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Obama said the GOP wants us to go back to the 1950's; would that be SO bad? What say you?

Space Invader 2012/08/09 10:47:43
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Economy in The 1950s
Looking at the Past Through the Lens of Economy

During the
Eisenhower era, Americans achieved a level of prosperity they had never
known before. While other parts of the world struggled to rebuild from
the devastation of World War II, citizens of the United States saw their
standard of living surpass what previous generations had only dreamed
about.

Eisenhower himself deserves a good deal of credit for this
economic growth. He found the right combination of low taxes, balanced
budgets, and public spending that allowed the economy to hum along at a
steady clip. He also benefitted from steady growth in spending on new
homes and consumer goods as citizens turned away from older notions of
thrift and began to buy on credit.

The Decade of Prosperity

The
economy overall grew by 37% during the 1950s. At the end of the decade,
the median American family had 30% more purchasing power than at the
beginning. Inflation, which had wreaked havoc on the economy immediately
after World War II, was minimal, in part because of Eisenhower's
persistent efforts to balance the federal budget. Except for a mild
recession in 1954 and a more serious one in 1958, unemployment remained
low, bottoming at less than 4.5% in the middle of the decade.

Many
factors came together to produce the Fifties boom. The G.I. Bill, which
gave military veterans affordable access to a college education, added a
productive pool of highly-educated employees to the work force at a
time American businesses were willing to pay handsomely for engineering
and management skills. Cheap oil from domestic wells helped keep the
engines of industry running. Advances in science and technology spurred
productivity. At the same time, potential competitors in Europe and Asia
were still recovering from being bombed into smithereens during World
War II.

Eisenhower's Middle Way

Eisenhower steered a
balanced course economically. Some Republicans called for rolling back
the New Deal, but the president realized that many of Franklin D.
Roosevelt's libeal social programs were both popular and effective.
Instead of getting rid of Social Security, for example, Ike actually
expanded it to cover another ten million people who had been left out of
the original program. Instead of turning away from big public works
projects, he instead invested federal money in the Interstate Highway
System, one of the largest public spending projects in the country's
history.

The main economic goal that Eisenhower pursued through
both his terms in office was to achieve a balanced federal budget. The
government ran a small deficit in 1954 and 1955, then registered a
surplus for each of the next two years. As the nation went into a
recession in 1958 and 1959, Eisenhower allowed the federal deficit to
grow in order to stimulate the economy. By 1960, he managed to return to
a surplus.

To achieve a balanced federal budget was a balancing
act in itself. Democrats were clamoring for increases in defense
spending in order to counter the Soviet threat. Congressional
representatives from both parties pushed for tax cuts. Eisenhower used
his credentials as an experienced military leader to reassure the nation
that the defense budget did not need to be increased as much as some
wanted. Though he favored low taxes himself, he dug in his heels and
fought tax cuts whenever they threatened to plunge the government into
debt.

The Rise of Consumerism

One of the factors that
fueled the prosperity of the Fifties was the increase in consumer
spending. Americans enjoyed a standard of living that was inconceivable
to the rest of the world. For example, Vice President Nixon told Nikita
Khrushchev in the mid-1950s that there were 60 million cars in the
United States, but the Soviet leader simply refused to believe him. When
Khrushchev came to visit America, Eisenhower arranged for him to fly in
a helicopter over busy roads and parking lots to witness the remarkable
signs of abundance for himself.

The time was ripe for Americans
to change their spending patterns. The adults of the Fifties had grown
up in conditions of economic deprivation, first due to the general
poverty of the Great Depression and then due to the rationing of
consumer goods World War II. During the Thirties, with unemployment
sky-high and the economy in shambles, most people could simply not
afford much beyond the basics. During the war, much of the nation's
productive capacity shifted to armaments. Everything from sugar to
gasoline to tires to nylon stockings were rationed. When consumer goods
became available again, people wanted to spend. By the 1950s, though
they made up just 6% of the world's population, Americans consumed a
third of all the world's goods and services.

The difference
between a production society, which focused on meeting basic needs, and a
consumption society, which emphasized customers' wants, was like the
difference between a 1908 Ford Model T and a 1959 Ford Galaxie. The
Model T, available only in black, was a utilitarian piece of machinery
intended for basic transportation. The Galaxie, decked out in shiny
chrome, was a way to show off and to enjoy a sense of luxury, not just
to move from place to place. Within a year or two, it would be obsolete
as fashion changed. Blessed with abundant resources, America could
afford to turn part of its productive capacity to creating glitz and
fashionable waste. An older generation was careful to save and reuse;
Americans in the Fifties began to use and throw away. They became
"consumers."

