August 19, 2009

The Addiction To Fake Wealth

-by NYCityBoy

As the economy continues to wind, and unwind, a lot of predictions get made. Some are dire. Others are nothing more than sweetness and light. Most have as much chance of coming true as I do of being voted Miss New Jersey in 2010. Thinking of the future can be fun, exciting, nerve racking and downright scary. It is also practical. Many times in the past few years I have thought about what the future holds for this great, but imperfect, country of ours. I believe I can see our future somewhere in our past.

Many times in my life I have heard words to the effect, “it is the dawning of a new era”. Oftentimes this has been sheer overstatement or exaggeration. On several occasions it has been accurate. I think back to the events during my life that have led to a dawning of a new era. There was the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. There was the crumbling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. There were the events of September 11, 2001. Those are just a few of the events that ushered in a change to the world in which we live. Whether we knew it or not a new era was being born when these events took place.

I remember when Ronald Reagan was running for president. I was a kid then and we discussed politicians the way kids do. We repeated the statements that we heard at home from our parents. I remember I didn’t say much of anything. I listened to the kids around me. My parents very seldom discussed politics. I heard some of the kids talk about how we needed to get Reagan into office to get our hostages out of Iran. We needed to show those people who was in charge. I heard other kids talk about unions and jobs. After all that was during a very bad economic time in U.S. history. I am sure there were many frightened parents at that time. But mostly I heard kids talk about how Reagan would get us into war. He was a war monger and just wanted to go to war. I guess that is what most parents were saying that were going to vote for Mr. Carter.

I do not recall any of the kids parroting any thoughts from their parents that Mr. Reagan would kickoff the largest artificial economic boom in world history. Nobody discussed how he would rework the system to increase payroll taxes, promising never to raid the kitty and then immediately setting out to raid the kitty. When I look back now, after seeing the colossal mess that now encompasses us, I can only think “if only we had known”.

I do not think people knew what was in store for the U.S. economy. There may have been some men crouched in leather chairs, smoking cigars and drinking martinis, that had long dreamed of the “Supply Side” system that would sweep across the land. I do not think the average joe had any idea what was about to come, the unleashing of a monstrous culture of debt that would sweep across the land for 25 years. It would be a trickle down world for them.

In hindsight I don’t think most people I know would have changed the past 25 years. They received maximum benefit for minimum effort. If they believe we are already coming out of the messy cleanup then they are probably pretty happy with the result. Those of us that see much cleanup work ahead are not so satisfied.

I am not a professor. I am not trying to present a comprehensive lesson on history and economics. I am stating my opinion that the deeds of 1980 were a history changing event. Few people understood the impact this would have on our lives more than a generation later. George Bush called it “voodoo economics” but I think we have seen the Bush family play with more than its fair share of shrunken heads. The false prosperity of the past 25 years has been embraced by the population of the United States with a vigor that is usually reserved for popular military actions.

Standing in the rubble of the actions of the early 1980s I have to stop and wonder what the next 25 years will hold for this nation of ours. I do not think it will be a repeat of the past 25 years. I believe this is especially true of the past 5 to 10 years in our history. At no other time in our history could somebody achieve “prosperity” without education, hard work, creativity, honesty and integrity. Usually the dishonest, or stupid, must at the very least must do a little work to make their fortunes. During the past decade all anybody needed to do to be prosperous was to splash their name across some mortgage documents. Every pen stroke was akin to filling in the numbers on a winning lottery ticket. To me that is not the sign of an efficient system but the sign of a monstrous abomination of a system. To me that is not America, not in the slightest.

When I try to think what the future holds for this nation I look to my past. I look to the days of my youth and all of the experiences that came with growing up during the last tumultuous decade in American history, the 1970s.

My experience in life is definitely one that no longer exists in this country. I was born at the very tale end of the era of large families. The oil crisis of the early 70s killed that era. I came along as the last of seven kids. I grew up in what was a very middle-class neighborhood. Families around us had three kids, four kids, five kids. It was rare for families to have less than three kids. A few families in town had ten or more children. It was still a very Catholic place at that time.

By today’s standards I doubt that we would be considered middle-class. We did not have enough stuff to qualify for today’s definition of middle-class. Our houses were small, especially for the size of the families in the neighborhood. The layouts of the houses in my part of the neighborhood were all similar. They were about twelve hundred square feet. There were three bedrooms and one bathroom. The basements could be converted into another bedroom, and a second bathroom but that did not always happen. I think most of us grew up knowing what it was like to wait anxiously for the bathroom to be freed up.

It was not until about 1984 that big houses started to be built in our neighborhood. Some land had been cleared to the south of our neighborhood. It was sad to see the ponds and hills of our youth get plowed under. Those natural treasures were replaced by houses the likes of which we had never seen. The term “McMansion” had not yet been developed. It seemed to us that people with a lot of money had just taken over our little corner of the world. Looking back I wonder how many of these newly minted “rich people” could actually afford those houses. The savers of the world were being replaced by the debtors of the world, but who knew?

Designer clothes for kids had not come into fashion in the 1970s. The Nike Revolution had not hit. We grew up wearing hand-me-downs and clothes that were bought at a reasonable price. Style for the seven year olds was not a primary concern for the parents. Keeping them from freezing in the harsh winters of the Midwest was the number one fashion consideration of the time.

I grew up at the tail end of the one income era. The fathers would go off to work each morning. Moms would stay at home and take care of the house and kids. The mothers would form a safety net for each other’s sanity. They would congregate in the late morning or early afternoon. They would drink coffee and talk in one room while the kids played and wailed on each other in some other part of the house. There were no factory-like daycare centers at the time. If there were, we didn’t know about them.

We owned one car. It was run until it was dead. Since mom did not work it was not the worst thing in the world but life was anything but convenient. Living in the suburbs with only one car can be very difficult indeed, especially with a big family. Life was simple but hardly convenient. A medical emergency could put quite a crimp on the family.

The common necessities of today were the luxuries of yesterday. Some of today’s necessities did not exist yet. We had one television set. I believe we ended up having that set for more than 20 years. This was before cable. We received 5 channels with our roof mounted antenna. There were no microwaves yet. I think our first microwave came along right around 1980. There were no VCRs. That came along in the early 80s. We had one phone and rented that from the phone company like every other family.

Our house was not a scene from a HGTV episode. The carpets were worn and even had holes in them. The furniture was old. When it became too dingy it did not get replaced. It got reupholstered. I cannot remember hearing anybody mention reupholstering a piece of furniture in the past 20 years. The kitchen countertops were laminate. The appliances were the run of the mill Sears variety. The floors were vinyl. The cabinets were wood and would get stripped and repainted. That was a remodeling in those days. Stripping out perfectly working cabinets and appliances and throwing them away would have been seen as nothing less than criminal.

Dinner time was not a time of lobster and filet mignon. Our meals would always include meat but not an unlimited supply. There were often arguments and fights over how much meat each child got. My sister that did not like meat was always courted well before dinner to see who could trade her for her share. Not liking meat was definitely an asset. I can’t remember but I bet she got her bed made, or her dishes done, for her on many occasions. We ate many “hotdishes”. You might call it a casserole or a covered dish. Anything with some kind of noodle and meat in it was called a hotdish. I found many of them to be heinous. I often begged for peanut butter and jelly, in lieu of the nightly hotdish.

We rarely ate food that was not prepared at home. McDonalds or White Castle was a great treat. A trip to Ponderosa Steakhouse was a huge bonus for us. Ponderosa was more like a Sizzler than a Bobby Vans. We did not go to restaurants that were run by the 1970s versions of Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. We focused on the restaurants that offered value for the family. Once a year the whole family would pack up and go to a “nice” restaurant. By today’s standards that would have been a middle of the road dining experience.

When I was a kid the idea of a fancy vacation never seemed realistic. I took my first plane ride at age 18. I had never been outside the 5 state area (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota & South Dakota) before my first airplane ride. I knew there was a Disneyland and Disneyworld but I had no idea where they were located. I don’t remember caring, either.

As the kids grew up and left the house the moms of the neighborhood went back to work. The families’ fortunes started to improve. Money was squirreled away into savings accounts. A few luxuries were added to day to day life. Being at the end of the line I got to share the easier lifestyle that the older kids had missed. By that time the house was paid off so there was definitely more disposable income and life began to reflect this fact. Second mortgages were looked upon the same way that a rattlesnake bite was looked upon. They were to be avoided at all costs. They were a sign of carelessness.

Even on one teacher’s salary, and with seven kids, money was always saved. It probably wasn’t much but it was enough to have a rainy day fund. The future was always considered. Pennies were counted and luxuries were deferred to the future. There was no “gotta have it now” attitude. You could want it now but you did not have to have it now.

As you can see I did not grow up in a glamorous world. There were richer people. There were richer areas. There were many people that had different, more exotic, experiences than I did.

I think my experience was more similar to the vast majority of Americans at that time. I also know one thing about my experience growing up. It was sustainable. That is what makes it so different from what is going on today. It was the time before massive swamps of credit allowed people to act like millionaires. It was before the time when everything was a status symbol. It preceded the instant gratification of the Reagan years when easy debt made everything look so attainable.

The experience of the 1970s does not seem strange to me. That does not mean everybody will welcome such an experience. I think it will be an awful awakening for the mindless consumer culture we have embraced. I think the vast majority of Americans will see such a lifestyle as a slap in the face and a huge step back. For good or bad I think we are heading back to such an existence. Dick Cheney might say “the American way of life is not negotiable” but sometimes negotiations take place while some of the affected parties are not welcomed to the table. The McMansion, HELOC, easy credit way of life will have to disappear, whether we approve or not.

I have stood on the mountaintop, trying to see the future and that is the future I see for The United States. That is why I have written about my own experience. We are fighting it tooth and nail, trying to spend the next generation’s lifestyle to avoid the last generation’s lifestyle. It is an awful waste of resources. I do not think that the lifestyle I knew as a kid will be reserved for families with seven children. I think it will more closely resemble the lifestyle of the family with two children. That will be the result of this thing we call “globalization”. The humble existence I knew will be known by many more families in the future.

The addiction to fake wealth will not be voluntarily kicked. It will be wrenched from our hands, like a gun being taken from a burglar. For some it will be welcome. For many it will be seen as a huge failure. I think the dawning of this new era is going to bring us back to a past era. It will be up to all of us to decide how we live our lives in this new era. The people that deal with it the best will be the people that have best prepared, financially and emotionally.

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Comment by The_Overdog
2009-08-19 09:00:49

Wow! What a difference a short time makes - and maybe you are right that Regan brought it all along.

I lived in BFE middle of nowhere Texas, a very young kid in 1980, and from my earliest days fashion, travel, and eating where all the same as they are today, over-emphasized among children. Advertising (Showtime!, HBO, Kaepas!, Kangaroos!, Nike, gi joe, transformers, name-brand cereal -) all around as long as I can remember, and popularity groups forming if you had those items or not.

The brands have changed somewhat, but the tracks were laid. Fer instance, I had one kid in my class who never wore a pair of shoes twice to school until he was in the 9th grade, and the closest mall was 70 miles away!

Houses were leftover relics of the ’70s, quite small, but getting larger, and large families where still the norm but getting smaller. Mom has driven an SUV since the mid ’80s after trading in a lousy Ford station wagon.

Man how times have changed, and we couldn’t be more than 10 years apart in age.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:32:19

Overdog, being older than you, your post was very insightful, as it shows your amazement of thye change.

I wonder why I didn’t recognize it so much when it happened? However, I do now after reading NYCityBoy’s post. I see it clearly and remember it clearly.

We got polluted.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:22:35

I had a similar upbringing, and when transferred to NYC for work
(we weren’t paid much at all then)I didn’t have some extra $ that other people did to spend. I remember 1 roomie who bought a dress for $150 and I was astounded as that was more than our 1/3 share of rent. It boggled my mind. To this day, she still lives this way, HOTH(high on the hog!)
I just spoke with the 81 yr old who lives in my complex. She walks every day. She said, she doesn’t understand why people spend so much money on clothing. As with out upbringing NYCboy, it was clean and holes were fixed.
Things changed for sure around 1980

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:14:48


I miss Kaepas. Two shoelaces. Perfect fit. But at my school it was Nikes that everyone wore.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 17:54:26

What I remember as a kid as the status items were fake foods like Tang and Space Food Sticks, Captain Crunch, Potato Buds and Bugles. My folks were original food hippies, very conservative otherwise, but we were eating Oroweat bread, homemade carrot juice and Lucerne Yogurt (a Safeway brand) and my friends thought we were poor weirdos. In school, the big fashion items were Ditto jeans and Candies platform shoes. Again, my sister and I were freaks because my mom made our clothes, and she was an expert seamstress, but we weren’t cool because our clothes were “bespoke” and had no tags. So, there were some hints of “designer” brand conscience-ness already seeping in during the 70s.

Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 19:11:03

I seem to remember it around 1980. I didn’t live in the U.S. at the time, but it was the first time designer jeans became popular. All the girls at my school had to have a pair of Jordache or Gloria Vanderbilts or Calvin Kleins, especially after that Brooke Shields commercial came out. At the time they were around $40 per pair, which was perceived as extravagant.

I also remember watching an American television program on cable and hearing someone say that money is the long hair of the ’80s.

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 03:13:25

Guess jeans…$50 a pair. Everybody had them, but my mom would buy knock-offs at the swap meet for $15-$20 bucks.

It wasn’t easy in that respect, growing up in L.A.

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Comment by technovelist
2009-08-19 18:42:16

Reagan was much too late to cause the disaster we are facing. Wilson was in office when the Fed and the income tax were passed, and those couldn’t lead anywhere else.

Comment by SB
2009-08-20 06:57:38

Kaepas! THAT’S what those shoes were. I couldn’t remember the name, but clearly remember when they were the had-to-have shoe (and yes, I had to have them).

Comment by Mark in San Diego
2009-08-19 09:01:27

The changes taking place today will only be fully understood 20 years from now when we look back, much as you looked back on the 1970’s. There was a very funny George Ramero Movie to follow up on Night of the Living Dead - it was Dawn of the Dead. . .in it, the zombies walked around shopping malls with the Muzak playing in the background. . .the living people said, “we think these places were important to the zombies, that is why they are still here.”

Today, I see the “zombies” walking around the Malls, but without shopping bags . . .if they have a bag, it probably contains something they need - underwear?. . .now something they want. . .some idiot from Morgan Stanley who prediced a V shaped recovery said, “the consumer has pent up demand and will bring us out of this.”. . .my saying, “READY WIILING but UNABLE!!! (no credit)

Comment by GH
2009-08-19 09:18:41

“READY WILLING but UNABLE!!! (no credit)

And… No job, or at least worthwhile job, as what few remain are escaping to poorer countries fast.

Comment by Larry in San Diego
2009-08-19 09:22:48

I catch myself and my wife just simply wanting to buy something, anything, just to go out and get something. Then we both realize that we don’t need anything - really don’t need anything (other than food etc.) and that trip to the mall seems so silly and unneeded and we wonder about our ‘consumption’ and where it will end.

We’ve made a lot of changes and all of them good and all of them reflect the fact that we simply don’t need any new trinkets and bobbles to justify a life lived for someone else.

If all of America understood what we have and stopped that desperate chase to buy everything that goes on sale we’d be a very different country. That different country would have a lot of empty malls (like around these parts) and would need to direct its resources into the things that that new country thought were REALLY important - like our health?

Comment by In Montana
2009-08-19 10:04:53

It’s shopping (and buying)-as-entertainment. Found myself doing it a long time ago.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 13:38:17

When you say we need to direct our resources into really important things like our health, it reminds me that the “scare” statistics about the increasing fraction of GDP that goes for health care may in part reflect a rejection of a lot of other, unneeded goods and services. In other words, the increase in the fraction of GDP that goes for health care may not (in itself) be really bad news.

Comment by SDGreg
2009-08-20 00:35:48

“In other words, the increase in the fraction of GDP that goes for health care may not (in itself) be really bad news.”

I’d agree if it were actually purchasing more or better health care, hence we were choosing to spend more on health care versus something else.

However, I suspect more of that increase is simply that health care is getting more expensive, not that were actually getting more or improved health care.

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Comment by robin
2009-08-19 22:55:14

My wife and I go to at least one mall a week. We go to get exercise by walking. Maybe one time in ten we buy something. We love to observe the percentage of shoppers who have bags of overpriced goodies, the number of stores offering discounts, and the vacancy rates, especially in the food courts.

Maybe that’s the result of four business degrees between us (maybe five). Funny what makes people tick - : )

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 03:15:02

That different country would have a lot of empty malls (like around these parts) and would need to direct its resources into the things that that new country thought were REALLY important - like our health?

A+, Larry!

Comment by wolfgirl
2009-08-19 09:24:09

I haven’t been in a mall in almost a year. That was when I went with my daughter who was looking for shoes a a Christmas party. There’s nothing in the ones around here that I need.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:50:29

That’s impressive being a lovely lady. I wouldn’t go to a mall if Megan Fox was there, or if I needed candles as a source of heat when it was 90 below.

Comment by AppleEye
2009-08-19 14:45:16

“I wouldn’t go to a mall if Megan Fox was there”

Now that’s just crazy talk.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 14:48:01

Yeah, you’re right. I take that part of it back. :)

Comment by Ol'Bubba
2009-08-19 15:48:30

I had no idea who Megan Fox was until I googled her (back in the 70’s that would have sounded obscene ;) ). I still don’t know who she is. I guess I’m turning into a crusty old fart…

NYCBoy’s story was a walk down memory lane for me. I was also the youngest child in a large family. He left off one detail about television sets in households with a lot of kids. TV’s didn’t have remotes back then, and there was often “disagreements” about what to watch. As a result, a set of needle nose pliers eventually became an indispensible part of the set.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:25:19

“the very tale end of the era of large families.”

Unless you are then or now, Mormon.

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 03:18:34

TV’s didn’t have remotes back then, and there was often “disagreements” about what to watch. As a result, a set of needle nose pliers eventually became an indispensible part of the set.

Yep. Dial-a-channel! :)

Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, but I would love to go back to those days.

…and the dial phone, too! — all of our “new and improved” phones die in a a year or two, whereas the dial phones would last decades, and sounded much better than their wireless counterparts.

Comment by Silverback1011
2009-08-20 04:54:10

Oh gosh, the needle-nose pliars. That was something I had forgotten about. We had a home-made tv cabinet and sometimes the channel changing knob would fall off and the kids would either play with it, or the dog would carry it off, so those pliars were essential for Saturday morning cartoons. A highlight of our lives.

Comment by Houston Observer
2009-08-26 21:02:20

I think I’m about the same age as NYCboy, and we also had one TV. For the longest time, it was black and white. Then sometime in the mid-late 70s we upgraded to a color TV console. My parents kept that TV and used it until it died about 10 years ago.
Anyway, in our house (only 2 kids), there was never any disagreement about what to watch. That’s because we ALWAYS watched whatever Dad wanted to watch, end of story. We didn’t have a vote. The only time we didn’t get to watch Dad’s first choice was if that was deemed “inappropriate” for us kids. MASH was borderline. “Soap” and WRKP in Cincinnatti were inappropriate. Munsters, Jeannie, Bewitched — those were all “Satanic” and not allowed, either.
We didn’t get to choose what we were having for dinner, either. And whoever it was up there — my mom sewed clothes, too. Lots of wraparound skirts. I went to a snooty preppy private school, where all the kids were wearing their storebought fancy skirts, and here I was with the wraparound skirts my mom made, alternating with the shockingly bright polyester pants handed down from the neighbor who didn’t need them anymore.
We had multiple extensions (i.e. rented phone devices) on our single phone line, though. That way you could answer the phone in the kitchen, the living room, or my parents’ bedroom.
Kids these days… totally spoiled. Why do 10-year-olds need cell phones?

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 10:50:40

The only type of shopping I like is when I go to a bookstore or a hardware store.

I will go to the mall when my mom wants to go (which thank god is not that often). She knows I can only last for so long. She says I get this crazed look in my eyes. She then knows it’s time to leave. :)

Comment by Jim A.
2009-08-19 12:35:45

I did shock the women that I work with when I pointed out that I spend more money on books in a year than on clothes. I don’t know why, they’ve seen the way that I dress.

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Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 13:47:20

Whenever I feel the urge to shop I parlay it into a trip to the library. There’s usually something waiting for me there on reserve. Also, movies and music to browse. A beautiful park next door with a rose garden.

Grocery store also works when you feel compelled to consume. Food purchases are justifiable in my book.

Either of these techniques work. Oh, and stay out of the mall, Costco, etc. Unless you want to people watch. You ever see the folks at those places(especially big box stores)? It’s like walking into the bar scene in Star Wars.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:01:14

She says I get this crazed look in my eyes. She then knows it’s time to leave.

*assumes interested face *

What happens when you get held up, post ‘crazed-look’?
Do you bite?

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:05:04

Food purchases are justifiable in my book.

Ab-so-freakin’-lutely! Truer words were never spoke.

…Hey, guess what, Robiscrazy? The Temple of Joy is opening on Friday in MY town. Yes, that’s right—Trader Joe’s. Over on Black Lake Blvd! I’ve counted down the days with trembling hands.
I’m going to camp out in the parking lot, if I can beat the spiders out of my camping cot in time. I’m going to bring a gun, too. Partly for self-protection as I snooze on my cot, but mostly so I can quickly sit up and wing the person who tries to beat me to the front door on opening day.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 17:23:31

What do you get for all that effort to be the first customer? Do they let you wear a TJ Hawaiian shirt and tie a balloon to your wrist?

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:27:50

You ever see the folks at those places(especially big box stores)? It’s like walking into the bar scene in Star Wars.


Bar scene in Star Wars..great line!

I agree on the food forays to Trader Joes.. I could spend so much more at one time, but then I would have to stay away longer till it was all gone. That isn’t any fun.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 18:41:14

“What happens when you get held up, post ‘crazed-look’?
Do you bite?”

Nope I just get real cranky and snippy. Then my mom really knows it’s time to go ;)

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:46:48

What do you get for all that effort to be the first customer? Do they let you wear a TJ Hawaiian shirt and tie a balloon to your wrist?

I think I perceive some mockery here. And you know what? I don’t even care, because I LOVE balloons tied to my wrist. SO THERE. :)

Comment by hip in zilker
2009-08-19 19:13:07

I spend more money on books in a year than on clothes

Me too. Lots more. I spend more on bird seed in a year than I do on clothes.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 20:49:14

Was not mocking you at all. Just hope you get something for your dedication and effort. Like a cool balloon.

Comment by Houston Observer
2009-08-26 21:11:32

Wait, are we supposed to buy clothes every year? Well, I guess, yeah, the underwear and socks wear out over time, but gosh, jeans and shirts last a long time.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 09:09:39

“…Nobody discussed how he would rework the system … “if only we had known”.”

I did. And the moment Reagan was inaugurated I let out a wail that could be heard from Malibu all the way into Santa Monica. I quit work that morning and never returned to the mainstream.

As you rightly say, it was a defining moment, and one in which I knew the America I believed in was over. It’s been a long 30 years, full of starry-eyed acolytes and absurd hagiography, but it’s pretty obvious now that his administration doomed our Country–at least for my lifetime. A classic example of how “conservative” policy ultimately leads to oligarchy.

Thanks for this column, NYC

Comment by GH
2009-08-19 09:21:44

Absolutely, Regan sowed the seeds of deregulation, and this is our harvest.

I often argued we should deregulate the freeways and let people drive as fast as they like. After all drivers would respect each other and drive safely, as it was in their own best interest right?

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-08-19 09:32:14

Not just the freeways, but pull out all the speed bumps, stop signs, and traffic lights in town. Drivers will work out a more efficient and safer system that will benefit us all.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 10:01:35

You forgot, “and let your cronies build toll booths.”

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:19:20

Deregulation got underway during the Carter years. (Remember Alfred Kahn, who was the guy who Carter put in charge of deep-sixing the Civil Aeronautics Board?)

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:21:43

I always drive home as fast as I can with absolutely no regard to the speed limit. Well, not no regard, I always wish that traffic would allow me drive at least as fast as 1/2 the speed limit. On the bright side, I believe 30 mph is the optimal speed for maximizing gas mileage.

Comment by Wickedheart
2009-08-19 09:37:53

“A classic example of how “conservative” policy ultimately leads to oligarchy. ”

I like how you put conservative in quotes. I personally don’t have a problem with most true conservative or republican values.

My father and I used to get into it all the time over Reagan. I said Reagan was senile and had old timers disease. Little did I know how dead on I was.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 10:05:35

Actually, wicked, I dated his psychiatrist during the first campaign, and the candidate did indeed have indications of Parkinson’s.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:09:54

Wow ahansen.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:41:00


Malibu? Dated Reagan’s psychiatrist? You must have been very well-to-do.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 12:09:42

No, just very well-endowed.

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:23:51

badabada bing indeed!

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 19:39:13

“No, just very well-endowed.”


Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 10:17:24

Remember all those times he would say I can’t recall. I believe now he really couldn’t recall.

After watching my dad go through dementia, I strongly believe Reagan was in the early onset of Alzheimer’s in his last term.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:30:08

My Buddy SanFranGirl:

Yeah, I watched Dad go down (dementia) for 7 years. You’re right about what you said, but I didn’t realize it, (from the beginning) until I cleaned up.

After Dad passed, Mom (ever the materialist) had bought, a long time ago, this Rainbow vacuum cleaner. Hell, that thing cost 300 bucks (I think) when I was ten!

Well, she gave it to me, and it was in a cardboard frame box. I took it out, and there was a note in there Dad wrote, in perfect handwriting. Dad always had great penmanship, and it said the craziest stuff I ever read. I will never forget it. I subjectively dated it back to circa 5 years b/4 he passed, and never forgot reading it, either.

Looking back…

Comment by michael
2009-08-19 10:55:55

The average length of time from diagnosis to death from alzheimers is eight years.

He announced he had it in 1994 and died 10 years later.

it can kill in 2 or 20 years but the average is 8. so it is probably more likely than not that reagan did not have altzheimers while in office.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-08-19 11:06:48

I left you a note to drop me a line in yesterday’s rambling about house locations. I’d post info again, but I like to minimize exposure to spam bots.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 11:52:00

Got it SFBubble. Should be in your inbox. Thanks for putting up with my nosey question.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:21:11

Reagan had a psychiatrist? And here I thought he was so, ummm, together. I guess appearances can deceive.

OTOH, Nixon started seeing a psychiatrist long before he became President. The shrink was the guy holding his hand during wife Pat’s funeral.

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Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:26:36

I think everyone in California has a therapist.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 14:38:57

“Reagan had a psychiatrist? And here I thought he was so, ummm, together. I guess appearances can deceive.”

I think that’s a naive conclusion on your part. Just because someone is seeing a therapist does not mean that they’ve lost it. It can be about expanding one’s mind, and educating oneself. It just so happens that my past GF was a therapist, and I learned a lot from her. She put to rest a lot of the stereotypes I had about the profession.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:36:51

Not only did he have a psychiatrist, he and Nancy had/have astrologers on call.

And psychics.

True story.

As does/did GBush1/babs.

Comment by michael
2009-08-19 11:21:31

what year was it?

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Comment by Watching and Waiting
2009-08-19 12:50:33

And I dated a guy who lived in a group house. His roommate worked as a White House aide at the time, and he said it was ‘open knowledge’ among the staff that indeed Ronnie was out of it, and that the White House functioned with this void at its center. The Alzheimers restricted his memory, his cognition, and especially, his take on current events.

Not that you could tell from his presidency …

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:30:24

During 1986 Reagans MD prescribed over 1,486 suppositories.


Now we know. and too late.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:18:07

I seem to recall that in the days following Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, Washington National Airport was closed to commercial traffic. Reason: They had to let all the private jets leave first.

Now, fast forward to this past January. I know a lady who attended Obama’s inauguration. Although the DC Metro had a huge number of passengers — I think Metro broke a record that day — she and her friends had no problem using the subway to get around.

Oh, I should also mention that she flew back to Tucson the day after the inauguration. She went out from National, and no problems did she encounter.

BTW, NYC, I really like this part of your story:

I do not recall any of the kids parroting any thoughts from their parents that Mr. Reagan would kickoff the largest artificial economic boom in world history. Nobody discussed how he would rework the system to increase payroll taxes, promising never to raid the kitty and then immediately setting out to raid the kitty. When I look back now, after seeing the colossal mess that now encompasses us, I can only think “if only we had known”.

I do not think people knew what was in store for the U.S. economy. There may have been some men crouched in leather chairs, smoking cigars and drinking martinis, that had long dreamed of the “Supply Side” system that would sweep across the land. I do not think the average joe had any idea what was about to come, the unleashing of a monstrous culture of debt that would sweep across the land for 25 years. It would be a trickle down world for them.

In hindsight I don’t think most people I know would have changed the past 25 years. They received maximum benefit for minimum effort. If they believe we are already coming out of the messy cleanup then they are probably pretty happy with the result. Those of us that see much cleanup work ahead are not so satisfied.

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:35:33

General aviation planes at DCA were banned after 9/11. There is limited usage allowed today, but the restrictions are very tough.

Comment by BearCat
2009-08-19 15:24:27

You can go back the 1970’s — yeah, it was such a great time. Jimmy Carter, stagflation, and all that wonderful regulation — you want to rent a phone from me? Or pay outrageous sums for long distance or your 300 baud dial-up modem? Or go back to your piece of junk Detroit iron? Do you really think everything would be better if we’d just re-elected Carter?

I’m not saying that a lot can’t be improved, but you’ve forgotten all the positive advances since then. And living frugally has nothing inherently to do with the 1970’s (in fact, I wouldn’t associate frugality with the 1970’s).

Look at Sillycon-Valley — yes, there there has been a lot of silliness, wackiness, gold rush mentality, and paper wealth (I’ve survived two bubbles here without getting sucked in — or getting wealthy) — but there’s also been a lot of hard work, real wealth creation, and real innovation, not just in chips, but also biotech, medical, and such.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:33:13

Yea but.

Sillicon was/is an aberration. Not like the rest of the US, then or now.

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-19 09:11:59

Second mortgages were looked upon the same way that a rattlesnake bite was looked upon. They were to be avoided at all costs. They were a sign of carelessness.

My family felt that way about first mortgages. Seconds were not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.

The big difference I’ve seen from the 1970s to now - is the replacement of what constitutes quality of life in the mind (and consequently, behavior) of fellow citizens. A sense of community and attachment to one’s “tribe” has been superseded by the attainment of material objects.

I don’t have children, I’d like to think that my theoretical offspring wouldn’t be hounding me for A&F jeans or whining that they can’t show up at school with last season’s Coach bag. But who knows? Societal pressures have been known to trump the best efforts of any parent attempting to raise their brood to value something other than what Madison Ave. is pushing at the given moment.

I think the dawning of this new era is going to bring us back to a past era.

I agree, the current job crunch is hitting the twenty-somethings the hardest. At some point will they turn away from the trinkets and label-consciousness - who knows. (this is not an indictment of any particular generation - I’ve witnessed enough of my boomer friends enable their children’s materialistic tendencies.) The bottom line is anyone who has been living off a line of credit is going to have to find a new way. And anyone whose identity is tied up in designer labels is going to have to do some serious soul searching.

Or maybe not. The bailout du jour could be enough to keep them stuck in “my stuff defines me” mode.

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-08-19 10:19:33

My 5-year-old wants Skechers (”the ones that light up, Mom!”) because he sees commercials for them on Nickelodeon. They’d have to be half price for me to give in.

I did get him a very nice pair of Nikes - on clearance for $13! He has no idea what Nike is.

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-19 10:39:40

TV commercials really do a number on the brains of little tots.

My mom managed to fend off our pleas for the latest POS toy, but she finally gave in after being pestered to buy - of all things- a can of Chef Boyardee something or other. (When bro and I first started the campaign she looked at us like we belonged to some other mom. She grew up in Italy and cooked the greatest, knocked out homemade pasta EVAH.) But I guess to teach us a lesson, she granted our wish.

The first can of Chef Boyardee was the last served at the X-Philly residence.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:45:09


Chef Boyardee is weird because the marketing tastes a lot better than the product. Even today, I occasionally buy myself a can of “The Chef”, and then spit it out and throw it away. It takes about 5 years to forget the pain, then the cycle starts all over again.

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Comment by Ol'Bubba
2009-08-19 16:16:33


Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 16:49:44

I prefer my pasta al dente, not where it can be consumed through a straw.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:04:24

Grizzly, there might come a time that a straw will be our friend..hopefully not till the very end.!

Comment by Anon In DC
2009-08-19 15:41:54

We were only allow one hour of TV. And it took us years to get Mom to buy Jiffy Pop brand popcorn. It was ok.

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Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 18:02:13

That’s toooo funny. I also begged my mom for the Chef Boyardee, the ads had some cute cartoon and I knew it would be the bestest. I spit it out, it was like sweet baby barf.

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Comment by Stpn2me
2009-08-19 21:28:33

I dont know who you people are, but I love Chef B even today.

It tastes good to me…

Comment by monilynn
2009-08-19 15:34:33

I’m pretty familiar with the “I want that” syndrome, I have an nine year old. I find limiting TV is great way to deal with it. We only have one TV in the house, and you have to share it with other people. I’m trying to raise him as I was raised, but it’s hard. This year I had to enroll him in a Catholic School in an attempt to limit negative influences. But take heart, the next generation will be wiser than our own. He regularly takes me to task as being a “shopaholic” (I’m not - farthest thing from it) and asks, “Do we really need that?” whenever he’s asked to spend his own money on a “family” item. It’s harder to teach someone what you had to learn on your own.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:39:18

Sears catalogue was my dream book as a child.

“mommy I want this toy, seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

never got them. Just the basics. (not whining, jus sayin..ugh)

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 19:56:59

I used to love the Sears catalog as well. I’d open up to the same page over, and over, and over, incessantly showing my mom the hiking boots I coveted- the ones with red laces that looked EXACTLY like the those John Denver wore on one of his albums. I never got them, though I sure did try.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:42:12

Wow, another well-to-do commentator here on the HBB. How did your folks get the money to buy houses without 1st mortgages?

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-19 10:52:48

Why BIg V - haven’t you heard? X-philly is to the manor born!

(Not that it’s any business of yours, but - since you asked:)

My dad worked his butt off. He was self employed, worked six days a week. He died at age 49 from cancer.

When he did get a mortgage, he paid it off well before the term expired. As did his immigrant parents who scrimped and saved to put up significant money for a down payment, and then paid it off well before the 15 years were up. And though English was not their native language, they made it their business to know the terms of the loan in advance. Getting an exploding or adjustable loan would have been sheer foolishness to them.

Apologies in advance if this story does not fit into your construct of how Americans get their money.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:57:21

Exploding loan. I like that. Sorta like the infamous exploding whale.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 14:57:17

I watched it Slim. Took out that Continential, didn’t it?

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:50:49

Oh, the old “We had a lot of money, but my dad worked his butt off for it” line. Your daddy provided quite well for you, Philly. You probably shouldn’t hold yourself above the commoners for having less.

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Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 12:56:58

Big V: Is it possible for you to post something w/o revealing the monstrous chip on your shoulder?

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:07:53


Sorry you kept getting your insults (i mean posts) deleted from the documentary on You-Tube. Maybe if you weren’t so obtuse…

Inywayz, to what chip do you refer? The one where I detest hypocrisy, the one where poor logic annoys me, or the one where I attack the disrespectful?

Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 13:13:17

Big V:

Actually, I removed those comments because they were mean, even for me. As useless and distracting as I find OlyGal’s posts on this blog, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the comments up.

The “comment removed by author” might have helped you figure that out. As usual, you’re mistaken about something… what’s new?

Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 13:22:47

Big V:

Speaking of my slanderous comments on YouTube - it seems like a good time to ask - who is the HBBer in the video that looks like the 49ers Mascot?

Nobody ever spilled the beans and I’d love to have the visual while I’m reading his posts on the HBB. Help a brutha out!

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:42:02

Hey Obschina, I mean Danull:

I thought the “author” was the author of the YouTube video. I’ve never posted on YouTube. I don’t post unnecessary opinions on every forum I run across.

And you will have to find another bigot to be your “brutha”, ’cause you and I are not on the same team.

Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 13:49:30

I thought the “brutha” was obviously a joke… I guess I can’t get anything past you.

Can you at least provide me with a list of the other HBB bigots - I’m posting some guides to the HBB on the 1st American Visionaries video.

Obschina, I mean Danull

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:40:06

If you find a fresh-hearted, spirited, sweet, and entertaining lady’s post useless, I suggest you get a punch-meter, (keep the math going, (hey it’s only arithmetic, and kinda like an abacus)) , and find a blog where there are less of them.

Nice knowing you!

