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Author Topic: Do things feel different today than in other decades?  (Read 2277 times)
superboyac
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« on: January 11, 2012, 03:52:48 PM »

I know we've had a couple of these threads already, and they aren't the most feel-good topics in the world, but I feel compelled to start another one.  I think about this all the time, I can't help it.  I would like this thread to remain civil and just stick to dry analysis and not let our opinions and feelings get too much in the way (even thought they will).  I'm also taking advantage of my new notetaker, RightNote, as far as doing research.  So here goes:

From 1950-1990, the wealth of the top 1% was the lowest of the century.  Now it is back to the highest it's ever been, and it is growing.  So if things feel different than it did when we were growing up, this is why.  Things really are different.  I was a child in the 80s and it felt like we were richer than we are now.  Not as much stress, easier to afford things, easier to get quality things.  It was easier to go to good universities.  It was easier to be charitable.  But now, such few people have sucked up an enormous amount of wealth, that those left behind have fewer opportunities and as a result we have to scrimp and scrap for anything that has monetary value.

What's a little scarier is that the trough you see below was preceded by World War II.  Our peak right now is back to the level it was at right before WWII.
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eleman
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2012, 05:26:24 PM »

Gini coefficient trend in the US supports your observation.

I also wonder what is going on with the income distribution on a global scale. Any data about that?
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superboyac
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 05:47:34 PM »

Gini coefficient trend in the US supports your observation.

I also wonder what is going on with the income distribution on a global scale. Any data about that?
Yeah, that's a good question.  I've just started this "research", so I'm new to all of this.  But if anyone knows, please chime in.
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superboyac
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2012, 05:50:34 PM »

Here's some more based on the graph below:

From what I can tell, the total net worth of the USA is $55 trillion.  The total net worth of these top 400 people is about $1600 billion.  So they have about 1% of the entire pie.  That's not so bad, I suppose, but they only represent 0.0001% if the US population.


The difference between the population in general and the rich population is obviously huge, on the scale of orders of magnitude.  But that's to be expected.  It's not socialism or communism, after all.  That's not necessarily bad.  It could just mean there's plenty to go around.  What I would eventually like to explore is if there is indeed plenty to go around...why is it so hard to get to?  And what is the significance of that?  But I don't know how true any of that is right now.
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rgdot
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2012, 06:04:45 PM »

People allow themselves to be part of the system that is "open" to going in debt and therefore lose wealth when a greater part of your pie has to go to paying interest. Actually the rich often pay with money they don't really have too, it is borrowed and carries interest, but they can afford it. How did they accumulate wealth? The system and the policies are set up to encourage wealth in fewer hands (AT&T buys the other guy, etc.) and this is only (relatively) rarely disallowed by anti-monopoly regulations.
I think if you superimpose those income disparity graphs over a 'number of government regulations' graph you will see the relationship between the two.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2012, 06:44:11 PM »

Actually the rich often pay with money they don't really have too, it is borrowed and carries interest, but they can afford it

and given their disproportionate value as a customer to the lending institutions, they are also 'eligible' for far more favourable terms than the vast majority.
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2012, 07:24:25 PM »

Different?

Well... Let's see...

When I was a kid in the 1980's, I read books like:

  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Brave New World
  • 1984

Today, I read the EXACT SAME STORIES in the news and watch them on Youtube:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg6ayc-w3bE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg6ayc-w3bE</a>


Different?

Yes.

In the 1980's I thought that those books were tales about lessons we had learned, and stories about things that we would never see come true because we'd already learned those lessons.

Today, they are a reality.

So, yeah. Things are different. Where I used to think that the boogey-man and monsters were just stories, I've since learned that they are very real. And the horror stories that I thought were just "stories", are all being played out right now.





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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2012, 08:08:25 PM »

I'd have to say things feel very different (to me) than they did in previous decades.

About the best way I can describe it is to quote part of the lyrics to Al Stewart's song On the Border:

Quote

In the village where I grew up
Nothing seems the same
Still you never see the change from day to day
No one notices the customs slip away

Late last night the rain was knocking on my window
I moved across the darkened room and in the lamp-glow
I thought I saw down in the street
The spirit of the century
Telling us that we're all standing on the border

In the islands where I grew up
Nothing seems the same
It's just the patterns that remain, an empty shell
But there's a strangeness in the air you feel too well


 tellme
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vlastimil
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2012, 05:10:42 AM »

It seems to me like every 20-25 years, the world changes in an unexpected way. Or at least, there is a serious movement that tries to push a change and possibly fails if the powers that be are still too strong. It may be because a new generation matures or maybe because the previous generation (~people who have the power) loses all credibility and becomes disconnected from the reality and focuses on marginal things.

