Are You Better off Than You Were 40 Years Ago?

Government has grown, but freedom has grown faster.

In the November 1968 Mechanix Illustrated, James Berry gave an eerily prescient glimpse of life in the typical American household today: “The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance…handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities.”

Though Berry was spot-on in predicting the technological advancements of the last 40 years, he didn’t say much about whether such progress would explicitly enhance the cause of freedom. Many libertarians, eyeing the relentless expansion of the state, worry that freedom is marching backward. But are we really worse off than we were 40 years ago?

This is a complicated question to measure. Wealth expands people’s choices, and Americans are fabulously more prosperous than they were in 1968. According to the Census Bureau, income per capita adjusted for inflation has doubled in the four decades since 1968, from $13,374 to $26,804. Non-wage compensation, in the form of employee benefits, has also increased greatly during that time.

There’s a better measure of living standards than raw wealth: consumption. By this measure, the United States is also doing very well. Luxury goods that few could afford in 1968 are now standard in most households, including poor ones. Writing in the July/August 2008 American, Michael Cox and Richard Alm, the senior vice president and chief economist and the senior economics writer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, reported that in 2005 a full 85 percent of households that are classified as poor by the Census Bureau have air conditioning (compared to only 36 percent in 1971); 97 percent have a color television (compared to 40 percent in 1971); 40 percent have an automatic dishwasher (as opposed to 20 percent in 1971); and almost 100 percent own a refrigerator (a 25 percent increase over 1970).

As Milton Friedman showed in Capitalism and Freedom, such wealth both feeds and is a byproduct of freedom. On one hand, freedom in economic arrangements produces wealth. This, in turn, produces a demand for more liberty, which then produces more prosperity. Thus, increasing wealth is usually correlated with increasing economic freedom. The deregulations of the airline, telecom, and trucking industries in the 1970s, and the marginal tax rate cuts and control of inflation in the ’80s, contributed to the widespread prosperity of the ’90s.

Yet, the wealth accumulation of the last 40 years has also made the government bigger. Real federal spending increased from $774 billion in 1968 to $2.5 trillion in 2008—a 225 percent increase—and federal spending per household grew from $11,800 to roughly $21,000 over that period, in constant dollars. This forms a libertarian paradox: economic freedom and wealth breed not just more political freedom, wealth, and choice but also more government.

While the nominal size of the federal government has exploded, spending and receipts relative to the size of the overall economy have not. So perhaps as the economy grows, the government is mainly tagging along. Figure 1 shows both as a percentage of GDP, one that has remained remarkably constant. Interestingly, marginal tax rates have also fallen drastically over time, raising an interesting question about the impact (if any) of marginal tax rates on the size of government.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry. The looming entitlement crisis when baby boomers start retiring will result in a massive expansion of federal spending that could shatter the balance between government and freedom. But we may not even have to wait that long for the state to catch up with the economy. The $700 billion bailout of Wall Street threatens to be the most sweeping government intervention into the nation’s financial markets since the Great Depression. And other economic policies being discussed are unlikely to be much better.

It’s not hard to point to other areas where government has grown and liberty yielded. Look no further than your morning routine. The federal government has put its imprimatur on the mattress on your bed (through the Consumer Product Safety Commission). The Federal Communications Commission regulates the transmission and content of your favorite morning show. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, regulate the coffee you drink and the sugar you add to it. The USDA regulates the milk you pour in the coffee, as well as cheese, butter, and other dairy products you might eat for breakfast. And the FDA has its say about the shampoo, soap, and toothpaste you use with water that’s regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Then there is the explosion in security measures. Airline travel regulations, increased surveillance, and growing databases are a few examples of government’s expansion in our lives. Add in state and local regulations—on smoking, eating transfats, or labeling menus—and you can get the feeling that we’ve lost our freedom.