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:38:18

Wha…? I’m mystified here. Obschina, who ARE you, and why do you take the time to complain about my lil’ ol’ posts—Jeeze, that’s what the scroll bar is for. And then go get a hobby that’s more rewarding. Crocheting is fun, I hear.
And why do you need two names to post on here? How many names do you need?
You know what I just had a super good idea: you should use the name ‘Natalie’ or else ‘Sarah’ sometimes when you post. That would be very fresh and new…

*giggle *

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:47:59

PS. Oh, I forgot to say: Big V is a total smarty-pants. And besides being a smarty, she’s passionate and committed and gives great post. Thanks, V!

Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 20:21:00

I’m nobody, I’m a troublemaking lurker who flies off the deep end from time to time because I miss the old days of HBB where it seems like there was a lot more serious discussion and a lot less flirtation. Maybe I’m glossing over how it used to be and it’s always been like this. I just need to keep taking my meds, I guess.

Suzanne researched it and I need two names because I post so infrequently to talk shmack that I forget which one I use on this site!

Take Care,

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 21:32:56

Comment by Obschina
2009-08-19 20:21:00

“I’m nobody”

At least you’re honest.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 21:36:37

I think we just found the author of those creepy e-mails to Oly.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 23:48:08

Yes, I am angry. My anger is sound and based on valid data. I’m not the only one.

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-20 05:57:08

hell yeah girl you still got your woody on from the other day.

Comment by Silverback1011
2009-08-20 06:40:21

I must have been from a well-to-do family too, since my parents had such a horror of mortgages born of houses lost during the Great Depression that they BUILT our house themselves. It never had a mortgage. It was a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright-style home on a lake, on a lot that they had paid off before they broke ground. It was built on a crawlspace and had a one-car garage ! Oh my we were deprived by today’s standards.

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Comment by Anon In DC
2009-08-19 15:44:59

I have always made under $100K. I will be 47 years old this year. If I wanted to buy a modest place (condo or small house) I could pay cash here in the DC metro area. Thrift is a great income.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 21:33:04

Thus validating something I posted below, earlier in the day. Where I said one does not need credit to buy a house, but that one might need to await the age of 45 or 50. And BTW, congratulations.

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Comment by pressboardbox
2009-08-20 05:34:24

How do you feel about Ben Bernanke’s efforts to destroy the value of your saved cash?

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Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 19:31:10

Back during the early ’90s recession, materialism had about an eighteen-month stretch of being uncool. People shopped at thrift stores, made fun of imported German cars, and all that. I do think this economic downturn is different, and that epochal change is upon us, but this society has way too much invested in conspicuous consumption for the behavior to disappear easily.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:12:22


All I have to say is what I thought all along. This blog has some extremely talented and educated people on it, educated academically, and about life too.

Great post NYCityBoy. (I envisioned both your home, and mine in my youth, at the same time while reading).

Ben, I want to thank you ( I don’t know how to spell compliment) for the great idea of letting regulars post as a “guest host”. The quality has been outstanding, and I am grateful. :)

That post, and ahansen’s posts so far, is/were outstanding!!

Comment by The Mysterious Flying Miser
2009-08-19 09:51:50

Hey, what am I? Chopped liver?

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:54:52


You too The Mysterious Flying Miser!!!

Didn’t know who YOU were!!!! :)

All posts have been simply outstanding! :)

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 10:22:07

Okay spill the beans who the heck are you? :)

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:31:45

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!!! Who the heck is ya!! :)

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Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 13:46:11

Yes, we are still waiting to know what your OTHER screen name was.

Like, we know Prof. Bear is the former Get Stucco, but MFM is the former ?

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2009-08-19 14:42:51

I think GS = PB = MFM.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:45:31

Do you Grizzly ?

Is it possible, it is THE Prof. B. ??????

The mathematical equation makes sense.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 19:36:40


Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 21:34:51

I don’t think it’s him. (Sorry, he.) The content doesn’t match well enough. Guess he could assume some other persona though.

Comment by Larry in San Diego
2009-08-19 09:12:26

You’re right on and the transition you describe is being felt, I think, throughout the nation. In our home we have a dilemma. We can make the shift from ‘fake’ to ‘real’ wealth emotionally, but financially we’ve got a severe hangover that will take many years to work off.

The emotional piece of the puzzle is much more difficult and I think that’s what’s causing so much angst in our nation today. It’s time to change our attitudes and expectations and that always gets us humans beings shouting Nazi and other such nonsense, but the future is coming whether we like it or not.

I’d much rather be prepared emotionally but that test can be earth shaking as well. I Hope I’m as prepared as I think I am and not ‘fake’ emotionally prepared.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:12:08

Me too Larry. Me too.

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:21:51

Alligators angry!

Comment by WT Economist
2009-08-19 09:15:50

The common experience of us 1970s children. So what happened?

I don’t think you can say anyone was conned by Reagan, given that what people did in their own lives is even more fiscally irresponsible than what he did with the federal budget. Reagan didn’t create Generation Greed, Generation Greed created Reagan. We had real elections then.

Perhaps what happened was this. Up until the 1970s, Americans had become richer and richer and richer. The humble circumstances you describe would have been a life of affluence for those living 20, 40, 60, 100 years earlier.

And then in the 1970s, the upward march of mass affluence stopped. President Carter said that, given energy constraints and equity, people would have to learn to be happy with what they have and value things other than goods and services. People responded by electing Reagan, who promised to restore the American Dream.

That was the beginning of the “fighting tooth and nail” that you write about.

What I learned from the experience of the 1970s is what you did: be happy living modestly, and save. I thought the attitude was characteristic of those growing up in the era. It wasn’t. Just like peace and love wasn’t characteristic of the majority of the 1960s generation, that morphed into Generation Greed.

Question: do people here believe that the 1970s life is still attainable for those with a college education or a reasonable non-college job skill? Are Americans in debt primarily because they expect too much? Factor the disappearance of defined benefit pensions and employer-funded health care into the equation.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:14:23

WT: My gut feeling is, if it returns at all, it will be after electricity no longer exists.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 10:25:45

WT Economist,

Glad you asked ( I’ve made it my life’s work )

My kids ARE living “in the 70’s”! NONE has a new car, not (1) car payment in the bunch. They live in modest homes and carry very little debt.

Most have college degrees or are working on them. Community college for the first two years. Decent jobs w/ decent futures and enough left over for modest savings. I didn’t start really saving until I was in my 30’s.

But it’s a constant struggle. There are always temptations. They have to work at it ( and you have to be there cheering them on every step of the way ) It can be done.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:34:21

Good for you DinOR. Sounds like you raised some good kids.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:47:44

Yes, DinOR is one of the better parents on the HBB methinks. I always get PO’d at the ones who complain about having to support/educate their kids.

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Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 11:03:53


I appreciate the compliments, really I ‘do’, but I’m still not sure how “great” a parent I was? Having a military background, I didn’t put up with a lot of guff.

After years of cracking the whip, it’s not the easiest thing to all of a sudden “just let things happen”? There were ( and are ) some things we’re still working through.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit on my thumbs while otherwise decent young people throw away their lives just b/c they can’t go down and get a new BMW at age 20! You’ve GOT to get these kids -back- to handling things like the “old neighborhood”. Look out for -each other- ( so “I” don’t have to all the damn time! )

So they hook each other up every time there’s a job opening or better position, help each other re-hab their homes, work on cars. Now THAT sounds like “The 70s”!

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 03:57:28

Nice job, DinOR! I would love to have our kids turn out the same way. We are doing our best…

Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 11:08:59

And then in the 1970s, the upward march of mass affluence stopped. President Carter said that, given energy constraints and equity, people would have to learn to be happy with what they have and value things other than goods and services.

But this means that all technological advance would have stopped or come to a crawl. The history of the last 30 years proves this wrong. Of course there is a difference between real improvements (everyone having a computer, cell phone, internet, etc.) and useless junk (designer clothes, McMansions, SUVs, etc.). Americans didn’t have to buy the useless junk much less do so on credit. That has nothing to do with energy.

Question: do people here believe that the 1970s life is still attainable for those with a college education or a reasonable non-college job skill? Are Americans in debt primarily because they expect too much? Factor the disappearance of defined benefit pensions and employer-funded health care into the equation.

I really don’t know the answer since a “1970s life” means no computers, no cell phones, no internet, no cable tv, etc. I would say Americans in debt are there because they valued the wrong things. Its one thing if the expectation is for real progress, but buying useless junk like designer clothes is just ridiculous. As for defined benefit pensions and employer funded health care, I have never seen the benefit of either provided that my employer pays me the equivalent so I can save for retirement and buy insurance myself. Defined benefit pensions are subject to the whims of your current or previous employers and the PBGC so in that sense not having a defined benefit pension is progress.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 12:05:28

Big Bubble Popper,

I really like where you’re going with this one. Not… sure having a cell phone is necessarily an ‘improvement’ ( in many people’s lives ) but I’m totally onboard!

Lots of people that used to boast about their DBP fall completely flat at parties when ask them about ‘portability’ and the soundness of their employer?

I used to work for a company that had “fully paid benefits” but if you talked to the older guys they’d readly admit they’d have rather had da’ cash over all those years. I like where you’re going.

Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 13:57:12

I see your point on the cell phone, although I have found it superior to landline phones. Recently, I got rid of my landline for that reason. Beyond that think of the value of the internet in your life, for example. This blog alone confirmed my reservations about housing and saved me I don’t know how much money. That certainly increased my wealth, but I don’t know how to quantify that. I also have had access to jobs because of the internet that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. I can’t quantify it except to say it couldn’t be done in 1979. (I could list examples like this for the next month.) There is no way that we’re going to fall to 1970s levels unless the internet and most computers shut down.

DinOR, I have noticed the same thing about old guys and DBP. People in my parents’ generation are the perfect example. I look at someone like my dad who worked at the same place for 30 years. All it meant was that his employer could treat him more and more like garbage since they knew they had him (even after they converted their pensions to 401k’s). They ended up laying him off (so much for his loyalty), and he’s much happier now with a new job.

Personally, I have worked at places that all of a sudden turned hellish. I’m glad I was not tied to them by a DBP. This is on top of the fact that I could do more with the cash.

On the health insurance side of things my employer has sort of moved to just giving us the cash. They pay us extra to save in an HSA and pay for what is effectively catastrophic insurance (anything over the limit). The amount of red tape it removes is amazing. If you know you need a specialist you can just go. You don’t have to go through a PCP first and the headache of that. There’s a lot of little benefits like that that add up when your employer even just releases your health insurance slightly.

The only thing fully paid benefits seem to provide is disasters and bureaucratic hell. Taking the cash makes so much more sense.

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:58:08

We had real elections then.

really? you can really say that is true? BS.

(from way above here)

Not paying the working person a full salary, but dangling the DBP . Anyway, of course that is the way corporations got away from paying full salary. Just pay them this muchamonth and dangle this one carrot way way way way out there and you keep them ‘loyal’ and not leaving. People fell for it because they ‘had to’.

It is just another way of being skrood just like WS is this past few yrs & from the 80s. Ala AIG and GS etc.

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 12:46:32

I have never seen the benefit of either provided that my employer pays me the equivalent so I can save for retirement and buy insurance myself.

You wish is coming true. Recently, we have seen companies like Ford, Starbucks, etc. cancel 401ks programs. Of course the employees got nothing in exchange. As Janis said “freedoms just another word for nothing left to loose”. Soon, I can see employees getting more freedom as health benefits are cut as well.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 13:55:36


Actually they’ve suspended making -employer- contributions, temporarily. They haven’t “shut down” anything. Employees are still free to make their regular payday contributions.

But America likes nothing more than a good excuse *not to save. And ‘this’ one is the Mother Of All Excuses. Sorry.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:05:34

Not being smart Skip, but Kris Kristofferson wrote that. He was a Rhodes scholar too. Not correcting you, just a piece of trivia there.

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 17:59:36

Janis said “freedoms just another word for nothing left to loose”.

cool. Kris Kristofferson.

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:24:39


Comment by CarrieAnn
2009-08-19 12:54:07

“And then in the 1970s, the upward march of mass affluence stopped.”

The upward march that had started less a full generation before in the late 40s….

The shortness of this span of time never really hit me so hard as it did as I was reading your post w/the backdrop of nostalgia. Our grandparents had not had it easy at all but that reality was seeping into the background as we grew to take our own reigns and focus forward.

I believe the values of the 70s can return. (Not that I think the values of the 70s were all so pure) I believe, as in DinORs situation and many others I know, the values you pine for never left. I know so many that have stuck to their guns, stubborn to the end there are certain realities in life you could not bend and have a satisfying life. They bought the smaller home (we’re in CNY not bubble land), they camped instead of heading to Europe, they modeled good team or community building behavior to their kids instead of yelling at every parent or other parent’s child that got in their kid’s way, they took special care to be open and welcome to people around them. Yeah, they weren’t in the spotlight the last few years but they’re out there and they’re going to be the seeds of rebuilding.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 13:53:54

Carrie Ann,

Yours is a very appropriate observation about the cycles of things. The mess we are in can be largely attributed to the disappearance of the generation who were teenagers or young adults in the Great Depression. I believe, as WT Econ. put it, Generation Greed created Reagan more than Reagan created GG. Also that Carter’s drawing attention to our limited resources was his political undoing.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 13:59:30

“they’re going to be the seeds of rebuilding”

There’s nothing more we can hope for. Sadly as I live in a rural part of OR just outside Salem, trends die hard here. I think there were still kids into Grunge up until a year or so ago?

Rude parents raising even more rude children have been the norm for awhile. So we’ll have to see a resurgence in majot met. areas before the light will shine here. I’m just hoping to make everyone ready for it for when it arrives.

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 03:59:55


That’s a very insightful and thoughtful post. Very well said.

Comment by Jas Jain
2009-08-19 09:21:02

Thanks, NYCB. Honest personal reminiscences are always a good read.

The most important present reality as to America’s future is concerned is that almost all the policymakers and their agents that caused the crisis are still in power today and that power is more concentrated than it was two years ago. There is no turning back from this dynamic until the system breaks, i.e., the Limit Cycles in non-linear systems. The current econo-political system must and will collapse. I can’t say what will replace it.

Buckle the Heck Up: (link deleted by moderator)


Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:49:58

Hey Jas. Long time no read.

Our “revolution” will come in the form of different policy-makers, elected in an organized fashion according to a predictable time table. Out with the Baby Boomer leadership of greed and destruction. In with the Gen X leadership, left to clean up the mess.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 12:49:19

Do you call quadrupling the deficit in 90 days “cleaning up”?

Seems more like “making a bigger mess than ever before”.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:18:27

The deficit wasn’t quadrupled by Obama. That money was spent by the Bush administration when Baby Bush decided to stop regulating the banking industry. The Babe allowed his chronies in the banking industry to keep this debt off their books, and then transferred it to the public dole right at the end of his term.

Now Obama has this mess to deal with.

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:02:37

Got that right.

babes in ‘toyland’.(W)

Comment by jane
2009-08-19 14:57:48

Jas, welcome back! Missed your righteous anger.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:37:21

OT but there goes another great person.

Don Hewitt, the CBS Newsman who invented “60 Minutes” and produced the popular newsmagazine for 36 years, died Wednesday. He was 86.

He died of pancreatic cancer at his Bridgehampton home, CBS said. His death came month after that of fellow CBS legend Walter Cronkite.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 11:11:10


Just… read that. Great guy. Also, with all the thunder of guitar legend Les Paul’s passing, it should be noted that George Fullerton ( Leo Fender’s biz partner ) passed away in July. Truly a great man.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 11:29:44

Yeah, I saw that too DinOR they’re dropping like flies now, ain’t they?
Knew it was gonna start, saw/heard Mom/Dad say: “Did you know Frank Sinatra died”, etc.

Life I suppose…

Just hard today, I am in a nostalgic mood. Rare mood, but still there today.

NYCityBoy did it!! :)

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:11:47

1947 Broadcaster guitar.

Comment by skrood
2009-08-22 00:34:54

The City of Fullerton, CA was named after a George Fullerton, and the Fender factory was located in Fullerton, CA on Fender Rd. It is now G&L, named for George and Leo (Fender). Is the George Fullerton who partnered with Leo Fender on G&L a descendant of the George Fullerton that the city is named for??

Comment by WT Economist
2009-08-19 11:23:08

Greatest Generation dead and gone.

Greediest Generation in charge.

But not everyone in the greediest generation is greedy. Why aren’t they standing up for their kids and grandkids?

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 12:21:34

WT Economist,

And that’s what I keep pulling my hair out over? To be truthful, unfortunately, ‘my’ role has become one of operating “under the radar”.

Rather than actively engaging in the public fray, I’ve.., more or less given up on “sculpting larger society” and now I’m just painted into a corner of looking out for my kids on a local level.

I know, pathetic isn’t it? I recall back in the 90’s I had a really great client that sold wholesale line insurance. Great guy, we kidded around a lot and are the same age. We both made a pledge to one another that we “weren’t going to waste our 40’s running for political office!” ( Big belly laughs )

How could we have been more wrong? Without being pol. connected there is very little you can do for your children. Very little. All of our money is gone and while we were rebuilding after ‘that’ debacle, those that were jockeying for pol. favors have hardly noticed so much as a bump in the road. In fact, times have never been better?

Comment by otis wildflower
2009-08-19 14:01:50

And don’t forget Abe Vigoda…

(So who makes the CBS trifecta? Mike Wallace?)


Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-08-19 09:38:41

I’m somewhat younger than NYCityBoy (based on his post), though much of my upbringing was the same (very traditional parents who didn’t buy into the Debt Culture.) But the consumer culture grew up in my time, and I puzzled over why people cared where one’s shoes were from or what clothes one worn; the other guys would give me grief at school since I didn’t have Nikes or whatever and my parents wisely were not about to pay twice the price for a cheap shoe just because of a name and the opinions of idiots.

By about the time I hit adulthood, I wonder what the h*ck happened to the American I remember. Now, I grew up in a rather sheltered family, so experiencing the fake culture of greed was surprising at first, and infuriating later as the housing Bubble got going and fraud become standard procedure. All that leads to the eventual endgame, where the wealth of everyone who DIDN’T play “the Game” as well as the wealth of the unborn will be squandered by crooks to keep the current sham propped up until the next election cycle. It is sickening.

As for Reagon, he was a diety when I was growing up since he beat the USSR. Nobody understood the seeds of ruin that he helped sow; however, each and every person who played “the Game” deserves blame as well, and there no short of that to go around!

