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What happened to the world

#1 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-December-14, 01:26

Dear all

I know 2020 has been a terrible year and is getting worse but too many people are not asking questions, and in my view are asking the wrong questions and pointing the fingers in the wrong direction at what went wrong over recent years, culminating in this year to date

Maybe we will find out eventually who or what is resposnbile for the mess the world is in. It may well be too late.

Hope everyone has something approaching a reasonable Christmas (insert alternative appropriate cultural celebration here) and New Year (likewise)

2020 hindsight is an amazing thing. BUt what good is it to anyone
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#2 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2020-December-14, 04:43

I think that we're living with the consequences of widespread use of leaded gasoline a few generations back.

I hope that things will calm down again once that cohort ages out of the demographic mix
Alderaan delenda est
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#3 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2020-December-14, 07:03

View Posthrothgar, on 2020-December-14, 04:43, said:

I think that we're living with the consequences of widespread use of leaded gasoline a few generations back.

I hope that things will calm down again once that cohort ages out of the demographic mix


It's not just the older generations, and not just the US. I'm sure the issues with leaded gasoline are real, but I think you underestimate the degree to which mainstream governments have failed their population. There's a long-term trend towards greater wealth inequality across many countries (although it seems worse in the US and UK than most). By itself, this might not bother a lot of people as long as they are doing well economically. But the 2008 crash, though started in the financial sector, hit the middle class much harder than wealthy investors. After the banks (and US auto companies) were "made whole" we quickly pivoted towards austerity (and Europe pivoted even harder in this direction). This hit middle class folks really hard; many of them lost jobs and houses, and at the same time we were cutting benefits and social services. Many small town communities were already suffering because of the combined impact of free trade agreements and technology, and while they recovered some jobs after the '08 crisis these were mostly worse-paying than their former ones. Seeing "other people" doing well (stock market has been great since early 2009, wealthy and/or highly educated folks have more than recovered since the crash) makes matters even worse.

In the US (and many other countries), both major parties contributed to these problems. Both parties in the US generally favored free trade, deregulating the financial industry, low taxes, and a quick pivot to austerity when the job losses stopped. Yes, the Republicans were worse, but Democrats didn't stem the tide (in fact they often made deals with Republicans on these issues). The US Congress (both parties) is more reactive to the wealthiest 1% than to the majority of voters. Basically a lot of people lost faith in "the system" or at least the mainstream parties. This has lead to a rise of far-right parties across Europe, but it has also helped the far left (to a slightly smaller degree) with the Greens and the Socialists doing well in many elections. The US is locked into its two-party system, but the enthusiasm is all around "outsiders" (Trump on the right, Sanders on the left).

Basically, people are desperate for something to change. They want someone they perceive as fighting for them (and not for the ultra-wealthy or the biggest corporations). They are willing to overlook a lot of bullshit to get someone who "fights for them" and their communities, and they are angry at the people who have done well in the current economic climate. We need a new approach, or at least new faces. And they're also inclined to doubt the mainstream media, which for so long favored "the center" and told people that stuff like free trade deals and deregulation and austerity were best for the country.

The problem is that a lot of the "outsiders" people are electing are lacking in both honesty and basic competence. This has become apparent with the current pandemic; enough people made a demoralized pivot back to the center to elect President-Elect Biden in the US, but the minority who view Trump as a "fighter for them" are refusing to believe the mainstream media once again and feel like they're being oppressed. Things are not much better in the UK, where Prime Minister Johnson is having a lot of trouble negotiating the "easy" Brexit deal he promised (and the pandemic has been worse than many places). Competent leaders (like Angela Merkel or Jacinda Ardern) have been boosted by the pandemic, but a lot of the population still wants something different and it seems tough for more than one "center-X" party to survive in a lot of places.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#4 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2020-December-15, 10:08

Here's a good (US-centric) article about the fate of the "middle class."
Adam W. Meyerson
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#5 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-December-15, 13:08

We're transitioning to an economy where, for reasons of technology, more than half the population is in effect intellectually disabled.

No one knows how to have a functional society in such circumstances.
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#6 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-December-15, 14:03

View Postawm, on 2020-December-15, 10:08, said:

Here's a good (US-centric) article about the fate of the "middle class."


This is a fascinating article. If pushed, I would have called my own childhood middle class. But as a youngster I did not think in those terms. I would have described it as "We have one car, it's a Chevrolet, it's paid for." More precisely, we had a 1940 Chevrolet from when I was 1 to when I was 14, then we bought a 1953 Chevrolet. As to schools, let me first quote from the article: .

