Boomer-Os Killed The Summer Job Star

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing; it allows us to look back fondly at times in our lives which were often difficult and unrewarding. It can produce joy in the present moment and assist us in feeling optimistic about the future. I assume that it evolved in us as some sort of defense against suicide or despair; people who felt nostalgia were less likely to just walk into the ocean and not come back.

Of course, nostalgia can also be harmful. It can cause us to hold onto people, possessions, and situations which would be better left behind. Worse yet, it can cause us to drastically misinterpret the past, which in turn causes us to make mistakes in the present day. Such is the case with business-book-huckster Eric Chester’s lament regarding the elimination of teenaged paperboys and other forms of youth labor. Chester notes with disdain that today’s paper is “will be thrown from the window of a hail-damaged 2006 Saturn Ion by a 30-something woman, and it will land at the edge of the curb at least 35 yards from my front porch.” Things were different when Eric Chester delivered the newspaper in 1970, yesireebob.

To his credit, Chester doesn’t necessarily blame the Millennials for not having been paperboys, which is very generous of him. He’s identified another enemy — and since he’s a Baby Boomer, you can probably guess what it is.

Like so many jobs of the 20th century, the job of paperboy has been eliminated, and with it, the work ethic of generations past.
Teen employment in virtually every industry has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years.
And yet, when young people take their first job – or enter their first career position, employers expect them to not only have the required technical skills, they expect them to already know how to work. And regardless of what they’ve learned in a classroom, the vast majority simply don’t.

All of this is true. Wonder why that is?

The job(s) that would have given them those skills have been eliminated, given to a more experienced worker who is worth the $15 per hour the government has mandated, and/or handed over to a robot.

The fellow who sent this article to me noticed this comment and pointed out that many states and municipalities are raising their minimum wages. Could this be the reason? Is the minimum wage now so high that it puts adults into the jobs that kids used to do?

Before we get to that, I want to address Chester’s story. I, too, was a paperboy as a kid, first for the Columbus Citizen-Journal and then for the Suburban News Publications. Those newspapers relied on an army of grossly underpaid kids who were indirectly subsidized in many ways by parents who paid for bikes, helped their children in the winter, and delivered the papers themselves when the kids had chicken pox. I doubt that Chester actually delivered the 158 newspapers by himself every single day of the week, rain or shine, without fail. I bet his parents recall his job quite differently.

My mom stayed at home when I was a kid. Chester’s mom probably stayed at home, too. Those stay-at-home moms served as the glue to hold communities together. They cleaned their own homes, helped their kids, and served as an informal network through which social connections were made, careers were determined, and emergencies were solved. We don’t live like that now. We decided, as a society, to more or less double the size of our workforce by making women get involved. But we didn’t double the amount of available work. So everybody was paid less. This gradual evisceration of the middle-class wage went unnoticed because you couldn’t see it happen from day to day — but it happened.

At the age of 38, my father was basically where I am at forty-eight, career-wise. He drove a new Town Car and put two kids through private school. He had a much more valuable home than I do — about twice as valuable in today’s market. And my mom stayed at home. It’s true that Dad was frugal in ways that I am not; they didn’t have carbon-fiber mountain bikes or Paul Reed Smith guitars back then. But there is no level of frugality that would allow me to live the way he lived at the time. I’d need to earn four hundred grand a year, and we’d feel pinched still.

Oh, and he was also setting himself up to retire to a plantation in South Carolina.

Today’s kids don’t have moms to help them do the paper route. Their moms are out there trying to have careers of their own. So the kids go to school and then to aftercare. We used to call that being a “latchkey kid”. Nowadays it’s rare for a child to go home after school until he’s old enough to be at home by himself. Given how our society winks at violent pedophilia nowadays, I’d define that age as sixteen for boys and 42 for girls. If Eric Chester were thirteen in 2020 instead of 1970, he’d be eating a pre-packaged snack while waiting for a schoolbus instead of delivering papers and then returning home for a hot breakfast, because his mom would be busy making PowerPoints for a living and Amazon shopping on her company laptop while planning her next business trip to see her excitingly demanding boss.

There’s also the fact that you could ride a bicycle around an 85-paper territory in about 45 minutes back in 1970 when everyone took a paper. I used to walk mine and it rarely took more than an hour. Today, with maybe one in ten or twenty households taking a paper, you need a Saturn with hail damage to make it work time-wise.

You get the idea. We won’t have paperboys until we restore the America which needed them: a country where people were literate, interested in the news, and willing to pay for en masse, while also making sure we had moms at home to look after the paperboys. What about the rest of Chester’s assertion? Are teenagers no longer working because the minimum wage is high enough to attract “experienced workers”?

This chart answers that question. The minimum wage, in real dollars, hasn’t been this low in the Boomers’ lifetimes. It was half again as much back when Chester&Company were working their summer jobs. But I think that the real story is even more frightening, because that light blue line which shows “productivity” is really a measure of what people are paying for fixed assets now. The minimum wage was $3.35 when I worked at Rax as a 15-year-old; it’s $7.25 now. I lived with my mom in a townhome which now rents for almost four times what she paid; two years prior, she had sold our house for — wait for it — one-ninth of its current price. She’d just bought a new Honda Civic S for $6,495; that’s a $26,000 Civic Si today. So the minimum wage would really need to be ten or eleven bucks just to keep pace with that — and that’s before you consider the fact that certain costs, like healthcare and education, have done far more than triple in the thirty-three years since then. I could have gone to Ohio State for $380 a quarter; that would be $2,810 now.

I can make a pretty strong argument that the “Fight For $15” minimum wage doesn’t buy what my Rax wage of $3.35 used to buy. And yet Eric Chester is right: even at $7.25 an hour, you can find plenty of full-time adults to do the work that used to be done by kids and part-time workers. What happened?

You know what happened. The “Greatest Generation” decided in 1965 to open the floodgates for immigration. Their Boomer successors voted again and again to remove even the most nominal of limits to incoming labor. We’ve had more than thirty million new legal immigrants since the turn of the century, which sounds insane but is, in fact, the case. There are about 45 million legal immigrants and another 11 million “undocumented” immigrants in this country.

Adding 56 million people to the American economy, more than half of which are considered “low-skilled” workers, did exactly what you’d expect to wages. We are told that “the economy benefits” from this additional labor, which is a nice way of saying that the stock market benefits. What happened to human beings? Read for yourself:

  • Real wages rose at the top of the distribution, whereas wages stagnated or fell at the middle and bottom. Real (inflation-adjusted) wages at the 90thpercentile increased over 1979 to 2018 for the workforce as a whole and across sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity. However, at the 90th percentile, wage growth was much higher for white worker sand lower for black and Hispanic workers. By contrast, middle (50thpercentile) and bottom (10thpercentile) wages grew to a lesser degree (e.g., women) or declined in real terms (e.g.,men).
  • The gender wage gap narrowed, but other gaps did not.From 1979 to 2018, the gap between the women’s median wage and men’s median wage became smaller. Gaps expanded between the median wages for black and white workers and for Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers over the same period.
  • Real wages fell for workers with lower levels of educational attainment and rose for highly educated workers.Wages for workers with a high school diploma or less education declined in real terms at the top, middle, and bottom of the wage distribution, whereas wages rose for workers with at least a college degree. The wage value of a college degree (relative to a high school education) increased markedly over 1979-2000. The college wage premium has leveled since that time, but it remains high.High-wage workers, as a group, benefited more from the increased payoff to a college degree because they are the best educated and had the highest gains in educational attainment over the 1979 to 2018 period.

Let me put this in unkind but forthright terms: In the post-1965 America, the harder you work the less you’ll be paid, and the more your wages will sink over time. And I should remind the reader that these “real” wages are adjusted to CPI, which is great if you’re shopping for a hamburger but absolutely useless if you’d like to own a home, get a college degree, or enjoy some life-saving medical treatment. Even the “high-wage” workers who saw pay increases on paper aren’t necessarily seeing an increase in their standard of living. This is true in Ohio, where homes in nice neighborhoods are only priced at ten times what they were forty years ago. Imagine how true it is on the coasts. Remember The Brady Bunch? Six kids, a stay-at-home mom, and full-time help. Dad was an architect. Glassdoor says that a top-rate architect in California can earn $150,000 a year, which is about $8,000 a month after taxes in California. Living in that neighborhood now would cost you a minimum of $1.6 million dollars, so that’s about $12k a month in principal and interest. If you really wanted the Brady Bunch lifestyle now, with six kids in school, two cars, and a maid, you’d have to

a) earn $750,000 a year;
b) forget about taking vacations or buying new clothes for anyone but Marcia.

“Okay, Jack, I get it,” you’re saying. “Everything sucks now. But surely things got better for some people?” Well, yes. Take a look at Eric Chester. He was thirty years old in 1987. Let’s say he bought an index fund. It’s worth ten times what it was then. Let’s say he bought real estate in Ohio. It’s worth as much as ten times what he paid. If he bought real estate in Calfornia — or Denver, where he lives — perhaps it’s worth twenty times what it was then. Every single economic policy change since about 1990 has had two primary effects:

a) lowered real wages through increased labor market participation and/or lowered demand for labor;
b) increased the value of fixed assets or investment instruments

In other words, if you were “holding” in 1987, when the oldest Boomers were forty and the youngest were twenty-five, you’re golden now. If you were just starting your career in 1987, you were racing against time. If you’re starting today, the deck has been stacked against you higher than you’ll ever clear. Want to live the middle-class life of 1975? Better hope your IPO nets you ten million bucks. The wealthiest of the Baby Boomers deliberately created a world in which they’d pay less for the things they wanted (employees, labor, televisions) while being paid more for the things they owned (real estate, index funds, 1959 Les Pauls, 1985 Porsche 911s). It was a hell of a trick, wasn’t it?

Eric Chester looks at the hellscape generated by his generation and what he sees is that there aren’t any more paperboys. I look at it and I have serious concerns. I note that support for explicitly socialist government is growing by leaps and bounds. Some of my friends think this is because the Millennials are stupid. “Don’t they know that they won’t be the people who benefit from a communist government?” This is what I think the proto-socialists have figured out:

* In the event of a Red Revolution in this country, they have a very slim chance of becoming part of the nomenklatura who have power, real estate, and freedom to determine their own lives.
* If there is no Red Revolution, they have precisely zero chance of ever owning a home, saving for retirement, or starting a traditional family.