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:23:48

I grew up in a family that had a strong moral aversion to debt.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:03:25


I was born in 1976. I don’t think people have gotten any more materialistic than they were back then. I just think that earnings have been replaced by debt.

There were 3 people in my house as a kid, and we had 1200 sq ft. 3 beds, 1 bath, no garage (this was in San Diego where you don’t really need a garage).

Today, that type of situation (in SD anyway) requires 2 freaking incomes unless you have a HELOC. It’s not that folks were being greedy by getting the HELOC; it’s just that they saw their ability to make a living going by the wayside, so they jumped at the chance to slide in under the wire with the last-chance real estate market. They were really just trying to cling to dear life. It’s really sad that most of these folks are now realizing they were born too late — there is no under-the-wire last chance for them — they are the generation left to clean up the mess.

Here’s the last insult, though: While many Baby Boomers have inherited (or expect to inherit soon) a good chunk of cash from their saving Depression-era parents, us Gen-Xers can expect our Baby-Boomer parents to have spent it all before they die.

The Millenials have it even worse than the Gen-Xers because they are having a hard time even making it through college (Gen-Xers got the last of the student loan money, it appears).

I’m really bummed that my generation is the first to feel the sting of our parents’ debt burden.

Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 11:17:46

There were 3 people in my house as a kid, and we had 1200 sq ft. 3 beds, 1 bath, no garage (this was in San Diego where you don’t really need a garage).

Today, that type of situation (in SD anyway) requires 2 freaking incomes unless you have a HELOC.

Does it, or is this a matter of you can’t buy a 1200 sqft house any more unless its a condo? There is a difference. For instance, I live in an 1150 sqft condo. You can’t buy a single family house of that size around here unless its at least 40 years old. And there are very few of those since they have been torn down or had additions put on them.

Here’s the last insult, though: While many Baby Boomers have inherited (or expect to inherit soon) a good chunk of cash from their saving Depression-era parents, us Gen-Xers can expect our Baby-Boomer parents to have spent it all before they die.

No kidding. My parents inheirted money from my grandparents, but I’m expecting nothing from mine.

You’re right about the Millennials too. It’s only going to get worse for them when the student loan bubble collapses.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 11:29:26

Big V,

I was with you right up until the “born too late” part. Remember, a LOT of “equity-stripping” was done by boomers who turned right around and willingly joined Gen X, Y and put themselves in as bad or worse scenarios.

Ben has been chronicling that for years. Just as screwed ( only a lot older ) But I -totally- agree with you in the regard that “people were hanging on for dear life”. Absolutely! And that’s something that’s often hard to explain on BB’s?

Just the thought of there being “Reluctant FB’s” doesn’t fit w/ our ( sometimes ) group think.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:37:55

Hey DinOR:

Oh, the Boomers most certainly stripped their equity like a teenage bride or worse. The Boomers, however, mainly used their equity to fund an extravagent lifestyle (and what they thought would be an extravagent retirement) to top off their already priveledged life-long earnings.

On the other hand, Gen-Xers (and, soon, Millenials) never experienced the wages and easy lives that Boomers took for granted. Gen-Xers were just trying to hang in there, whereas Boomers were really living it up.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 12:05:29

Not all boomers have been living it up Big V. Not all boomers inherited money from their grand parents. Not all boomers live an extravagent lifestyle. Not all boomers were living it up.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 12:32:05


Thanks for “re-centering” the debate. I guess it’s just a knee-jerk reaction any time someone says “I was born too late”?

And I can’t go telling my kids “Your friends are right. This country is irreversibly screwed. You should stock up on candles and toilet paper and put barbed-wire around the ‘perimeter’ of your property”.

I’m just not going there. But so many of us have. We totally let them get away w/ their “it was SO easy for you guys” tantrums and let them drive around town in their old beaters flipping the World off.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 12:50:34

Yes, SFBayAreaGal, and not all Gen-Xers are getting screwed. The economy can’t be measured or explained by focusing on the few. It’s a matter of statistics. The Baby Boomer generation is the thief of the day, regardless of the fact that a few Boomers didn’t participate.

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-19 17:56:11

‘a FEW boomers didn’t participate’

V, you’re just itchin’ for a fight today. I can’t help myself…… no, no I won’t let you do it. I’m not sayin nuttin.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 18:33:17


Just as with the “battle of the sexes” yesterday, you can’t even participate in this argument unless you’re willing to understand averages and the influence of groups.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 18:44:32

Please explain the averages and the influence of groups. Why is it always the few with you?

Why is it when people can’t fall into your categories we are wrong and your right?

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 19:27:51

Let’s see Baby Boomers helped to bring about equality for the sexes and the races, marched against intolerance of blacks, the jewish, women, gays. Baby Boomers were the ones who pushed for better protection of the environment, baby boomers ushered in the information age, baby boomers who fought in Viet Nam (9 million baby boomers served in that war) and also protested the Viet Nam war. Just a few of what the so called greedy Baby Boomers have contributed to this country.

Greed and spending habits is nothing new, in the 50’s it was called keeping up with the Jones (you know the Greatest Generation that also was very intolerant of minorities and also believed a woman’s job was to take care of the house and raise kids.), in the 20’s it was called conspcious consumption.

BTW, Obama is a baby boomer.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 19:35:36


When speaking of phenomena that involve groups, one has to define germane characteristics of the “average” member of said group. Otherwise, you can’t discuss anything more general than the individual. You can’t discuss economics, for instance, because more than one person is involved in the equation, and you can’t characterize all of them. It’s best to have valid data charting the mean, standard deviation, variance, etc.

It is not a sound argument to suggest that a particular group did not have a particular influence simply because a few of its members acted differently from the rest.

True, not “all” Baby Boomers have been living it up. However, it is incorrect to assert that Baby Boomers have not benefited disproportionately from the credit boom, or that subsequent generations have no right to be pissed about it.

Baby Boomers have been the most privileged and courted generation in history, yet they still feeled entitled to steal from their own children.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 20:26:09

Please proive me with unbiased links that baby boomers have screwed your generation.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 20:34:39

Obama was born in 1961, a full 16 years after the end of WWII. So no, he’s not a Baby Boomer. He’s a tweener, between Boomer and Gen-Xer.

Baby Boomers did not cause women to work. A deteriorating economy caused women to work. Women did not go to work because they were liberated, but rather because their husbands could no longer cut the mustard. I have never met a new mother who actually wanted to leave her baby behind while she spent time at the office. The only thing that has steadily improved the condition of womens rights in this country is the womens suffrage movement. That came long before any Baby Boomer.

Civil rights? OK. If you’re a black Baby Boomer, then you are exempt from my scorn. It was different for you. I don’t recall the white Baby Boomers really helping them out much, though. That movement was run by blacks.

Fighting in Vietnam was by the draft, hence the protests. Other generations fought in wars too.

Yes, some things were invented by Baby Boomers. You guys haven’t been any more inventive than anyone else. The Greatest Generation gets the medal for that one, largely because the government was so busy coming up with the bomb. We got a lot of basic information out of that research.

Baby Boomers did spend a lot of time smoking pot, eating LSD, having promiscuous sex, having babies out of wedlock, getting divorced, treating their kids like second-class citizens, and being generally irresponsible and disrespectful.

So, no, I can’t give the Baby Boomer generation any special credit here, unless you’re black.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 20:46:14

Here’s a link. From a reserve banker, no less!

Besides, this is a topic that cannot easily be summarized by a quick link check. It would take a lot of effort, but one could write a book. We’ve been talking about it on this blog for years, and any adult living in this country today can summarize for you based on common knowledge, no link check required.

Here’s the perception of Baby Boomers that has Gen-Xers so mad:

-Baby Boomers grew up during the most affluent time on Earth, in the most affluent country on Earth.

-Because there were so many of them, BBs were the most politically and economically influential group of ppl during that time.

-BBs got the benefit of massive public and private borrowing throughout their lives, leaving the bill behind for future generations.

-BBs are accustomed to being the center of attention and getting everything they want. That’s why they whine and why they’re so selfish.

You asked.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 21:42:34

But actually, the BB’s haven’t been able to cash in on SS & Medicare yet, nor will they cash in on these so effectively as their immediate predecessors did. Since BB’s have to wait a BIT longer to collect full SS, and Medicare reimbursements will surely be cut in the next few years no matter what the fate of the present Obamacare proposals. So the BB’s, who in their dope-smoking days were idealistic and supported seniors’ agitation for better benefits, will not in fact reap the same benefits themselves.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 21:45:30

Love how you lecture people who lived it about what they actually did and felt.

So much surety. So little knowledge. Don’t you ever embarrass yourself?

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 22:43:05

Hi Ahansen:

Didn’t you write a post the other week about this very topic? It’s all been very well recorded, and BBs themselves love to go on and on about it too. You should know that Baby Boomers are seen this way by every generation but their own. Disturbing, isn’t it?

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 23:17:38

No what I find disturbing is your constant blame the baby boomer generation for all the evils of today’s world.

Oh yes a bunch of us baby boomers grew up and formed this cabal on how to screw Big V’s generation and every other generation. Wow talk about whining.

Yes Vietnam was the draft, however 2/3 served voluntarily. World II was voluntarily, however 2/3 was drafted. Here’s a link from

Wow I distinctly remember whites marching against racism in the 60s and people marching for the Equal Rights Amendment. Baby boomers pushing for better environmental protections etc.. When were you born?

You really need to take the blinders off and talk to peole that actually participated in wanting to make the world a better place.

BTW Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 according to the US Census Bureau. Obama was born in 1961 - Baby Boomer.

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-20 06:14:06

No V, I don’t participate because my observations and experiences are somewhat different than yours and, I believe, you’re taking your own personal experiences and projecting it onto a whole generation. Also the heat takes all the energy from me. I wish I was like my 42 yr old brother and his friends, that all put central air in their homes. With HELOC money, of course.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 21:22:54

“…stripped…like a teenage bride.”

“Stripped like a teenage bride?!”

After yesterday’s extended screed, I did NOT just read that, did I? Might want to readjust the old hypocrisy chip….

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 22:44:34

It’s hypocrisy for me to compare BB’s equity stripping with forbidden stripping of other types?

You are sensitive Ahansen. One must take what one dishes out, no?

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 22:57:15

I posted late in the evening, and didn’t mention you by name for a reason. Please think about what I said?
I do appreciate your passionate outrage. You remind me of myself when I was your age.

“I’ve got a couple more years on you baby, that’s all.
I’ve had more chances to lose and more places to fall.
It’s not that I’m bragging, it’s just that I’ve had
More times with my back to the wall.
And I’ve picked up a couple more years on you baby…
That’s all.”

-Song by my late darlin’, Shelley Silverstein. Who was a few years older than I….

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 04:14:58

Love that song, ahansen!

BTW, my husband and I are Gen-X and we do NOT blame the Baby Boomers for our plight. IMHO, they fought for what they believed was right, and many of them fought for the rights of working people.

In times of trouble, it’s easy for people to go around blaming others for their lot in life.

It’s true that many Boomers think our generation is supposed to fund their retirements by purchasing their houses for 5X+ what they paid for them. We can choose not to participate (we aren’t). It’s not convenient, and it’s easy to feel some resentment when you know they bought for $50K when the house was new…and are now insisting on getting $1.5MM for it.

Still, we have to remember that they are only doing what they were told to do over their lifetimes…buy low and sell high. They aren’t really thinking about the consequences that are falling on the younger generations. They are trying to secure their retirements that they believe they’re entitled to (and the govt/media has supported this notion throughout their lifetimes).

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 04:38:42

Waylon Jennings…

Dr. Hook (someone created a photo montage, no video found)…

You insinuating you dated Shel Silverstein, ahansen???!!!???

Comment by CarrieAnn
2009-08-19 13:52:31

You’re supposed to live off the interest not the principle.

I know plenty of families still doing it that way V so yeah, money will be getting passed on to even the Millenials. Course, if we experience a true currency collapse and people didn’t protect their wealth I’d imagine that could herald the end of the line for that little monetary advantage. I suppose you could look forward to that as the great leveler.

Perhaps if you looked beyond the bubble zone, you’d see more families that didn’t pull out the stops that practiced frugality. I have several doctor friends living in teeny, tiny or older unupdated homes. Not everyone was bitten by the bling bug. They’re just pocketing the difference, enamoured by zeroes, and providing their children w/some great educations. Oh and one doctor, self made. He grew up dirt poor in a blue collar family.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 14:06:04


You are just spot on today. I was all fine and well dealing w/ the typical FB Stereotype on the way IN to this ( cuzz’ it wasn’t my mess! )

“I” certainly wasn’t going to have to atone for it? But now that the damage has been done, it’s time for more thoughtful reflection. I’m done fretting over the fate of some over-leveraged specuvestor who was going at it like some rapper. Not worried about ‘em any more.

We need to focus on those that didn’t fall prey to the “bling bug” as they’re the only ones I’ve wanted to align myself with ANY how!

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:46:00

Let me point out one area that money was used and the industry was way over expanded via deregulation and the greed factor x100000. Airlines.

Planes were full, airlines expanded and “were the largest airline in America” blah blah, and now they are shrinking while the CEO/mgt JUST like WS are taking their multiple huge bonuses, naming rights over stadiums - who cares- while furloughing 1000s of employees monthly and letting aircraft go unfixed(?). Looting the american worker while getting bonuses.
You guys flew just like me and saw how many flts, how many delays because of to many ac,always full and yet..greed. PPL traveling like there was no tomorrow and feeling entitled to a different seat/food/on time(crowded runways)and always crowded. And having bad tempers.

And we all are reaping the end results of bad B school mgt again.

It goes from John Deere- I see a Deere in the road!, to airlines, to schools to bad parenting to “I am owed this or that”.

I think I just blabbed on to much. sorry.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 14:20:37

Hey Carrie Ann:

Yes, you are supposed to live off the interest, and perhaps there are a handful of Baby Boomers who will do that. Unfortunately, Baby Boomers as a group are notorious for saving nothing, living off debt, and passing the buck to someone else. I imagine most of the Boomers on this blog are exceptions.

We have to be aware that throwing out examples of “a friend of mine”, or even “several doctor friends” does not a statistic make. Look around and you will see that the Baby Boomers have made off with more than their fair share of America’s wealth. Your friends may be living modeslty while earning a high income, but my friends (Gen-Xers) are living even more modestly while earning even more modest incomes because our wages have been decimated. Also can’t help but notice that only ONE of your doctor friends grew up poor. Sure is easy to crow when you grew up wealthy, have always made a lot of money, and have a lot of money in the bank.

No one’s expecting Boomers to take responsibility (as they have never taken responsibility for anything in their lives), which is part of the reason we’re so pissed.

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Comment by Silverback1011
2009-08-20 08:52:10

Big Vee, I call Bullchit on you. You’re sure worried about what you’re going to inherit from the “Baby Boomers”. Did your parents cut you out of their will ? It’s no one’s responsibility to pass on anything of material goods to the next generation. That being said, my daughter will inherit a couple of million in savings and property from my husband and I by the time we die. Not all baby boomers have had excess excess in their lives. My gosh, would that I had. You strike me as more of a monologue junkie than the outstanding intellectual you proclaim yourself to be. I did enjoy reading your posts, though. They gave me my laugh for the day.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:36:19

Carrie it must be from first generation they made their $.

“I know plenty of families still doing it that way V so yeah, money will be getting passed on to even the Millenials.”

I don’t think so. Possibly if they are from first generation money stock. I know just as many who will have very little to pass on if any, and there we go back into the health ins reform issue.
Many will use up their money saved to live out the last 2 yrs of their life through expensive medical help. POOOOOOoooooof

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Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:00:47

I’m sympathetic to Big V’s claim that her generation is the first to feel “the sting of our parents’ debt burden.” But I’m looking at this globally, not in terms of personal debts so much as in terms of national debts, and in terms of who holds the notes. Some people think the “clean-up” will come about because Americans (now turned into a “saving” culture) will be able to hold our Treasury’s notes themselves; others think that the debts of our Treasury to foreign note-holders has already gone too far. Time will tell.

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:32:46

Guilty; and with apologies, not because we never had children. No intent to sting or leave burdensome legacy. Some of us boomers actually care. Be careful how widely you cast your net, please.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 17:50:08

If one was born in 1967 are they a Baby Boomer, Gen X, or neither?

I think I know the answer, but just want to see what you folks think….because maybe I’m wrong.

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-19 18:10:33

Baby boomers are children of the WWII generation. IIRC, boomers were born between 1946-1964.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 18:20:05

Also, the 1946-1964 Boomer years are more or less connected to high birth rates during that 18 year period. So,someone born after 1960 would have little in common with someone born in 1946.

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Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-20 06:32:26

I disagree, since they are still, for the most part, children of the WWII generation. My father was drafted, in feb. 1944, taken out of HS and fought in Italy. My mother was born in 1929. I have sisters and a brother born in 1957, 1958,1962, 1967,1971 and 1973.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-20 09:05:33

My dad was drafted into the Korean War, not WWII.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 18:16:17

You’re Generation Jones. a tweener….

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:13:39

He didn’t “beat the USSR” that was fully underway before
“tear that wall down” which was staging at its finest.

Hollywood and Film. Politics and “trust Me”. Smoke and Mirrors.
You can bedazzle the heck out of something
but it still ‘aint’ diamonds!

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 09:39:24

An absolutely fantastic job, NYCityboy. Thank you very much.


PS. I’m sure you could be Miss New Jersey. Don’t be a Negative Nellie, man!

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:42:17

Miss New Jersey? Me thinks Oly slipped a gear, or sumpin’…

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 09:52:56

Didn’t you read all of NYCity’s articulate and thought-provoking writing? Right there at the top. It’s his secret dream, obviously.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 09:57:17

Yeah, you’re right. I guess I got lost in the substance. Sorry Oly. Besides, that sounds like something nutty I would say, so I just blew it off.

Stand corrected.

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Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:01:57

Tara (NYCB’s wife) would definitely qualify as a candidate for Miss New Jersey.

Comment by aNYCdj
2009-08-19 14:37:39

yup NYCboy did well…….

maybe time for another NYC HBB meet up….with more people in a quieter location????

Comment by Rancher
2009-08-19 14:53:15

Hi Oly….

I’m a good generation or more older than NYcityboy
so I’ll take it upon myself to correct a couple of things he said…. One, before Microwave ovens there was the Radar Range, before Vinyl flooring their was Linoleum, and before Credit cards there
was Sears Revolving Credit. And if your Dad had
an American Express and Dinors card, he was considered well-to-do and well connected…

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:24:24

Why, thank you, dear Rancher. I always like to know about things, especially exotic rich people things, such as Radar Ranges and vinyl flooring, or even flooring. :lol:

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 16:57:49

Hey Oly, are you feeling better? I hope so.

