Are most Americans going to have to adjust to a lower quality of life?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by COMountainGuy, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. COMountainGuy

    COMountainGuy Member

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    I believe the answer is yes. We are now competing head on with Chinese and Indian employees who knock down $1/day.

    Some would point out that a similar phenomenon occurred with Japan and Korea and Taiwan. The problem with that analysis is that there are probably 100 Chinese and Indian worker for every J/K/T worker.

    ....perhaps I should say that "we were competing head on..................."

    The newest Indian car costs $2500 for example.


    Before someone attacks me, I would like to point out that my cars and tools are largely American. I own three Dodges. Their collective worth is probably less than $12,000 however.
     
    #1 COMountainGuy, Dec 25, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  2. B_nyvin

    B_nyvin New Member

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    If the middle class continues to shrink away, then yes most definately.
     
  3. Bbucko

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    Most Americans have been doing so for the last ten years at minimum. I doubt there's a soul on this board who'd disagree with the premise.

    Our manufacturing base has been MIA since when: 1980? Not everyone is cut out for high-tech or service jobs (though there's probably never been a better time to be a tradesman). The job losses we've seen since the Great Recession of 2008 are largely permanent. Until and unless we find some solid footing in the World Economy, there's nowhere to go but down. Pointing out the problem is simple: finding the solution will be complex and painful just like all changes.

    FWIW, that Indian car you mentioned has been in production for at least a couple of years and is marketed only in places with much lower safety standards than are permitted in the US.
     
  4. Jonesy98

    Jonesy98 New Member

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    Yes.

    For starters, the housing market is grossly inflated. Prices have GOT to come down, which means a lot of people are gonna lose their butts selling. At the same time, if interference is kept to nill, it will take MUCH less to own a home, which is great news for the next generation of owners.

    The dollar is being absolutely raped to its grave with no end in sight. Wages haven't increased in conjunction with inflation over the course of the last 100 yrs... our dollar will continue to buy less and less as time goes on and the gov't keeps printing money, until it is virtually worthless.

    By doing that they're also discouraging savings, which only contributes to the problem.
    Politicians are scared shitless of "savings" (how dare the people keep their own money!?), but savings are essential for future growth (Time Preference... I have money in my hand, I either want to spend it now, or "save" ~gasp~ it which really only means "spend in the future"). So by default, we can assume the dollar is going nowhere but down over the long-haul, which means we can't afford to maintain our current standard of living which is already in many instances bloated by credit and debt.

    If the US is gonna be around in 20 years we have GOT to humble ourselves, pronto.
     
  5. Riven650

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    Quality of life is a very subjective concept. We in the developed western world have been enjoying an era of ludicrous wealth. We have so much stuff and are so wasteful, but we are not happier because of it. I have often been humbled by the happiness and contentedness and generosity of some of the poorest people I have come across, and similarly been made to feel a bit sick by the meanness and grouchiness of some of the richest people. I think we'll just have to be prepared to get real as globalisation evens things even out a little.
     
  6. Domisoldo

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    Less than 2 decades ago, the richest person on the planet could not afford a cell phone.

    Now, every 5-year-old can get one for Christmas (yep, even the iPhone 4 is assembled in China).

    The coin of globalization has 2 sides. Although there are
    clearly winners and losers at the margin, we Americans can simultaneously benefit and suffer from it: as consumers, we vastly benefit in the form of lower prices and expanded choices, as workers, depending on the industry or career path, we can greatly suffer from the not-always fair competition from emerging economies.


     
  7. mwealex

    mwealex New Member

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    All depends on what you mean by quality of life. When I was a kid that meant having everthing you need, such as a good home, clothes, transportation and food. Now the phase is "everything you want". We as a society are very wasteful and have no savings, as one poster already pointed out. If we as a society would cut out the fat accumlated by an immediate gratification society our standard of living could be reduced while improving our quality of life.
     
  8. vanir23

    vanir23 Member

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    Um, not to be a d-bad but this thread is really begging the question. Wages have been stagnant for 20+ years. We've already become accustomed to a lower standard of living. I see nothing indicating that trend will change.
     
  9. BJs4You IL

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    I grew up in and now live in a town that was one of America's many small manufacturing centers. Now it is a center of poverty and very difficult to get a job in. Family businesses and family farms were the norm. Now everyone works for a large corp if they are lucky, and if they have the freedom of a small business then they are probably lacking in many benefits that large company employees enjoy. But the dollar has been buying less my entire adult life, no end in sight I think.
     
  10. B_nyvin

    B_nyvin New Member

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    You're confusing technological progress and cheap overseas labor with economic well being. Prices drop because they become easier to make and mass produced more. That's restricted to certain items like laptops or cell phones or whatever.
     
  11. Domisoldo

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    Thank you so very much for the Economics 101 lecture. I did make it through the 800 series :rolleyes:
    .

    Productivity, be it the outcome of technological progress, lowered trade barriers, or other reasons, has a great deal to do with economic well-being.

    If we are to find
    some silver lining in the current downturn, it may be in the productivity growth.

    As for your "Whatever" category, it includes most manufactured goods today, including "all-American" Boeing airplanes.