This is where the situation in our country becomes dangerous. As long as there is some chance of succeeding in the current state of affairs, people will generally play along. If you take away all of their hope, they have nothing to lose. Talk about bread lines and mending old clothes doesn’t frighten people who have already internalized the fact that they will be earning close to starvation wages for their entire lives. This is particularly true if they have no children who would be at risk. It’s a roll of the dice for them and things can only come up better.

Very few people in my generation grew up screaming “EAT THE RICH” and stuff like that. We figured we had a chance to be the rich, even if things might not be as easy for us as they’d been for our parents. The twenty-five-year-olds of today no longer think they have any chance — and they live in an echo chamber of $25-per-article bloggers who screech night and day about the potential benefits of violent economic redistribution.

Now here’s the good news: This situation could right itself. Within twenty years, there will be a massive redistribution of wealth in this country through the simple mechanism of probate courts and inheritance. The price of many things will go down, from 1959 Les Pauls to warehouse space. I suspect a lot of Millennials will leave their microliving apartments and head back to suburban enclaves made affordable by the death of their existing occupants and the unwillingness of various inheritors to live in Florida or Phoenix. The stocks will be given to people who would rather sell than hold.

We might also see some societal changes as a result of today’s coronavirus and its many pandemic successors to come. Tommy Friedman’s flat world doesn’t look so attractive when the container ships can’t enter port and every Eat, Pray, Love trip is a chance to wind up isolated on a Navy base for a year. We’re going to have to start making things again. And we might find that we no longer need to own or consume as much as we thought. When most of the available jobs are in manufacturing and not in the creation of PowerPoints, perhaps some people will decide that staying home is a better alternative. Which means they’ll have time for children, and cheap homes in which to raise them. Those new parents will want something to read, and someone to deliver it. In other words: Ask not for whom the paperboy throws; he might be throwing for you.

109 Replies to “Boomer-Os Killed The Summer Job Star”

  1. Ryan

    In case you’re wondering, the best remaining Rax location is said to be in Harlan, KY. At least according to, who catalogs such things.

    As much as I disagree, I understand why some of my generation are turning towards Socialism (from an economic perspective). A lot of them have adopted the “things couldn’t get worse” mindset. When you pissed away $50k on an art degree from a state school and are chasing carts in the Lowe’s parking at 30, you’d almost be stupid not to.

    I worry about those of us that aren’t in that camp ten years from now today. Will enough Millennials join the real world like the rest of us? Or will I be bled dry funding social programs while having the rest of life’s simple pleasures (guns, driving) because the Conservative voting bloc has eroded due to demographic “shifts” and years of fielding poor candidates (especially at the state level).

    • silentsod

      The question you haven’t asked is “why would a kid think pursuing {x} degree was worthwhile?” At the very least society was telling him a college degree was the way to go if not practically mandatory. This is a lie and a lot of people got burned going into debt. They were young and dumb and they listened to their elders.

      • tracktardicus

        I think you are confusing “worthwhile” with “potentially high-income-generating.” While it is certainly much more difficult now than it was 20 years ago to make above-poverty income as an average artist, the world would be less of a place without artists.

        • One Leg at a Time

          You are correct on both points, but I question your entering arguments.

          Worthwhile should mean that it pays back what it costs – so I would argue that there are a very large number of degrees that are not worthwhile. Interestingly, Northwestern costs the same if you get an Engineering degree, or if you get a degree in Feminist Film Theory.

          As far as art – I would argue that the degree is superfluous. Good art / crappy art happens regardless if the creator has a degree.

          • Ryan

            Granted, my example may be an outlier, but allow me to lend credence to your argument:

            I actually know two people who “studied” art at a state school: one is the aforementioned cart chaser, and a friend from High School. .She dropped out two years in. In ~2015 they were both working together doing caricatures at the Detroit Zoo and picking up side gigs, both relying on their parents for financial support.

            Today, he’s chasing carts at Lowe’s and complaining about customers on Facebook while trying to push a comic book.

            She’s been traveling the globe, doing commissions. Her art has been everywhere from Catholic Churches to Academy Award-Nominated films (Loving Vincent).

            The difference between the two? Work ethic. She is of first-generation Polish immigrants who instilled a solid work ethic in both of their children. Her brother busted his ass in real estate and started his own fund in Chicago.

            In contrast, the cart-chaser was born to parents 40 years his senior. He never grew out of that “rebelling against my boomer parents” phase and still obsesses over video games and comic books.

            You reap what you sow.

  2. everybodyhatesscott

    Within twenty years, there will be a massive redistribution of wealth in this country through the simple mechanism of probate courts and inheritance.

    The 400k of inheritance will pay off the student loan debt they have accruing at 5% interest a year which the minimum payment doesn’t cover the interest.

    • stingray65

      If Bernie and his ilk get power you can bet the inheritance tax will be jacked up, so that 400K inheritance turns into far, far, far less.

    • MillennialScumbag

      5% Interest? HAHAHAHAHA! I think most wish it were that low. Back in ’08 when the economy decided to “ejector seat” its pants (thank you for the laughs, Jack), Sallie Mae was handing out loans between 10 and 18%. Imagine that. Getting a loan to get a degree, to hopefully find a job and be successful and live the American dream, but that loan is rated same as a credit card. Even federal loans between 2008 and 2010 were in the upper mid single digits, unless your parents were cosigning and basically had the money on hand.
      Many of my generation have reached the 10 year mark on their student loans and have yet to pay them off. Some have extended them out to what a mortgage used to be.
      Hell, I’m one of the former. I’ve been employed since graduation and have spent over $1000 a month on student loans for nearly 10 years now. I’m still at least 2 years away from freedom, despite the loans being 10 year terms. For this, I live a less than luxurious life in a third rate city. Don’t own a car, but have an old Japanese motorcycle and a couple bicycles. Basically never go on vacation other than visiting family every couple of years. Rent a relatively cheap apartment and cook the majority of my meals at home. I don’t really play video games and only subscribe to Netflix. I have a 2 year old Android phone I bought from China, never an iPhone. According to whiny boomers, I’m doing everything I should be doing, but why is my savings almost zero? Why can’t I afford a house or to have a family some day?

      • Daniel Jason Sharpe

        What did you get your degree in? I’m still paying on mine but I live fairly comfortable. My loans were close to 60k and we’re all private loans. I save, have a house, and a car payment. This is 15 years later with 1 year left on the loan.

        • -Nate

          I have no degrees but I remember from 2nd grade that ADDITION IS CUMULATIVE so I added something, _anything_ to the monthly payment and Lo ! . over time it began to seriously chip away at the principal .

          Sometimes adding $10 was a serious task but I persisted .

          Almost everyone I know told me this is a waste of time and they’re all still buried in serious debt, I will have a paid off house to give to my grand daughter…..

          You can do this, skip the ciggies and beer once or twice a month .


        • MillennialScumbag

          I’ve got a couple. A year after HS I got into the T-TEN program (AAS degree) and graduated top of class and had already been working in a Toyota dealer garage for a couple years. I was starving at that job though. Even with all the steering/suspension recalls of the day, winters I would find myself with nothing to do, and it being flat rate, making sub-minimum wage. So I quit, went back to school for biology which I was more interested in anyway. I did the Toyota program before because I love cars/racing, and it seemed like a solid career. My teacher in the program had retired as a master tech making 6-figs a year, but busting his ass. Despite doing my best and getting ASE Expert Tech cert, I was floundering.
          So, back to school. Got my basics done at a community college (AST degree) to save some money, despite stuff like my chemistry textbook costing $500 and then being “out of edition” a year later, so I couldn’t sell it back. Couldn’t get into the school I wanted to, so I changed majors to poly-sci and moved abroad. School overseas was supposed to be a hell of a lot cheaper than in the US, but then the economy tanked. I worked part time to pay my rent and such, but could only work limited hours on my student visa. Relied on grants, scholarship and fed student loans to pay for school, but still wasn’t enough. Tuition rates were increasing simultaneously with the dollar being toilet paper. So I got some loans from Sallie Mae. Got just below the low side of the absurd rates I mentioned above, but had to have my parents co-sign.
          Graduated (BA degree) with good grades and turned my internship at a small foreign embassy into a full time job. Dollar was still worthless at the time, so that barely paid the bills. Found a job in the auto industry making much better money, just about the same time the US economy was recovering. Been there since, but trying to escape to start my own business (with a couple guys who actually have money, but lacking my technical knowledge) as I haven’t gotten a raise in a couple years. “You make too much money for someone your age” they tell me. Bullshit.

          I don’t smoke anything and make my own beer, so those expenses are pretty minimal. Sallie Mae sloughing off their loans onto another brand under their own umbrella meant they could do some dicking around with loan terms and basically has made them next to impossible to pay off with any speed. I can’t refi them either, despite having excellent credit, as my debt to income ratio is not good. So, people like me, despite trying hard and apparently doing everything right, get caught in a loop.

          • -Nate

            I can dig it .

            I’m not only broke but not smart enough to learn the things you did, I’m a firm believer in education, I wish I’da been smart enough to get further educated .

            I know just what it’s like t be stuck in a cycle of brokeness .

            I had to close up my beloved Indie VW Shop to finally get some decent wages and even then I never made over $52,000 / year, sounds good but not here in the Los Angeles basin .

            Don’t give up hope, you’ll get there .

            I wore thrift store used clothes well into my late 40’s .

            I still pinch every dang penny until it bleeds .

            No matter what, live within your means .

            I’ll prolly never get a new car .

            It’s O.K. though, I live in a place _I_ like and judging by my gut, I’m not skipping any meals .


          • everybodyhatesscott

            I did the math on a Good degree (accounting or engineering) from a state school at 4 years at 5% and it’s still brutal to pay them off in ten years and have any sort of life or family. I’m a millennial but lucked into midwest rich parents so I don’t have any loans.

            If your parents are co-signed, get life insurance if you don’t have it. And, good luck.

      • Booty_Toucher

        So 12 years out of college, and you’ll have paid off your loans? Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Now you get to enjoy higher earning potential for the rest of your life. Good decision, and nice job making so sacrifices to pay off in 12 years.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Alright, here’s where it gets truly crazy.

      Having *actual teenagers* in your restaurant is considered a prestige move, because it’s extremely expensive in terms of labor (you need more kids on shift and you need more coverage because they take time off) and management (you need native-born adult Americans with considerable experience to manage them). That’s why you will see real kids in places like Chick-Fil-A and Chipotle where the margins are extremely high. At Burger King? It’s going to be largely Mexicans out of sight and low-career-aspirations adults up front.

      Note, too, where you’ve cited — South Bend, IN and Massachusetts. That’s not where the cheap undocumented labor lives.

