Tuesday, August 15, 2023

It costs less to thrive today

I've often been suspicious of the memes that claim no one can afford the middleclass lifestyle enjoyed in the 50s-60s when many families had only one earner--the dad. I'd scratch my head and thought about the average home size in the 1950s--1,000 sq. ft. and the average cost of a 2-3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house, about $10-11,000 ($140,000 today). And the gardens that produced for Mom's canning after all the work she put in to get it to that stage; and the clothes lines that dried the clothes from our labor intensive wringer washer; and our party line telephone we used for taking Dad's orders from his customers; and all the painting, wallpapering, plumbing and carpentry my Mom did. I thought about the higher tax rates, both federal and local, as people were rebuilding their lives after WWII and the Korean War. Did anyone have health insurance? We didn't (except polio insurance, fortunately since my sister Carol got it and the family, not the nation was quarantined). We all had 2 vaccinations--small pox and later polio by 1955. And we only went to the dentist when the tooth hurt, and only to the doctor if bleeding or vomiting. Vacations? Never knew anyone who took one. Credit cards hadn't been invented yet. One car for our family of six. But we never went without--we all went to church camp; we all had music lessons; we visited our grandparents every weekend. Our parents stayed married despite all these "hardships" of only one phone and no TV and they didn't take out college loans for us.
What's unique about this article is it shows that the middle class really is thriving, but it's all how you look at the statistics about square footage, consumer goods, taxes, and abundance. This author compares the cost to 1985 instead of 1955, but the message works for 70 years as well as 40. Nice that you don't have to be a victim, which seems to be the big message these days.

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