Quote

Though Delia's teaching job is steady, her husband is making less than he did when he ran his own company. They're also paying private school tuition for their two daughters, which takes up a "huge chunk" of their income. They could pull their kids from private school and put them in public, but the kids have made their friends, and Delia's intent on giving them the opportunity to get out of the same claustrophobic town where she grew up.

"If the girls want to come back and live here, that's fine," Delia explained. "But I want them to be able to write their own story and invent themselves as they see fit. Private school might give them access to better colleges, by which I mean better job opportunities or travel opportunities or meeting-different-people opportunities."



This is seen today as middle class is it? I went to Monroe High School (Now called Global Arts Plus).. A boy I knew there had been kicked out of St. Thomas Academy. And when I was 18 I was, for a while, dating a girl that went to Summit High (for girls). Except for some kids that went to Catholics Schools for reasons of religion, that covers my acquaintance with private schools.

None of what I say above (or below) is a complaint. I look back on my childhood mostly with pleasure and I think it prepared me for adulthood. It is just that I am reading the descriptions of "middle class" and trying to digest it/

Delia explains that she wants her kids to "invent themselves".. Good plan. When I was 13 my friend Roger and I went on a multi-day bicycle trip camping along the St. Croix river. When I was 14 I started dating and it was very important that I earned the money to pay the costs. No way was I asking a girl out and then when she said yes asking my parents for money. When I was 15 I bought a car, a 47 Plymouth. I had picked it out myself, Paid for it with money I had earned, my parents had to sign something, that was all they had to do. Roger and I took a road trip. At age 16, over the summer, I would drive over to the University of Minnesota to sit in on a college Physics course. No charge, no credit. When I was 17 it was touch and go whether I could go to college. The University of Minnesota had low tuition, my parents decided I could continue living at home w/o paying rent (my father had a stroke when I was 13 but he was back working again) , I was still trying to decide between college and the Navy, but I got a scholarship and so off to the U of M.

It was a good life. A very good life. But I am having a truly tough time working up sympathy for hollowed out Delia.

I repeat that I am not complaining about my childhood. Not at all. Camping on the St. Croix is nice, I recommend it.

It's a fascinating article and it explains a lot.
Ken
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#7 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2020-December-15, 15:38

Its certainly the case that the people in this article dont necessarily make good financial decisions! Part of the point is that many Americans make bad financial decisions through a combination of lack of financial education, not talking about money, and wanting to maintain a quality of life that they may not really be able to afford.

The private school thing may be a misperception (does it help that much when applying to college? is getting into an elite college really so important?) but its a commonly held one. I think the key here is that this family was doing better financially before the 2008 downturn, and while they are still doing okay by most measures, the combination of trying to retain their quality of life pre-2008 when they perhaps cannot afford things like the private schools with the debt that they generated during the crisis is making things really tough for them.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#8 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-December-15, 21:17

Life has changed, no doubt about that. But we are still the same species.

Let me elaborate on my bike trip when I was 13. Of course I needed parental permission. My father was an involved parent, we hunted, fished and camped. But for such permission things I went to my mother and she agreed I could go. Then a day or so later she started having second thoughts. It was a difficult conversation, I persuaded her it would be ok, but by the time we finished I felt I had an obligation to her to return in one piece. I see this conversation that we had as so much better than sending me off to a private school so I can invent myself.

The 1950s were different from now. We could argue about better or worse, but definitely different. I find the article provocative, I will be thinking more about it.

And as to money: We were one of the first, maybe the first, families on the block to have a tv. I don't recall my age exactly, but the other kids came over and we watched Howdy Doody so I hope I was pretty young. My father took me with him shopping for it. I still recall the seriousness that came with such a major purchase. And he was clear that we would be paying cash. Of course, as always.
From time to time there are educational discussions in the newspaper and teaching financial literacy to adolescents comes up. I suggest teens be taught three lessons.
Lesson 1: If you can't pay for it in full right now, don't buy it. (A house, later, will be an exception.)
Lesson 2: Re-read Lesson 1.
Lesson 3: You can guess this.

