So the U.S. standard of living is getting crushed, and the trend shows no sign of abating. That, at least, is the case according to this article:
TheStreet.com: US Standard of Living Down 50%+ Since 1970
As I wasn’t even around in 1970, I certainly can’t make any sort of personal-experience comparisons to the average standard of living (SOL) then and now.
(Though I can pretty much state, unequivocally, that rock ‘n’ roll music was far better then. In that regard, I’m pretty confident that we’ve seen a decline in quality FAR greater than 57 percent. But I digress.)
The article’s an opinion piece, and clearly marked as such, but right here’s where the elephant steps on your toe:
Using the year 2000 as the numerical base from which to “zero” all of the numbers, real wages peaked in 1970 at around $20/hour. Today the average worker makes $8.50/hour — more than 57% less than in 1970. And since the average wage directly determines the standard of living of our society, we can see that the average standard of living in the U.S. has plummeted by over 57% over a span of 40 years.
Hmmm. Reminds me a lot of what I read in The Two-Income Trap back in 2003, except that this guy uses words like “rape” and “parasites” to describe the treatment of “average” families today by Big Business and the government. (Not that I necessarily disagree in all cases. ‘Cause I don’t.)
But here’s the part that totally lost me, where our esteemed author is discussing structural unemployment:
Technology always eliminates jobs faster than it creates new opportunities. This means that our economies are permanently reducing jobs (and creating structural unemployment) every day, every week, every month, every year. For more than 200 years, our governments have dealt with this permanent structural unemployment problem by shortening the work week every few decades…until now. The refusal of our governments to shorten the work week (while we have the worst structural unemployment in history) is a deliberate attempt to maintain massive unemployment — which is the strongest downward driver of average wages.
Uhhh … say what? I mean, I know the PC revolution was pretty hard on typewriter makers and all, but … say what? And how does shortening the work week help increase average wages? (For most folks I know, if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid — politicians and welfare fraudsters excluded, of course.)
Oh well. It’s late, and I’m probably just missing something.
Like how much better the beer probably was in 1970. There’s your pinnacle in standard-of-living, right there.