      • SoberD

        Where I live (in between ord and mke) all fast food restaurants except chick fil a are totally hispanic staffed. Once you get north of mke, it’s all local teenagers working fast food, but the service is terrible.

  3. CJinSD

    Do you remember the last virtueless generation to scream ‘eat the rich’ the loudest? We sacrificed every market force and freedom to appease them. This time there is no surplus to squander and they’ll die in a new dark age. Oh well.

  4. Nick D

    Timely article. We have 2 boys and my wife, born to immigrant parents, worked her whole life and has little interest in staying at home full time. We both have advanced degrees, but her current job allows her a great deal of flexibility. In return, her salary is about 1/3rd of mine, but I lack the same flexibility. Unfortunately, in our field, time spent out of the workforce generally is fatal to your career. Other careers, typically in a licensed healthcare field, do not suffer from the same disadvantages. As a number of studies point out, I spend far more time doing household chores and on child rearing than my dad did, as would be expected because my mom stayed at home. I don’t think this is always a step backwards – we hire a neighborhood teenager to keep an eye on them for the hour or so from bus drop-off to when my wife gets home, and that hour is usually spent playing with friends. That hour-long job is a lot more profitable than a paper route.

    My employer perpetually struggles to fill manufacturing jobs starting at $18/hour (no experience required, HS diploma preferred, must pass drug test), with plenty of progression plus paid apprenticeship training. We’re deep in red America. During shift breaks, there’s a fair number of wives dropping off lunch or dinner to their husbands at the plant because they earn enough to live in a decent home in a decent school district on one income, particularly with OT. So many, in fact, we had to account for spousal meal delivery in upgrading facility security lest we inadvertently start an employee riot.

    From my seat, the problem isn’t a lack of entry-level opportunities, its a lack of interest in any sort of labor other than as a food blogger, travel correspondent, critic, or YouTuber. Millenials would rather join the hoards of silicon valley-driven gig jobs after overpaying for a useless degree, bemoan their lot in life, and then wonder why they’re broke and need a new car from using their third-owner Dart to effectuate a ‘less than fair value’ (to borrow a term from the USITC) trade of their meager asset to some Vision Fund-backed cash incinerator.

    Would any current freelance auto blogger you know trade press trips and tweeting to work 40-60 hours a week in flyover country for more money than a GMG Deputy Editor makes in NYC?

    As someone who also isn’t yet 40, I also think the healthcare message gets unfairly conflated with Sanders. Almost all wage growth went into premiums and meeting deductibles. If any candidate, regardless of party or ideology, arrested runaway cost growth, the U.S. could have an extra trillion or so dollars to spend on things other than absurd new hospitals and transfer payments if our costs approximated those of other developed countries, regardless of health insurance system.

    I’d also like any boomer who claims that any other health insurance system other than the failed private-pay patients-subsidizing-below-cost-government-reimbursement-rates-and-uninsured-patients-and-absurd-hospital-administration-cost model currently in effect will be the end of the American Experiment to sign a pledge to forgo the government run, socialized medicine they enjoy because they’re completely un-insurable.

    This won’t happen because insurance companies, nominally ‘non-profit’ hospitals, and physician lobbies wield an enormous amount of leverage and use lobby groups to stain any reform discussion Stalinist red, just like a certain Columbus-based electric company spends millions of ratepayer dollars at Republican statehouses to enrich their remaining electric monopolies off the backs of ratepayers and dwindling domestic manufacturers (God forbid competition when it hurts entrenched interests).

    If someone other than socialist Democrats tried to tackle healthcare, I’d bet they’d go back to being a novelty. Until then, many of my peers are single-issue voters on healthcare, at least at the national level.

    • Eric L.

      I don’t have anything to add, but wanted to thank you for your detailed, insightful comment. This is what transforms Riverside Green into a, er, olive-themed HN–the readers!

    • Newbie Jeff

      “…the problem isn’t a lack of entry-level opportunities, its a lack of interest in any sort of labor other than as a food blogger, travel correspondent, critic, or YouTuber”

      Spot on. Obviously there are exceptions, but there aren’t many.

      “I’d also like any boomer who claims that any other health insurance system other than the failed private-pay patients-subsidizing-below-cost-government-reimbursement-rates-and-uninsured-patients-and-absurd-hospital-administration-cost model currently in effect will be the end of the American Experiment to sign a pledge to forgo the government run, socialized medicine they enjoy because they’re completely un-insurable.”

      I don’t think that’s totally fair. Like all government welfare, Medicare is a ponzi scheme. It probably looked viable in the 80’s or 90’s, and it’s not the fault of boomers that their generation was, well, a baby boom, and now the gig’s up. Happy, trouble-free government medical care “for all” is a complete myth. It doesn’t exist anywhere. It’s either 1) complete crap, 2) strictly rationed, or 3) bankrupting the respective government, sometimes all of those. Our problem is pretty basic, actually.. Americans expect private healthcare quality at government-subsidized rates and available to any human physically present in the country, and apparently no one thinks this is a fantasy.

      • stingray65

        All socialized medicine systems were put in place when medical technology was much more primitive and less costly. If you had cancer, they might try surgery if it was easy to get to, and if that didn’t work you got some morphine to kill the pain until you died a few weeks later. If you had a heart attack or stroke, you died. If the your baby was born significantly premature, the baby died. Pain killers and barrack style hospital wards don’t cost much money, so if government systems provided 1950s style medical care and technology, the financial burden would be pretty small. Meanwhile technology and costs have moved on, so now no matter how indigent the patient, no matter how much the patient’s own bad life choices have caused their illness, we expect everyone to get the latest and greatest medical care that can extend their often worthless life by months or years, which must be paid for by someone else. The only solution is to create a system that provides incentives to create innovations that lower medical costs, which means forcing more people to pay for more of their care out of their own pockets, and making price comparison shopping easier by encouraging medical providers to post their prices. As Milton Friedman once said, if you are paying for a meal yourself you will carefully look at the menu to find something that gives you the most value, but if someone else is buying you look for the most expensive thing on the menu – its the same with medical care.

        • Nick D

          “which means forcing more people to pay for more of their care out of their own pockets, and making price comparison shopping easier by encouraging medical providers to post their prices.”

          I agree in theory, but HDHPs failed. Hospitals collection on deductibles is atrocious, and ever-expanding health systems essentially eliminate competition under the guise of ‘integrated delivery’ which jacks prices. Uncollected copays are passed on to insurers, raising employee premiums. Anthem is about to go out of network with the largest system in my area because their costs are extreme and quality average, yet many employers are abandoning ship and sticking with the devil because there just isn’t anywhere else to go.

          Also, I fully agree routine medical care can and should be price sensitive. The big problems start when you get hit by a bus, are diagnosed with a serious illness, or have a baby in the NICU. Cranking the minivan up to 95 degrees and driving 5 hours to a cheaper hospital isn’t really feasible.

          Purdue did a nice job of standing firm and reasonably explaining the situation occurring near me.


          • stingray65

            I can’t find it now, but a large portion of health care spending (50+%?) is discretionary or non-emergency, which means it should be susceptible to comparison shopping cost pressures. A very large portion of health spending is also in the “last year of life”, which usually involves senior citizens with fatal illness or injury. This comes in to play in the common scenario where 77 year old grandma has cancer, but a $150,000 treatment might give her a few more months or even years of life, but who has the incentive to deny her that treatment and instead give her much less expensive pain therapy to ease her through the final days? If she has some assets that would need to be spent to pay for the treatment, she might very well decide she would rather save the money and save it for her kids inheritance of a charity, but if a 3rd party (Medicare) is paying for it there is a much higher chance she will decide to get the treatment. Now if cost pressures and consequent innovation would lower that cost to $10,000, she might decide its worth it, but when 3rd parties pay for it there is never the same pressure to lower the price to make it more affordable.

            Currently, if you break your leg and don’t have insurance you pay the doctor/hospital a higher price than for the x-ray and cast than the patient with a broken leg in the next room over who has insurance or Medicare paying, which is ridicules because the “cash” patient won’t require all the bureaucracy required to deal with 3rd party payers. Cash and carry healthcare can be very cheap, but the system today does not encourage it. If 3rd parties are only responsible for paying for catastrophic illness/injury such as getting hit by a bus or heart attack, then such insurance would be much more affordable because the payouts would be less frequent, and the ‘out-of-pocket’ pressures on the medical system would reduce the payout amounts. The link below shows how it can be done.


          • Jake

            Employers in NE Indiana are in general about a decade behind the rest of the nation in the way they purchase insurance for their employees, the prices cited in the rand report reflect that. Insurance companies sell employers what they want.

    • abprosper

      Nick D, $18 is inflation adjusted only a bit above minimum wage in 1974 and manufacturing work is, from experience unpleasant.

      If wages had kept up with inflation, it would be $25 an hour or so.

      Now housing in say Indiana is roughly the same inflation adjusted so your bosses workers are making 30% less and paying higher taxes on that. Its much worse in non rust belt areas though do to immigration and to a lesser degree trade and automation.

      This is my pet peeve with Mike Rowe . He’s a fine man, a fine American but dirty jobs and I’ve done them suck in so many ways and pay around what office work does in many cases, if you have any alternative you won’t take them. Simple economic logic.

      There is no way out it, in an increasingly urban world wages must go up or housing down a lot or people won’t have kids and childless people are prime targets to turn Red.

      Behave in a social manner of be socialized

      • everybodyhatesscott

        It’s not manufacturing but western suburbs of Chicago has warehouse work starting at $17-18 an hour

      • JMcG

        Try and get on with a union for an apprenticeship. Not always easy I know, but ask around. Electrical contractors are generally screaming for help. Try and get one that does commercial work, the pay is better. Linemen around the major metros are getting roughly 50/hr- some higher some lower. Lots of overtime at the moment too. You have to be ok working in the weather and at heights. And you have to be willing to work. Out where Nate is in California they’re getting 55.00 an hour or so, but that doesn’t go too far in LÁ.

        • -Nate

          ! $55 / hour ! .

          In my fevered dreams .

          You’re correct, being an Electrician is very good money, better than I ever made .

          Gotta be careful though ~ my buddy whom I got a job @ D.W.P. was one of the very few who was consistently careful enough the change the brushes in the power generators whilst they were operating….

          The flashover kills before you can say “whu……?” .

          He began as a apprentice (“Electrical Helper”) and promoted when many others quit because of low pay and hard work….

          He now earns more in retirement than I ever did on duty .

          Sweet .

          Living the good life in Los Angeles isn’t that hard, just buy a house in the Ghetto and you’ll be fine .

          Unless of course you’re scared .


          • -Nate

            OBTW : as long as you don’t mind actually working, HVAC is another very well paid gig along with Plumbing .


  5. CJinSD

    On Hagerty you asked why people turn off their stability controls. I’m astounded that you have to ask. How many times has a magazine car review specified that the lateral acceleration of some vehicle or other was stability-control-limited while simultaneously being the lowest lateral acceleration achieved by any comparable vehicle in a comparison test? Then there is the influence of stories that have circulated about vehicles failing the ‘moose test’ because stability controls are programmed to be insurance-rating friendly. Cars are cheap to fix relative to people.

    There have been quite a few reports through the years that the reason insurance companies like stability control is because stability controls are frequently programmed to cause vehicles to meet obstacles head-on instead of sideways, so airbags and seatbelts can do their bests. Cars that change direction might roll over, which is much less safe than nosing into an obstacle by locking the wheels opposite the intended direction change. Is there any truth to the theories that cause people to defeat their cars’ stability controls? You tell me.

    • Eric L.

      I moved from a car without functioning ABS to a car with ABS, EBD, traction control (TCS in Nissan speak) and stability control (VDC). The neutral-handling V35 Nissan Skyline loves to oversteer if you goose the throttle in a turn–maybe helped by its viscous LSD. The stability control permits the rear tires to move sideways approximately three inches before intervening and bouncing me off the bolsters as it abruptly stops the rear rotation.

      It’s very aggravating. The system has a simple on/off switch. You either have TCS/VDC, or neither. No TCS only. No varying degrees of rear-rotation assist. Just a giant “NOPE” on the only thing this car can do that a hot hatch can’t. Speaking of, I don’t think I’ve ever understeered in the Skyline, so I’m not sure what the VDC would do in that situation.

      My usual routine is to disable VDC when I’m approaching a turn where I know the back end will move a few inches, but otherwise leave it engaged. I’m sure I’m playing with fire. Shrug.

      • Newbie Jeff

        Are we talking about on a track? I would assume so, since it’s neither safe nor smart to drive at the limit in public…

        My Boss 302 has AdvanceTrac or whatever… I turn all that shit off.

  6. -Nate

    Interesting .

    “This gradual evisceration of the middle-class wage went unnoticed because you couldn’t see it happen from day to day — but it happened.”

    Maybe _you_ didn’t notice, I certainly did .

    In 1970, maybe 1972 I remember the California minimum wage went from $2.00 to $2.50, I asked when I’d get the raise and was fired .

    A whole lotta boomers had the same issue and I wasn’t tossing newspapers, I had a full time job in an auto repair shop .

    I did have several customers who lived on the ragged edge, tossing newspapers out of the sun roof of their $175 VW Beetle….

    Not very many people like to read anymore, the newspaper business suffers because of it, I stopped taking my local newspaper when it became a worthless rag .

    As usual, the facts and statistics are juggled here to make them match the pre conceived conclusion .

    Not being educated I don’t have any simple answers unlike the average blogger/commenter of any age .

    My son who’s in his 40’s makes $85,000.00 + a year having recently promoted off the shop floor to supervisor, he’s buying a (crappy $250.00 in a crummy neighborhood that’s improving) house and trying to plan ahead to leave California as soon as he can retire, his wife is a stay at home mom like his mother was before she bugged out to discover having a Blue Collar schlub for a husband isn’t glamorous but it beat working every day by a long shot .

    I can’t say I miss her .

    I’m not sure about the supposed millenials lack of work ethic, certainly if I’d ever been offered an $18 job just out of high school I’da been on that shit like white on rice ~ it would have been like getting $5 / hour in 1970, FAT CITY ! .

    I’ve had some nasty jobs (digging sewers by hand shovel, cmucking out stalls & cleaning water clarifiers, so on and so forth) but if you’re actually hungry IMO, you’ll do anything to eat .

    Not so much here in Southern California judging by the amount of people begging at street corners .

    I cannot imagine standing there with my hand out .


    • Greg Hamilton

      I always appreciate your perspective. You might say you are not educated, but you appear very wise. When Tesla couldn’t find work as a engineer he worked digging ditches. One of my favorite movies is the original “My Man Godfrey.” When Godfrey was chided about being a butler, he remarked,” but I am a very good butler and proud of it.” In the end of the movie William Powell bails out his air head employers. They are shocked but grateful. (He also gets Carole Lombard as I recall.) Taking undesirable jobs when necessity requires builds character, in my opinion, and helps us with the struggles that lie ahead.
      I don’t think I can imagine you with your hand out either.
      I always appreciate the diverse opinions on this site. It makes my day quite enjoyable.

      • -Nate

        Ooooooo….. Carol Lombard =8-) .

        Not being educated doesn’t necessarily mean ignorant or obtuse ~ I enjoy life and try to learn from what I see going on around me .

        Those who swallow whole the obvious B.S. agitprop from the corporate controlled media are either not interested in the truth (most I think) or are genuinely stupid .

        Clearly they know the crap they regurgitate endlessly (‘leftists, liberals, communists = socialist’ ad nauseum) is false but they cling to it anyway, making their own lives more miserable then crying and try to blame anyone else .

        As mentioned by..(sorry I forgot whom), crummy nasty jobs suck but if you took the god damn job SHADDAP and get to work or you deserve to be fired .

        When I was a lowly Atlantic Richfield pump jockey I also ran the lube rack and did clutches, brakes and whatever else rolled in and still hustled my butt out to the island every time I heard the island bell go !DING!, usually getting to the car before they shut the engine off .

        If you have zero loyalty to the hand that feeds you you’re in the wrong job/career or FUCK YOU BUDDY .

        Don’t have kids, _any_ kids then complain you don’t make the $ for the “wonderful life” .

        I know many who worked their way through college & university then got those high paying jobs and more power to them, I sometimes work on their high dollar hobby vehicles and I’m not envious .

        Do your level best even when it’s cleaning toilets or as in one job, cleaning the shit smeared on the rest room wall by the old guy who died of rectal cancer and for God only knows what reason, did that daily until he died .

        I came along a few years later and the owner and his two uppity sons were to good to clean it so I did, gotta have a nice clean & quiet place to take a dump, right ? .

        Then they got embarrassed and hassled me to death instead of saying thank you for getting rid of the stench that permeated the entire building .

        Not everyone gets to have nor deserves a new Corvette (or whatever the current prize is) ~ deal with it or get off your bum and EARN IT .

        Most of the drop outs like me that I know, live in trailers or crappy apartments, I bought a house and live within my means .

        I find it humorous that Jack here follows the standard Baby Boomer path and so enjoys a nice fruitful and pleasant life then has the temerity to complain ~ maybe it’s just click bait as I see him working his as off and making sure his son isn’t running the streets, he buys the carp he wants and makes no excuses .

        Sounds pretty Baby Boomerish to me….

        To me, his house is a mansion / palace .


  7. Beccaria

    People who identify as single-issue immigration voters, but who won’t consider voting for Sanders, are not being honest with themselves. He’s maintained the same position on what immigration does to labor markets for more than three decades. He voted against the Gang of Eight bill in 2007, and numerous others besides. He held rallies with displaced Disney workers in 2018 and wasn’t shy about using the word “replacement” to describe what had happened to them. He’s been praised for his stance by Steve King, of all people. In the current race, Sanders is the only one who understands that the cause of immigration problem is fundamentally centered on the relationship between capital and labor. The current administration either doesn’t understand that, or more likely isn’t willing to do anything about it (the current bill up for debate raises legal caps!). No one who is unwilling to confront established interests, and force them to stop “flooding the zone” as it were, is ever going to achieve meaningful reform that lasts beyond a very narrow window.

    There’s also a broader point about the kind of politics Sanders and the “socialists” are selling. He may have chosen that label for himself, but the reality is that there’s very little in his current economic platform that wouldn’t have been supported by someone like Walter Reuther or Jimmy Hoffa. Universal health insurance, a jobs guarantee, and a higher minimum wage were all mainstream issues on the labor left when the labor left still existed. To my mind, what the “socialists” are trying to resurrect are the salad days of Big Labor from the 50’s and 60’s; which includes a number of stances that are now often coded as “conservative” by the mainstream media. So Sanders is getting attacked from within the Democratic party and the established media for not being pro-immigration or anti-gun enough, among other things. There are rising forces in American politics which are more purely socialist in a classical sense, which concerns me. But as the author identified, Millennials are running out of options.

    • stingray65

      Good comment, but I strongly doubt that the union leaders of the 1950s and 60s would have wanted universal health insurance that wasn’t linked to employment, and they certainly wouldn’t have supported giving “free” stuff to illegal immigrants, nor supported open borders. They also wouldn’t support infringements on 2nd amendment rights, at least if they wanted to get keep their juicy union-head positions. Lobbying for minimum wages and guaranteed jobs were also largely meaningless during that time when unemployment was almost always less than 5% (in part because immigration was basically cut off from the 1920s to 1964), all the foreign competitors were still trying to rebuild from WWII, and as a consequence starting wages were almost always higher than the stagnant minimum wage. Unlike Sanders, union leaders of that era would also have thought the Green New Deal was absolute idiocy. They would also think Sander’s should be locked up for his support of Castro, Chavez, the USSR, and other Communist “heroes”, and would be fighting him ever step of the way in his desire to nationalize many industries (or use regulations and the courts to achieve the same result).

      Of course given the Leftist indoctrination they get in school, it isn’t surprising that Millennials are unaware that 100 million people have died under communist rule, and that iPhones and Teslas don’t come out of nationalized industries, or that their $100K in student loans is due almost entirely to government efforts to make higher education more affordable and accessible – no wonder so many like socialism and support Sanders (a man who never made a dollar in the private sector).

    • hank chinaski

      Sanders has done a full 180 on both immigration and the 2nd. It could be argued the Donald has done nearly the same.

    • panatomic

      the “socialist” label for sanders is a marketing mistake. as @Beccaria points out, he is basically an old school “new deal” style democrat. his priorities are universal healthcare and low cost college. both good ideas inmho. i think sanders adopted the open borders and green new deal stuff to build a coalition with aoc but i doubt they would become law under a sanders administration.

      progressives are traditionally against open borders. cesar chevez was against open borders. it’s just a stupid idea. you can make a strong argument for mass immigration by pointing out our low birth rate and and demographis but only morons think you can maintain wages and social services while letting millions of desperately poor, uneducated and unvaccinated people cross the borders without anyone vetting them. all you have to do is look at europe and see how it works out.