That’s especially true if you’re behind bars, which a lot more people are these days. A recent Pew Research Center study shows that one out of 100 adults in the U.S. are imprisoned, an exponential increase since the 1960s. Trends in violent crime don’t explain this trend, but the war on drugs might. In a 2004 paper, the Princeton economist Ilyana Kuziemko and the University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt detailed how drug offenders now make up over 30 percent of all inmates in state and federal prisons, compared to less than 8 percent in 1980. The number of inmates with drug crimes as their most serious offense has risen from 24,000 in 1980 to near 400,000 today, a 15-fold increase.

But these vignettes don’t tell the whole story. Looking at the whole social picture, it’s hard to tell blacks, Jews, gays, and women that they are less free today than they were in 1968. As a woman, I can enter and leave the work world freely, whether I have kids or not. I can get an abortion, file for divorce, enter into a lesbian relationship, marry a black guy, or have several lovers, all without worrying about legal consequences (or being drummed out of polite society). While some restrictions persist, the breakdown of social barriers, many of them formerly enforced by government edict, has done much to increase my freedom and that of other once-restricted groups.

So is everyone freer today than in 1968 except for white men? Not exactly. White males—and men in general—are freer in an important way too. Just as it is today, in 1968 the U.S. was engaged in a war. But back then, the country had a partially drafted army, not the all-volunteer force that fights today. Draftees accounted for 30.4 percent (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam. The number of draftee deaths in Iraq: 0.

So I think we are freer today than we were 40 years ago. Now if only James R. Berry’s other prediction would come true: “Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.” Then life would really be sweet.

Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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  • ||

    "Wealth expands people's choices, and Americans are fabulously more prosperous than they were in 1968."

    Well, so much for the cranks who assert that the Federal Reserve has destroyed the American economy since the Fed began in 1913.

  • ||

    Forty years ago. I lived in a big house, I had no responsibilities, and my every need was supplied by this old married couple. All day long I played and frolicked. I had my food prepared for me, someone cleaning up after me, I didn't worry about money, or bills, or anything. I didn't even worry about getting laid.

  • ||

    Why do I not even have to read the article to know the upshot is "Don't worry, be happy!"?

  • SIV||

    Warren,

    Me too! Little did I know that in less than one full year later I would be shipped off to a government institution for grueling 7 hour "education" sessions.

  • ||

    I'm happy to see that de Rugy recognized that for the majority of people, freedom is significantly expanded due to greater equality of women, minorities and homosexuals. Though a nit to pick, she missed the fact that white men can also marry non-white women or men of all colors as an additional freedom.

  • ||

    I had a Big Wheel.

    Big Wheel < Car

  • Bingo||

    Better beer and more choices!

  • egosumabbas||

    50 years ago my grandfather worked in a steel foundry and was able to support a wife and *seven* kids.

    I now work as a software developer, a job that requires a much higher degree of specialization than my grandfather. Also the work we do (flight simulators) is far more complicated than forging steel. So far I am having difficulty supporting a wife and just one kid. I rent a house, and drive around in a rustbucket. I live debt free unlike many of my neighbors, but people were more debt free 50 years ago than today.

    My grandfather didn't have to worry about a fully armed gestapo busting down his door for smoking a doobey, but at least I get to blog about it. A bit of a toss-up I'd say.

    More fancy toys to play with does not equal more freedom.

    Also, you're relying on government inflation numbers in adjusting incomes, so there's a flaw in your methodology.

  • egosumabbas||

    Also, my father tells me that 2nd amendment rights were much more liberal back then than today. He knew some folks in the JBS, and they had tanks and bazookas (the commies never came in time for them to use them though)! Today you can't have so much as a pellet gun without some bureaucrat breathing down your neck.

  • ||

    Where's my fucking flying car?

    I'll add to egosumabbas: the missus and I bring down a low-6 figure family income and that's barely getting by for DC prices. I'm pretty tired of making more money than I ever have and having little to show for it other than a good bit of debt and a small house in a mediocre neighborhood.