    Now, if you meant that we are confusing economic well-being with quality of life and happiness, indeed multiple studies have shown that past a certain threshold (squarely in middle-class territory), people generally do not become happier with more wealth.
     
  12. sargon20

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    Yes but that is the cheese that makes the rats run the little wheel that runs the planet.
     
  13. midlifebear

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    Domisoldo:

    It's interesting that you should mention Boeing. Just for the sake of example, since the first 707s were being bought up by the world's airlines I worked with programmers, engineers, and machinists who worked for Boeing at one or more times. This also includes family members.

    Because of the boom-or-bust management of that particular company I don't think I've ever heard any previous employees speak kindly about Boeing. They all act like brides left at the alter. Earlier in the late 1950s and through the 1960s France built some amazing long-haul passenger jet aircraft, but could never quite compete with Boeing. However, it was flaming obvious when the first Airbuses started flying that Boeing had some real competition. I remember the shock of climbing aboard a new Airbus run by SAETA (an airline that no longer exists) for a flight from Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The seats were ergonomically better designed and the idea of personal entertainment centers on the back of the seat in front of you was outrageously novel. They had intercontinental range, but weren't much bigger than a Boeing 737. A much more comfortable passenger jet than a 737.

    Still, Boeing won with their marketing and discounting to stay ahead as the world leader in passenger jets. Considering the general unhappiness/surliness of its employees it's amazing Boeing hasn't had more problems with their aircraft because, as I mentioned earlier, all the employees who were loyal to that company were regularly laid off to live on Spaghetti-Os and sure were cranky and not very enthusiastic about having worked for that company.

    I also knew just about as many machinists, programmers, and managers who had once worked for McDonnel Douglas -- people who still insisted that DC10s were safer than 747s. And remember Lockheed 1011s? I think UPS still flies the largest fleet of DC10s that are airworthy. In the early 1980s it was common to see bumper stickers on cars in Long Beach that announced, "I'm Proud to Have Worked on the DC10!" However, because of budgets dictating design, the redundancy of those DC10s was compromised by channeling all of the main hydraulics along side one another down the length of the plane. And there was that one time a bolt came loose causing an engine to drop off a wing and sort of proved that a DC10 could not really take off with only two of its three engines.

    Anyway, the Boeing of yesteryear no longer exists -- for good or bad. The electronics and wire harnesses are initially produced in China. Tail rudders are jobbed out to other Pacific Rim companies, and all the retrofitted electronics such as individual plasma TV screens for the passenger seats as well as the passenger seats, themselves, are jobbed out to foreign companies. It would take a lot to rebuild the USA's old electronic manufacturing infrastructure. And soon, you'll be enjoying the privilege of flying in equipment made exclusively in China.

    Still, Boeing won't die for a couple of decades. They have been able to re-invent the 747 into so many different flavors that it's still the favorite jumbo jet around the world -- until Airbus refines and can assure the same safety record for the Airbus800s. Unfortunately, like our family's trusty old Packard/Bell color TV, electronics are not manufactured in the USA any more. I bought the last TV still manufactured in the USA back in 1982. It was a flat screen Sylvania that had a sticker on the back that proudly shouted "Assembled in the USA!" Note the emphasis on "assembled." The heart and soul of the thing was a hybrid of Mexican and Taiwanese technology.

    COmountainguy's question is not unreasonable. And I can sympathize with where his patriotism lies. But to answer his question, I can't see blaming the current state of the USA's economy on leftist progressives, though they aren't free of sin. However, I clearly remember the first volleys by conservatives to "open" our markets to international free trade zones, the popularity in the 1970s to "break" unions, and I also remember the beginning of the end of government regulation starting with the Great Communicator -- President Reagan. Anti regulation is still a conservative battle cry and the poor assholes cannot see what damage it has already caused.

    I'm afraid Hamburger and Tuna Helper, Macaroni and Cheese, SPAM, and BeanyWeenie are to become, as they were in the mid 1970s, the staples of 'Mericuhn home cookin' for many years to come. Remember, it's never too late to start collecting hotdish recipes, or what the sweet spirits who live in Ewetaw call casseroles. Also, more Crockpots were sold during the last quarter of 2010 since the mid 1970s when they were first introduced. Think about it. Do you know of any better way to assure that squirrel cooks tender and tasty?
     
  14. D_Davy_Downspout

    D_Davy_Downspout Account Disabled

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    Ah, I see the 800 level is neoliberal economics. You left out the part where the economic well being of a relatively few people are the beneficiaries. Lowered trade barriers generally fuck the less developed country.

    Perhaps you should read Ha-Joon Chang as a refresher.

    Ah yes, the silver lining is labor exploitation, where we get increased productivity but not an increased share of the profits. Just like the past 40 years.

    In those of the industries where the labor can't be outsourced, of course.
     
  15. Drifterwood

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    Wages in China are roughly 10% (and rising) of those of their US conterparts. Of course, this is more than was paid to the slave labour in the US that did much of the labouring upon which the country was partly built. China also has some important natural resources which they are exploiting, much as the US did to the detriment of other producers at their time. What they don't have they are making strategic alliances to secure.