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Comment by Rancher
2009-08-19 17:10:32

Radar ranges and linoleum flooring was rich?
No such thing, just older than dirt, which is how
I feel after toiling in the garden in 107 degree heat. And yes, I know it’s hotter in Iraq, but
he’s a lot younger and can take the heat.

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Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 17:53:15

Quickly, man! Drink some beer! Go! Go!
Here, I’ll drink some, too, just as a gesture of solidarity.
We had record breaking heat up here, too.

*quaff *

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 18:24:21

Real Linoleum is tres chic these days, and being made of linseed oil and sawdust, considered a green material….supposed to last for years, that why you see it so often in old homes, albeit beat up since it’s probably never been replaced.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 16:56:49

What’s a Radar Range without searching for it?

Comment by Rancher
2009-08-19 17:07:50

A very, very early embodiment of the Microwave.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 17:21:32

Thanks ranger:

In 1967, Amana, a division of Raytheon, introduced its domestic Radarange microwave oven, marking the beginning of the use of microwave ovens in home kitchens. Although sales were slow during the first few years, partially due to the oven’s relatively expensive price tag, the concept of quick microwave cooking had arrived. In succeeding years, Litton and a number of other companies joined the countertop microwave oven market. By the end of 1971, the price of countertop units began to decrease and their capabilities were expanded.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:50:02

linoleum is a collectible now! Know a shop in NYC that carrys some good and some really ugly rolls of linoleum found somewhere special!

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:36:05

Diners… I had one!

Comment by Ol'Bubba
2009-08-19 16:46:08

Yeah. Don’t sell yourself short, NYCityboy. At least give it a try. Go shave your legs, put on a tutu, and take a picture of yourself so we can see what you look like and offer words of, uh, encouragement.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:09:05

I totally agree!
*slams down beer onto desk with enthusiasm *

I’m sure you’re exquisite, NYCityboy! I’d pay a whole bunch to behold that particular vision.
…Of course, I have unwholesome and freakish tastes and/or was raised in Utarr, so that’s a factor.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:17:38

I was thinking the same thing. Miss New Joisy 2010. Go for it!

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:51:17

“and what, Miss New Joisy, would you want, the one thing you want?”

“woild peas” thank you thank you thank you thankyou. SMILEEEEEEE

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 09:46:49

“… And the moment Reagan was inaugurated I let out a wail…”

Substitute the name B. Hussein Obama for Reagan, and you have captured my feelings.

The interesting thing to me is how many Americans have bit into the “Democrat is liberal; Republican is conservative” dichotomy, and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Do conservatives put the megacorporations first, and the average family last? Then, BHO, who has overseen the transfer of more billions and trillions to his Wall Street handlers than anyone else in history, is the biggest conservative ever. Do conservatives put the military-industrial complex first, and the average family last? Then BHO, who is eagerly launching even new more expansive operations into Afghanistan and Pakistan is truly conservative. Do conservatives attempt to limit dissent and free speech through intimidation and boycotts? Then, BHO, will his Purple Shirt ACORN/SEIU goon squads cracking heads and storming events at the White House bidding, is the biggest conservative here since King George III.

Maybe the country could use a real liberal President instead of the fake liberal, wolf in sheep’s clothing BHO, more acurately described IMHO as a Marxist mobster.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 10:09:36

“…Purple Shirt ACORN/SEIU goon squads cracking heads and storming events at the White House bidding,…”

Citation please.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 10:29:06

Got it in spades.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 11:12:19

I had some respect for her until she started pushing the Swift Boat idea that John Kerry shot himself to get his medals.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:15:02

What I see is a Republican website displaying a picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache. Reliable source? I tried to read the text, but it was too convoluted to follow. Looks like fearmongering.

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Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 15:36:17

It’s called r-e-a-d-i-n-g.

You have to follow the story. In ways, this is just like Bubble-Believers that just took out an equity loan and bought ten houses in PHX ( in 2006 ) just getting wind there ‘might’ be housing bubble?

So they’d come here and antagonize everyone no end calling us a bunch of “loosers” ( but secretly wanting to get up to speed by reading one or two posts? )

When she posts hyper-link after link after link supporting her position every step of the way, I mean what more do you need?

Besides, NO ONE has been more vocal about not bailing out Specuvestors than ’she’ has. No one. I guess you guys have already forgotten her Suck. It. Up. Campaign?

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 15:49:30

Well, as a professional writer, maybe my standards are just too high. I tend to think that if a person can’t make a point without leaving me feeling like I just traversed a mental maze, then that person probably isn’t thinking very clearly.

Comment by Silverback1011
2009-08-20 08:55:24

You do that all of the time in your posts !

Comment by Mo Money
2009-08-19 11:17:32

Michelle Malkin is yet another rabid foaming at the mouth “conservative” , hardly a credible source.

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Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 15:29:53


Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:20:17


Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 11:12:09

Try the New York State Senate for one.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 11:52:36
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Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 05:06:55

That’s absolutely frightening. Wow.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 12:34:46

Oh you mean the same intimidation tactics that were used during Bush’s first election

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Comment by cobaltblue
Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 10:28:29

Just out of curiosity, who would you have preferred to be in office?

Comment by Bad Andy
2009-08-19 12:19:19

Bob Barr

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:16:38

Bob Barker

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Comment by ACH
2009-08-19 20:37:02

Groucho Marx.
At least I know what I’m getting.


Comment by Stpn2me
2009-08-19 23:01:44

Ron Paul

Comment by StrangerInAStrangeLand
2009-08-22 20:50:15

Howard Dean

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:11:05

Look. Repubs represent the corporation, and Dems represent the worker. That’s the diff, see? Obama is only overseeing BUSH’S bank bailout right now. That wasn’t his project, my man. It was Bush’s project. Bush went on National TV to sell it to the American ppl. Obama’s idea was to give an equivalent stimulus to the worker (the stimulus program), focusing on public works and what-not.

It was the Republican machine that spent the last 20 years convincing everyone that Repubs represented conservative “values”. They are the group who came out with the gloves on over abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school, yada yada yada. Constitutional issues, every one. Not a damned thing any political party could do about it.

The Repubs should not complain that they have pigeon-holed themselves into the “conservative assss” camp, comparitively making the Dems seem morally enlightened.

Comment by Mo Money
2009-08-19 11:19:19

appointing a continual parade of ex-Goldmans Sachs weasels did nothing to boost Obama’s credibity.

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2009-08-19 11:26:11

Sorry big-v…
Replace worker with Union-worker.
I have not seen anything that would scale back the wholesale transfer of jobs to chindia, or the reinstatement of the pension plans.
In fact since the one was elected, my wage has fallen by 10% with 1 week furlough in between.

Comment by rentor
2009-08-19 13:30:25

The way to fix Chindex is to enforce fair trade laws in WTO, including working conditions & enviromental standards. This might increase cost of drywall from China. The brightest professionals in India are already in the states but they have long coattails bringing in 3rd rate professionals to depress wages for US workers. There I said it, totally Poltically incorrect.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:50:08


That’s what I’ve been screaming since 2004. It’s not politically incorrect at all. It needs to be said and re-said as many times as you can stand it.

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2009-08-19 13:53:52

I have said it for a long time. The US businesses got used to getting pretty good workers from India. What they never realized, or turned a blind eye to, was that they were getting the best engineers, technicians, etc, that India could provide, as part of a concerted effort on the part of the Indian government to modernize their society.
They thought that they would get the same quality people if they went there. They were utterly wrong.
And I hear you on forcing other countries to clean up their act.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:22:33

NO Pinch, it isn’t union worker.

It is workers, you, me, all of us.

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:53:04

That was due to the previous administration.
As you know you cant get fat overnight.

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Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 11:35:13

Dems represent the worker

I take it you mean workers at Goldman Sachs because there is no other way this statement can reflect reality.

If the bank bailout is Bush’s then why does Obama have to continue it? He doesn’t. Obama could end it at any time he wished. He doesn’t because Obama’s Wall Street contributors don’t want it ended. The fact of the matter is Obama and the rest of the Democrats are beholden to Wall Street. Going on and on about abortion and gay marriage doesn’t change this fact. Democrat behavior has nothing to do with what Republicans do so you can’t hide behind, “but look at the Republicans”.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:46:23

Obama is the President, not the King. He doesn’t have the authority to undo what Bush did. Furthermore, he doesn’t have the authority to undo Globalization (i.e., farming out US jobs to poor countries). He’s in crisis-managment mode right now, and he never said he had the ability to solve this problem without sacrifice and pain along the road.

Although both parties have wrongly touted Globalization (each with their own reasons), Democrats have made some efforts recently to scale it back, and are the party of restraint on this issue. Only Democrats have show ANY desire to bring US jobs back to US citizens.

It’s childish to insist that Obama is useless simply because he hasn’t been able to undo 8 years of destructin within a few months.

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Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 14:07:12

Sure Obama can’t fix everything like a magical wizard. No one expects him to. What Obama can do, especially since Congress is controlled by Democrats, is stop sending trillion dollar checks to Goldman Sachs and banks. It wouldn’t fix everything by a long shot, but it would be a step in the right direction. Since that hasn’t been done, we must conclude that Obama and the Democrats are working for Wall Street and not the average person.

Also, since we agree the President isn’t a king, there is no way there could have been 8 years of destruction under Bush since Congress was in the hands of the Democrats for the last two years of his presidency unless the Democrats in Congress were also working for Wall Street.

Face it. You have been had by Obama and the Democrats. You can’t weasel out of it by saying, “But, the Republicans” since they aren’t in power anymore.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 15:52:35

Obama hasn’t had time to fix anything yet. Bush handed him a freaking disASter to grapple with. It will take years for a noticeable difference to made. All McCain wanted to do was extend Babe-era policies. Obama is making progress.

Comment by wmbz
2009-08-19 15:54:10

“It’s childish to insist that Obama is useless simply because he hasn’t been able to undo 8 years of destructin within a few months”.

What? Childish?

If you sincerely believe that our current situation was brought about in 8 years then you are a hopeless case! An extreme narrow/closed mind. This has been decades in the making. If you don’t or can’t comprehend that, then no problem continue down that dead end road. See where it gets you.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 15:55:15

Oh, sorry, I forgot to reply to points.

1. Stop giving trillions to the banks — Can’t do it. It’s mandated by Congress, asked for by Paulson, and “sold” by Bush. Not Obie’s decision (although he did vote for it when he was a Senator, which was really annoying).

2. OK, you’re right. 6 years of unfettered Bushism followed by 2 years of unfettered vetoes from the White House. Same difference.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:27:42

No one expects him to.

Not what the MSM , Malkin becklimpbowoliely etc are calling for.


1. Stop giving trillions to the banks — Can’t do it. It’s mandated by Congress, asked for by Paulson, and “sold” by Bush. Not Obie’s decision (although he did vote for it when he was a Senator, which was really annoying).

2. OK, you’re right. 6 years of unfettered Bushism followed by 2 years of unfettered vetoes from the White House. Same difference.

#2- started long time ago with republican congress in 93 to now, with the caveat being the DINOS are the majority in congress and the reason the dems can’t or won’t do anything strong armed is that 1/3 of the dems are DINOS. Blue dog,or republicans with a D. So they have continually voted corporate.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 13:02:32

“Look. Repubs represent the corporation, and Dems represent the worker. That’s the diff, see? Obama is only overseeing BUSH’S bank bailout right now.”

Wrong. Obama is owned lock stock and barrel by Wall Street and the biggest of the big corporations. Just because you would LIKE to believe there is something noble or higher purpose to his pathological lying, betrayed promises and trillion dollar bailouts of the rich, by the people, and for the rich, doesn’t make it true. The truth is, what he SAID in campaigning and what he’s DOING now are totally different. So he lied. He won. That’s all that matters to him and his mob. Don’t try to defend the indefensible, it makes you seem stubborn.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:21:52

Right. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line with your convoluted Republican rhetoric must be “stubborn”.

Who is your candidate?

Please provide COHERENT evidence that said candidate is less “owned” than Obama.

Please provide COHERENT evidence of pathological lying by Obama.

You’re just mad because Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do (stimulus for the ppl) instead of merely extending what the Republicans did (stimulus for the banks). That’s what ppl voted for and that’s what ppl got.

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Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 14:10:39

No one needs to have a candidate to point out the Obama and the Democrats are owned by Wall Street. This isn’t about what the Republicans or anyone else does. It’s about the actions of the DEMOCRATS. You must be in serious denial about this.

Also, where is this “stimulus for the people” you keep talking about? It doesn’t exist.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 14:23:07

Big V,

A few months ago, I would have entertained most of your arguments. Given everything that’s transpired, it’s a stretch to say the least.

And I think cobalt brings up a good point, BO really ‘didn’t’ have to continue the bailout? He really didn’t. In fact, he ‘could’ have been “King” had he let us slide frictionlessly into GD2.

If you put ‘half’ the effort you do into dredging up the former administration as the current First Lady, you might have a better understanding of what’s really going on.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 14:34:15

RE: Stimulus for the People

Two bills were accepted by Congress. The first was the bank bailout (money to banks), and the second was the stimulus plan (money to public works, educational institutions, COBRA funding, etc.)

The bank bailout was voted in under Bush, right after Congress was locked in a room by Hank Paulson and told that the entire global financial system was going to collapse in 3 days, and also right after George Bush went on national TV to tell the world that the entire global financial system was going to collapse in 3 days unless Paulson’s proposal was accepted carte blanche. Both Republicans and Democrats voted for the bill, but they shouldn’t have. They did it out of fear. They were gullible, and I couldn’t believe they fell for it even after the Iraq Lie.

Then, after Obama was elected, he gave the people what they wanted, which was a bailout for ppl to match the bailout for banks. Congress accepted his bill just as they had accepted the first. There was no viable argument to pass the first without the second.

You can go to Obama’s website for a flowchart of where the stimulus money is going/has gone.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:34:26

Ron Paul isn’t owned by WS, and probably Bob Barr isn’t either, but for that very reason, neither of them is likely to be elected to a higher office than he has already held.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 15:43:15

Big V,

Not sure where this blind devotion to The One has come from all of a sudden but a lot of the stuff you keep wanting to dredge up has been beaten to death here ( and elsewhere ) months ago.

Many have said “There are no coincidences in Obama-land” ( or words to that effect ) and each and every example of Stimulus to the People has already been debunked as nothing more than favors to special interests and voting blocks. Again, old news.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 16:00:00


You may recall me bashing McCain during the elections. I am a Democrat, and have made that known on this board for a long time. You have to admit it’s a little off-the-wall to refer to our elected President as “The One”. As if he were appointed. He wasn’t; he was elected, and he’s doing exactly what he said he was gonna do.

I understand that Republicans don’t agree with Obama. That’s because he’s a Democrat, which is good, since the majority of people and states in this country wanted a Democrat (named Obama) for President.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 16:01:51

Oh, BTW, it was cobaltblue (above) who brought this topic up. One can’t complain when counterpoints are made.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 18:59:23

If you put ‘half’ the effort

Well, it would seem that the opposite it true of ‘your’ POV’s.

So, it is okay for ‘you’ to speak of some incorrect things, but the other pov and facts/timelines aren’t allowed to be spoken, with passion?

Thought and inferred like a true military father.
“My way or the hwy” “what I say goes” ” I am always right”.”your opinion and facts don’t count, cause I am the father and I am right”.

Comment by Michael
2009-08-19 16:02:02

Great post cobalt. I think you and I are definately in the minority here. In fact…this entire thread is completely out of character for HBB IMHO and I for one am very disappointed.

Not leaving or anything…just gonna chalk this up as a fluke.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 18:52:10

Cobalt is a Republican. Aren’t you a Libertarian?

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 19:23:32

Not leaving or anything…just gonna chalk this up as a fluke.

Good, ’cause then you’d be a wussy. And the rest of us would be lacking some excitement. :)

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 19:24:33

Ooops, sorry, italics off.

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Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:25:25

wussy. That is a better word than I used yesterday. My apologies.

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Comment by Watching the Carnage
2009-08-19 19:44:53


As difficult as it may seem, maybe the best tactic here is to ignore the stubborn indefensible and wacky comments made by a single individual.


Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:56:09

ignore the stubborn indefensible and wacky comments

Who you talking to?
You talking to me?

You talking ’bout my friend Oly?

Ignore at your peril.

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 22:58:39

I’m sure he’s talking about me.

Comment by robin
2009-08-19 23:46:59

Please all. The spelling is “definitely”.

Comment by Joe Lawyer
2009-08-19 09:49:52

I think you are falling into a trap here. You are attributing way too much importance to Reagan and the 80’s. The problem started a decade earlier when TRW created the first credit bureau. The rise of credit reporting allowed corporations to project lifetime earning and reduce human beings into discountable securities.

This is not politics, it is economics, and banks are going to learn a lesson not to project so far into the future when it comes to securitizing people.

Comment by DinOR
2009-08-19 10:31:02

Joe Lawyer,

And thank YOU Sir! Part of my ongoing battle is to get people to tune out the commercials and start thinking of themselves and their jobs as something more than a debt-servicing organism.

Not much luck so far.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:37:28

Well, right. If you open a small brokerage account with practically anybody, you can get a credit card that is automatically paid (from your account) at the end of each month. Then what the hell do you need any other credit for. House? Nyet. Rent till you can buy. And yes, I DO mean for cash. You might turn 45 (shudder), you might turn 50, what of it.

Comment by Mo Money
2009-08-19 11:21:54

I’m still waiting for a credit card company to be formed that ONLY gives out cards to people with excellent credit and doesn’t charge 30% interest rates to make up for poor choices in aquiring new customers.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 11:25:33

I seem to recall that Amex used to rely on something similar to that model. You had to be very creditworthy in order to get the card, but they didn’t stop there. You also had to pay an annual fee for the privilege of having it and zero out your balance every month.

Comment by Bad Andy
2009-08-19 12:21:01

Then AmEx got greedy and now they’re having to pay for it.

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Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-19 13:55:41

We will have a long wait. CC co’s don’t make money off people with good credit.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 14:19:12

Funny you should mention that. I just got off the phone with the company that runs shuttle vans up to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. I was trying to make a reservation without a credit card. I wanted to pay the whole thing with cash. No deal. So I gave ‘em my debit card number instead.

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Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 18:07:17

Hey Slim,

Be cautious about using your debit card with the visa logo as a credit card. If someone gets the number and commits fraud, they can empty your account. Of course, this is true with credit cards, but credit cards you have time to dispute and your not waiting for your own money to be returned.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:03:31

Robiscrazy, according to Consumer advocate……. debit cards are only good to 50 as well.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 20:53:52

didn’t realize that.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:40:16

What I said above. Open a small brokerage account with almost anybody. (Certainly any of the big firms: ML, UBS, etc.) They’ll give you a CC. No interest, period; they treat it as a debit card although they don’t pay themselves till the end of the month. Yes there’s an annual fee. You’d be paying an annual fee for custody of your securities in any case.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 11:22:33

Joe Lawyer, you have a very good blog. Thanks for linkin’ to it.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 11:52:17

Good point, Joe. Don’t forget, however, TRW’s hand in bring RR into CA office in the first place.

Comment by Rancher
2009-08-19 14:59:43

We have a winner! The start of the great credit bubble that lasted 40 years.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:01:18

Good point. It is corporate business which in turn owned/owns gov.

Comment by Mike in Miami
2009-08-19 10:03:14

What an awesome article! That’s exactly how I remember growing up. If you don’t have the cash to pay for it, you can’t buy it. End of story! That’s what my mom always told me.
I remember my father bringing home a color TV (in Germany) for the 1974 Soccer World Cup. It caused some domestic disturbance ‘cos my mom didn’t know about it and those things were sinfully expensive back in the days. Cars had 4 cylinder and 40 - 75 horse power (again, in Germany) and even nice BMWs had maybe 120 hp. Now low end cars like the Yaris or Civic have 120 hp.
10 year olds have $200 i-phones and their parents drive a 350-hp SUV. Of course they couldn’t do without it. Banksters are pulling trillion dollar heists on Wall Street, Uncle Sam borrows 50 Cents for every $1 spend and the debt to GDP ratio reached a record 3.8.
You don’t have to be a professor in economics to see that at some not too distant point in the future our collective credit card will be revoked.
When I came to the US in 1987 I was amazed by the type of advertisements I saw on TV. “No payments unitl next year”, “no money down delivers”, “Buy now, pay later”, etc.
Then a bunch of advertisement for Tylenol, Advil, Asprin, etc. for those splitting headaches one gets all the time.
I got it! Americans buy everthing on credit and then get a lot of headaches when the bills come due. What a concept!

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:20:46


Comment by robiscrazy
2009-08-19 18:24:24

If you drove a 40-75 hp car on today’s freeways in America or Europe you would get killed. You couldn’t go fast enough to keep up.

Comment by michael
2009-08-19 10:07:05

40 years old here. i grew up in the 70s. every family on my street had just 1 or 2 kids…(out of about 10 families).

mine was the exception with 3….my mother worked and most of the other moms on the street worked full time too. we were poor with both parents working.

sooo…couldn’t of been reagan’s fault.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:25:30

I was an only child, which was definitely out of the norm while I was growing up in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Comment by tgun
2009-08-19 10:34:47


Great read! Reminded me so very much of my childhood growing up north of Elk River MN (you probably know where this is… since you are a minnesotan). We moved here from Detroit (lived in north Inskster, not south where Arsenio Hall lived) when my pop decided to leave Ford Motor Company for a position with 3M in ‘73.

I was 9 at the time, and the move from urban to rural was quite a shock for me. There were 5 of us siblings living in a 1000 sq. foot split-level with 3 bedrooms (later finished the basement and added 1 br). No cable, one phone, 1 TV, no microwave until 85 (when I bought one for my parents), lots of hand-me-down clothes. I bought and drove $300 cars and I can’t recall every filling them up with a tankful of gas. Always put in $5 or so here and there. Worked my tail off weekends $3.25 hour from when I was 14 until I enlisted in the Air Force.

Never a shortage of work (chores) to do… shoveling snow, raking, mowing, cleaning, etc.

Seemed like pretty much everyone else was in a similar way…

Thanks again for the article.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:20:24

Really? I thought you had to be 15 1/2 to get a work permit.

Comment by MrBubble
2009-08-19 11:50:39

Big V–

I started working on a local farm when I was 14, so it could be done.


Very nice post. 1971 here and familes seemed to be in transition from large familes to smaller right around that time as well as moms starting to have to work at least part time (40 miles South of Boston, MA).


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Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 12:42:50

My father and I used to work on a local farm. And we were volunteers. (Dad knew and liked the farmer, so he wanted to help him out.)

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 12:25:37

I started working as an assistant church organist at age 14. Had to get an SS# and pay taxes on my big, big, $7.50 a week salary.

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Comment by Jim A.
2009-08-19 12:51:41

Because back in the day, there was no reason to get a social security number until you started getting wages.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:09:59

Now you have to get one the minute the baby shoots out.

And another racket is that W’s admin told the public they HAD to have a Passport to travel. My thought, why in the heck would you need one unless you were going out of country.
Someone got a great GOV contract. I never saw a line so big at the end of Jan a few yrs ago, newborns,grandmas you name it. And they were going to Des Moines etc. Not France or Germany. Some were, most weren’t.
I smelled a scam or lucrative gov contract.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 19:46:10

I started working part time when I was 16. Was paid $2.25 an hour.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:59:11

babysitting 10yrs old- .50hr.
lawncare 10yr- $5.00 mo.
Car wash/vacuum wkly $1.00
Usher at walk in theatre 15 1/2 $1.50hr.

jealous of you SFOBG.

Sh’t it hasn’t improved much ;>

Comment by tgun
2009-08-20 08:40:04

Nope, at least not at that time. Started working at a Holiday Inn, as a dishwasher in the restaurant. When I was 15, I was able to move up to a busboy position and run room service deliveries as well.

Noticed some pretty young folks in the local fast food establishments lately, if they are 15, I’d be suprised.

I seem to recall that there were some pretty strict work rules (hours/days) if you were under 16.

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Comment by incredulous
2009-08-19 16:18:17

I went to visit my parents over the summer (first time in 8 years), was shocked to see they still have many of the same dishes, pots, pans, etc. that they had when I was growing up in the 70s. They never throw anything away just because it gets old. In fact, they still don’t even have an electric can opener, at times I felt I was living in the 70s cranking open a can of tuna. On the other hand, I think they have a mil or two stashed away. Indeed, what the h*ll happened to america?

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:54:09

I love old pots and pans. LOVE. They’ve been trained. They have experience.
Now, I shall not brag, because that’s not my way, but I am a super cook, and that’s all there is to it. Studied is good, but impromptu is my style, and my best impromptu cooking is done with a cast-iron skillet that I got out of a ‘Free’ box at an estate sale several years ago, that they were going to throw away, except I got there at the very end of the sale. It was a joyous meeting.

Man, the shouts and the steam! The hissing of fresh food as it meets my lovely skillet, and the whirling around in the air…

There’s no substitute, and I’m firm on this.

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Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:56:38

Oh, yeah, I forgot my point in the first post.
It was: tell your parents I want their pots and pans when they’re done with them. :)

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:11:55

If the house hadn’t burned down, I would still have the revereware I bought in 1971 to save for my first apt in 74.

Love the old trained stuff. It was made well.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:14:42

Love the old trained stuff. It was made well.
or well made.
Sort of like all of us!

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 19:22:00

Love the old trained stuff. It was made well.
or well made.
Sort of like all of us!


Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 19:50:54

Liked the Revereware and I believe it was called Ekco bakeware. Made in America and lasted a long time.

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-19 10:43:21

sooo…couldn’t of been reagan’s fault.

The impulse to acquire finery, even beyone one’s means, seems to be ingrained in human nature. Poor Charles Bovary had to auction off his house and all his worldly possessions after his wife put them irretrievably into debt.

And that was in the ’50s - the 1850s.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 11:24:47


Who taught you to loathe your own gender so much? Maybe you just didn’t get the metaphor.

Emma’s husband, Charles Bovary, is a very simple and common man. He is a country doctor by profession, but is, as in everything else, not very good at it. He is in fact not qualified enough to be termed a doctor, but is instead an officier de santé, or “health officer”. When he is persuaded by Homais, the local pharmacist, to attempt a difficult operation on a patient’s clubfoot, the effort is an enormous failure, and his patient’s leg must be amputated by a better doctor.

Charles adores his wife and finds her faultless, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. He never suspects her affairs and gives her complete control over his finances, thereby securing his own ruin. Despite Charles’s complete devotion to Emma, she despises him as he is the epitome of all that is dull and common. When Charles discovers Emma’s deceptions after her death he is completely devastated and dies soon after.

Charles is presented from the start as a likable and well-meaning fool who happens to have a good memory and a way with people. Although it annoys Emma that Charles doesn’t deduce her attitude toward him based on her very subtle hints and cues, she would need a far more blunt approach to get her message across. Charles’s lack of insight regarding Emma is not unique. He fails to realize that Homais is not his friend but his enemy and lets the pharmacist isolate him from the other people in town. He fails to realize that Rodolphe has designs on Emma. He trusts Léon implicitly even though he’s aware Emma is emotionally attached to the young clerk. He fails to realize that Emma’s expenditures have put the household in debt, and he doesn’t realize that Lheureux is a financial predator. He also ignores potential allies in the town who might have pointed out what everybody else thought was obvious.

Although Charles starts out as a likable character, his blindness and stupidity make him hard for the reader to keep liking, particularly after the amputation scene. His ongoing refusal to stand up to Emma, and his willingness to drop everything and rush to her bedside every time she has a self-induced collapse, eventually costs him his livelihood.

Comment by X-philly
2009-08-20 06:09:20

I missed the Cliff notes, thank you that was very enlightening.

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Comment by CarrieAnn
2009-08-19 14:13:15

Born in 61. Seacoast NH. Family of six. Most of my friends had 3 or 4 kids in the family. A few had two kids.

I don’t remember many divisions among our relatively big town. High school had 2500 students. We had a real sense of community. I’m not saying sparks didn’t fly. But class vitriole like I’ve witnessed in the last 10 years didn’t exist. You might not have been buds w/everyone but you didn’t sneer across the room at them either. You didn’t act like someone in your presence was invisible or unworthy of common courtesy. That would have reflected poorly on you, not them. Things have changed.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:22:37

Yes they have CarrieAnn. Also, I like your name. I always have since the Hollies.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:17:21

Oh it was around in the early 60s. H tells of stories of well off families, you got invited 1 or 2 x but not more. And gosh, he was Tom Selleck cute.
But the financial discrepancy was obvious by neighborhood and possessions/vacations/cars even then.

Comment by Bub Diddley
2009-08-19 10:17:25

NYCityBoy -

Just - wow. Very well-written little piece. One of my interests is oral history, and I would love to do a Studs-style oral history of the previous decade. I think it would really help put into perspective the extreme changes in lifestyle the US has experienced. A piece like yours hits on all sorts of things that standard history and economic writing would never uncover.

I am a little bit younger than you, I think, and grew up more in the 80’s than the 70’s. I was raised in a very rural community, on a farm, and it wasn’t until I got to college in the 90’s that I realized how poor my parents were. Cable? Hell, we didn’t get a color television until I was in the 8th grade. If I tell that to most folks, they look at me like I beamed in from another planet.

Watch a movie from the 70’s, and look at how a “typical family” is portrayed. Even the “Hollywood” representations are spartan compared to how many live now. And then look at our current Hollywood depictions of the American family. Most people would consider living like a character in a 70’s movie to be a major step down.

Again, loved your writing. Thanks to you, and to Ben for providing a forum for it.

Comment by Jim A.
2009-08-19 12:56:08

Well perhaps spartan compared to now, but not compared to how people were living then. The Brady’s had a HOUSEKEEPER for Pete’s sake. AND a huge house, but still not a seprate bedroom for each kid. The strange thing was that many TV homes had a sunken living room, which was more due to old fashioned stage conventions in set design than an indication of a common architectural feature.

Comment by Bub Diddley
2009-08-19 13:39:38

Well, when have sitcoms ever reflected reality? The kids-sharing-a-room thing IS a big difference, though.

Since the original post was by NYCityBoy, I was also thinking of the movies set in the sleazy 70’s Big Apple. How about Dustin Hoffman’s apartment in Marathon Man, or Pacino’s pad in Serpico? No gentrification there. Compare those to the kind of New York lifestyle you see portrayed in movies now.

Of course, there are many pads in NYC that are still the same amount of seedy as back then, but you have to pay many times more for them than Serpico would have.

Comment by jbunniii
2009-08-19 17:53:51

I just finished reading John Updike’s “Rabbit Is Rich,” set in 1979-1980, in which the protagonist on several occasions wishes he had a house with a sunken living room like his friends at the country club.

Also, I just moved into a rental house that was built in 1978. It too has a sunken living room. (Mercifully, no shag carpet.) I don’t really see the point of this architectural feature, but it seems not to be all that uncommon in houses from that era.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:23:48

Grew up with catholic families and there were always multiple kids in each bdrm.

A housekeeper. That is why I want to be an architect. LOL. JK!

Mom/dad built their own small house. I kept begging for a sunken living room ‘71. Which by the way, never ever got furnished. NO $.
The Cmdr kept saying we were broke, beans and weenies were all we could eat, he said. The Cmdr still says that.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 22:21:07

Split level houses with sunken living rooms were a HUGE feature in the 60’s. Much like granite and SS are today.

Comment by ChrisO
2009-08-19 10:20:35

Perhaps we ought to get government off the backs of small business and start actually creating wealth again. I wince when I read about all of the regulatory stupidity that one has to go through just to start and maintain a business. If we don’t do that soon, the future will be written elsewhere.

Comment by michael
2009-08-19 10:38:16

just be glad you are not doing business in germany.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:55:21

You’ve got that right! When it comes to regulating things, the Germans have no peer. (And this is coming from someone who’s German on the maternal side of the house.)

Comment by Lisa
2009-08-19 10:22:25

I got nostalgic reading this post, as it reminded me so much of my own childhood. We rarely ate out, and if we did, it was pizza or McD’s and those were considered a big treat. My mom made a lot of our clothes, curtains, bedspreads, etc. We cleaned our own house and did our own yard work. Birthday cakes were home made and parties were simple affairs in the backyard. Vacations were pack up the car and drive someplace. I never felt deprived.

Flash forward……kids in my neighborhood get cars the minute they get their license, have their own cell phones and iPods, after school sports, don’t seem to wash the family cars or mow the lawn, and forget about a summer job….the horror! Totally different, and what an obnoxious sense of entitlement. And none of them seem particularly happy.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 10:29:15

My mother did quite a bit of sewing until she got a teaching job. Then it was time for store-bought clothes. Not that I really cared. Never was into clothes or fashion.

As for after-school sports, I wasn’t good enough to play any of them. Instead, I preferred going for long walks by myself. Nothing like a good walk when you need to clear the mental cobwebs. I also liked (surprise!) to go on bike rides.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:44:07

Lisa! Your “flash forward” is so…2007? Is it really still that way?

Comment by Lisa
2009-08-19 15:43:58

“Lisa! Your “flash forward” is so…2007? Is it really still that way?”

Yes indeed, the kids in my neighborhood still have their toys….the cars, iPods, etc. that were bought during the bubble years are still very much around.

Enrollment in private schools is definitely down, however, as several neighbors opted for public schools this year.

Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 20:03:21

Enrollment is down in Tampa as well, now that home equity extraction has almost totally evaporated as an option for paying tuition. Before I started posting here in 2005, I never understood how so many people in this low-wage town could afford to send their kids to private school, drive Escalades, and eat out five nights a week.

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Comment by JIM C
2009-08-19 14:52:40

Their parents made them that way. (Guilty as charged your Honor). Just another way of keeping up with the Joneses.

Comment by David
2009-08-19 10:30:08

Great blog post. My favorite line part is “Second mortgages were looked upon the same way that a rattlesnake bite was looked upon. They were to be avoided at all costs. ” Very funny.

The massive debt that we have left ourselves and future generations is immoral. It didn’t have to be this way. It will certainly significantly reduce living standards for decades to come.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 10:30:35

I remember my mom’s first microwave. She baked a cake in it, OMG!

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 10:36:16

I baked 8 rats in an oven once (under a Fox pizza) Big V!!

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:53:21



I think I’m really curious about this story. But wait just a bit, because my curiosity could definitely fade, once I think about the details.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 17:15:55

Oly, you must have missed earlier, so only for you. When I was in law school, my wife and I had a trailer we just moved in to. It was nice, but cheap and simple. Bought a Fox Pizza. Put it in oven, and Karen said, “What’s that smell” Ate the pizza, and I said, “Man, for 88 cents this thing does taste bad”. Next day, looked under the oven grate, and there were 8 baby mice there we didn’t mean to cook. It was sad, but funny too. Place hadn’t been lived in for a while, and out in the country. :)

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 17:44:22

Really, they may have been dead already. That’s what Karen said, and I believed her. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be funny to me.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:41:47

It was nice, but cheap and simple.

Just like me! …Except for the ‘nice’ part.

And I cannot believe you cooked baby mice.
*shakes head sadly *

…Just teasing yer there, ATE. Having mostly lived in the country, I do know that baby mice emerge mostly where you’d like them not to.
But was it a pepperoni pizza?

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 18:43:19

Really, they may have been dead already. That’s what Karen said, and I believed her. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be funny to me.

I think this ‘Karen’ wife-person knew you pretty good, and knew she had a tender-hearted guy on her hands, is what I think. :)

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:27:54

I think I like you now. Ate. ;>

Comment by Stpn2me
2009-08-19 23:17:54


You just went up a couple of points in my book…

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-08-19 10:45:39

I think my experience was more similar to the vast majority of Americans at that time. I also know one thing about my experience growing up. It was sustainable. That is what makes it so different from what is going on today.

My own experience was somewhat similar, though I’d guess I trail you by a half-dozen years or so. My community was predominately Catholic, but average children per household had dwindled to 2-3, and more mothers were joining or re-joining the workforce.

I came from a household of savers as well, but one that earned a decent amount … at least by national standards. Growing up right outside DC, we went to school with a lot of kids whose parents were Pentagon brass, Capitol Hill functionaries, Congress-critters, and so on. Most of these people seemed to have the spending reined in as well. There were very few families in my recollection that seemed flashy or ostentatious — most had well-worn station wagons, well-worn playrooms, and well-worn clothing. I started to notice a change in this attitude toward the end of Reagan’s second term, but that could be ’cause I was old enough to notice …

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 22:02:29

“sustainable … so different from what’s going on today”

Well, I think what you mean is that the extravagances of the bubble years were not sustainable. (?) I do believe that TODAY’s waves of foreclosures, long-term unemployment, and consumer retrenchment are much more sustainable than the PTB would like to acknowledge.

Comment by rentor
2009-08-19 10:57:24

Two things we didn’t have in the 70’s AIDS & Swine Flu.

How I miss those days

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 11:22:58

You know, isn’t that the truth rentor. Of course, I’ve grown up since then, but man, no worries a shot of penicillin from Ol’ Doc Hall couldn’t cure!!!

He would exam you with a cigar going and talk with the cigar in his mouth, blowin’ smoke all over the room.

Hell, I don’t think he even had a blood pressure guage, maybe? But, he DID have a big thick needle full of gooey stuff!! :)

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 11:25:31

“Two things we didn’t have in the 70’s AIDS & Swine Flu.”

Sure about that?

Swine Flu was around in the 70’s. I was vaccinated for it when I was in the Army.

A new study of the oldest known HIV suggests the virus jumped from animals to humans in the 1940s. There are early cases that look like AIDS started in the late 50s

Here’s a couple of links

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 13:16:00

There is a book by Ed Hooper called “The River” that sets out that contaminated polio vaccines started the entire AIDS epidemic. Very interesting read if you run across it in a 1/2 book store..

One of the more intriguing premises in the book was the statistical anomaly that two strains of AIDS would jump from two different primates to human in a 30 year time period. Recently, the 4th different AIDS strain was just discovered. So that makes 4 different primates since 1959. Very interesting.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 14:00:26


Genetic analysis has shown beyond a reasonable doubt that we got AIDS from African tribes that eat chimp brains as a part of their culture. The virus doesn’t kill chimps, so a lot of chimps have it, and there are lots of strains. Chimps who have it are a little ill (but not dying), so they are more likely to be caught by brain-eaters than uninfected chimps. Hence, it’s not unlikely at all that 2 strains might be transferred from chimps to humans. After all, look at how many strains of swine flu we’ve gotten. TONS! Besides, new strains can develop within the human species too, they didn’t all necessarily jump over from chimps.

From Wikipedia :

Data from molecular biology and phylogenetic studies contradict the OPV AIDS hypothesis; consequently, scientific consensus regards the hypothesis as disproven,[3][4][5][6] with an article in the journal Nature describing the hypothesis as “refuted”.[7]

It would take a long time for you to learn all the background you need to understand the science behind it all, but the references are there for you to read anyway.

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Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 19:16:18


*spits out delicious brain sandwich and wipes mouth on arm *

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:31:06

Oly. LOL.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 11:26:55

There was Swine Flu in the mid-1970s. The ensuing vaccine fiasco (it was linked to Guillian-Barre Syndrome) helped doom Gerald Ford’s presidency.

Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 13:32:50

The other thing I found fascinating in “The River” was that a disease called SV40 (Simian vacuolating virus 40) was accidentally introduced in polio vaccines(from rhesus monkey kidney cells) in the early 60s and 30+ million Americans from that time period were infected.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:29:08

Don’t forget that disease Legionaires.

Something about ventilation.

Comment by Timmy Boy
2009-08-19 11:22:29

Does anybody remember when you walked into a car dealership & told them that you were paying “CASH”… e.g. NO LOAN… they would faun all over you & give you the CASH DISCOUNT???

I knew the economy was in a bubble a few years ago when I went to purchase a new (used) car… for “CASH”

When I told the dealer that I was paying in CASH & wanted to know the CASH PRICE vs. the asking price… he smiled & said”

“It doesn’t matter to me if you pay cash or get a car loan. I only have to make a phone call.. & can have you approved for a 100% loan in 10 minutes”

Needless to say.. if that is the true nature of our economy.. then we are truely addicted to crack.. er… I mean DEBT.

Without debt… our economy is TOAST!!

Comment by tresho
2009-08-19 11:50:02

Without debt… our economy is TOAST!! We’re toast.

Comment by Bad Andy
2009-08-19 12:30:01

Many dealers will charge more for a cash customer as they don’t get compensated for making the loan. Sick isn’t it?

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:33:48

THAT is why you get all the info on the auto you want and use the internet sales agent. You figure out what you will pay, write out 10-15 email letters to internet sales agents and give them 24 hrs to respond. You Will get several offers especially at the end of the month. Done deal and you come in with cash. In/OUT in less than 1 hr.

Did it and glad I did.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:34:55

used to be called
a fighting chance dot org. altogether.

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Comment by Al
2009-08-19 12:31:45

I bought a new car about 5 years ago with cash. There was a special discount at the time and they applied it to the price. As we were getting things wrapped up, the manager suddenly realized that the discount only applied to financed deals. I guess I was the first customer who could afford a car during that promotion.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:00:46

It’s best to get the financing, then pay the entire thing off with the first bill. They actually give you a better deal on the car if they think they will make it up on the financing.

Comment by Timmy Boy
2009-08-19 13:07:06

Never thought of that.

Don’t they usually have loan costs, pre-payment penalties, or some other B.S.?

I only buy things that I can pay for in cash.. & use credit cards only for convenience & perks (have flown to many countries F-R-E-E… Australia, Japan, European countries)

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Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 13:23:45

Nope, no prepayment penalty on most dealer-generated car loans. If there is one, then you can negotiate it out.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-08-19 16:53:38

Did that one. Except we paid on it for 6 months to ‘bump’ up the credit score showing a big debt payment being made for awhile. It helped us from 700s to low 800s. Then we paid it off.

It sure didn’t take long for car payments to get old. Ugh.

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Comment by Skip
2009-08-19 13:34:04

I think the laws have changed and it is almost impossible to buy a car with cash.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:56:18

Really? I’ve never had a car loan, and my most recent purchase was less than two years ago. If what you mean by “cash” is the folding green stuff, you may be right. But I always found a certified check or some such thing was OK.

Comment by wmbz
2009-08-19 16:07:57

Green stuff is the only “cash” much better in deal making. Been doing it for years.

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Comment by wmbz
2009-08-19 16:06:22

Negative!!!! I know two car dealers, they love cash, run it under the table through the service dept. Sadly few have cash any more! Or even know what it is.

Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 20:09:02

The same thing happened when I bought my last car. I had been saving for awhile, and I guess I expected some kind of leverage.

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 05:35:05

Same thing with us, too, last year.

Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 11:44:21

While there is a badly needed reckoning coming for a lot of Americans (and non-Americans too, let’s not forget them) and people’s values will change, I don’t see how nostalgia for the 1970s is particularly helpful. Buying junk made in China like designer clothes (whether on credit or not) is completely pointless and stupid. However, unless technological advancement is stopped or slows to a crawl, the standard of living will improve over time. This isn’t a fake generated by Reagan, although a lot of the “wealth” generated during the bubble was fake.

I also don’t understand why so many people think large families are a good idea. Despite claims to the contrary they aren’t sustainable. Smaller families are much more sustainable. I also don’t understand the nostalgia for “heinous” food and 3 kids to a room. The lack of these things sounds like real progress to me unlike filling your house with useless junk from China.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 12:05:20

I kind of got the impression that NYCityBoy is predicting such poor circumstances in the future, but not longing for them. He thinks that small families in the near future will live just as poorly as large families did in the recent past. I don’t think anyone wants it to happen, but I guess someone has to pay for the Baby Boomer debacle, and it’s going to be their kids.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 12:06:45

Hey Big: I see your point, and I think there is some truth to it. I guess, it was, the innocence, the ball-glove on the bike handle, “Bonanza”, “Mayberry”, the simplicity, if you will. Years later, (not much) I always loved “Little House on the Prairie”. Today, I don’t watch TV.

Of course, without this computer, couldn’t be writing you guys today, so I guess I don’t know.

Comment by Big Bubble Popper
2009-08-19 14:47:07

Was that really the simplicity of the time or the simplicity of childhood?

I have seen TV and movies from and/or about that time (which seems to be the 50s and not the 70s) and I have seen plenty things that I have and glad that I have that they didn’t have in the 50s (or 70s). There’s this movie, A Christmas Story, that takes place in the 50s in Northern Indiana. The electrical wiring in the family’s house is of somewhat questionable quality by modern standards. There’s also a scene where the youngest kid has to put some really thick coat+pants because its so cold outside. Wearing this thing, he can’t put his arms down because its so thick.

That’s only a couple of examples of what’s good about 2009 that won’t be going away. There are plenty more. Of course, when it comes to nostalgia, no one remembers things like that.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 14:59:08

I certainly appreciate not having to wear nylons or very high heels ANYWHERE.

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Comment by ATE-UP
2009-08-19 15:48:08

Yeah, me too.

Comment by aNYCdj
2009-08-19 16:24:04

Hmm nylons and heels….hmm 8 ball up the schnozzola?

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 16:51:36

Yeah, me too.

*falls off chair laughing *

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:38:49


Watched it faithfully.
Years later, wondered how/why grown men would live alone together without any wives etc.Only men, even the cook.Hang Sing
Women were other men’s husbands or daughters and they only passed through.

Ever wonder? ;> haha

Comment by Hubie
2009-08-19 12:03:20

The truth as I recall. Is that most of Reagans proposals were rejected by both Republican and Democratic representatives in Congress. He never proposed anything that could’nt be reversed easly. He did want to eliminate entire Depatments of the Govt. like The Depatment of Education or the Department of Energy. These ideas were never considered seriously. I do remember his attempt to simplify the Federal Tax Code. He wanted to eliminate the all deductions even Home Mortgage Interest. We know how that was received.

In my mind, it was President FDR who irrevicably changed America as the Founders had invisioned. It seems now that the pendulium has swung back into that direction of big Govt. to the rescue. The difference between What FDR installed and Obama wants to do with Health Care is that once these are implemented they can never be reversed or seriously debated. (Social Security, Medicare…, Health Care).

Comment by wmbz
2009-08-19 13:36:26

Hubie, You have a good memory, many forget(purposefully)about the fact there is always a congress and senate about.

My #1 pick for the most damaging president is Woodrow Wilson, followed by FDR. However there have been many lousy ones.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:41:52

many forget(purposefully)about the fact there is always a congress and senate about.

Not me, wmbz. I keep reminding you and reminding you and reminding you. Or youse guys.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 19:58:41

Let me add a little more truth about Reagan and remind wmbz:

Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.

In 1982 alone, he signed into law not one but two major tax increases. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year and the Highway Revenue Act raised the gasoline tax by another $3.3 billion.

In 1983, Reagan signed legislation raising the Social Security tax rate. This is a tax increase that lives with us still, since it initiated automatic increases in the taxable wage base. As a consequence, those with moderately high earnings see their payroll taxes rise every single year.

In 1984, Reagan signed another big tax increase in the Deficit Reduction Act. This raised taxes by $18 billion per year or 0.4 percent of GDP. A similar-sized tax increase today would be about $44 billion.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 raised taxes yet again. Even the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was designed to be revenue-neutral, contained a net tax increase in its first 2 years. And the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 raised taxes still more.

Hope this helps you Hubie and wbmz.

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 22:08:46

“saved Social Security in 1983″ — yes, but indeed by making it closer to sustainable — IMO, the original SS act should’ve included a clause raising the eligibility age automatically with lifespan increases in the general population.

Comment by karen
2009-08-19 12:15:02

I loved this piece. The historic description seems very apt (my childhood seemed similar), but I don’t agree with the predictions. While the silver lining to these massive economic dislocations may be an increased appreciation for the less materialistic aspects of life, I expect that as long as America exists, the optimistic spending and our get-rich-quick mentality will exist.

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-19 14:34:19

Sadly, I agree. Besides the PTB are banking on it.(pun intended)

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 15:01:31

Our get-rich-quick mentality is really why people come here, isn’t it? So far, we are still regarded as the land of greatest opportunity, which people sometimes forget includes the opportunity to fall flat on your face or other body parts.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 12:42:31

Speaking of “fake wealth,” check out what just spontaneously appeared in my e-mail:

Do you remember when it was easy to understand what money was and how it came into being? Money used to be gold and silver and certificates representing those metals. Now what is it? Something called a Federal Reserve Note. So how does this currency come into being? The short answer is out of thin air. It is created by the printing press or entries on a ledger sheet. Who does this? A private bank does. The name of this private banking cartel is the Federal Reserve Bank. Just recently, they have gone insane in the amount of money they’ve created out of thin air. Many of us want to know what they have done with it. Don’t you want to know what they did with all this new currency that you, your children and your grandchildren ad infinitum will have to pay back to these bankers?

Do you want to know why Susan Davis is the only San Diego based Representative who is not a co-sponsor of HR 1207, a bill to audit the Federal Reserve Bank? Every single Republican member and over 80 Democrat members of the House of Representatives have co-sponsored this legislation.

Since the Federal Reserve Bank has such awesome power over the lives of every American Citizen, through its power to manipulate the economy with interest rate fluctuations and the ability to inflate and deflate the money supply, doesn’t it make sense that Congress and the American people should be able to find out just what they are doing with the trillions of dollars of new debt that is being added to the already slavish amounts that we, and our children, are expected to bear?

I encourage you to call Ms. Davis to see if she can give a logical reason for not supporting this bill.

Susan Davis

4305 University Avenue
Suite 515
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 280-5353
Fax: (619) 280-5311 mb

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 14:57:27

Any chance this precedent might affect prospects for a Fed audit?

Financial Times
From Companies 10:22pm
US hails victory in UBS tax battle
Hole blasted in famed bank secrecy laws

US hails victory in UBS tax battle
By Haig Simonian in Bern and Joanna Chung in New York
Published: August 19 2009 16:47 | Last updated: August 19 2009 22:22

The US blasted a hole in Switzerland’s famed bank secrecy on Wednesday as Bern agreed to reveal the names of 4,450 wealthy Americans holding offshore accounts at UBS, the country’s biggest bank.

Washington hailed the deal as a victory in the clampdown on tax evasion and indicated that it would be the foundation of efforts to pursue other foreign banks.

“This agreement sends an unmistakable message to people hiding income and assets offshore,” said Douglas Shulman, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, the US tax authority.

“The IRS will vigorously pursue tax cheats around the world, no matter how remote or secret the location.”

Mr Shulman said the IRS would now receive an “unprecedented amount of information on tax evaders” and data of the “greatest interest to us” as a result of the agreement.

Comment by Big V
2009-08-19 16:09:27

How did I know that would happen?

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 15:39:39

Though I am personally skeptical about the claims that an audit would compromise the Fed’s vaunted (though somewhat questionable) independence (independent from whom?), I understand the instinctive reluctance about allowing Congress to inspect the details of their recent operating procedures.

For one, a close look at the many extreme departures from standard, long-established operating procedures may raise consternation. Secondly, outside scrutiny is not always healthy for institutional survival; for a case in point, look what happened to the Soviet Union after Gorbachev’s move to glasnost.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:44:19

It won’t happen to the extent it needs to because the pTB are worried and rightfully so, that those nutty americans with automatic weaponry going to the grocery store or town hall will come at them
when We find out the REAL STORY.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 21:40:19

We know the real story.. the economy was teetering on the brink and the Fed dropped everything and made it their priority to stabilize it.. throwing money at whatever target seemed appropriate… twisting arms.. brokering deals.

What else might have happened? It’s not hard to imagine a few people in key positions who didn’t comply or who needed to be gotten out of the way might have had “accidents”, been arrested, gotten calls at 3AM.. been threatened or blackmailed.. or some such dime novel stuff.
If we were ever to know about such things happening, we already do or we never will.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 16:17:37

Are there any laws which preclude a Fed audit? In particular, what exempts them from the US government’s constitutional system of checks and balances?

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 18:46:12

What is the point of the audit? Political ammo?

ya know.. if the Fed is not living up to expectations, we can just trash the whole thing any time we like, for no reason.. There’s no need to find wrong doing or mistakes.. no need to beat around the bush..

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 22:44:43

Prof. I believe the reason it is being opposed is “national security.” Truly.

But they have a point, I think. Deals being made behind the scenes to prop up friendly governments, or punish those who have been Bad; interest fluctuations and quiet loans for nefarious/noble purposes, these are the stuff of international intrigue. Not sure I want Congress doing its usual interfering, dithering, debating, spinning, grandstanding etc. in time of crisis.

Although I do support the bill in theory.

Comment by nycjoe
2009-08-19 12:49:25

NYCboy, I enjoyed the look back, sort of! Funny how basically similar are the upbringings of so many of us. My experience was in Queens and New Jersey, but in the same sort houses, Mom at home, and much of the rest. We did have two cars, a beat-up one, aka the Blue Bomb, for Dad to take into the city, and a station wagon for Mom in suburbia.

I too recall Reagan’s election as an awful turning point. That night I was in a bar in Manhattan with my father (I was nearly 21) and we had a bet on how many states the hapless Dems would win. That same day, Edward Abbey set off down the Colorado River in Utah on a long trip, hoping to put off learning of the results for as long as possible, he wrote.

The election, I think, ushered in the era of the barbarian emperors. If a second-rate actor spouting cheap jingoistic nonsense could get elected, well, anything goes, right? The firings of the air traffic controllers was greatly symbolic of what followed … to me, it seemed that the individual worker, whether union or white collar, and his tribe, were written off and all the goodies of our society were blatantly handed over to the money manipulators and big biz.

So here we are, after a flashy repeat of the rule of the robber barons and the Gilded Age. Except in this recent version, the regular folks got to join in on the excess with fake money. Will the people yet figure out who their enemies are? Last election says it’s dawning on em.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-08-19 13:44:02

The firings of the air traffic controllers was greatly symbolic of what followed … to me, it seemed that the individual worker, whether union or white collar, and his tribe, were written off and all the goodies of our society were blatantly handed over to the money manipulators and big biz.

And six years later, the replacement air traffic controllers formed their own union.

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-08-19 15:04:27

I had a friend that was a fired ATC. It took him 15 years to again earn what he made 1980.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 18:20:36

As I remember it, air traffic controllers agreed never to strike when they signed on.. they didn’t take the jobs at gunpoint. Someone (us) seemed to think that air traffic control was so vital in so many ways that we really can’t do without it.
Remember what happened to the economy when air traffic was virtually shut down for a period after 9-11?

Reagan was kind in only firing them, imho.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:47:30

Reagan sidled up to the ATC union making them feel like he was their best friend.
THEN he got elected and brought out the hammer.
They were stupid to think he would honor what he was inferring or saying.
Fired. Kablam.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:49:02

Reagan promised them things, in order to get elected and have this union back him.

Reagan broke his “promise”. They erroneously thought they wouldn’t get fired based on what he said Before he got elected.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 20:25:11

They erroneously thought they wouldn’t get fired based on what he said Before he got elected.

