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The 1950s was it bucoloic. Or was dad closeted and mum a frustrated alcoholic?

The Good Old Days - Or, the Older I Get the Faster I Ran in High School.

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” ― Marcel Proust One thing that rarely changes is the sense in the older generations, that there is something defective in the younger generation. A sense that things were better in the 'good old days'. Certainly, there is a ...

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Really? - 9.14.14 - The GOP poor; Rubio's flip-flop on immigration; ISIS's cosa nostra; Palin's Nazi fantasy.

“In thy foul throat thou liest.” ― William Shakespeare, Richard III Owsley County, KY is the epitome of Mitt Romney's 47%. The 47% who will never vote for him because they are addicted to the public handouts larded on them by Obama and the Democrats. Owsley is the third poorest county in the US. ...

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The NFL Is Taking a Beating

"My quality of living has changed drastically and it deteriorates every day." Tony Dorsett on his chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The glorious new season for America's football gladiators has been overshadowed by one player's attack on his fiancée and another player's thrashing of his son. Not that any of this is ...

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'Charisma News' Believes That Intellectual Dishonesty is a Christian Value.

Evangelicals choose to devote a lot of effort to cherry-picking the Bible. Which is why they obsess over a few verses that appear to condemn gay marriage (sex). Jesus may have nothing to say on marriage - except that men shouldn't divorce their wives, unless they (the Bible supports polygamy) commit ...

Read the full article

Death in America - Why Does the Gun Lobby Resist Safety Measures?

What is the number one killer of Americans? Heart disease. Far fewer people die from gun shot. In fact more Americans die accidentally from drowning or poisoning than do by gun. So why spend effort sweating gun deaths? The answer is simple. For everything that kills Americans there is a movement ...

Read the full article

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” ― Marcel Proust

One thing that rarely changes is the sense in the older generations, that there is something defective in the younger generation. A sense that things were better in the ‘good old days’. Certainly, there is a large number who pine for the 1950s – for many the touchstone of America at its best. Which is odd, as most have no direct knowledge of the decade. Or at best, fuzzy memories of a golden youth.

The 1950s. Was it bucolic? Or was dad closeted and mum a frustrated alcoholic?

The 1950s. Was it bucoloic? Or was dad closeted and mum a frustrated alcoholic?

This longing for previous perfect times is a curse suffered most acutely by conservatives. Their remembrance of things past only heightens the feeling that their paradise is now irretrievably lost.

Which raises the question – was it better in the past? Have we left the halcyon days behind? It really depends on who you are. With that in mind, let’s look at the 1950s.

If you were white and middle class, or white and working class, your relative standard of living was higher. And it was good to be a guy. A father, working just one job. could buy a house and put his children through college. Strong trade unions guaranteed a living wage and benefits for the working stiff. Women may have enjoyed the rising standard of living – but it was a mad man corporate world. And the pill wasn’t on the market until 1960.

Blacks were still oppressed. Brown vs the Board of Education (1954) may have brought the legal end to segregated schools. But the practical end was far away. (Even today – even though there is no segregationist policy – many schools still reflect segregated communities.) And the civil rights acts that would end institutional racism were years away.

The beginning of the end?

The beginning of the end?

Back on the plus side of the ledger, America had the world’s best schools. We made things. The American Dream was still a reality – people at the bottom of the economic heap had a realistic path to the top. The rich were rich, but the middle class had a satisfactory slice of the pie. Corporate America contributed 30% of total tax revenue.

But even in the economic boom times, paranoia was rife. McCarthyism suspected reds under the nation’s bed. The USSR was winning the race for space. The godless communists were held in check only by the newly religious America. God was shoe-horned into the Pledge of Allegiance. And the national motto celebrating our diversity, “E Pluribus Unum” was jettisoned for the dismally formulaic  “In God We Trust.”

That was the state of play for the “Greatest Generation”.

So what of today’s youth? Are they the tech addicted, short attention span, snapchatterers of stereotype? Are they the basement-dwelling, indolent, self-confident, self-referential, do-nothings portrayed by the sniffing middle-aged? Two thoughts.

And they did - enthusiastically.

And they did – enthusiastically.

One, they are not a monolithic bloc – any more than any other generation. They run the gamut from high-achiever to stoner. Two – and far more importantly – they are the product of their parents. It is hubris to complain that the next generation is deficient, when it is you that raised them.