  8. Newbie Jeff

    Your point about unchecked immigration depressing wages specifically, and the value of labor generally, is taken.

    However, there IS a fundamental work ethic gap between previous generations and today’s millennials/gen Z. My best friend runs a small computer repair business, and his one tech position is a revolving door. Always the same story, 20-29 year old, IT knowledgeable, zero work ethic. They prioritize “quality of life” (translation: not working) over job responsibilities, and usually express dissatisfaction with not getting paid much more despite the entry-level position. Just generally poor employees. Most last a month or two..

    A previous commenter is correct, even if legal/illegal immigrants vacated their jobs, I don’t think today’s millennial/gen z’s would fill them. They’ve been taught to believe that anything they produce is amazing!, every thought they have is evocative!, and they’re all destined to change the world!, etc… it’s hard to suck it up at a 9-5 when you peaked at 14 years old.

    • JMcG

      Jeff, I know nothing about your friend’s business, but that seems like a clear case of not paying enough. I’m consistently surprised by how low salaries are on the white collar side of things. Again, no knock on your friend at all, but enough money has a way of making people show up.

      • Newbie Jeff

        “…but that seems like a clear case of not paying enough”

        That’s true, my friend doesn’t pay a lot. But the position is as entry-level as it gets. It’s a very small company, and so the position involves very basic computer assembly/repair. The tech diagnoses a problem, orders parts, and fixes it. My friend tries to target newly-graduated students with IT degrees from the large school in the area, and offers them a chance to get their first work experience. I think it’s completely understood that this is not a career, but a way to get started and move on perhaps a year or so later to bigger and better IT positions, with a good employer reference on your resume… basically, the “paperboy” example in 2020.

        The problem is, the work ethic issues show up immediately. Each tech was hired knowing what they’ll be paid (like you said, not a lot), and what’s expected of them (come to work, show up on time, etc). They rarely fulfill the latter, and most are coming to my friend after a week or two asking for a raise. If they didn’t like the terms, then they shouldn’t have accepted the position.

        Maybe it’s not a fair comparison, but my own personal work ethic was to be a good employee, even in the crummy, low-paying entry-level jobs I had… those included grocery store bagger at 15 (making $4.25/hr), dishwasher at a seafood restaurant, and ramp agent at the local airport. I spent a year at each job, and all before I went to college. I understood these weren’t career stops, but I also understood that I had a responsibility to my employer at the time and that making entry-level pay in an entry-level position was sort of how the world worked…

        To my point, I don’t think today’s younger generation possesses the same… outlook? Patience? Humility? They mostly expect to be immediately successful and flush with income and bypassing the long, hard path a lot of us took to get successful and flush with income.

        • Redline

          If they are quitting after a month or two because they found something preferable then I’d say the issue is on your friend.

          I don’t think there’s any great virtue in employment loyalty or a$$-busting in itself.

          • Eric H

            I would posit that millennials understand that the vast majority of business treat employees like fungible assets that expect undying loyalty in return for the paycheck. Millennials treat employers as the fungible asset in exchange for their time.

          • Newbie Jeff

            “I would posit that millennials understand that the vast majority of business treat employees like fungible assets that expect undying loyalty in return for the paycheck. Millennials treat employers as the fungible asset in exchange for their time.”

            Probably true at a lot of larger companies. But in this case “undying loyalty” is an sensationalist phrase in the context of my friend’s expectations at a 2-person small business. If they don’t stick around because they found something better, obviously that’s great… it’s a “buyer’s market” for employees, and they should absolutely take advantage of that. I don’t think my friend expects “undying loyalty”, I think he merely expects his employees to show up on time, which they rarely do. Again, if you can’t meet the most basic obligations, why take the job in the first place? Just go home and wait for that high-paying job that will hire you with very little experience and immediately lavish you with bennies… I’m sure it’s right around the corner.

            I still contend that there is a work ethic/attitude problem with younger generations. See this comment:

            “I don’t think there’s any great virtue in employment loyalty or a$$-busting in itself.”

            …and here we are. At least you admit it.

          • arbuckle

            “…and here we are. At least you admit it.”

            Correct. And I’m very happy with my 1040 these days. And because of that I work hard at my job.

            It isn’t “Just go home and wait for that high-paying job” it is “just go out and get that high-paying job”. I’m not familiar with your friend’s operation so maybe these employees are missing out on a great opportunity, but being the best and most dedicated grocery bagger at Kroger is a waste of time. The “pay your dues, start in the mailroom” philosophy may still work out for some people, but it is the path of most resistance.

          • Newbie Jeff

            “…but being the best and most dedicated grocery bagger at Kroger is a waste of time”

            Ha, do we know each other? That’s exactly where I was when I commented earlier about working at a grocery store at 15…

            …for what’s it’s worth, my after school earnings from Kroger bought me a couple of hours of flight training each month, and I got my private pilot’s license before I went to college. Now I fly for a major airline, and I’m doing pretty well. See? Hard work, with a little direction, does pay off…

          • arbuckle

            I don’t think we are actually in disagreement.

            I don’t think loyalty to an employer is a virtue. For example just because Kroger gave you job doesn’t mean you you owe them 3 months, 3 years, or 30 years of your life.
            I don’t think a$$-busting *in itself* is a virtue. Just being a “hard worker” with no direction or goal isn’t going to get you anywhere.

          • Newbie Jeff

            “I don’t think a$$-busting *in itself* is a virtue.”

            We might have some disagreement here… I do think the willingness to “bust your ass” is a virtue, especially if that’s the only thing you’ve got going for you… in my case, I’m not extremely intelligent, I wasn’t born into wealth, and I never had upwardly mobile connections…

            …but I could work hard, and that has paid off more times than I can count. Perhaps I should have clarified my concept of “hard work”: not necessarily always lifting the biggest rocks, more like taking on the crummy jobs no one else will do, willing to go above and beyond your basic expectations, and yes, a bit of loyalty to your unit/organization/company.

            I’ll grant you this: I do think it takes a certain type of organization that recognizes such hard work, and returns that loyalty with opportunity. Not all organizations are like this, and I myself wasn’t always in such an environment… but by then, working hard and contributing was the only way I knew how to do anything. As such, in the worst case, you’ll never get fired, and in the best case you’ll be rewarded. I can pinpoint several instances where my work ethic resulted in a promotion or opportunity that directly effected further opportunities later… now I’m at a company and income level that I never really thought possible.

            To bring home the original point, I don’t think that characterizes today’s younger generations… as you say, most don’t view hard work as I do.

        • sgeffe

          We have a 20 YOA college kid working full-time—while maintaining close to a full load of classes—in the Operations department of the County IT shop where I’ve worked for 26 years. He’s been there for two years as of this summer, after sending out unsolicited letters to various IT employers asking if they would take the risk and hire someone who desired to build experience in the field! That risk has paid huge dividends—this kid’s a real go-getter!

          My boss, a 33 YOA Millennial, also has an indefatigable work ethic. He said he half-assed his way through the first year of college (baseball scholarship), and his Mom sat him down and gave him the facts of life, using several words containing four letters; his wife runs her own photography business, and they have three kids to deal with. Like many folks in their generation, they have a shit-ton of college debt, but fortunately, they’ll have most of it behind them in a few more years; however, all three kids will be going to a private Catholic K-12 school, which I think will wind up being their largest expense over time. He could make double or triple what he makes going private-sector, but he values family time as sacred, as state/county public-sector IT doesn’t require that one be on-call to sacrifice Christmas morning or your son’s first birthday party because a server crashed! The 💩 will be there at 8:00am the next workday!

        • JMcG

          Thanks for the patient reply. I have a much clearer understanding of your point now; it was nice of you to take the time to respond to my rather glib comment. Good luck to both of you!


      What seems to be missing from the discussion is the question of family formation. Will this work ethic produce enough social status to lock down a good wife and mothet of one’s children? In some parts of the country these lower end hard work jobs might offer such an opportunity. On the West Coast, there are very few exceptions to no-status = no-quality-wife

  9. stingray65

    Thanks Jack for another thought provoking essay. What makes it very interesting is that it is easy to argue both for and against many of your points. Since cars are an important topic on this site, your comments about your mother’s 1980s Civic S is one that is interesting, because you compared it to today’s Civic Si which starts at just under $26,000, but the proper comparison would be the Fit, which would offer more similar space and performance and starts at just over $16,000 with A/C, power steering, ABS/stability control, airbags, etc. that were either not available or extra cost options on a 1980s Civic. A 1980s Civic in salty Ohio would also be a rust bucket with a blown head gasket within 10 years, while a Fit would likely still be largely intact and running well at 15 years, so cars have generally gotten cheaper and better, as have TVs, computers, phones, microwaves, and most “things” we buy. Some other stuff we increasingly use has also gotten cheaper if not actually better such as airline tickets and natural gas, because they have been deregulated. Medical care has gotten a lot more expensive, but you could argue it is better because the survival rates for many forms of cancer, heart problems, etc. are much higher today than 30 or 50 years ago, and a large part of the cost increase is due to the bad health habits of Americans (i.e. obesity, drug abuse) and government forced cost shifting – i.e. privately insured are subsidizing Medicare/Medicaid patients, uninsured, and illegals who all pay nothing or less than cost for their health care. Taxes are also higher than they were, which take a bite out of take-home income and are used to pay for all that “free stuff” that Democrats use to buy votes, which is a big part of the reason education costs have gotten so high (nothing increases costs more than subsidizing it), but also police/fire protection and other government services that thanks to union collusion with Democrats results in much higher salaries and nice pensions when hitting the early 50s for many government employees.

    In fact, anything the government has tried to make “more affordable” and “accessible” and more “fair” has tended to make those things more expensive and less effective. No faults divorce laws, female friendly family courts, generous welfare programs all designed to overcome the “unfairness” of the dreaded patriarchy and make life more fair to women and their children coincides very nicely with the breakdown of marriage rates and increased divorce rates (70% initiated by women). Research finds conclusively that the breakdown in traditional families hurts children in ways that no government program can fix, which means kids from an increasing number of broken homes do worse in school, which further means you need more school administration to keep order and deal with “special needs” kids. Throw in open borders that bring in families who often don’t speak the language and don’t follow social norms, and you need even more school administration, social workers, police and prisons, whose juicy salaries, benefits, and pensions require increased taxes. And when those immigrant or disadvantaged kids fall behind in achieving the “American Dream”, governments require schools and employers to add “diversity and inclusion” staff to make sure no one misses out on opportunity just because they lack ability, motivation, or social graces, which leads to diversity quotas, affirmative action, and higher minimum wage laws for purposes of “fairness” and “equity”, but which further reduce productivity and increase costs and consequently incentivize the offshoring or mechanizing of jobs. And offshored/mechanized jobs are one reason a new Fit is a whole lot cheaper than a 1980s Civic.

