Saturday, April 2, 2011

As Good as it Gets for A While?

Looking back at recent history; say the last 100 years or so, how much can we really expect in the category of quality of life?

First of all, why go back more than 100 years. Life then was pretty much consumed by the business of survival. You had the Indian wars, the Civil War, Slavery, low quality medical care, no electricity and no indoor plumbing (the bucket brigade was a term created for the Secret Service guys that carried the President’s bucket out to the latrine at the White House)

So, if we look at the last 100 years and the standard of living in the United States, I think we can roughly break it down like this:

1911 – Henry Ford is mass producing the automobile which makes things great for a lot of people, but also makes things pretty sucky for the folks building the damn things. Automobile plant workers going 16 hours a day at a fever pace for very little pay, learning for example how to sleep in the restrooms and tap their feet to keep the mob based supervision monitoring the rest rooms from discovering they were actually sleeping.

In come the unions and things were better for a few decades but around the early 1960’s, they get a leg up on the corporations and begin to destroy their industries by pricing themselves out of the global marketplace. That is really what is happening now. The only thing that will fix it is when the global market wages are roughly equal. That may happen faster than we think.

1920’s – Things were Great ! This was just after World War One, America and its allies kicked the world’s ass and took names. As bad as it was for the soldiers coming back with trench mouth, shell shock and all manner of PTSD, they still called it the Roaring 20’s. Jazz music, Speak Easy’s, Hoy Foloy’s, Cats Pajamas, Bees Knees, Good Music, Loose Women, a Stock Market entering Bubble Territory and Fun Fun Fun !

1930’s – The Depression arrived from the boom cycle excesses and caused the stock market to crash (most people think the other way around). Things were bad for a lot of folks, and you had Thousands of people standing in cold soup lines to get something to eat. 25% employment (about the same as today if it were measured the same) and prospects for national growth and an economic recovery were dead on arrival with a Democrat administration choking international trade and taxing ‘the rich’ to the tune of 63% more than before The Great Depression. The Fed was useless, impotent and added nothing to the equation.

This would have continued for God Knows how long, but along came World War Two.

1940’s – World War Two arrives and those who don’t join or draft into the military and head out to either Europe or the war in the Pacific are here in the states and now gainfully employed fueling the war machine. Rosie the riveter, and Rosie the airplane or ship builder. Anyone who wanted to work was working and the unions were powerful enough now that those who were working were doing damn well for themselves.

1950’s – It is after the war and America was Flush with red blooded American boys who just kicked the world’s ass Again! and weren’t about to put up with any Bullshit back at home. The chances of having an obama voted into the White House were less than the chances that 150,000 blind deaf monkeys would pound out the story Gone With The Wind on broken typewriters.

People were proud of their country, wanted to work, and were determined to teach their children well. Rock and roll got started with folks like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. The stock market finally broke through the high that was made in 1929 for the first time.

1960’s – The unfinished Korean War was a little depressing. A cease fire is called, but the war is still on and is still on today. Men and Women from WWII must have known then that this would now always be a drag on the world as unfinished business.

Early 1960’s – Russia now ups the ante with a weapons race. A nuclear weapons race. In 1961, they explode Tsar Bomb, the largest nuclear test that would ever occur. 50+ Megatons which is 50 million tons of TNT, or a Hundred Thousand Million Pounds of TNT !....See my Next Post) This would cost us many tens of trillions and provide No return on investment outside of driving us to create the strongest military machine in the history of mankind.

Russia assassinates JFK (my opinion) and LBJ assumes the White House. LBJ Massively escalates the Vietnam War.

Late 1960’s – Hippies. Drugs. The Vietnam War. Race Riots. The greatest American Cars ever are created in 1969. The stock market is flat all through the 1960’s - Zero Appreciation of Savings. LBJ creates ‘The Great Society’. This will have massive draining effects on the American Economy, create a massive entitlement class – Welfare, and Destroy the Social Security System as LBJ puts all that money into the General Fund to fund Welfare (to me, the black people got their reparations, those that wanted them, from LBJ)... The Greatest Generation begins to wonder what they fought and died for. This? (I’m trying to keep this non-political but some things can’t be ignored)

1970’s – Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. Motown. Muscle Cars made Impotent. Women’s Liberation. Bra Burning. Castrate All the Men. Anarchy. Women Out to Work. Children Being Raised by Day Care. Family starts to disintegrate. Stock market begins a slow climb. Democrat rule begins to eat away at society again. Foreign policy destroyed, energy policy in ruins, Departments of zero return investment created – courtesy jimmy carter the boy president.