And those parents, themselves once the “youth of today”, were a roundly criticized lot at that. The oldest were the 1960s “summer of lovers”. The unwashed, longhaired, braless protestors, who trampled the well-earned order of the “silent majority”. The middle tier was the 1970s “me generation”. Who took more drugs – and had more sex – than any generation before or since.The youngest were the self-absorbed 1980s “yuppies” who worshipped at the altar of the God of Brands.

Gen Y – the grungy, gangsta rappers – is next into the parental fray. No doubt their spawn will be criticized for failing to meet the “high standards” of their parents. And down the road today’s “youth of today” will give way to the next “youth of today”. And the circle of life will keep spinning.

And every generation will yearn for the good old days.

*************************************************************

As an aside let’s ponder the question, “which generation came as the biggest shock to their parents?”

No ankle flashing for these flappers

No ankle flashing for these flappers

My candidate is the youth of the 1920s “Jazz Age”. Imagine mothers – who flaunted their sexuality with a flashed ankle and a bundled, bustled body -contemplating their daughters, with their body conscious draping fabrics and Charlestoning knees thrown high.

The youth of that day was fueled by illegal cocktails, black music and cigarettes. And unimaginable fumblings – and more – in the back seats of flivvers.

The parents of the Jazz age lived in a agrarian, rural America. Their children increasingly ran to the newly vibrant cities teeming with the huddled masses and their striving children. Children, who became the parents of the fifties kids. And I suspect the generation that was the most proud of the “youth of today”.

 

 

 

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Really? – 9.14.14 – The GOP poor; Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration; ISIS’s cosa nostra; Palin’s Nazi fantasy.

September 14, 2014

“In thy foul throat thou liest.” ― William Shakespeare, Richard III Owsley County, KY is the epitome of Mitt Romney’s 47%. The 47% who will never vote for him because they are addicted to the public handouts larded on them by Obama and the Democrats. Owsley is the third poorest county in the US. Fully 53% of the [...]

Read the full article →

The NFL Is Taking a Beating

September 13, 2014

“My quality of living has changed drastically and it deteriorates every day.” Tony Dorsett on his chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The glorious new season for America’s football gladiators has been overshadowed by one player’s attack on his fiancée and another player’s thrashing of his son. Not that any of this is new. The NFL’s history [...]

Read the full article →

Sex Looms Large, Especially For the Religious.

September 10, 2014

Every marketer knows that sex sells. Religious marketers are no exception. The Bible drips with sex; literature is awash in the seamy stuff. Religious prohibitions cover all manner of behaviors, from the correct way to sacrifice, to what to eat. But the modern Christian rarely talks of those. Instead it’s wall-to-wall sex. How else to [...]

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‘Charisma News’ Believes That Intellectual Dishonesty is a Christian Value.

September 9, 2014

Evangelicals choose to devote a lot of effort to cherry-picking the Bible. Which is why they obsess over a few verses that appear to condemn gay marriage (sex). Jesus may have nothing to say on marriage – except that men shouldn’t divorce their wives, unless they (the Bible supports polygamy) commit adultery. Yet somehow there is [...]

Read the full article →

Death in America – Why Does the Gun Lobby Resist Safety Measures?

September 7, 2014

What is the number one killer of Americans? Heart disease. Far fewer people die from gun shot. In fact more Americans die accidentally from drowning or poisoning than do by gun. So why spend effort sweating gun deaths? The answer is simple. For everything that kills Americans there is a movement to reduce its death [...]

Read the full article →

Does God Make You Good?

September 5, 2014

“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson Bob McDonnell ran for Virginia Governor as a family values conservative. Then he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And to try and save himself threw his wife under the bus – twice. First, he rejected an [...]

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The Empathy Gap – Kicking People When They Are Down.

September 4, 2014

“Let them eat cake” Marie Antoinette famously never said. In fact, there is little to suggest that she was that clueless about the lot of  18th century French peasantry, nor that unempathetic. But there are many in modern America who lack Marie Antoinette’s qualities. Empathy is the quality of seeing the world through the other [...]

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Why Are Americans So Scared – We Weren’t Always.

September 3, 2014

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf” ― George Orwell. Have we always been as scared as we are today? It seems hard to credit. Our creation story celebrates great patriots who placed life, limb and liberty on the line to wrest [...]

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