Consumerism was driven by advertising. Spending on
product promotion boomed, from $6 billion annually in 1950 to more than
$13 billion by 1963. "The reason we have such a high standard of
living," Robert Sarnoff, president of the National Broadcasting Company,
said in 1956, "is because advertising has created an American frame of
mind that makes people want more things, better things, and newer
things."29

There's
no question that advertising drove the purchase of new products, which
in turn kept the nation's economic wheels turning. And, as Sarnoff
pointed out, Americans did achieve a high standard of living. But some
critics questioned whether a reliance on consumers to drive a huge
portion of the economy was wise in the long term. Half a century later,
our current economic crisis, fueled in part by a collapse of consumer
spending, has raised the question again.

A Nation in Debt

Though
Eisenhower tried mightily to balance the federal budget, consumers did
not follow suit when it came to their own family budgets. Americans had
traditionally been thrifty by nature, but in the Fifties they were
willing to "buy now, pay later," as automobile advertisements urged. The
Federal Housing Administration and the Veteran's Administration both
offered low-interest loans to allow families to buy new homes.

The
very first credit card——the Diner's Club card—— appeared in 1950. That
particular card was limited to paying for meals at a limited number of
restaurants, but it was quickly followed by other cards, touching off a
dramatic growth in borrowing. Private debt more than doubled from $104.8
billion to $263.3 billion during the Fifties. People borrowed to buy
houses, cars, appliances, and even swimming pools.

Buying on
credit stimulated the economy, helping many to enjoy the good things in
life even as it kept industry busy and unemployment low. Too much debt,
as we've seen lately, can be a dangerous thing, but during the Fifties,
borrowing mostly helped fuel the robust economy
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  • Bro. Bezoomny Koshka 2012/08/16 13:36:28
    None of the above
    Bro. Bezoomny Koshka
    Every golden age of the past is an illusion. Move forward.
  • cowboy 2012/08/13 13:21:21
    All of the above
    cowboy
    Bring on the poodle skirts!
  • santa6642 2012/08/12 16:06:53
    All of the above
    santa6642
    We were a free nation with out the social problems we have now,
  • **StarzAbove** 2012/08/09 23:12:21
    None of the above
    **StarzAbove**
    +1
    Low prices, and lower wages. Time to move forward.
  • XENON23 2012/08/09 21:34:25
    All of the above
    XENON23
    +1
    Just not the Racism. But a lot of it was better to me.
  • wildcat 2012/08/09 21:11:19
    None of the above
    wildcat
    +2
    The 1950's were terrible times, no civil rights laws, injustices abound. Think about it, segregation was the law of the land in most if not all southern states. Interstate Highways were not in existence, no computers, we were in a cold war with the USSR. Polio killed millions of Americans. I'll tell you what, you can go back to the 1950's, I have no desire to repeat those mistakes.
    Recession of 1957-1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) Eisenhower achieved the dubious distinction of achieving a second economic downturn on his watch, a record later matched by Richard M. Nixon, and George W. Bush.

    Recession of 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) Increased outlays to National defense and restrictive credit policies blamed for this downturn
  • Brian ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮ 2012/08/09 20:37:02
    All of the above
    Brian ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    +1
    Obama is a myopic knuckleheaded liar. A great many things about the 50's were indeed great, but a lot of thing were simply deplorable. Wanting the good things about the 50's here and now, does not automatically mean one wants anything to do with the bad things. This kind of thinking and rhetoric is patently false, and utterly idiotic.
  • Kronan_1 2012/08/09 19:45:24
    All of the above
    Kronan_1
    Add segregation. Blacks only in the rear seats on buses. Whites only water fountains.... the list goes on. What is his agenda again???????
  • Melicious Kiss of PHAET 2012/08/09 19:27:48 (edited)
    None of the above
    Melicious Kiss of PHAET
    +1
    Of course you would want things back to the fifties. You're a man.



    Perhaps some things were better.. but other things were worse.



    Medicine.



    Equal rights.



