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The Up Escalator has Stopped!
Old 06-21-2007, 03:56 PM   #1
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The Up Escalator has Stopped!

Interesting research done by a think tank about US economic mobility
(on Economic Mobility Project). What they found is that men in their thirties actually made more money in 1974 (median income of $40,000) compared to men of the same age in 2004 ($35,000). These may not be absolute numbers, but may be adjusted for inflation. But it showed a 12% decrease in income and challenged the presumption that each generation will do better than the one that came before.

I avoided taking Economics in college (being a dumb psychology major---who started at a salary of $10,000 after a master's degree in 1978!), but I do realize this has a lot of social and economic implications for indviduals and for society as a whole, with decreasing morale. But my question is whether it really would be possible to expect every generation to "do better" than the one that preceded it? Wouldn't there be a point where it just wouldn't be possible? And I'm not a parent so I can't relate to the hope that a parent has that life will be easier/more rewarding for one's kids, but isn't there ever a point where we have enough, even if we're not making more than our parents? For example, us who have ER'd at 50---is it a failure if our kids can't retire at 40? If we have a house that's 4000 square feet, is it a tragedy if the kids live in a house that size or smaller?
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Old 06-21-2007, 04:27 PM   #2
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The trend you noted is nothing that happened recently.

From what I understand, real wages peaked in 1973. Then the oil shocks and stagflation took it's toll. Along the way many high paying manufacturing jobs disappeared for people with little education. Taxes have also increased since the time period that you noted.

On the other hand people are really not doing too bad. If you remove children, and students and people who have retired, the median family income in this country is ~$68k. So for your average family in many parts of the country that kind of income buys a comfortable middle class lifestyle.

Perhaps the thing that is not indicated by your numbers is the increasing relative cost of medical care, a college education, and housing. Those three things are what people are struggling with. You can also make a case for easy credit being used carelessly causing people to struggle.
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Old 06-21-2007, 04:37 PM   #3
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A couple of observations.
1. 1974 was about the top for wage earners - what followed from then to now was high inflation, elimination of middle management, technology changes, increase in ilegal immigration, change from manufacturing to service industry, and outsourcing.
2. The period after WWII to 1974 was the best for US workers - the rest of the world was distroyed and we helped to build it. However, we gave them new factories while we had the older ones.
3. Generally, as countries get older they tax their citizens more. Reagan bucked this trend but we can expect increased taxes in one form or another.
4. If you take a longer time period say 1900 to now; I would guess the current salaries; adjusted for inflation are somewhat better - not much.
5. The cost of getting that median income of $40,000 is less than the cost of getting the $35K (I would guess). More jobs require a college education now than in 1974.

If the people who fought in WWII were the Greatest Generation; the baby boomers are the Golden Generation. The generations that follow will not have all the opportunities it has.

I tend to look at the period from the end of WWII to 1975 as an aboration which distortes comparisons. That is why I suggest looking back to earlier periods - to see what the future holds for workers.
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Old 06-21-2007, 04:39 PM   #4
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I haven't read the full report but saw the highlights on CNN.com recently. Given that they're using median I'm not that surprised since it's not inconsistent with the "vanishing middle class" idea (thinning of the meaty part of the curve). I'm pretty sure the higher wage earners (say top 25%) are doing better than 1974 and wouldn't be surprised if the average is flat (or up) despite the decreasing median. Not that this helps the guy at the median.
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Old 06-21-2007, 07:57 PM   #5
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Don't worry - as all us boomers get older and creakier and start thinking we don't WANT to clamber up on the roof or do the plumbing the young'uns the wages of said young'uns are going to skyrocket. Massive redistribution of wealth at that time. Sez me, smarting at paying $90/hour to the plumber.
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Old 06-21-2007, 08:24 PM   #6
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Perhaps the thing that is not indicated by your numbers is the increasing relative cost of medical care, a college education, and housing. Those three things are what people are struggling with. You can also make a case for easy credit being used carelessly causing people to struggle.
I think the cost of college is a major roadblock for young people starting out and trying to climb the economic ladder. Students are having to pay back huge sums of money financed by private loans with interests rates of 10% +/-.

