That’s an oft quoted remark from the Tea Party folks these days. According to the take-back folks, someone stole something. I’m curious as to what it actually means and wonder if all Americans have the same vision of ‘the good old days’? What was stolen?
Many Americans my age recall the post-war years- especially the wonderful 50’s when middle class American burgeoned and prospered. Is this the time that the ‘take-back’ crowd longs for? Of course, it all depends on when they were born, yet that was the Baby-boomer time, and there are a lot of us around who remember those ‘good old days.’
What was it like for Americans then? Well, that ought to be qualified: what was it like for white Americans then? We all know that blacks and Latinos didn’t share in those good old times.
Eisenhower was President. The Federal highway system was being constructed as were new housing developments, businesses and factories. Unions were strong and demanded just wages and safe working conditions. The salaries of the owners of the business may have been 5 to 10 times that of the worker. Banks were in the savings and loan business and credit was exchanged by local bankers. As were mortgages.
Credit cards were rare although there were shopping credit cards from department stores. The 1950 Diners Club card was good for only a meal and was to be paid in full at the end of the month. It wasn’t until 1958 that Visa and American Express got into the business.
The Stock Market was something that middle-class Americans knew little about nor invested in because of the cautionary stories told by parents of the crash in 1929. My generation kept their money in the local bank- which is where I kept my hard-earned paper route money as well as my 50¢/hour vegetable market summer job.
There’s the money story as I recall during my formative teenage years during the 1950’s. Security reigned supreme. People were not interested in money-making schemes nor were they interested in amassing debt. My father paid cash for his new cars- a great lesson for to his son.
Then, everything went to hell!
The turning point for my generation was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Until that terrible November day, life was swell for us boomers. We saw our future like we lived the past. But that day the bubble burst. Life, we learned, turned cruel. And all hell broke loose.
I’d like to ‘take my country back’ to the 1950’s and early 60’s. For the middle class white boy things then were just swell. But, you can’t go back. The ugliness of today’s American life slaps you in the face and the dream is deferred.