    And before you say it, nope , we don't blow it all on consumer goods, much as I'd like to. We're way behind the curve, judging by the people we know at roughly the same income level, who seem to be in OK shape.

    But who knows, they could be mortgaging their future earnings to live it up now. I'd like to think that at least, becasue we're wondering why everyone else we know seems to be able to do more with about the same income.

  • ||

    So I think we are freer today than we were 40 years ago.

    I dunno know 'bout that.
    In 1970 I could stop betwewen B and C wings of my high school and smoke a cigarette. Ashtrays were provided and the lavatories didn't stink.

    In 1975 a Chief Petty Officer stood in front of the division at quarters talking about illegal drugs. The gist of it was "We deon't care what you do on your own time, just don't bring it aboard ship". In 1981 or '82 the military started drug testing and prosecuting those who failed. Of couse almost any job, especially with a company that does business with the government, requires a urine sample before they hire you and many want them on a random basis after.

    Three strikes laws, sex offender registration lists both have made an appearance in recent memory. In 1968, you could move to a different state and get a drivers license even if your previous one had been suspended/revoked. I don't recommend trying that today.

    Free speech zones. WTF? I naively thought America was a free speech zone in my youth.

    Some things are obviously better and some thing are obviously worse. Depending on my mood, the answer I give changes. I do know that this would never be allowed to happen today.

  • egosumabbas||

    Oh yeah you could also set off fireworks and burn yard waste. And raise chickens and rabbits in the suburbs. There were also more private schools and they didn't resemble penitentiaries like they do today.

    I will concede that the internet makes up for a lot of these losses of freedoms, and enables the use of counter-economics.

  • ||

    50 years ago my grandfather worked in a steel foundry and was able to support a wife and *seven* kids.

    I now work as a software developer, a job that requires a much higher degree of specialization than my grandfather. Also the work we do (flight simulators) is far more complicated than forging steel. So far I am having difficulty supporting a wife and just one kid. I rent a house, and drive around in a rustbucket. I live debt free unlike many of my neighbors, but people were more debt free 50 years ago than today.


    Your grandfather was also far more likely to die while at work than you are. Not to mention, the average square footage per family member has risen dramatically since your grandfather's day.

    Try comparing the standard of living of your grandparents and their kids to yours as opposed to simplistic comparisons. Considering the average household make $50 (considerably less than I'm guessing you make) and can support a family. Do you live in a comparably inexpensive place as your grandparents? You're quite likely comparing apples and kumquats.

  • egosumabbas||

    Speaking of loss of freedoms, back in the day, General Motors would do some freedom-loving things such as bank rolling the comic book version of "The Road to Serfdom":
    http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

    Now their CEO's are tripping all over themselves begging Uncle Sam to steal my money.

  • ||

    I had a Big Wheel.

    Big Wheel < Car


    I had a Spiderman Big Wheel.

    Big Wheel < Car < Spiderman

  • ||

    I'd really be interested in seeing this question polled among people who are are old enough to remember 1968. I have a feeling the results would be very, very different from de Rugy's conclusion.

  • ||

    I'm pissed at the state of the world in the short term, but taking the long term view we are definitely better off. I'm an optimist when it comes to freedom. I would rather be the present me in 2008 than the present me in 1968. And 1868 sounds downright miserable. Nostalgia is a weird malady. Who the heck wants smallpox back? Or the Great Depression? Or the draft? Or low life expectancies? High child mortality rates? Jim Crow? Not for me!

    The problem with the libertarian movement is that it's too pessimistic. Mark's comment on the cranks is spot on. I ran a Ron Paul meetup and a year and a half, and there wasn't a meeting that went by when someone didn't make the bold assertion that we were all doomed. We would have the Amero by December 2007, Bush canceling the election (no really!), and martial law by December 2008. China didn't call in its notes and evict everyone from the North American continent. None of it happened.