    On the other hand, Mr. Brady couldn’t have afforded to support 6 kids, a wife, housekeeper, and dog in early 1970s California on an architect’s salary, so that comparison is not really historically accurate. TV and movies almost always provide the “heroes” a lifestyle they could never hope to afford in real life, but the fact that teenagers are less likely to hold part-time jobs today than 30 to 50 years ago is more likely an indicator that families today are better off economically, because mom or dad are able to pay for their kid’s smart phone, fashion clothes, and other lifestyle elements of modern teen living. The rise in home prices is certainly real in many parts of the country, which is due in part to government restrictions on development (especially in the coastal areas), and also because of foreign investors from places like China and Russia who want to get their money out of their own corrupt and unstable home countries (again mostly effecting the coastal areas), but perhaps most importantly of all the higher expectations of modern consumers and their ability to finance it. The famous post WWII Levittown surburban development built cookie-cutter mass-produced homes of about 800 square feet with 1 bathroom, but without central air-conditioning, cable TV / internet connections, “professional” kitchens, “great” rooms, and 3 car garages that so many home buyers expect today where the average home size is now 3 times bigger so no wonder homes are more expensive. Throw in the infamous sub-prime loans, HUD money, federal pressure on banks to approve mortgages for applicants who don’t have steady employment due to the legacy of slavery, and more people have more ways to finance housing than ever before, which of course puts upward pressure on prices, particularly when supply is limited. As we found out in 2008-09, housing prices can and do fall, and I expect that many parts of the country will soon have their real estate bubbles burst, because high prices can only be sustained if there are people willing and able to pay them.

    So some things are tougher, and some things are better than they were during the boomer years, but it must also be remembered that those years were a unique historical phenomenon. We won WWII and all our enemies and most of our allies had their economies destroyed, so our industry had no competition and jobs were plentiful and relatively well-paid. This allowed mom to stay home and take care of the 3.5 kids, and pay for modern conveniences that made life easier as they cleaned those 800 square food homes and pulled TV dinners out of the freezer, while watching a small black and white TV and waiting for dad to arrive home from the plant in his 8 year old rusty Chevy without A/C or power accessories, that the family hoped would hang together for the upcoming summer “vacation” to visit the grandparent’s farm. If we were willing to live the same lifestyle as our working class/lower middle class parents and grandparents we could afford those things easily today in most parts of the country. Fortunately or unfortunately, we generally expect more than that, but they thought they were in heaven because most could remember the real pain of the depression, and the telegrams “regretting to inform you…” during WWI, WWII, Korea that were sent out in great numbers, and how people they knew were often hungry and wondering where their next meal would be coming from. We certainly have problems today, most caused by government attempts to “help”, but compared to any other time period or place, Americans (and most of the rest of the world) have it better today than ever. Let’s just hope that enough people realize it in November to prevent a socialist from becoming President.

    • George Christiansen

      Very good points, stingray65.

      “We won WWII and all our enemies and most of our allies had their economies destroyed, so our industry had no competition and jobs were plentiful and relatively well-paid. This allowed mom to stay home and take care of the 3.5 kids, and pay for modern conveniences that made life easier as they cleaned those 800 square food homes and pulled TV dinners out of the freezer, while watching a small black and white TV and waiting for dad to arrive home from the plant in his 8 year old rusty Chevy without A/C or power accessories, that the family hoped would hang together for the upcoming summer “vacation” to visit the grandparent’s farm. If we were willing to live the same lifestyle as our working class/lower middle class parents and grandparents we could afford those things easily today in most parts of the country.”

      I think that this is an essential aspect of the last few decades of relative prosperity that goes ignored. The combination of Europe being in shambles and the third world having neither skills nor products to offer as competition get mistaken for American exceptionalism and good economic policy. When in fact, we almost couldn’t lose. Not only that, but we could afford to subsidize/socialize the world.

      I do think that a lot of those bad policies that survived due to only the circumstances of the time are now coming to bite us in the ass. Trump has taken a lot of steps to reverse them, but I wish we would have realized this sooner and either exported our commies under McCarthy or at least voted in Perot, who offered everything good that Trump has without the Tweets and ego.

      • stingray65

        The world has been living off the US economy and taxpayers since WWII. We made one-sided trade-deals that hurt our own industries to help our allies and enemies rebuild and keep them from going Communist, and we play policeman to the world by keeping sea lanes open, and oil fields pumping, and tyrant regimes in their place (except during the Obama apology years), which means countries don’t need to spend much on their own defense and can instead spend it on the welfare state. The US private sector medical field invents a disproportionate share of new drugs and medical treatments that save/extend lives and US consumers pay for them with higher priced medical care and drugs, while state medical systems free-ride by paying lower rates or stealing our technology. Trump is the first president to do anything about making the deadbeat world pay their fair share by renegotiating trade-deals, pushing NATO and other allies to pay their share of their own defense, and getting tough with trade renegades such as China – no wonder the world preferred the wimp Obama – who didn’t make them do anything they didn’t want to do, and paid our enemies to promote terrorism.

  10. John C.

    Interesting that the Civic and I believe a Maxima in Jack’s fathers case appear at the exact time of the divorce and concomitant major lifestyle change. People often disagree with me that those 70s-90s choices to go foreign were to do with their politics. When you give up on the American dream because doing the work of it is so hard that is naturaly represented in how you present yourself with your car. Chevy at the time changed their ad slogan to “The heartbeat of America” making it clear it was a life or death decision they were making by going foreign. Stopping that heartbeat was perhaps a feature not a bug to people making these kinds of decisions.

  11. Dirty Dingus McGee

    It’s nice to see at least a nod given to the fact that not ALL of the current societal ill’s are the fault of us wretched greedy Boomers; ” The “Greatest Generation” decided in 1965 to open the floodgates for immigration.”

    I wasn’t a paper boy in my early teens, I was a grass cutter and hole digger. My grand dad had a contract with the town, to dig the graves and cut the grass at 4 local cemetery’s. I was paid a whopping $1.25 per hour for this work, and grand dad didn’t tolerate slacking, even from his grand son. One of the jobs I hated was trimming around the gravestones with those old time hand clippers (no weed whackers available in 1970). My forearms at that time looked like Popeye’s by the time grass cutting season ended.

    In my experience, there are far too many job seekers who think that because they have a degree they should be starting at the top while they have next to no practical experience. Given a choice between that candidate, and one with a stable employment history and 5-10 years experience for a leadership position, I will always pick the experience. The only job I have ever been around where starting at the top works, was when I was the assistant grave digger.

  12. NoID

    I’m feeling you on how difficult it is to achieve the lifestyle of our parents. I’m pulling in just over $100k/year with a blue-stained white-collar job in the rust belt, and while me and my family (wife and four kids) live comfortably ($140k house in an area that elicits semi-sincere comments that range from “Oh, that area is fine” and “Good for you” to “Oh…are you on well or city water?”, “Don’t you worry, I grew up there and never had any real problems”, and “At least the Township police are responsive” when you tell them where it is) there is just about ZERO room in the budget for anything truly fun and interesting. My wife, who’s stayed at home for 14 years, recently started volunteering damn close to full-time hours doing substitute teaching, lunch room duty, and latchkey at the kids’ private school (~15$k/yr for 3 kids, hardly a prestigious, expensive place) to help offset their tuition. I’ve been deferring hobbies basically since I started college, and the dream of picking them up once I had a “real job” has not come to fruition. If it wasn’t for my annual bonus we’d probably not go on a vacation every year. I was finally able to get my wife a corporate lease car, but I’m still driving an 11-year old import that will reach 200k miles in the next few months.

    I find solace in the absolute reality that I still live like a king compared to much of the world, all the things I just complained about above absolutely reeks of “privilege”, and all the stuff in the world can’t buy happiness. That said, a proper garage and a project / race car to put in it would be a dream come true. As would being able to invest in some of my children’s dreams. I read about your son John, and all the opportunities you’ve been able to provide him, and it sucks to know that I can’t do anything of the sort for my own kids. Sure, they all have activities but nothing that requires capital expenditure. Any one of John’s hobbies would cripple my cash flow, let alone all of his, plus yours and Danger Girl’s. Make sure he doesn’t take that for granted.

    Alas, until I’m done paying off student loans and some other debt caused by unexpected, high-dollar infrastructure repairs to our previous home, it’s the ascetic and boring life for us. The bonus to that is, if our house ever did life up to the reputation of its locale and were broken into, the thieves would be very disappointed at their haul. Definitely not worth prison time, or being ventilated by myself or my neighbors (who are actually great people, all of them. Even the felon.)

    • Ken

      Thanks for posting this! Your comment certainly hits home. I too make what’s considered “good” money in my area (New England) – we’ve also made the decision to have Mom home.

      Having Mom home means living the way you described. I consider myself fortunate, blessed in fact (although it was a bit of work and planning to pull it off) that we can live, even moderately comfortable, off one income. Most people are forced into two incomes.

      My salary, although very good for one, is so-so to adequate when compared to dual income households. I live in a very similar manner to you. Controlling expenses, stretching dollars (my youngest car is 10 years old), and limiting discretionary spending.
      It’s sacrifices we chose to make 1) even having kids and 2) doing what we felt was best in raising them. I work more than my friends or peers to achieve this. As a result the kids do see a little bit less of Dad, but in return they get 100% of Mom, instead of two limited parents.

      I know this is no longer the norm. That I’m lucky to be able to do this. This it’s a knock against parents who both have to work at all. But I think back to how I was brought up, my Dad, as an electrician, was able to provide on one income, in the same state. Yet that’s near in-achievable today. My peers and friends talk of careers, but I know given the opportunity, most wish they could do the same. Better vacations and cars can only go so far…. at least that’s what I tell myself.

      • NoID

        “Better vacations and cars can only go so far…. at least that’s what I tell myself.”

        All the same, it would be nice to test the theory.

        My goal is to be debt free (mortgage and cars notwithstanding by 2022), but the aforementioned home infrastructure repairs added a good $30k to my outlays so I don’t see that happening. We’re plugging away and there is a bunch of light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long way off.