The Dept of Ed is financing less and less for students who don't have the money set aside for school & it is nearly impossible to work a p-t job nowadays in order to pay for each semester. Tough hill to climb...
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Old 06-21-2007, 08:54 PM   #7
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That is the thing FAMILY INCOME of 68K, That means BOTH husband and Wife MUST work!

Back in the day only the husband had to work and they the husbands were able to live a nice middle class existence. From say 1948 to oh what 1968?
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:31 PM   #8
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That is the thing FAMILY INCOME of 68K, That means BOTH husband and Wife MUST work!

Back in the day only the husband had to work and they the husbands were able to live a nice middle class existence. From say 1948 to oh what 1968?
Yes and no on the "only the husband had to work" statement. Taking care of the home was much more time consuming than it is today so staying home for the spouse was a full time job. Then there were not that many opportunities for women in the work place at that time; especially the closer you are to '48. Social norms also played into the equation - the opportunities were just not there.

Having said all that I believe it will only be getting worse for the workers of the USA. Wages will remain flat in current dollars and decrease in real terms. One of the major causes is with workers themselves. They don't unite and press for what is good for them. Since the USA does not have a workers focus similar to what you might find in Europe I think the future is bleak.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:21 AM   #9
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Yes and no on the "only the husband had to work" statement. Taking care of the home was much more time consuming than it is today so staying home for the spouse was a full time job. Then there were not that many opportunities for women in the work place at that time; especially the closer you are to '48. Social norms also played into the equation - the opportunities were just not there.

Having said all that I believe it will only be getting worse for the workers of the USA. Wages will remain flat in current dollars and decrease in real terms. One of the major causes is with workers themselves. They don't unite and press for what is good for them. Since the USA does not have a workers focus similar to what you might find in Europe I think the future is bleak.
BUT she was able and the income that dad made , made it so she could stay home and raise the little animals. Sure women have more opportunities today, however most families now need two wage earners. Funny how all the good jobs went poof. I mean you are gonna tell me that american companies like GM and Ford let the japs destroy them? Why?
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Old 06-22-2007, 09:15 AM   #10
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I mean you are gonna tell me that american companies like GM and Ford let the japs destroy them? Why?
No they got greedy and careless, along with thinking that the average American consumer was an idiot, and would buy their cars even though the quality sucked..........and finally it's time to pay the piper..........
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Old 06-22-2007, 09:46 AM   #11
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No they got greedy and careless, along with thinking that the average American consumer was an idiot, and would buy their cars even though the quality sucked..........and finally it's time to pay the piper..........
That is basically it. After the war the USA helped rebuild Japan and Germany with new plants and the USA companies got big and complacement. So, when Japan and Germany were up and running they shocked the big US companies that did not adapt.

In a similar way this is happening with the moving of jobs from the USA to China and India. People come from China and India to learn and then go back to their countries and start up businesses.

The leadership of this country - politicians, labor leaders and other community leaders are selling out the workers of this country.

In the short term; this is good for us that are RE now or in the future - costs should remain low for awhile. But inflation is rearing its head so I'm not even sure of that right now.
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Old 06-22-2007, 11:04 AM   #12
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I mean you are gonna tell me that american companies like GM and Ford let the japs destroy them? Why?
? Are you Imus' brother or something? What cave have you been living in?
This is offensive as using the 'N' word or any other racial slur.
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Old 06-22-2007, 12:17 PM   #13
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? Are you Imus' brother or something? What cave have you been living in?
This is offensive as using the 'N' word or any other racial slur.
I agree with you that the word "Jap" can be used in a derogatory manner. However, I disagree with you on several points.

1. I do not know Newguy888's age. If he fought in WWII or lived in that period I think some understanding would be appropriate.

2. It could have been used as an abreviation.

3. I do not see any colaborating evidence in his posts that he intended to be offensive

4. This is where I disagree with you the most - Putting the the word "Jap" in the same catagory with the "N" word is not appropriate. Due to the lack of use the negative connotations associated with the word "Jap" have been mostly fogotten. All most people know now is that the word "Jap" is offensive but not the wartime dehumanizing aspects. On the other hand the "N" word and its connotations are still in use and known by the general public. Basically by using such a comparrison you weaken the offensiveness of the "N" word as it is just another racial slur similar to others (e.g. Irish, Italian, Polish) when it is not.
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Old 06-22-2007, 03:27 PM   #14
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I agree with you that the word "Jap" can be used in a derogatory manner. However, I disagree with you on several points.