    The truth is that the human condition moves inexorably forward. We may stumble a bit here and there, but the future is going to be better than the past.

    What we really need is some form of freedom index that tells us how far we've come. Are we 75% free? 82% free? Did government snag 2% of our freedoms last year? The problem is that all of this is relative. The current statistics are bogus. If the government has been expanding every year since 1789, then how come it isn't up to 100% encroachment yet? Because freedom isn't a fixed size pie. Government is indeed growing every year, but so is our overall freedom and well being. The big question is whether our freedom is growing faster than the government? Call me a pollyanna, but I think it is.

    But that's still no excuse to ignore government expansion. Just think how much better we would be in 2008 if we could have halted the growth of government in 1968.

  • ||

    "Many libertarians, eyeing the relentless expansion of the state, worry that freedom is marching backward."

    I'm sorry, but freeom is not defined by how people treat each other, nor is it defined by how wealthy they are. Freedom is the lack of constraint by government. On that count freedom is definitely marching backward.

    I'm glad that the author fancies her life better now than then, but conflating freedom with goodies doesn't work for me. A gilded cage != freedom.

    Most of the article discusses how people forty years ago treated each other, and on that count she's correct. Many groups of people are treated better today. There were no laws that prohibited female CEO's. Granted, the idiots would read them and promptly place them in the circular file, but they wouldn't call the cops.

    Forty years ago, when you went to sleep at night, no one was subject to SWAT invasions, not even the guilty. Forty years ago, no one was subject to road stops. Forty years ago no one was searched before boarding a plane.

    Regarding that "wealth" thing. Forty years ago my parents didn't leave me with a national debt that boggles the mind. You're weathy? Say that after you're finished paying the bill.

    I could go on and on, but if you haven't gotten the point by now I doubt you ever will.
    Some things have improved, there's that draft thing, and violence against minorities is prosecuted (as it always should have been), but on the whole - we're screwed.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Re: egosumabbas vs. Mo

    Many of the "quality of life improvements" are debatable as far as whether they are gains or not. Is quality of life improved by living in a larger house even though that house comes with higher maintenance costs? For instance.

    I am not sure how to make the meaningful comparisons of standard of living that Mo wishes for. It is a difficult nut to crack.

    As for whether we are freer or not, JsubD gets it about right with the big "depends."

  • egosumabbas||

    @Mo:

    Okay Mo, let's compare apples to apples. The house I grew up in, a modest home, is now worth half a million dollars. There is no way I could possibly afford to live in it. There is little change in the neighborhood--nothing different about transportation or amenities (actually, the transportation is worse). Schools are basically of the same quality.

    This is in Lincolnwood on the edge of Chicago. There is also a MASSIVE loss of freedoms in a bunch of areas that would probably fill a novel.

    I had to flee the city to a medium sized town to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

  • ||

    People who point to our progress on race as evidence that we are so much more freer today than 40 years ago remind me of Bob Knight defenders. Whenever someone defends Bob Knight they always point to the fact that his players almost always graduated, were rarely criminals and Knight's programs never violated NCAA rules. The response I always have is "yeah that is great but did he really have to throw chairs and choke people to do that?"

    The same is true of our freedom. Yes, it is great the Jim Crow is no longer in place and people can marry other people of different races if they want and it is great that women are not told to stay in the home. But, was it necessary to take away so many other freedoms to do that? I am in many important ways significantly less free than my parents or grandparents. I have much less privacy. I hae to be much more careful about my publicly stated political views. I can't smoke in public. Can't have a drink and drive home. In many cities can't own a gun, although that is hopefully changing. In short my right to be left alone is shrinking daily. We are much less free than we once were.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Big Wheel < Steel tricycle
    Spider Man < Cowboys
    Spider Man Bigwheel < Steel tricycle with cowboy decals

  • egosumabbas||

    Actually, the schools in that area are increasingly run like penitentiaries (thanks to the nanny-state reaction to Columbine). I would never allow my children to go that public school now. Let's tack on the cost of private school to my already increased cost of living.