Wednesday morning add-on.
Perhaps I am making too much of a simple article but the country is as divided as I have ever seen it and I have some thoughts.
In my college years the minimum wage was $1.00 per hour which at 40 hours per week for 50 weeks is $2,000. My father made about 5K a year. A friend was going with a girl whose parents were in financial difficulties. Their incme was 20K a year. I at first literally didn't believe it, I thought someone was putting me on. After I accepted it as fact I kept silent although my confusion showed I am sure. Basically, I thought her parents must be the stupidest people on the face of the Earth. Maybe I should send my father, the immigrant weather strip installer with an eigth grade education over to them to explain some basic facts of life to them.

So now I imagine Delia, whose 160K is about like the 1950s 20K, explaining to people making 40K, about like the 5K my father made back then, how the 40K people just don't understand things properly and should listen to the 160K people on important subjects such as how to vote.
Ken
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#9 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2020-December-16, 10:18

On the subject of finances, when my sons got old enough, I had them each get a credit card for purchases and made sure they paid the bill each month. As adults, none of them has run into financial problems, and they each had a good credit rating when it came time to buy a home.

Ken's recollection of his father reminded me of my grandfather saying, "If I can't pay cash for a car, I'm going to walk."

Of course he also said about automatic transmissions, "If I can't shift gears for myself, I'm going to walk." In his eighties, he took me out to his new favorite trout fishing spot, and I noticed that his car had an automatic transmission. He noticed me looking at the controls. Neither of us said anything.
The growth of wisdom may be gauged exactly by the diminution of ill temper. Friedrich Nietzsche
The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists that is why they invented hell. Bertrand Russell
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#10 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-16, 11:06

View Postthepossum, on 2020-December-14, 01:26, said:

Dear all



Maybe we will find out eventually who or what is resposnbile for the mess the world is in. It may well be too late.




"We have met the enemy, and he is us." - Pogo (Walt Kelly)
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#11 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2020-December-28, 05:07

View Postthepossum, on 2020-December-14, 01:26, said:

Maybe we will find out eventually who or what is resposnbile for the mess the world is in. It may well be too late.


Neo-liberal capitalism and the externalising of costs.
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#12 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-December-28, 10:12

View PostPassedOut, on 2020-December-16, 10:18, said:

On the subject of finances, when my sons got old enough, I had them each get a credit card for purchases and made sure they paid the bill each month. As adults, none of them has run into financial problems, and they each had a good credit rating when it came time to buy a home.

Ken's recollection of his father reminded me of my grandfather saying, "If I can't pay cash for a car, I'm going to walk."

Of course he also said about automatic transmissions, "If I can't shift gears for myself, I'm going to walk." In his eighties, he took me out to his new favorite trout fishing spot, and I noticed that his car had an automatic transmission. He noticed me looking at the controls. Neither of us said anything.




:) Similarities abound.

My 2013 Honda has an automatic transmission. This was a concession, an at long last concession, to Becky so that she could easily drive it if for some reason her Toyota was not available. Of course even an automatic allows the user to force the car to remain in first or second and I use this feature from time to time.

The automatics in the 1950s were not all that good, I remember the Buick version as being particularly squishy and wasteful. And i recall that with my 47 std trans Plymouth I easily beat my friend Denny in an early morning race. Denny was driving his father's much newer car that had an automatic. Denny also was more inclined to slow down for curves than I was so it wasn't all due to the transmissions. But I do recall being in front even before the first curve.

Ah youth. And to any sixteen year old reading this I should say that not everything I did, even if I enjoyed it, was a good idea.
Ken
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#13 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-28, 12:54

View Postkenberg, on 2020-December-28, 10:12, said:

:) Similarities abound.

My 2013 Honda has an automatic transmission. This was a concession, an at long last concession, to Becky so that she could easily drive it if for some reason her Toyota was not available. Of course even an automatic allows the user to force the car to remain in first or second and I use this feature from time to time.

The automatics in the 1950s were not all that good, I remember the Buick version as being particularly squishy and wasteful. And i recall that with my 47 std trans Plymouth I easily beat my friend Denny in an early morning race. Denny was driving his father's much newer car that had an automatic. Denny also was more inclined to slow down for curves than I was so it wasn't all due to the transmissions. But I do recall being in front even before the first curve.

Ah youth. And to any sixteen year old reading this I should say that not everything I did, even if I enjoyed it, was a good idea.


Luxury! I had a 1-legged mule that had died 12 years earlier and I had to get up before the sun went down, resurrect the mule with lightening, hitch the mule to an acre-sized plow, and then create the Mississippi River basin - all before breakfast - and then ride the mule backwards 147 miles to school, all the while being beaten with a mackerel wrapped in a newspaper.


But try to get kids these days to believe you..
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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