Skip to main content

1952 recalled




A Facebook friend of mine has recently quoted Senator Bernie Sanders thus:

Bernie Sanders's photo.

She (my friend) then added her own comment:

There were a lot of things wrong with the 50's, but one parent working with another one staying home (which they owned) was doable when the onus of taxes wasn't on citizens.

There are so many different lines of thought that arise out of such claims., I almost replied thus:

One line of thought this suggests, (your comment, not Bernie's) is the size of the labor pool then and now. Were women staying home (after the riveting services of Rosie were no longer required for reasons of war) because their men could make enough money to support them comfortably? That's what you seem to be suggesting, though you prefer to state the fact in a gender-free manner that would have seemed off in 1952. Anyway: consider the other direction of causality. Perhaps the fact that women were expected to stay home helped keep the supply of labor for certain sorts of jobs low, and that allowed the salary-earning to do what you say was then but is now no longer "doable." At any rate, I don't see how that has a lot to do with what Bernie wants here, And I'm not suggesting a return-to-1952, any more than are you, but I am suggesting that the "things wrong" you mention may have been related to the things you see as having been right, and related in uncomfortably intertwined fashion.

But that would have been misunderstood as something other than analytical exuberance, so I've simply left it here instead.

I'll follow another line of thought tomorrow.

Comments

  1. Christopher,

    Your friend's comment contains two unstated assumptions for which she offers no evidence. First, she assumes that lower taxes on citizens played a significant role in the wealth that enabled families to get along on just one salary. Second, in the parenthetical, she implies that homeownership was more prevalent then than it is now. I don't know whether either of these assumptions is valid, and I suspect that your friend doesn't know either.

    Henry

    ReplyDelete
  2. My own suspicion, which I'm too lazy to research right now, is that she is wrong on the first point but right on the second. Wrong on the first because corporate taxes are not the "free ride" for non-corporate people ("citizens") that Sanders is suggesting. Those corporate taxes do get passed along to consumers and employees in various ways. Right on the second because in the 'Levittown' era right after WW II, with all those soldiers coming home and starting families, government policy was very favorable to housing, and probably created a glut.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It hadn't occurred to me that corporate taxes get passed along, but of course they do. I was thinking merely that, if taxes really were lower, the tax savings would not be sufficient to enable a spouse who otherwise had to work to quit work.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

https://sites.google.com/site/francescoorsi1/

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/article/view/3

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …