Author Topic: 1989 Mother Jones article  (Read 3318 times)

jengod

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1989 Mother Jones article
« on: June 10, 2015, 03:10:17 PM »
The Great Boomer Bust by Katy Butler

As it turns out, you can feel sorry for yourself at any time in history. This article from 1989 sounds exactly like a lot of millenial bellyaching about how it's impossible to maintain the quality of life enjoyed by a previous generation.

"I began facing the life I had, not the life I dreamed of having, or thought I had the right to have...I bought a secondhand copy of Laurel's Kitchen, learned to cook beans, and started using my library card."

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TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 04:20:11 PM »
The author did start out acknowledging her parents' early struggles, but she didn't seem to see the connection between their standard of living when they were starting out and her own standard of living early in her adult life. Some of the luxuries she talks about, such as taking a cab to work, owning a Mercedes, and having a hired person come in and clean her small apartment for her, were not things her parents necessarily did.

The author did end up making some more Mustachian decisions. Also, if she held onto that house, she would have made a killing in appreciation these last twenty-odd years notwithstanding the real estate bubble.
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pachnik

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 07:15:11 PM »
The Great Boomer Bust by Katy Butler
"I began facing the life I had, not the life I dreamed of having, or thought I had the right to have...I bought a secondhand copy of Laurel's Kitchen, learned to cook beans, and started using my library card."

Maybe I've been hanging around here too long but the above quote sounds perfectly normal to me: buying secondhand, cooking beans (healthy + cheap) and using the library card.

Rpesek6904

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2015, 06:14:37 AM »
Does anyone notice that the writers are the one writing these pieces and, surprise, your average writer is not making  bunch of money! It reminds me of the Lee Seigel student loan debate going on another thread. I also wonder if many of these writers would criticize "company men" as soulless corporate drones, while also wishing they had more money. Life is full of difficult choices.

I think this sort of thought process is inevitable for a large part of any generation. Everybody starts out thinking their life is going to be a fairytale. Inevitably, many fall short of their dreams. Some will write about their failure and blame anyone but themselves. As stated by a previous poster, many fail to understand that the luxuries enjoyed by their parents were accumulated over decades.

tooqk4u22

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 03:13:20 PM »
Nice to read articles from the past as it helps you see that there are always similarities from then to now. The story writer is partly deficient in comparing how one lives today relative to how one's parents live today (it's why most millenials want most of the fancyments that their boomer parents raised them with but haven't yet worked/saved long enough to pay for it)

The writer may be a little complainypants but there are truths to a lot of what she wrote - there were significant economic, cultural and productivity changes during the boomers lives (and continues to be) and some of them are referenced.  A lot of it has to do with things that impact inflation (economic, lifestyle) including two people working in a household (it wasn't out of need, it was out want), a signifcant leveraging cycle (debt became ever more common and exponentially growing) further impacted by declining interest rate supercycle (still hasn't ended), migrating to the burbs thus requiring cars, technological toys that needed to be had.

As these things grew, companies did shift more of the cost of health care/retirement onto the employee and/or governent without an offsetting increase in compensation.  These things have led to the inequality gap as access to capital combined with cheap leverage and productivity gains ultimately flows to those who have the assets. 

That is still continuing.  Sure there are a bunch of whiners in the millenial population (or others) but the reality is that whole generation can't just say that "You know, I am going to stop complaining and take action and all will be better"

Don't get me wrong, that is exactly what EVERYONE should do, but the reality is that most won't be successful as a result and therefore a whole generation by definition won't be as successful. 

As individuals, none of it matters - work hard, grow income, save hard, and maintaint a 1950's-ish lifestyle (limited emphasis on cars, toys, spending, etc.).  Sounds good to me, but I couldn't tell you how to reverse course from a societal perspective.


Reynold

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2015, 09:22:04 AM »
As these things grew, companies did shift more of the cost of health care/retirement onto the employee and/or governent without an offsetting increase in compensation.  These things have led to the inequality gap as access to capital combined with cheap leverage and productivity gains ultimately flows to those who have the assets. 

I saw an interesting graph once which showed that PAY per employee sort of leveled off around the 1980s and stayed flattish, but company COST per employee continued the straight line increase it had had since the 1940s.  The biggest factor in the difference was what companies had to pay for health insurance per employee, which increased much faster than inflation in that time period, but some was other regulatory and government imposed costs, such as increased safety requirements, compliance with new accounting standards like Sarbanes-Oxley, and so on.  Not that these are necessarily bad things, but money that goes to those doesn't appear in paychecks. 

I've also seen arguments that having a "gap" between rich people and poor people isn't inherently bad, as rewards for coming up with something really lucrative should exist.  In what way does the existence of Bill Gates cause me to have less money?  If, for example you compare the number of billion dollar companies that have been started in the U.S. in the last 20 years (think Google, Facebook, etc.) with the number which have been started in more egalitarian Europe in the same time (none, to the best of my knowledge), which economy is likely to generate the returns to let a Mustachian retire on investments? 

See, for example, this link.  http://retirementresearcher.com/the-shocking-international-experience-of-the-4-rule/

forummm

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2015, 06:18:26 AM »
Younger people are generally paid less than older people who've had time to establish their careers. But the consumerism doesn't get adjusted for that. So younger people look at the fancy houses and cars people have on TV or in the city and want it too. Eventually they will get those if they work their way up to it. I guess it's common for people to feel like they don't have it as good as other people. You compare yourself to the groups who have it better than you and ignore the homeless or the janitor or people in developing countries.

dcheesi

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2015, 06:58:20 AM »
The author did start out acknowledging her parents' early struggles, but she didn't seem to see the connection between their standard of living when they were starting out and her own standard of living early in her adult life. Some of the luxuries she talks about, such as taking a cab to work, owning a Mercedes, and having a hired person come in and clean her small apartment for her, were not things her parents necessarily did.
Yeah, or the guy who thought that eating in fancy restaurants, without concern for the price, was somehow a fundamental element of "manhood"/adulthood. I can guarantee you that that was never part of the equation for his parents' generation, many of whom felt lucky if they had the 'luxury' of ordering food in a diner from time to time.

And of course there's little or no recognition of the fact it's the very 'need' to pretend that they were rich that made them poor in the first place! Racking up credit card debt (another thing their parents simply didn't have access to) is a sure way to undermine the kind of wealth accumulation that enabled their parents to have nice things later in life.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 07:05:46 AM by dcheesi »

EricL

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Re: 1989 Mother Jones article
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 09:49:37 AM »
The article's author, Katy Butler, may very well be the same Katy Butler who is now a best selling author.  (Wikipedia: born 1949 writer for MJ)  If so, I wonder if she's throwing pity parties for herself now? 
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