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AeroDave said:
Since the 1950's and 60's when America was arguably the strongest it ever was, we have steadily increased imported products, increased our trade deficit, and the standard of living for the AVERAGE American has plumetted. We now have a booming upper class and a nice swelling lower class with a shrinking middle class. Does this have anything to do with the trend to buy imports? Don't know for sure, but there seems to a correlation between the loss of manufacturing jobs and our sinking standard of living. (Unless you're in the top five percent of the population.)
Ok, I'm up for a friendly debate. :) I'm intrigued & confused how you came to the conclusion that the standard of living for the average American has actually "plumetted" since the 1950's and 60's. I think it's increased substantially (modern home conveniences, more reliable cars, less racism, etc.). Sure, the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but this doesn't really relate to the average American's standard of living.
 

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ho2go said:
Ok, I'm up for a friendly debate. :) I'm intrigued & confused how you came to the conclusion that the standard of living for the average American has actually "plumetted" since the 1950's and 60's. I think it's increased substantially (modern home conveniences, more reliable cars, less racism, etc.). Sure, the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but this doesn't really relate to the average American's standard of living.
I'm in, on the side of increased standard of living. AeroDave, the average family car in the 50's and 60's lacked the following things(although they were all available for a fee): AC, PW, PDL, Cruisecontrol, tinted windows, power seats. That car cost appr $2000-$3000, which was a year's wage. Average house was 20-30k.

Today, even compact sedans have most of the above features STANDARD, with no delete option. 'Family' sedan today(taurus, malibu) can be bot for less than $20k, 25 tops.

Assume just for the sake of argument that average car price, yearly wage, and cost of home have all multiplied exactly times 10. Then we should be buying $4.00 loaves of bread and $3.00 doz eggs. And we shouldn't have more than one b&w tv and no computers with which to argue this stuff. Not to mention that for the relative same % of income spent on autos in the example, we are getting at least a 30% bonus in free options, not to mention performance and handling that beays almost all of the gofast cars of our youth.

Improving the American lifestyle has always entailed 1. using labor from offshore to do the jobs we've risen above. 2. buying imported goods at a discount due to the lower cost of offshore labor. This is not new or unique to our times. Today the average American has more disposable money and time than ever before, or our houses wouldn't be stuffed with...stuff.
 

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Interesting debate.

On the one hand, we certainly have more stuff. Instead of one family car, families have fleets of cars (often more cars than family members). A lot of people have tons of electronic equipment, all kinds of convenience appliances, cell phones, etc etc. Overall, the standard of living in this country is high.

However, there are a lot of people in the middle that are getting pinched. The number of people with health insurance is declining, there is a growing phenomenon of families clustering money, where the bread winner is actually paying the way for extended family members as well as nuclear members, young people are living at home longer due to increased housing and energy costs, and the slowly growing job market. This is all related to the loss of not only manufacturing, but also white collar jobs in this country. Federal taxes got cut some, but most state and local governments are feeling the economic pinch too and raising taxes.

So although the standard of living is quite high on the hole, there is a large portion of Americans who are seeing their spending power and standard of living drop right now. The plan behind the offshoring is that Americans will eventually convert into jobs and industries which we hold a competitive advantage in, and those we don’t such as manufacturing will go off shore to provide cheaper goods and servces. In the end, we are supposed to be better off, with good paying and profitable jobs, as well as cheaper stuff, thus raising standards of living. (That doesn’t mean I am an advocate of the current economic plan by the current administration, I am just explaining the thinking behind it).
 

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Ff88, I'm less than 100 miles from you and we have seen big drops in manufacturomg of hard goods. Erie and Buffalo still have a long uphill climb. GE Transportation employment is half what it used to be, although they used to build refrigerators here, now just locomotives. Their hiring is on an upswing, relative to 10 years ago. We lost big paper manufacturer. The area is big in plastics and those seem to be doning well. A lot of the plastics are dashboards, door panels, a lot of automotive that still has a chance of survival.

To the south, Pittsburgh, which used to be 'steel city' has no steel co. anymore. But the city didn't shrivel up and die. It reinvented itself into service industries and has rebounded.

Cleveland to the west has become the insurance capital of the Great Lakes. A drive along 271 and it appears that insurance companies are the biggest employers in town.

When we compare families whose standard of living has slipped, are we comparing to 10 years ago or to 50 years ago. If to fifty years ago then IMHO everyone is still ahead. In 1955 most families had only one breadwinner, and HE only supported the family under his roof. Today families have multiple sources of income, but some by choice or default are supporting more family that is not under the home roof.

Is it a good thing that:
women can if they want have full-time employment(disregard whether pay is equal even though it should be)
more students than ever before can pursue higher education (whether they succeed or not)
families can have tons more creature comforts if they want, including safety they never asked for

Sure those are good things. Our society as a whole is more affluent than 50 years ago. Compare the number of major sports teams in cities and the increase in ability to attend a major sporting event has surpassed the population growth.
 

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Huh?

