerous, with the death rates for just about everything being higher…tobacco deaths alone were higher in total (with a smaller population) by several hundred thousand, as were deaths due to auto accidents.

People who look back on the 50’s or, really, any time in the past and think, man, it was better then, are looking back with heavily tinted rose colored glasses. Things weren’t better in the past…generally, they sucked, even for the elite. They generally didn’t suck as bad as going back even further in the past, which is why folks in the 50’s thought they were so much better off…they were recalling how shitty things were when THEIR parents or grandparents were growing up and thinking, man…it’s a hell of a lot better now (but…maybe it was better in the 20’s, or in the 1800’s, or…or…or… :smack::p).

In the past there was still hope for a better future. Now there isn’t.

Movies were better.

was born in 1954, my grandmother in 1904. She once told be that she did not believe in the good old days. She liked voting, airconditioning, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dryers, all that stuff. Oh, and good medical care in hospitals, with open heart surgery and so on. She also said she did not believe people were nicer when she was a kid, telling me some stories about criminal trials and what she knew about the stories behind them.