        I think one thing that messes with the current generation especially is that by the time we’re old enough to recognize if our parents are well off, and how well they have it, we’ve not borne witness to the struggle to get there. It takes time to accumulate wealth, status, and possessions, but young people grow up under the assumption that such things characterize adulthood by default. That’s not the case, it takes time and care to build those things. So we get impatient and jealous where we ought not to.

        Again, I am very content and I live incredibly well. I just hope the game isn’t so rigged (as Jack indicates) that the while thing caves in. Though maybe a revolution would be a good complement to the new world-ending pandemic we have on our hands. Weed out the competition…after all, it’s hard to get some lebensraum without a little blitz.

      • Stephen

        I am a little older than you 2. Two kids are out of college, 2 are finishing high school. My wife stayed home until recently. I had to learn to wrench to keep my old cars on the road. I drove a succession of $1500 cars. I was fortunate in that I was able to acquire and hang onto a project car early in our marriage, which I am still messing with today.

        Lots of National Park camping trips for vacations. Our biggest vacation was driving to DC to visit many of the attractions there.

        I regret none of it. Wish I had more kids. Volunteer on a high school robotics team, and help run my daughter’s Scout troop. After my son graduates, we are taking the Falcon on week long road trip through Colorado and Utah.


        • NoID

          That road trip sounds like a blast, Stephen. We too enjoy camping, and that’s our plan for vacations from now on. We used to be hardcore rustic campers, but we got a taste of the campground life this past summer when we were between houses (yes, we lived at a camp ground for 10 days) and found it’s a great way for the adults to relax while the kids run wild. This year we’re buying a used pop-up camper with my bonus and taking it on a northeast trip: Niagara, NYC, USS New Jersey, plus some time spent at the camp ground. We are going to try and get out west in a few years, see Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore, maybe stay a few nights at one of those old forest fire watch towers. We’d also like to take a trip south, maybe Kentucky for Mammoth Caves and the Corvette museum before a larger sink hole finishes them off.

  13. hank chinaski

    VD ran a riff on your piece today, clearly yours (Les Pauls and 911s) even before the jump. Heh.

    I slung burgers for 3.50/hr and the Mrs. slung papers for less. There were comparably few hispanics, who did nighttime cleanup or school hours shifts.
    Neither clone works, yet. More than a few of their overachieving peers are building college application filler that you’d see on a 30 year old’s CV just to get a foot in the door. Insane.

  14. Arbuckle

    I don’t think things are nearly as dire for young folks as you’re describing.

    Yes, certain things could be better, but we aren’t living like failed state South Americans either. Americans certainly have something to lose even if they think they don’t. Under socialism life will be worse for everyone that isn’t a government elite.

  15. ScottS

    I was in Buffalo NY on business this week and probably saw the Trico Plant #1 for the last time. It’s being demolished to make way for a “mixed use development”. A victim of the giant sucking sound aka NAFTA. It was also a victim of the relentless growth of taxes and costs of federal, state and local regulation. In case you didn’t know, Trico invented windshield wipers and Plant #1 likely made the wiper for most yours and your parents cars until is was closed in 2002. Trico wiper blades are made in Mexico nowadays.

    Immigration is certainly a factor in the erosion of U.S. wages, but our trade policies particularly with Mexico and China resulted in massive loss of traditional manufacturing jobs. Not mentioned as a factor in rising cost for nearly everything in the United States is the growth in cost of government at all levels. The government workforce has fared significantly better than the private sector for the past 40 years, to the point that today I would encourage an average young person to seek a job with the Federal Government vs private sector.

  16. JustPassinThru

    I take umbrage twice, here:

    1) The Greatest Generation didn’t open the floodgates of Third World immigration. This was done TO them, by the covert-radicals of the Johnson era. Lyndon Johnson has had quite a(n undeserved) rehabilitation in history; he was not a nice guy. He was intended to be a relatively-powerless ticket-balancer for Kennedy – the old Boston-Austin yin-and-yang. But Johnson, a onetime teacher and deep in the radical movement centered in Austin, was suddenly propelled to the top.

    That radical movement took over 50 years to gestate, but today, Travis County, Texas, is a hotbed of urban Leftism.

    The other push for this, was our old friend Tosspot Teddy Kennedy. He stood on the Senate floor, and loudly argued that “This bill is NOT going to change the makeup of America.” In other words, he flat-out LIED, with a complacent media running cover and the public still engaging in meaningless nostalgia for their tragic young hero of Camelot.

    2) A low Minimum Wage is not the reason there’s not prosperity or prospects, adult or teen. Minimum Wage is just one more aspect of wrongheaded economic planning – and in times when it has been too low (vis-a-vis demand for labor and productivity on that labor) it just didn’t matter. In the mid-1990s, in booming Denver, with a $4.25 minimum wage, many fast-food outlets (including the Fallen Arches) were advertising $10 starting wages. And Denver was not a mecca for high blue-collar wages.

    What has happened is that the cost, including liabilities, of hiring entry-level workers, now exceeds the value in pay required by the minimum wage. This is what is deliberately overlooked or not understood: The employee must produce value to the business, greater than the cost of bringing him onto the payroll. Otherwise it is not beneficial to add employees.

    But, instead of exploring WHY this is happening, too many want to command-and-control ORDER employers to pay more, by government fiat. It’s a good way to put the fast-food restaurant on the same path to oblivion as the local newspaper.

    • stingray65

      I agree with your umbrage. I was hoping someone would point out the baby boomers had nothing to do with opening the floodgates to 3rd world immigrants – both legal and illegal.

    • JMcG

      Lyndon Johnson was a card carrying member of the greatest generation. He was a staff officer who wrangled himself a ride on a B24 so he could get an air medal or combat pay or something which he certainly hadn’t earned. Pure sc**bag from top to bottom, start to finish.

  17. ComfortablyNumb

    I’m really looking forward to the day that a glut of fishing cabins, M1 Garands, and ’65 Mustangs is handed down to the cash-strapped Millenials.

    • -Nate

      Don’t wait too long, they’ve been close to giving them away for a decade now .

      My son bought his vacation/retirement house in Arizona for pennies on the dollar after an old man died in it….


  18. Orion Henderson

    Fixed assets, primarily housing, will absolutely be going down in value in the next decade. It’s simply a matter of demographics. The boomers are aging and dying. They are leaving behind all of those fixed assets and there simply aren’t enough people with enough money to buy them at current prices. The millenials, and us Xers, will have our time. In fact, I’d guess that Gen X is going to make a killing in the next decade.

    • JMcG

      You’re not accounting for immigration, both legal and illegal. A large part of the new housing in my area is occupied by subcontinentals. A few such developments feature real estate signs entirely in hindi or urdu. They aren’t a bit worried about freedom of association.
      Why do you think chambers of commerce are full bore for open borders? Realtors and car dealers don’t want to give up their season tickets you know. I would say that Lugers and Garands will be coming down in price though.

  19. One Leg at a Time

    Great, thought provoking article; but I think you miss a significant part of the equation that made your father (or mine) financially stable – frugality. The basic concepts of ‘spend less than you make’, ‘save as much as you spend’, ‘minimize use of credit’, ‘budget for fun’ are a lot less common now than they used to be.

    You touch on your guitars and bikes, but I think the vehicle choices may have a greater impact here – If I remember correctly, we are looking at an Audi s6 (in a very particular color), a Porch Boxter, two Phaetons, one Panther (can’t remember what flavor), three motorcycles, a Yukon/suburban(?) two(?) V6 Accords; and a pick-up to help haul your other addiction (which doesn’t come cheap, either).

    Now, I don’t know any more about your father than what you have written, but I am going to guess that he never owned more than two vehicles at a time (unless he bought cars for you and Bark?); and I am going to guess that he was not an auto racer. I don’t recall you mentioning a boat, or ski vacations or any of the other ‘conspicuous consumer’ stuff that we X’ers love.

    No rocks thrown (and you had another significant expense associated with the loss of the Panther) – but it recalls the comments discussion about a month(?) ago from your article on food and foodies. The money spent on cars, watches, guitars and racing are about the experience and value of owning those things; but it is not really building wealth in a way that our parents would have recognized.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Oh, the old man bought a new MG when he was 33 and he ran through Jags, Bimmers, and Benzes in the years which followed. He wore Armani and had country club privileges which would cost me $50k a year to maintain now. His frugality was limited to my cycling career 🙂

      • jc

        Well then, I wouldn’t classify your childhood economic status as the kind of middle-middle class that I think you imply.

        I think MY childhood was probably closer to the average middle-middle class experience:

        My parents bought used Chevies and kept them till they wore out (which happened a lot faster back then; there were basically no expensive toys for me or them, though one could say my expensive education made up for it – but if they had had Armani suits and Jaguars, I’d have been trying to figure out how to pay for Enormous State U. in state tuition; 2 bedroom 1 bath 900 sq. ft. house in a declining neighborhood; stepfather was a shipping clerk and mother a school teacher. When I got into bicycling they bought me a used Raleigh Grand Prix to replace my Columbia five speed. Every bit of repair work on the house we did ourselves, including roofing. My first car was a rusty Vega. We always had what we NEEDED but very little of what we WANTED but didn’t NEED.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          My childhood was middle-middle class because my parents split trajectory after their divorce… so I would alternate between having steak at Dad’s club and doing field maintenance on Mom’s Nissan truck. Mom was always broke.

      • One Leg at a Time

        I stand corrected. My reading between the lines was colored by my cultural experience.

        And given the end result vis-a-vis your bicycling career (you are A WELL-KNOWN WRITER FOR THE INTERNET!), his frugality seems to have worked out for you.

        Question – did you actually start writing about BMXing due to the lack of financial support, or was it unrelated?

  20. Pingback: Socialism is the better option | uNbound

  21. Joe

    Boomer = An ocean going, Ohio class?, mobile MIRV launching platform. sounds awesome.

    For walking into the ocean watch the end of The End.

    It sounds like you were enslaved by evil men who buy ink by the barrel? Were you press ganged into the paper delivery gulag? Kidnapped from a water front bar?

    Stay at home mothers are the best.

    LBJ pried them loose from the home with his then new tax laws. He did this on purpose, words from his own mouth. He wanted more tax payers.

    For motivated adults who can research, see A tax code education.

    The minimum wage is 1) un Constitutional 2) causes employers to get rid of people – see Seattle’s $15 fiasco of recently years. People losing hours and jobs, restaurants going out of business. 3) A bargaining chip cynically used by unions, who always want it raised. 4) The reason Jack didn’t work at Texaco, racing out to check oil, wash windows, etc. while another youngster fueled the car.
    The minimum wage was, even for the Lefty originators, not designed to attract experienced workers. They by definition should move past entry level/minimum wage.