1. I do not know Newguy888's age. If he fought in WWII or lived in that period I think some understanding would be appropriate.

2. It could have been used as an abreviation.

3. I do not see any colaborating evidence in his posts that he intended to be offensive

4. This is where I disagree with you the most - Putting the the word "Jap" in the same catagory with the "N" word is not appropriate. Due to the lack of use the negative connotations associated with the word "Jap" have been mostly fogotten. All most people know now is that the word "Jap" is offensive but not the wartime dehumanizing aspects. On the other hand the "N" word and its connotations are still in use and known by the general public. Basically by using such a comparrison you weaken the offensiveness of the "N" word as it is just another racial slur similar to others (e.g. Irish, Italian, Polish) when it is not.
Maybe forgotten to you... but not to the Japanese person that just had that slur tossed at him. ... and don't even tell me it does not happen today.

This is 2007, not 1947, the only way I could even try to explain this away is if the the person has lived in a cave all that time.

... and you point #2 is laughable ... an apologists response

Go ahead and condone and rationalize a racist slur all you want. This is exactly the type of behavior that allowed the Holocaust in WWII and lynchings in the south. Hide your head in the sand and soon you will be next. ... and not just people of color ... a catholic, a jew, a muslim, a mormon ...

No, I am not Japanese, but I am appalled. I think that there is enough hate in the world without these types of subtle bits of racism creeping back into our American culture. We have to be indignant and educate, when-ever and where-ever we see this type of behavior.

Sorry ... I'm off my soapbox now.
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Old 06-22-2007, 03:29 PM   #15
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I used the abbreviation to japanese. Why? Beats me. I was sloppy. Plus when I wanted to go back and edit, welllll this system will not let you after 15 mins.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:34 PM   #16
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I used the abbreviation to japanese. Why? Beats me. I was sloppy. Plus when I wanted to go back and edit, welllll this system will not let you after 15 mins.
Don't worry about it. Is some way something positive came out of it. You allowed someone to feel superior today.

It reminds me of the South Park "Smug Alert" - very funny.

South Park X: 1002 Smug Alert!
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:35 PM   #17
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Maybe forgotten to you... but not to the Japanese person that just had that slur tossed at him. ... and don't even tell me it does not happen today.

This is 2007, not 1947, the only way I could even try to explain this away is if the the person has lived in a cave all that time.

... and you point #2 is laughable ... an apologists response

Go ahead and condone and rationalize a racist slur all you want. This is exactly the type of behavior that allowed the Holocaust in WWII and lynchings in the south. Hide your head in the sand and soon you will be next. ... and not just people of color ... a catholic, a jew, a muslim, a mormon ...

No, I am not Japanese, but I am appalled. I think that there is enough hate in the world without these types of subtle bits of racism creeping back into our American culture. We have to be indignant and educate, when-ever and where-ever we see this type of behavior.

Sorry ... I'm off my soapbox now.
Since you didn't address number 4 I guess we can agree on that point.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:38 PM   #18
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This issue isn't black and white (no pun intended). I don't think the issue would have come up if someone had referred to a Canuck. Or would it have?
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:10 PM   #19
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Don't worry about it. Is some way something positive came out of it. You allowed someone to feel superior today.

It reminds me of the South Park "Smug Alert" - very funny.

South Park X: 1002 Smug Alert!
ok, I apologized for the rant. I was off my soapbox and done, but your double post screams for a reply.
First, I expected nothing less than name calling from you. Look in a mirror.
Second, I don't agree with your remark 4.
Continue on if you must.
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:21 PM   #20
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4. This is where I disagree with you the most - Putting the the word "Jap" in the same catagory with the "N" word is not appropriate. Due to the lack of use the negative connotations associated with the word "Jap" have been mostly fogotten. All most people know now is that the word "Jap" is offensive but not the wartime dehumanizing aspects. On the other hand the "N" word and its connotations are still in use and known by the general public. Basically by using such a comparrison you weaken the offensiveness of the "N" word as it is just another racial slur similar to others (e.g. Irish, Italian, Polish) when it is not.
Well, I am Japanese-American and I find it pretty offensive. I have been called that and don't care for it. On the other hand, I am not going to go on about it but let it reflect on the person using it.
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