I'll jump in, too...

the good news is the rest of he world is catching up to us (and imitating our decadent Western ways). The world community is much better off economically speaking today that fifty years ago or twenty years ago. In one sense, that's a good thing because disparate economics is what usually fuels wars. As countries like India and China improve their standard of living (to a certain extent at our expsense), it should reduce the chances of world conflict and, hopefully, open up democratic dialogues, etc., making the world a more liveable community. Of course, a wealthier Japan only become more militaristic in the 1930s.

If anything, I think our standard of living may have peaked or started to stagnate in the late 1990s. Time will tell.
 

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I think you must take in account ,the homless, food banks which are more prevelent now.The number of people without health care.We are seeing the movement of manufacturing offshore, which used to be high paying jobs, what industry or sector is picking up the slack.I guess the real question in my mind is, Why has the price of cars stayed so high when the cars are being built cheaper? :)
 

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The good:

More entertainment and comfort
More convenience and easier life
More choices, access to everything

The bad:

Life is expensive: housing, college, medical bills
Life is stressful, expensive and constant.
There is no escape, privacy is in decline, freedoms are taken away.

The ugly:

The nuclear family has never been worse off. Dad, mom, child is becoming increasingly rare.

Before WWII, a lone woman could walk through any neighborhood late at night, not anymore.

Life is more stressful than since we had animals actively trying to eat us: traffic congestion, tele-marketers, booking every second with activity, noise pollution, houses stacked upon each other.

You could own any firearm, drive any car. Now half of it is regulated out of existence.

No one respects the elderly.

Manners are dead.

Neighbors don't know each other.

Tatoos, piercings, shock value. In your face.


I know I am showing my age, but while technology has made life more convenient than ever before in history, for any culture, modern life is destroying so much of the basic, simple, honest value of living with a loving family in a solid community.
 

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achieftain said:
Ff88, I'm less than 100 miles from you and we have seen big drops in manufacturomg of hard goods. Erie and Buffalo still have a long uphill climb.
Sounds like northwest PA is doing a little better off than we are. I wouldn't exactly say Western New York (Buffalo, Rochester) have an uphill climb since both are still on the downhill slide. Maybe that colors my opinion too, but there is not a lot going on in Buffalo that is good.

Our population has been been droping steadily since the 1960's. So have jobs. Like Pittsburgh we have lost our steel industry, aside from one remaining bar mill. Buffalo was also a great lakes shipping center, and the port of Buffalo is all but dead these days.

We have gotten some insurance and call center jobs in the area, but the pay doesn't match what has left, and they struggle too. The City of Buffalo itself has gone bankrupt, and as I type this Erie County (NY) has laid off all country workers and shut down all non state mandated services since they cannot afford it with current taxes, which include property taxes that are 47% above the national average, and 8.25% sales taxes.

This was certainly a blue collar town, and the change over to a service economy is leaving us behind. A cruise through the northeast, be it Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Rochester, Syracuse, etc will reveal similar stories. The upswing better come soon, because there won't be anyone left to enjoy it if it takes much longer!
 

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Good news comes in thimblefuls, bad news in buckets. I hear you Fformula88. Wasn't there once a complete car plant in Buffalo area and now just components? And once upon a time Bell Helicopter, and they proudly displayed one inside the airport lobby.

Mfg jobs have left PA for the 'right to work' states south of the Mason-Dixon line with huge tax incentives from NC, TN, KY for companies that relocate. ANd even when the foreign car companies build a plant here it is always in the south or west. The farthest north of any of these is Honda in Marysville, Ohio. VW built some rabbits near Pittsburgh, but I am not sure if that is still around. Even when it comes to exporting products the smart location would be a city on the lakes. Raw materials in, finished product out.

On the municipal b/r, my guess is some of that is methodology to ensure merger of city and county into regional authority.
 

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I'd say our standard of living has increased substatially. but it also comes at a price.
Jobs which used to require a high school diploma now require a bachelors degree. Now you can't even work at McDonalds without graduating. Like flipping burgers takes more than a 6th grade education.
The difference between the classes grows all the time. When CEO's make hundreds of millions in stock options and only stick around for three years or so, and the person at the bottom making minimum wage with no benifits, how can we help it? I agree that as you move up your salary should increase, and the better you perform the more you should make but the difference should not be a hundred times.
The work week has increased by leaps and bounds. Especially if you count the spouse's hours toward the household income. If we had a family of four with one worker at the average salary in the 50's, and two workers today at the average, sure we have better standard of living. But one income can't feed the family let alone keep two in child care. (and afford a new SUV and a Solstice!)
So I guess it depends upon what you consider standard of living. You now have to spend four more years in school and pay for them. Then you have to work half again as many hours. If you get married and have kids, the spouse has to work just to keep up. But every house has two TV's with cable or satelite and a game system, we eat out or we eat prepackaged food that is just as expensive, and we throw things away insted of fixing them. I just think I'd rather live today than before.
 

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The biggest difference is the 'blue collar' worker compared from the 50's to today. A factory worker in the 50's made enough to support a family in a middle class home without too much struggle. Today, it takes both parents working and there's little money left over.

The college graduate who is lucky enough to find work in his field however, and who doesn't live in a high cost-of-living area like California, probably is a little better off today. Mainly due to many things not escalating in price like they should have. We still pay the same amount for milk and bread that we paid in the 70's.

That's my worthless opinion anyway... :willy:
 
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