In the nineties, the world has changed significantly. That's over 20 years now. Maybe we will be lucky and something great happens in the very near future. We just need to recognize it and support it, especially if it feels to good to be true.
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David1904
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2012, 01:52:41 PM »

For those interested in the distribution graphs, it may be worth having a look at the Wikipedia article on Pareto.
One section reads as follows:
 "One of Pareto's equations achieved special prominence, and controversy. He was fascinated by problems of power and wealth. How do people get it? How is it distributed around society? How do those who have it use it? The gulf between rich and poor has always been part of the human condition, but Pareto resolved to measure it. He gathered reams of data on wealth and income through different centuries, through different countries: the tax records of Basel, Switzerland, from 1454 and from Augsburg, Germany in 1471, 1498 and 1512; contemporary rental income from Paris; personal income from Britain, Prussia, Saxony, Ireland, Italy, Peru. What he found – or thought he found – was striking. When he plotted the data on graph paper, with income on one axis, and number of people with that income on the other, he saw the same picture nearly everywhere in every era"
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superboyac
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 04:04:33 PM »

For those interested in the distribution graphs, it may be worth having a look at the Wikipedia article on Pareto.
One section reads as follows:
 "One of Pareto's equations achieved special prominence, and controversy. He was fascinated by problems of power and wealth. How do people get it? How is it distributed around society? How do those who have it use it? The gulf between rich and poor has always been part of the human condition, but Pareto resolved to measure it. He gathered reams of data on wealth and income through different centuries, through different countries: the tax records of Basel, Switzerland, from 1454 and from Augsburg, Germany in 1471, 1498 and 1512; contemporary rental income from Paris; personal income from Britain, Prussia, Saxony, Ireland, Italy, Peru. What he found – or thought he found – was striking. When he plotted the data on graph paper, with income on one axis, and number of people with that income on the other, he saw the same picture nearly everywhere in every era"
fascinating.
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 04:27:55 PM »

For those interested in the distribution graphs, it may be worth having a look at the Wikipedia article on Pareto.
One section reads as follows:
 "One of Pareto's equations achieved special prominence, and controversy. He was fascinated by problems of power and wealth. How do people get it? How is it distributed around society? How do those who have it use it? The gulf between rich and poor has always been part of the human condition, but Pareto resolved to measure it. He gathered reams of data on wealth and income through different centuries, through different countries: the tax records of Basel, Switzerland, from 1454 and from Augsburg, Germany in 1471, 1498 and 1512; contemporary rental income from Paris; personal income from Britain, Prussia, Saxony, Ireland, Italy, Peru. What he found – or thought he found – was striking. When he plotted the data on graph paper, with income on one axis, and number of people with that income on the other, he saw the same picture nearly everywhere in every era"
fascinating.

Yes, but did you read on ... ?  Cry
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tranglos
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2012, 04:39:21 PM »

Today, I read the EXACT SAME STORIES in the news and watch them on Youtube:

Did you see this? That's precisely what Winston's job was, except now it's in near-real time.

OTOH, I don't believe this is actually new. I think it's been happening all along, but now (a) it's more in-your-face, more shamelessly done, and (b) we read more about it, which is partly due to the Internet, and partly due to (a).

Oh, and (c): we may read more about it, but the institutional press has become so corporatized that it no longer takes a stand on these issues or cares about them. What was a political scandal in the 70s won't raise a brow.

Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, recently said that all the illegal actions Nixon and his henchmen took against him in 1971 are now legal. Just that, legal. And he was told by several editors that today neither NYT nor WP nor any other big newspaper would print documents like these. That's a big difference, too.
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superboyac
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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 04:57:06 PM »

Today, I read the EXACT SAME STORIES in the news and watch them on Youtube:

Did you see this? That's precisely what Winston's job was, except now it's in near-real time.

OTOH, I don't believe this is actually new. I think it's been happening all along, but now (a) it's more in-your-face, more shamelessly done, and (b) we read more about it, which is partly due to the Internet, and partly due to (a).

Oh, and (c): we may read more about it, but the institutional press has become so corporatized that it no longer takes a stand on these issues or cares about them. What was a political scandal in the 70s won't raise a brow.

Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, recently said that all the illegal actions Nixon and his henchmen took against him in 1971 are now legal. Just that, legal. And he was told by several editors that today neither NYT nor WP nor any other big newspaper would print documents like these. That's a big difference, too.

i agree.  It seems like it takes more courage today just to have an OPINION, than it was before.  And with the main media outlets being big businesses themselves, it leaves the ideas that circulate among the majority of the population with no public outlet (other than personal blogs, discussion forums, etc...other "raw" outlets).  So all the "news" we get is all stuff that we really don't have any involvement with.  Like if I go to the top stories on google right now, its all global military news, some sports, some tragedy here...and it all gets harped on constantly on TV, cable, etc.  But none of this stuff has anything to do with our primary concerns right now: what is in store for my personal future?  Job opportunities, education opportunities, local shopping, retirement plans, opportunities for kids, etc.  This is what I see most people concerned with on a daily basis.  A drone lost in Iran means nothing to us, really.  We are seriously not worried about it on a personal level.  Our military has plenty of money and people in place to handle that (not saying they do a good job, but it's completely out of our hands AND we have tons of other REAL things to take care of right NOW).

I mean, even when they talk about jobs, the language is always stock-markety...like, "Nasdaq gains today based on news that 30,000 jobs were created in December."  I mean, who gives a shit??!  Where are those jobs?  How can I get one?  How can I guide my child to get one?  What are the jobs?  Is there a major I should study to get that job, is there a certificate I can get?

What's the point of such vague, useless information?  It has no personal value, it doesn't have enough relevant details to even make it educational...so what's the point?  Just waste our time...maybe gets me to stop thinking about my job so I don't bother people.  I don't know.  It's all pretty worthless to me.
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