The controllers “erroneously thought” they purchased rock-solid political favoritism.. and you must support them in that, in order to place blame elsewhere..

Of course Reagan was wrong and is to blame no matter what happened or will happen.. Reagan is the universally recognized wrongness-excuse of last resort for those who disagree with his policies..

i’m amazed at the mental gymnastics people who lack any moral compass are sometimes capable of. How do you do it?

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Comment by cobaltblue
2009-08-19 13:06:19

Did “Fake Wealth” buy us this kind of Universal Health Care? Who pays for it???

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result of the act, patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.

EMTALA applies to “participating hospitals”, i.e., those that accept payment from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Medicare program. However, in practical terms, EMTALA applies to virtually all hospitals in the U.S., with the exception of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Indian Health Service hospitals, and Veterans Affairs hospitals. The combined payments of Medicare and Medicaid, $602 billion in 2004,[1] or roughly 44% of all medical expenditures in the U.S., make not participating in EMTALA impractical for nearly all hospitals. EMTALA’s provisions apply to all patients, and not just to Medicare patients.

Comment by jane
2009-08-19 14:28:13

NYCB, let me add my appreciation for your post. As you state, when you were growing up, there was nothing unusual about a family living within its means. Choices derived from financial and aspirational discipline result in a different life tempo than what we have witnessed over the past 25 years. We have, literally, been out of synch.

During this debtors’ ascendancy, many of us HBB members were considered eccentric. Now that the pendulum is swinging, who knows? We may wind up as role models of sorts. It may be valuable to our society to have people to show that contentment and sustainable living are possible at the same time. I believe it WILL be valuable, certainly, for the lost generation who will be stuck with the systemic debt. Personally, I am trying to embrace mindfulness. These poor kids have plenty to be angry about from my generation. I have no way to help if, through blanket association, they are also angry at me.

I’ve gotten so used to bucking the mainstream that I have mixed feelings about it catching up with me. But I suspect that teaching quietly, by example, still works.

Comment by JIM C
2009-08-19 14:44:38

I think instant gratification demand is just going to be shifted from “Toys” to medical care. It was the boomers (I’m included in that group) that became the instant gratification generation. Easy credit, easy living (no depressions, no major wars and an endless supply of new gadgets) made us think that there was no end to what we could have regardless of whether we could afford it or not. Now we boomers are getting older, and having satisfied our lust for material goods, we now somehow believe that it is our God given right, having spent 40 years getting fat, avoiding exercise, clogging our arteries and smoking and drinking ourselves into oblivion to have unlimited access to every possible medical procedure, for every conceivable ailment, for an unlimited period of time, regardless of how much it costs and who might ultimately have to pay for it. When our kids and grandkids go broke funding our health care, I guess most of us boomers will just think that’s the way it is, Hell, most of us will be dead by then anyway. We’ve already saddled them with trillions of dollars of debt bailing us out of one financial disaster after another, what’s a few trillion dollars more to keep us living in the home another year or so.

Some of us are responsible enough to have avoided the debt trap, saved enought to fund our retirement and signed a living will and medical directive to say I don’t want unlimited amounts of money spent on us to keep usalive when our time has come.

Most have not.

If the WWII generation was the “greatest generation” and I agree that it probably was, ours will be judged as the ‘greediest generation”. It’s easy to blame it on RR, but by and large we did it, and continue to do it to ourselves.

Comment by WT Economist
2009-08-19 17:24:20

The non-greedy members of the greediest generation and their children constitute a majority. A silent majority.

Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 20:14:21


Comment by JustSayNo
2009-08-19 15:19:02

cobaltblue and Dino you need to get better resources for your information or you will continue to appear as manipulated by huge corporate interests from ignorant news sources - change the channel - probably the best on TV at this time is Rachel Maddow - who has a phd in political science and is a rhodes scholar and does a lot of research before spewing the facts - fact based reality works better than emotional FEAR based opinions

Comment by az_lender
2009-08-19 22:16:01

It’s a mistake to assume your political opponents are misinformed. They may just interpret history differently from the way you interpret it, or they may have different personal priorities. (I have to admit I absolutely despise Rachel Maddow, but I wouldn’t characterize her as misinformed.)

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 17:08:18

In inflation we trust!

Financial Times
Hedge fund bets millions that gas price will triple
By Gregory Meyer in New York
Published: August 19 2009 23:57 | Last updated: August 19 2009 23:57

A hedge fund has made a large bet that natural gas prices will triple by winter just as the price of the commodity slides to a seven-year low.

Traders took notice last week when the fund, as yet undisclosed, spent millions for the right to buy US natural gas at $10 (£6.03) per million British thermal units in January and February, up from Wednesday’s spot level just above $3 per mBtu.

“This is the first bullish play I’ve seen in quite a while,” said Raymond Carbone, president of Paramount Options on the New York Mercantile Exchange floor. “It caught the eyes of people in the [options] ring.”

The bet echoes purchases of call options – contracts that give the holder the right to buy at a fixed price and date – in late 2007 to cash in if oil moved to $150 a barrel by mid-2008.

The options were referred to as “lottery tickets” at the time because of their low cost and high potential reward, but the move paid off when oil surged.

Comment by SDGreg
2009-08-20 02:21:58

“A hedge fund has made a large bet that natural gas prices will triple by winter just as the price of the commodity slides to a seven-year low.”

That’s an interesting bet given the developing El Nino. During an El Nino winter, the northern tier of states are typically warmer, implying less use of natural gas for heating. Are they assuming something else will impact the supply/demand of natural gas other than a cold winter which looks increasingly unlikely?

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 17:51:35

I suppose there’s one big difference between me and most people on this board.. and it causes a lot of conflict.
Here’s the thing… I don’t blame politicians for our troubles. I don’t blame businesses for them either.

There’s no mystery in the thoughts and actions of politicians.. they have no agenda of their own. They absorb the agenda of whoever will elect them, whoever paid for their election, or whoever will get them reelected. Politicians have no moral component.

The motivation of business is similarly simple to explain. Business exists for one purpose: to make money. Business will support and encourage whatever promotes their making money. Business has no moral component.

Business and politics is just that simple. Those entities are almost perfectly predictable. They could be considered as nothing more than trusty, old, reliable tools available for our use and benefit.
It is we who wield the tools.

How well do we use those tools? We hardly use them wisely or to their full potential. We mostly misuse them. We mostly use those tools as weapons against eachother.
See…We’re very selfish. We really don’t care what happens to other people as long as we get what we want, or what we think we want.

As long as my politician gets me what I want, he’s a hero. If he fails, he’s dirt. Politicians that oppose what I want are dirt. Business that supports politicians who oppose what I want are dirt.
People who oppose what I want are dirt. People who have more wealth than me, or have things that I want, are dirt.
All that matters is me and my desires.

What sort of world might result if people feel and act that way? Well.. that’s easy to answer. Look around you. Look at all the things that exist around us.. all that has happened, is happening, and can be expected to happen. Look at all we have accomplished.

Some will like where we’re at. Some like parts of it. Some will like little or nothing of what they see out there.
But like it or not, this is exactly the world we the people have created.

Now do your duty.. Get out there and blame whatever you don’t like on someone or something other than ourselves.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 18:33:14

Okay, but won’t you agree that in an earlier era, even when the robber barons were sucking up the dough, there was at least the conceit of “public good” and being upstanding members of a community? That some practices just weren’t done because they would be considered unseemly and vulgar? LIke widows/widowers were supposed to wear black for a year after their spouse died to respect their passing, and not just hook-up with another partner right off the bat. Sounds rather quaint, but actually, it seems like civilized behavior. You are accepting a Lord of the Flies world view, which I do not.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 19:16:19

Sure… We certainly have a concept of the “public good”. It is extensive and includes things like laws. It is the web that binds us together as a society, despite our being opponents in the arenas of business and politics.

I’m not saying we aren’t “civilized”. And recall that the culture/society depicted in the Lord of the Flies failed.. while ours hasn’t.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 20:15:05

Umm according to the history I studied the robber barons had no conceit of the public good. They were upstanding members of the community becuase they had the money and the power. Widows and widowers wore black for a year because that was the style set by Queen Victoria. There was nothing quaint or civilized about living in those times. So before you get all maudlin about those times do some reading about what life was like.

For me there is no other time I would want to live in.

Comment by SaladSD
2009-08-19 21:06:57

Widows & Widowers wore black for a year or more way before Queen Victoria, she just made it fashionable. Robber barons such as Carnegie, Vanderbilt & Rockefeller certainly left behind a public good legacy that we haven’t seen by the likes of the Milkens, Madoffs or Lays.

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Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 22:55:49

You are right about what the robber barons left behind after the damage was done.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 19:03:52

“We really don’t care what happens to other people as long as we get what we want, or what we think we want.”


Everyman. (Or so he claims…)

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 19:33:03

If it is your desire to share, it is your desire.. it’s not everyone’s.
As such, you might support a politician who supports your view, and oppose those who do not.

Unless you’re getting moral-religious on me, one can easily see being less selfish and more sharing as just another political desire.. What you are (unselfish) is what you’d like everyone to be.

And the idea we all should be less selfish can be taken pretty far and has plenty of political consequences we need not even go into unless you prefer to talk commie-socialist .. which i don’t.

I’m not being judgmental when i say we are selfish. All our desires are selfish, no matter what they are.

Comment by desertdweller
2009-08-19 19:53:07

they have no agenda of their own.


Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-19 20:34:56

They have a personal agenda only in so much as they are citizens like you and me. They may want wealth or power or to get driven around in a limo, or to get their mugs on TV or whatever..

But as politicians they have no agenda beyond getting elected and remaining in power, and to do that they adopt our agendas.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 23:10:25

A haunting piece, Joey.
So glad we know different people….

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-20 05:51:38

I find it more likely that we know different aspects of the same people.

Comment by SDGreg
2009-08-20 02:56:31

I simply don’t agree, based on experience, that all politicians or all businesses have no moral component. Why make such a provably false statement?

From my time growing up in Kansas City, I remember the deeds of Ewing Kauffman, the founder of Marion Labs and the original owner of the Kansas City Royals. He was very proud of never having any layoffs. He wanted nothing to do with the excesses of the “old money” crowd. For a long time, he lamented over whether he should have spent the money to buy the Royals or put it to other purposes to help the underprivileged. In the end, the did both later setting up an endowment to allow low income students to go to college if they met certain standards of being good citizens.

I suppose the point of this is while a business must be profitable over time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be excessively profitable to the point of checking all morals at the door. It is possible to do well and to do well for others.

“Now do your duty.. Get out there and blame whatever you don’t like on someone or something other than ourselves.”

While I have no problem with people taking responsibility for their actions, let’s not be naive in the sense that we are often constrained by what is around us over which we have little control. Is it wrong for people to be angry at outside conditions that adversely affect them over which they have little control? Such anger can drive necessary changes.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-08-20 05:43:06

Since businesses are run by people and people have morals, you might be unable to separate the moral component from the business, but just answer this.
Can a business exist without morals? Certainly. Business doesn’t need morals. When stripped to it’s core, business doesn’t have a moral component.

Without making money, the business dies, and whatever charity or community contributions or jobs or morality that the business or it’s owners were responsible for disappears.
..we are often constrained by what is around us over which we have little control. Is it wrong for people to be angry at outside conditions..

We have little or no control over a lot of things, but that says nothing about whether or not we created the condition.

My point is about taking responsibility. I believe doing so is a prerequisite in our drive towards a better future. Gaining more control over more things in our lives would be one among many positive results…

Comment by CA renter
2009-08-20 05:50:49

Great post, SDGreg!

Comment by snake charmer
2009-08-19 18:50:25

Very well done piece. I am familiar with sibling arguments and fights over food. To this day I am extremely possessive about food and have a bad habit of wolfing any meal put before me.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-08-19 19:12:29

*Sigh *
I know your pain, snakey. It’s big of you to admit this to us.
Last winter I accidentally bit someone when they attempted to steal a french-fry off my plate.
Well, hey! They was good French-fries. I love a good French-fry. And they were MINE.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2009-08-19 22:39:24

And those were mere french-fries. You should see her around tater-tots! ;-)

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 19:01:32

My daughter pretty much single-handedly solved the problem of sibling conflicts over meat by declaring herself a vegetarian back when she was a seven-year-old second-grader. The rest of us learned to live on a near-meat-free diet in order to accommodate her preferences. I learned how to cook vegetables so they taste delicious. We probably all saved a bundle in medical bills and foregone expenditures on expensive meat thanks to her decision.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 20:18:40

My niece tried to be a vegetarian. My sister and brother-in-law cooked meals for her and bought the food for her. She lasted about six months. :) Me I’m a meat and vegie eater.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 21:12:48

My daughter has been a vegetarian for seven years running (half her life).

Comment by Michael Viking
2009-08-20 06:51:41

There must be more to this story, otherwise it appears a grown man let a 7 year old dictate his whole family’s diet.

“A picky kid goes hungry”
“Hunger never knew bad bread”

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-08-19 19:22:56

Speaking of fake wealth:

The New York Times
Bernanke, a Hero to His Own, Still Faces Fire in Washington

Published: August 19, 2009

WASHINGTON — Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, no longer looks sleep-deprived.

He still works seven days a week, but earlier this month he took two days off — for the first time in two years — to attend his son’s wedding. And he often gets home for dinner and even out to baseball games every few weeks.

As central bankers and economists from around the world gather on Thursday for the Fed’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., most are likely to welcome Mr. Bernanke as a conquering hero. In Washington and on Wall Street, it would be a surprise if President Obama did not nominate Mr. Bernanke for a second term, even though he is a Republican and was appointed by President George W. Bush.

But the White House has remained silent. And despite Mr. Bernanke’s credibility in financial circles, both he and the Fed as an institution have come under political fire from lawmakers in both parties over the handling of particular bailouts and the scope of the Fed’s power.

He has been frustrated that many in Congress do not give the Fed what he believes is enough credit for what it has accomplished. Indeed, Mr. Bernanke has met privately with hundreds of lawmakers in recent months to explain the Fed’s strategy.

Fellow economists, however, are heaping praise on Mr. Bernanke for his bold actions and steady hand in pulling the economy out of its worst crisis since the 1930s. Tossing out the Fed’s standard playbook, Mr. Bernanke orchestrated a long list of colossal rescue programs: Wall Street bailouts, shotgun weddings, emergency loan programs, vast amounts of newly printed money and the lowest interest rates in American history.

…economists say Mr. Bernanke’s most important accomplishment was to create staggering amounts of money out of thin air.

All told, the Federal Reserve has expanded its balance sheet from about $900 billion one year ago to $1.9 trillion today. Analysts now caution that Mr. Bernanke’s job is only half complete. He will eventually have to reel all that money back. He has already laid out elements of the Fed’s “exit strategy,” but Fed officials have been careful to say it is still too early to pull back any time soon.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-08-19 20:02:34

Ahh, but you see economists and Bernanke won’t have to answer to a growing anger of voters from both the right and left. Maybe that’s why there is silence from the White House and Congress is not kissing the ground he walks on. “The Emperor has no clothes”

Comment by Happy Renter in Vancouver
2009-08-19 19:38:29

NYC Boy, your observations reminded me of Ray Liotta’s monologue voiceover in the movie Goodfellas… Insightful, poignant and more than a little tinged with nostalgia. Well done.

Comment by NYchk
2009-08-19 20:32:23

NYCityBoy, thank you for this fascinating read. This is a completely different perspective compared to the image of affluent America as popularized in Russia in early 90s.

I was also born in the 70s. The life back then was not easy, we had no consumer choice whatsoever, but looking back, I had a very happy childhood.

My parents and I lived in a small apartment. I had my own room with very good acustic piano (it costs over $20,000 here - who knew?), and amazingly patient neighbors.

We had one TV and an old car (how my dad loved it), bought by careful saving, scrimping, sacrificing. Every year, we would spend a least a month at the seaside, but my parents sacrificed and saved all year to have that yearly vacation in the sun.

No debt. Credit unions existed, but only “people bad with math” bought on credit… To this day I cannot explain to my mom why a mortgage would ever make sense, she always gets stuck on the “but why would you want to pay all that interest”.

What I remember from my childhood are games, games, games with other kids, and preparing for school… Playdates? Fancy clothes (what’s a “brand”)? Not part of vocabulary.

When material things are not available, other things become more important - culture, education, art, sports, reading, thinking, talking, friends and family…

” That will be the result of this thing we call “globalization”. The humble existence I knew will be known by many more families in the future… It will be up to all of us to decide how we live our lives in this new era.”

Maybe it’s not so bad, the dawn of this new era. It doesn’t have to mean “less”, it can mean “less wasteful consumption”, “more quality and substance”.

Comment by ahansen
2009-08-19 23:15:19

Lovely post, NY. I hope you are right; it will be the cloud’s silver lining.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2009-08-19 23:45:31

Atari. Nobody mentioned Atari! Whined until I got one. And then I wanted Colecovision! And then the Commodore 64! (I paid for that last one myself)

Parents hated debt though. So when they did say yes to my inability to stand up to mass marketing, toys were always paid off. They still live in the (paid off) house they bought in 1964 and usually drive cars for 15 years or so…I wear my inherited “cheapness” (as others call it), honed in the 70s/80s, as a badge of honor.

Comment by pressboardbox
2009-08-20 05:39:43

I remember noticing sometime in the late 80’s that suddenly almost every car on the highway was new or near new. That had not been the case as I was growing up and I really paid attention because I loved cars. At the time I drove a serious piece of crap.

Comment by LittleGopher
2009-08-20 09:12:04

Enjoyed the trip down memory lane…I grew up in this era in MN.

I married a guy with a similar background, and we went on to have ’90s babies (4 and Catholic! How’s that for bucking convention?)

We are definitely middle class, as were our birth families. We attempt to mesh the good from then with the good of now. Our ’starter’ home is still our home, our cars are older, no heloc, etc. There are computers, Ipods, and other much more at our house. While we’ve had our fair share of money struggles (I was at home with the kids for 11 years for a start,) we always had choices available to us, and a little bit of luck too.

What has served us best is working hard, being open to new ways and opportunities, and just plain enjoying what we have rather than what we might have.

We live a contented life…. I can only imagine my girls looking back recalling an old smaller house, hand-me-downs, older cars, camping in a tent (horrors!) We had and did what we could afford - what was ours, was truly ours. I feel confident that one day they will get it. They may or may not embrace it, but then that’s their choice.

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