Misremembering how things truly were back when. I remember when the interest rate on our first mortgage in the 70s was 9%...and we felt good about that. From the Washington Monthly.
Misplaced Nostalgia for the “Good Old Days”
Yet too often, perceptions of American decline and nostalgia for the “good old days” are grounded in myths, not reality.
Certainly we are better off today than in the 1970s, which were actually quite tumultuous with growing rates of inflation and uneven economic growth. In fact, a new term had to be created - “stagflation” - to explain this phenomenon.
And as for the 1950s and 1960s, the nostalgia evoked by the likes of Trump and Sanders is again based on a myth on how good the middle class had it. In 1959, the overall poverty rate was 22 percent while the elderly poverty rate was 35 percent; even in our weak economy, the comparable numbers today are 15 percent and 10 percent.
Moreover, while many low-educated white males had good paying blue collar jobs in the 1950s and 1960s, this leaves out women, African Americans (who would eventually riot in over 100 cities from 1963 to 1968), and many rural whites. In terms of earnings, women in 1959 earned just 45 percent of men and Blacks earned 53 percent of Whites - the comparable ratios today are 75 percent and 73 percent. As for poverty rates in 1959, 56 percent of Blacks were in poverty as well as 18 percent of Whites and 33 percent of Americans in rural areas. Today, the comparable poverty rates today are 26 percent for Blacks, 10 percent for Whites, and 14 percent for rural Americans - still not great but a far cry from the 1950s.
This brief tour of past conditions is not meant to imply that people don’t have a reason to be anxious today. Globalization has led to many disruptions, and the Great Recession that began in 2008 was very deep while the recovery has been very slow. An August 2015 poll by Pew reported that 30 percent of respondents had been deeply affected by the recession and still hadn’t recovered.