1980’s – Disco. Ball of Confusion. The lost decade. Music takes a serious downturn. Ronald Reagan brings the country back to something that makes sense. Ends the cold war, at least from the standpoint that we are putting every available and unavailable dollar into an arms race with Russia.

1990’s – Another lost decade but add the stock market bubble in the late 1990’s, Y2K, Party like it’s 1999, everyone working who wanted to because of Y2K and the Internet Explosion. Music? Yikes... This was an echo repeat of the roaring 20’s and it ended the same way.

2000 – Stock Market Bubble Burst. Higher unemployment due to Internet build-out mostly done and Y2k complete. Stock market and economy on big slide until 2003 when Alan Greenspan and Co cook up the Housing Bubble to recover from the Tech Bubble. Market makes huge gains through 2007, when Housing Bubble Bursts and stock market (S&P500) makes a low at 666 in March of 2009. (Really, 666. Wild eh?)

2008 – People actually stick a guy in the White House who has Zero Experience at anything useful at a time when the most serious and complex problems face our country and the world. Food, Energy, Islam, Social Security, State and Federal Bankruptcy, Music (mostly) Sucks, Education Sucks, Inflation, Stagflation and the majority decide to put the most unqualified person in charge of the world. Gotta laugh or cry and I don’t cry.

The bright side to this is that things are so bad now that they almost Have to get better. The experienced traders Sell stocks when things are so good they can’t get better and Buy when things are so bad they can’t get worse. That may be a good explanation for the March 2009 low in the markets. Things were sure at a low.

So my point is this – Good times were had in relatively small quantity. 1920’s (after WW1), 1950’s and 1960’s to some extent (after WW2) and late 1990’s (Due to the exceptional events being the massive build out of a new communication medium – the Internet, and Y2K – which spawned much software and hardware system upgrading – I was involved in this area for the entire decade.) What is going to happen that creates that perfect storm for us again ? WW3? Some new paradigm that requires massive effort to implement and puts all the generally unemployable to work again? I don’t know. I don’t see anything on the horizon. I only see a world population saddled with massive inflation in food prices (possibly the/a big reason for the ME uprisings), Austerity Measures being implemented all over Europe (Soon to come to the USA? Be careful what you wish for with curtailing government spending) and no catalyst that is going to get massive numbers of people off the unemployed ranks or get new and pre-owned houses selling like hotcakes again. I think it’s going to suck for a while. Sorry. But having your eye on the ball is better than not eh?

What we have now isn’t real. The banks aren’t healthy, too many people aren’t working, the economy isn’t healthy and inflation is about to hit like a tsunami.


  1. The inflation part has me troubled. I try to explain it to my co-workers but they just shrug me off like I'm a crazy guy on the corner with an end of the world sign.

  2. Unless you've lived through it, it's hard for people to believe what hard times are. This is what has damned our generations. We don't learn from the prior ones. Read the the books of Joshua and then Judges; the kids of Israel grew up fairly prosperous and forgot what their grandparents went through to get there and how God disposes, man only proposes.

  3. Kid, You have covered it pretty well so I do not have much to offer in addition or that of dissension except for your one line;

    "1980's,,,Music takes a serious downturn"

    I beg to differ on that perspective as in my opinion that decade produced the very best music in not just one but ALL genres (with the exception of Rap of course).

  4. Trestin, It's gonna hurt a lot of folks. Plus - the market up 40% ? The dollar is down 40%, sum - 0.0

  5. Sig, yes, people today have No Idea what hard times are. The call 911 when their drive thru order was wrong.
    And what did Ronald Reagan say?

    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
    Ronald Reagan

    And very dangerous in this 'I'm Ok, You're Ok' world. A while lot of people are not Ok.

  6. Christopher, I guess music is what you grew up with. Mine was 60's and 70's. I like some of the later stuff though. Tom Petty, AC/DC was 80's? and some others.

    And if everyone liked the same stuff, it'd be pretty boring of course.

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