    I'm sorry, but no. I don't want to go back to a time when women were still not much better than property, when black people had to use separate bathrooms. When medical procedures were not as safe.
  • Space I... Melicio... 2012/08/09 19:38:55
    Space Invader
    +1
    read the article; it is about prosperity and the economy..please read before taking everything apart..thank you
  • Melicio... Space I... 2012/08/09 19:48:33
    Melicious Kiss of PHAET
    I read the article, I answered the question as you worded it.
  • bags the Indigenous Guru 2012/08/09 18:59:48
    None of the above
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +5
    Born mixed race, with an NDN Mother and a first generation truck driver in the very early 50's....would I want to go back to what life was like for us then? Oh, Hell no. I remember my father showing me the disks that went into the 'clock' (now illegal due to unions) in his truck. My Dad worked long, long hours and more often than not I had sugar sandwiches for lunch and our car wasn't on the road as much as it was off. My grandmother was a little person, and I remember how she was treated. No, I have no wish to return to the 50's.
  • Latti Ice Ganga Gangsta of ... 2012/08/09 18:52:35 (edited)
    None of the above
    Latti Ice Ganga Gangsta of PHAET
    +2
    Harry T. Moore was a black educator in Florida during the days of segregation. In 1934 he started the Brevard County NAACP. In 1937, Moore filed the first lawsuit in the Deep South to equalize black and white teacher salaries, backed by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall in New York. The case was eventually lost in court, but it spawned many other federal lawsuits in Florida that eventually led to equal salaries for teachers of all races. In 1941 he organized the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and eventually took on the causes of lynchings and police brutality of African Americans. In 1944 Moore organized the Progressive Voters League and soon over 116,000 black voters were registered in the Florida Democratic Party. On Christmas Day 1951, Moore was killed when a bomb planted under his house in Mims, Florida exploded. Moore died en route to a hospital in Orlando, the only one in the area at the time that accepted blacks. His wife, Harriette died nine days later of her injuries. The crime remains unsolved. Harry T. Moore was the first NAACP official killed in the Civil Rights struggle, and he and Harriette are the only husband and wife to give their lives to the movement.



    I'm going to have to disagree; in the 1950's people were not more respectful. People homes were gettin...

    Harry T. Moore was a black educator in Florida during the days of segregation. In 1934 he started the Brevard County NAACP. In 1937, Moore filed the first lawsuit in the Deep South to equalize black and white teacher salaries, backed by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall in New York. The case was eventually lost in court, but it spawned many other federal lawsuits in Florida that eventually led to equal salaries for teachers of all races. In 1941 he organized the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and eventually took on the causes of lynchings and police brutality of African Americans. In 1944 Moore organized the Progressive Voters League and soon over 116,000 black voters were registered in the Florida Democratic Party. On Christmas Day 1951, Moore was killed when a bomb planted under his house in Mims, Florida exploded. Moore died en route to a hospital in Orlando, the only one in the area at the time that accepted blacks. His wife, Harriette died nine days later of her injuries. The crime remains unsolved. Harry T. Moore was the first NAACP official killed in the Civil Rights struggle, and he and Harriette are the only husband and wife to give their lives to the movement.



    I'm going to have to disagree; in the 1950's people were not more respectful. People homes were getting burned or bombed. Businesses of people with darker pigmentation were being vandalized, people who worked hard weren't given what they earned, blockades into certain neighborhoods and the list goes on. There were racial riots, people excluded from certain colleges for being Jewish, Black etc...Money was being made off of the same people it excluded.

    The booming economy, Eisenhower and things being made in America were the only good things.
    (more)
  • Space I... Latti I... 2012/08/09 19:00:00
    Space Invader
    +2
    that's what we were talking about; the economy and the article was about that...does anyone want to go back to racism; and the Democratic South again: HELL NO!
    but if you read the article; it is about the safety and the economy of the age....
  • Latti I... Space I... 2012/08/09 19:02:24
    Latti Ice Ganga Gangsta of PHAET
    +2
    Agreed then.
  • chicago 2012/08/09 18:40:13
    The Economy was better
    chicago
    +4
    Economically speaking...Weird, the economy was booming and the nominal tax rate on "job creators" was over 90%!

    Of course the Glass–Steagall Act had been enacted in the 30's which limited the affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms. Unfortunately that was pulled of the books in 1999 (thank you very much Bill Clinton), coincidentally our financial system goes into a tail spin almost immediately.
  • Joanie 2012/08/09 18:24:26
    None of the above
    Joanie
    +3
    Blacks had to use "colored only" facilities; women had to have back-alley abortions; poor people died of malnutrition without the social safety net was enacted later; gays and lesbians had to pretend that they were heterosexual or be marginalized if not placed in mental institutions; there were no medical treatments for cancer or heart disease. I could go on and on. Uh, can you be serious when you suggest it wouldn't be so bad to go back to the 1950s?
  • Carol Joanie 2012/08/10 00:18:51
    Carol
    +1
    Plus
    McCarthyism became a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States. Investigating private citizens for alleged communist affiliations in government, private-industry and in the media produced widespread fear and destroyed the lives of many innocent American citizens.
  • ETpro 2012/08/09 17:35:17
    None of the above
    ETpro
    +5
    I was around and an adult in the 1950s. The top marginal tax rate was 92%. Want that? Want blacks and Hispanics excluded from democracy by Jim Crow laws? Want a strong KKK to protect white supremacy?

    There was a lot that was very good about the 1950s. The rich were willing to do their fair share back then. They weren't all out for Number One. But no, I have no desire to regress. Rather, let's look at what did work then and return to it while being honest about what was unfair and even odious then and leaving it in the ash-pile of history where it belongs. No great nation has ever progressed by regression into its past.
  • Space I... ETpro 2012/08/09 17:49:15
    Space Invader
    that was what we were speaking of; the good of the 50's
    we don't want the bad of then and of Obama
  • frank 2012/08/09 17:27:41
    All of the above
    frank
    +3
    You know I find hard to find something that is better today than it was in the 1950's. OK maybe the computer? The people were safer, knew that responsibility was and were taught right from wrong.
  • Guru_T_Firefly 2012/08/09 17:14:03
    None of the above
    Guru_T_Firefly
    +4
    If we're going to relive history, I prefer a more enlightened period.
  • Carol 2012/08/09 16:58:25
    None of the above
    Carol
    +2
    Going backwards, really? The future is forward, have you learned nothing.
  • Space I... Carol 2012/08/09 17:00:48
    Space Invader
    +5
    It's all yours; the crime;the high taxes; the war; the perversion; the bad rap and bad music; and all of it.....enjoy!
  • Carol Space I... 2012/08/10 00:08:54
    Carol
    +1
    Some people like to live in the past, and remember it very differently from what was really going on. Crime, high taxes, war, bad music, no civil rights, no equal rights, Hate crimes, etc. You change nothing going backwards. Nor do you grow as an individual.
  • Carol Space I... 2012/08/10 00:20:49
    Carol
    +1
    McCarthyism became a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States. Investigating private citizens for alleged communist affiliations in government, private-industry and in the media produced widespread fear and destroyed the lives of many innocent American citizens.
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/09 17:14:55
    Tuna
    +3
    The forwarder we go the backwarder we get.
  • Carol Tuna 2012/08/10 00:04:29
    Carol
    +1
    Maybe for you.
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/10 11:13:48
    Tuna
    The criminals are protected while victims of crimes are persecuted; a 12 year old girl can not be spanked but she can get an abortion; children can npt play right in front of their homes for fear of being abducted; every time I start my car or buy almost anything retail a % of what I earn goes to our enemies; we do not REAP what we SOW any more. The richest most abundant nation on Earth is $16T in debt with 16% unemployment; have you bought groceries lately; $3.50 for a loaf of bread; $4 gasoline is back??
  • Carol Tuna 2012/08/10 19:28:15
    Carol
    You absolutely reap what you sow. If you live in the negative, that is what you will have.
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/10 19:32:40
    Tuna
    Government and foreigners get as much of what I earn as I do.
  • Carol Tuna 2012/08/10 22:34:47
    Carol
    Maybe you should have Romney do your taxes.
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/11 12:11:15
    Tuna
    Do you deny that fact? You only get to keep about 50% of what you earn.
  • Carol Tuna 2012/08/12 03:41:16
    Carol
    It is not a fact for me.
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/12 23:07:47
    Tuna
    We do have 49% of Americans that pau $0 income tax but want to tell us who do how they want it spent.
  • Carol Tuna 2012/08/13 01:12:54
  • Tuna Carol 2012/08/13 14:43:35
  • CODE 11 2012/08/09 16:15:13
    All of the above
    CODE 11
    +6
    It sure would be better than living in Obama land
  • Bozette 2012/08/09 16:03:16
    All of the above
    Bozette
    +8
    It wasn't just the economy that was better...society, overall, was better. I'm not advocating that we return to pre-civil rights era, either. I'm just saying that back then people were polite because it was the proper thing to do, not because some PC fanatic tried to intimidate them. Divorce was uncommon, children were free to play and parents seldom worried about their whereabouts, doors were rarely locked, people looked out for each other and took care of their own and the government did not feel the need to make personal decisions for everyone...it was far more moral than today's society.
  • Birthpangs Bozette 2012/08/09 16:52:20

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