    Hooray for Moms!
    “My mom stayed at home when I was a kid. Chester’s mom probably stayed at home, too. Those stay-at-home moms served as the glue to hold communities together. They cleaned their own homes, helped their kids, and served as an informal network through which social connections were made, careers were determined, and emergencies were solved.”

    We actually decided as Lyndon Baines Johnson, see above. “…to more or less double the size of our workforce by making women get involved. But we didn’t double the amount of available work. So everybody was paid less. This gradual evisceration of the middle-class wage went unnoticed because you couldn’t see it happen from day to day — but it happened.”

    Inflation: Nixon taking us off the gold standard so de Gaulle didn’t take all of our gold and then Congress/The Fed printing money like it was paper. Wait, it was.
    That is what has changed the standard of living you write about.
    Perhaps racing, guitars, 911s, Ruth’s Chris, etc. were factors in $ out go?

    Living up to the original intent of the Constitution would go a long way toward what we want.

    Government money has chased up the price of both “education” [go Hillsdale College] and medicine. The more money available the higher the price.

    Ted “the hero of Chappaquiddick” Kennedy, a Lefty – not the hard working Greatest, the oldest were 19-20, with all his energy opened the floodgates to immigration. I believe that from the ’20s through ’65 we had very little. The solution is another Operation Wetback. This by Patton’s clerk in the ’50s. Toss all the illegals, end asylum and refugee intake and no immigration for 20 years. His red diaper doper baby Lefty successors continued to erode the limits. The 14th Amendment is also willfully, illegally and wrongly applied. All of this designed to refill the Democrat plantation.

    Trade Boomers for Lefty Boomers and we agree completely.

    For the rest you are perfect Jack!

    I appreciate your energy and scholarly approach, Jack. Rare!

    P.S. For those who think socialism is a good idea, spend a week in Venezuela, read “Socialism, the Fatal Conceit” by von Hayk and remember it’s killed over 100 million people in the last 100 years.

    P.P.S. Jack, When you come to Massachusetts to meet a Taoist, stop in the cities and you can find all the illegals you could ever want.

  22. abprosper

    Very good article .

    The only absurdity is the idea of bringing back newspapers, never going to happen unless the Internet and maybe TV gets turned off for good. Its an obsolescent media which has justly lost all trust.

    We can cut back on trade, repatriate a lot of people who have no right to be here , regulate finance , school and medical costs into control but it won’t bring back the past. It will buy us time though to figure out how to cope with automation and to get the housing situation fixed.

    And too what Joe said about socialism sucking , sure not the point though . Call outs to Libertarian/Free Trade bull won’t work. They don’t trust you and with good reason since they’ve suffered the brunt of lack of regulation and the natural effect of the republican ‘libertarian idea, oligarchy and corporate rule . Had we gone down the economic nationalist, natalist road with a President Pat Buchanan instead of Reagan we’d have permanently ended Communism but we ended up following the Marxist playbook to a T and so that evil system is roaring back

    I’ll also note that Hayek supported a Universal Basic Income ala Andrew Yang to make up for the shortfalls in capitalism. He was far from your typical thinker.

  23. Jay

    I for one will welcome a world where the value of “vintage” cars goes down. I was at the calendar/game store the other day (they go on sale this time of year) and the only car themed calendars were chock full of boomer cars. I was going to get a Camaro themed calendar for some friends who have a modern 1LE, but it was dominated by 60’s and 70’s stuff. Zero F-bodies, as if that era never happened. Just one 2011 model convertible, the kind you get at the rental counter in LA. Blah.

  24. SIV

    if you were “holding” in 1987, when the oldest Boomers were forty and the youngest were twenty-five

    I was 25 in 1987 (oh how I wish I knew then what I know now…) but there were two more years of “boomers” behind me by all current consensus definitions (excepting Wikipedia’s list of “Gen-X film makers” almost all of whom are older than me and/or dead).

    I have to heartily approve of about 95% of this piece and I take no great exception to the remaining 5%.

    (My original-owner 1st gen neon ACR coupe auction on ebay ends tomorrow at 8pm EST if you want one)

  25. Paul M.

    In Atlanta your observation about kind of person Chik-Fil-A employs in comparison to type Burger King or even worse McDonald does is right on. I love going to Chik-Fil-A and be greeted by cheerful clean help compared to a few people at McDonald who may not understand the language or are as filthy as the restaurant.

    The other comparison that is interesting nowadays for me is between Publix and Amazon owned Whole Foods. Publix employs employees that are extremely motivated to help. They man their registers and open new ones as soon as lines get long. Whole Foods after Amazon took over, became a mess. There is a section near the exit at one I used to go to that has sweaty Mexicans fill orders to go now. The staff inside is neither cheerful, nor clean nor helpful. Whole Food selection has deteriorated. The one old Indian lady I talked to who was there in good times pre Amazon shakes her head when I asked her what happened to Whole Foods. Publix and Costco are companies that take care of their employees. In fact Publix even hires handicapped employees to help them. i love those two, and HATE HATE HATE Whole Foods and Amazon with a passion.

  26. Ryan

    That’s your red ACR coupe? I saw it on eBay yesterday and was wishing it was closer. Hopefully you get decent money for it.

    I already have two Celebrity Challenge cars in the garage, but thinking about selling one and buying something without a cage so I can drive it on the street.

    There is a very clean red 97 ACR coupe on FB marketplace in Indianapolis. It wa

  27. B

    The paperboys on bike were replaced by adults driving cars. You forgot the other summer-job Utopia: working at a summer camp under contract–$500 for ten weeks, with or without room/board. No workmen’s comp, no OSHA compliance, and no minimum wage because camps were classified as religious/educational non profits which were exempt from Regulations. So many kids wanted to work at these camps, under the guise of work
    experience! The ones who did..many launched nice middle class lifestyles on their own.

  28. -Nate

    Jeff wrote :

    “To bring home the original point, I don’t think that characterizes today’s younger generations… as you say, most don’t view hard work as I do.”

    Bang spot on Jeff .

    I never did crack the high wages thing but I managed to do O.K. .

    No complaints, no whining here .


  29. Shocktastic

    “We can cut back on trade, repatriate a lot of people who have no right to be here“
    Give me a break. The reason people flee Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, southern Mexico (Oaxaca, Michoacán) or Haiti? Because US foreign policy made those countries the s**tholes that our president so impolitely (Cokie Roberts clutching her pearls in horror on NPR) but accurately described as s**tholes. It takes a pretty tall fence to persuade people not to climb over it when they face paramilitary death squads back home in Central America. And the Wall Street class is happy to play international labor cost arbitrage so that it costs pennies to make what sells for dollars in the US. Where did all of the lathes, looms, mills and sheet metal presses go when the US plants shut down? China. And who facilitated the drawing of the US manufacturing heartland? Both Ds and Rs voting for and signing crappy trade agreements.

    I agree with Jack about the demise of the well-paying teen job. In my area I could always pick up money picking berries, washing dishes, scrubbing toilets or wielding a mop. 1984-1986 I worked 15-20 hours a week at an architect office $5/hr. Senior year 12-24 hours a week loading/unloading trucks for a department store on its freight dock for $6/hr. No way a 16 or 17 year old would get turned loose with a pallet jack to empty out a semi trailer in my state these days. No way a 17 year old gringo kid these days could get $8/hr in 1987 money swinging a hoedad planting Douglas Fir seedlings on a freshly logged clearcut (brutal painful work I barely survived).

    • Dirt Roads

      $8/hour in ’87 was decent wages. I was getting $7/hr back in ’81 for fixing helicopters. Geez.

  30. hank chinaski

    The ‘what’ is established but the ‘why’ is important in understanding the need to inflate the real estate and stock markets.
    All the state and private pension funds need to at least pretend to have a real return to keep paying out. After these transfer payments, local property taxes fund most everything else, both real boots on the ground services and the graft too. A correction cannot happen.

    In the before time, before retail was supplanted by Amazon, the news would hem and haw every holiday season that mall traffic was down, because consumers didn’t consume enough product. The proles have to at least ‘feel’ rich enough to keep the game running.

    The casino racket that we call a financial industry gets a piece of all of this coming and going.

  31. davis

    >>We decided, as a society, to more or less double the size of our workforce by making women get involved. But we didn’t double the amount of available work. So everybody was paid less. This gradual evisceration of the middle-class wage went unnoticed because you couldn’t see it happen from day to day — but it happened.<<

    Pressuring homemakers out of the home – I think it was done to save social security – SS would have been in in arrears decades earlier.

    As for the minimum wage – there shouldn't be one. First a national minimum is economically insane because OK and CA have far different costs of living. $10 in OK is ok while in CA it would be less than people were willing to work for.

    Plus the minimum wage was never meant to be a "living wage", it was meant to create a floor for people starting work – even then they might not be worth the money for the employer. Now companies avoid the minimum for such workers by making them interns and not paying them at all.

    Labor union contracts are also often keyed to minimum wage increases – already well paid workers get an increase when the minimum goes up – causing more need to cut costs elsewhere.

    • stingray65

      Your points about the minimum wage are spot on. The vast majority of minimum wage workers are teens and part-time workers who are not living on their income, but merely supplementing the family income of the primary bread winner (parent or spouse). Second, very few people with any worth ethic and ability remain at minimum wage very long – it is a starter wage and those with initiative and talent quickly rise above the minimum via promotion or moving to higher paying employers. Third, the origin of the minimum wage law was to prevent companies during the Depression from replacing “highly paid” white workers with blacks willing to work for less than the white wage. These racist origins continue, as high minimum wages today have the greatest negative impact on young blacks who are priced out of the entry level job market because their often limited skills and adherence to social norms (i.e. showing up on-time, following orders, etc.) means they aren’t worth much to potential employers, which further means they will never get the on-the-job training and discipline that would one day turn them into more valuable employees capable of earning a decent wage. One can argue whether this outcome is an unintended negative consequence or part of a conscious plan by Democrats to keep blacks on the welfare plantation and therefore incentive to keep voting D so that the government checks keep coming.

    • dejal

      Then businesses that create products not exclusively for their local area ought to relocate to OK from CA. Advertise “You can live like a king or queen in OK. Your dollar will go farther in OK”. Like they used to do promoting 160 acres back East and in Europe.

      • Dirt Roads

        Yeah but have you been to Oklahoma? No thanks.
        I mean, the people are OK but I was raised in the Rockies, so all that flat land, no thanks.
        I lived in Texas three years and it was hell.


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