    China is folowing a well worn path of economic growth. There will be a time (already here for some products) when it is just as economic to manufacture outside China. Many of the Globlas have already moved for cheaper labour. But by then, the internal Chinese market will dwarf that of the US. Relatively, there are already more Middle Class people in China and that number will double in the next five to ten years, meaning more well off people in China than the US and Europe combined.

    I am afraid that the consequences of this are not great if you don't have any particular skill in the West. However, for producers of certain things, the growth of the Chinese market is a salvation.
     
  16. midlifebear

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    And tagging onto the comments of Drifterwood, this morning's Clarín devoted a three-page spread to the recent rescue of Portugal's financial future by purchasing loads of portuguese bonds. We may well see China using the Portuguese as cheap labor within the next year or so.
     
  17. Thedrewbert

    Thedrewbert Member

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    The biggest problem I have is the premise of the thread title. We should have adjusted back in the late 1970s when wages for the bottom 90% really started to stagnate. We've lived in the false premise that we were all rich for 30 years while blissfully ignoring the Mastercard bills piling up in the corner.

    Since 1976, the top 5% have successfully depressed wages against inflation, dismantled things like Public Transit because they were "too expensive", and inflated the cost of living in the housing and health car sectors while lowering taxes on themselves while promising that the lower taxes on the rich would mean more and better jobs for the rest of us. All in the name of "trickle down" theory which never materialized.
     
  18. midlifebear

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    Dear child:

    I understand your frustration and pain. But you weren't alive in the 1970s when the end of Viet Nam left the USA with double digit inflation with no end in sight. The first home I bought was a run down 4-plex below Coit Tower in San Francisco for which I signed a mortgage to pay off $85,000. That's when $85,000 was worth a Hell of a lot more than it is today. And the interest on my 30-year mortgage was 18%! This was decades before the creative ARMs were foisted on the unsuspecting hopeful 'Mericuhn public.

    However, one thing that could have been done to aid the economy and wasn't was the strict enforcement of re-engineering American automobiles to get vastly greater gas mileage. Instead, to counter the rise in the cost of importing foreign oil, Nixon's brain trust lowered the maximum speed limit all over the USA to 55 mph. The 31 to 40 mpg cars of today are bit too little too late. In 1954 Studebaker made stylin' five-passenger automobiles that had plenty of torque, didn't break down and got 27 mpg. Nothing, not even a VW Beetle, got 27 mpg in the 1970s.

    It amazes me (sort of) that men my age are still enamored with the idea of owning a 1967 Shelby or a bitchin' 1965 Camaro. Talk about being brainwashed to think stupid.
     
    #18 midlifebear, Dec 26, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  19. Thedrewbert

    Thedrewbert Member

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    I know about the high interest rates of the 70s. However, every adjustment that's happened since then has been to redirect wealth upward.

    Forcing wages lower via outsourcing.
    Union busting.
    Increasing available credit simultaneous to reducing wage increases, so now the American public can substitute credit for wages and then enjoy the luxury of interest charged on top of that.

    The the American public has bought the idea that tax cuts for the rich are a good thing because they too might be rich some day.... like if they win the lottery... or they slip and fall in the grocery store on a misplaced floor mat.

    Somehow, these tax cuts for the rich were supposed to result in more and better jobs for the American public.... to that I say... SHOW ME THE JOBS!

    Edit: My ire isn't directed at you Midlifebear. I generally agree with your posts in the Politics forum.
     
  20. midlifebear

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    Dear Thedrewbert:

    As a child of the 60s I still enjoy a love fest. I'm not disagreeing with you, either. However, there was very little the voting public could do during the 1970s except scrimp and save what little we could. Yes, from today's perspective it's obvious the rape of the middle class was well on its way. But at least homes were not overpriced by being outrageously over valued as they have been during the last 20 years. In the late 70s/early 80s there was an abundance of empty housing that would fall into disrepair unless the Department of Housing and Development found a way to help sell them off. If you had a good credit score it was possible to move into a 1950s stick-built brick home for as little as $500. While working for everyone's favorite software company (sarcasm) I also sold a load of those homes to coworkers who needed someone to help them figure out the HUD's excessive paperwork. Figure in that my commission was a whopping 6%, I had to push a Hell of a lot of HUD homes to make extra grickles and augment my primary income. And I had to do it during lunch or after 5:00 PM.

    Today, one of the biggest "teaching moments" is when great grand kids sell the family farm and suddenly realize that one million dollars isn't very much money. Yet it's so burned into the minds of everyone that a million dollars is a whopping sum that the general public buys into the idea that it is a lot of money. It isn't.

    I'm also amazed that Obama didn't just let the whole tax mess expire, especially for the rich. I easily fall into that $250,000+ more income bracket and me having to pay more taxes certainly wouldn't and won't make a difference in my economic lifestyle.

    As for jobs, first you have to have create goods or provide services. It will be along time before goods and services reach the same levels as pre-2008 in the USA -- if ever.

    However, if anyone has an interest in becoming a physician assistant or registered nurse in the USA, good paying jobs are available all over the country.
     
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