Posts Tagged ‘Golden age’

Looking back on a golden age

August 16, 2011

Like Roger Chittum, the maker of this video, I feel lucky to have been born when I was (1936).  During my adult years, the United States came as close as it ever has to a society with prosperity for all—a society in which almost any able-bodied person who wanted to work could find a job at decent pay, and those unable to work did not suffer absolute destitution. We had better economic growth during the 30 years following World War Two than we have had since, and the economic prosperity was more widely shared than it has been since.

I am particularly fortunate because I was born in a window that made me too young to be drafted for the Korean Conflict, and too old for the Vietnam Conflict.  I did my active military service in 1956-1958, a time of peace when military service was a good experience.

The foundation of this golden was the high-wage, full-employment economy, which made everything else possible.   I believe in having a social safety net, but it is no substitute for good jobs at a fair wage.

I have an acquaintance, now a respected academic, who told me that when he was young and had time on his hands, he would go to an employment center and get a one-day job at something like unloading trucks.  He would get some good exercise and have some extra money in his pocket.

This was not “American exceptionalism,” although the United States led the way.  All the advanced industrial nations, from Britain, France and Sweden to Germany and Japan enjoyed a greater prosperity in the 30 years following World War Two than ever before.  Now we Americans leading the way down, but others also are on the way down, although some of them are resisting the decline better than we Americans are.