  • ||

    "here is also a MASSIVE loss of freedoms in a bunch of areas that would probably fill a novel."

    I think the massive increase in crime adversly affected our freedom as much as anything. We all pat ourselves on the back over ending Jim Crow. Honestly though, are the poor blacks today much better off than they were 50 or 60 years ago? Are they any more free living in neighborhoods over run with crime and Nazi police tactics than they were living in segregated neighborhoods? Not that we should go back to segregation, but it sure doesn't look to me like we have provided much better of an alternative.

  • Old farm boy||

    Big Wheel < Steel tricycle
    Spider Man < Cowboys
    Spider Man Bigwheel < Steel tricycle with cowboy decals < pony

  • Orange Line Special||

    Wait... George Mason University is home to yet another intellectual titan? How do they get so many pure geniuses to work for them? Hypnotism?

    But, seriously, when people decide to actually undercut the MSM then we'll see things really change. Despite being given an incredible distribution tool (youtube, etc.), almost all supposed freedom loving people either don't know how to use it or are trying to prevent it being used correctly.

  • ||

    One thing is for sure. If you are child, you are much less free today than you were 20 years ago let alone 40. If there is a real tragedy of late 20th Century America, it is how lawyers, yellow journalist and batshit crazy school administrators and parents have destroyed childhood.

  • egosumabbas||

    " Not that we should go back to segregation, but it sure doesn't look to me like we have provided much better of an alternative."

    Walk down to the South or West side of Chicago today and tell me whether or not it seems segregated to you.

  • 1968||

    On the planet Mars,
    where the ladies smoke cigars.
    Every puff they take
    is enough to kill a snake.
    When the snake is dead,
    they put roses on its head.
    When the roses die,
    they put diamonds in their eyes.
    When the diamonds break,
    it will be 1968.

  • ||

    "Walk down to the South or West side of Chicago today and tell me whether or not it seems segregated to you."

    Or even ended it for that matter. Good point. I live in Washington DC and none of those enlightened Obama supporting liberals who live west of Rock Creek Park have or would want any black people living their neighborhoods.

  • ||

    NOSTALGIA WAR!!!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    What Brandybuck said.

  • SIV||

    I'd really be interested in seeing this question polled among people who are are old enough to remember 1968.

    remembering '68-72 or so.

    40 years ago only the really fucked up kids were on psych meds and they went to a different school.School lunch the day before holidays was always a brown bag made up of surplus commodities from ag subsidy programs(ever wonder what happened to the "grade B" eggs?)They served peanut butter and nobody died from anaphylactic shock!.Saturday TV featured real cartoons--not infomercials. Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle meant you had epilepsy.Cool bicycles had a smaller front wheel and tall sissy bars. You could make them into choppers with an extra set of front forks.The law of diminshing returns was learned by over-pumping your Crossman 760 until you ruptured the seal on the air reservoir. The pool had a high dive (3 meters!) and nobody seemed concerned what you did until you were unconscious with your head split open and bleeding.

  • ||

    Like I said above. Things are better now thanks to ending segregation and technology. But why couldn't we have had all this end of segregation and new technology and still kept all of the good parts of what we had before? The good things of the past stand as an indictment of the present just as much as the bad things from the past give credit to the present.

  • egosumabbas||

    "NOSTALGIA WAR!!!"

    LOL, I'm actually only 27.

  • ||

    My God, SIV, how did you survive such a barbaric age? I feel sorry for kids now. I really do. There was a great article in the New Yorker this month talking about helicopter parents. There is a pediatric neurologist at Harvard who has done all of this research on risk taking and freedom. What she has found is that if you are not allowed to take risks and act on your own as a child, your brain never fully develops. We are producing a generation of kids who literally have not developed full cognative ability thanks to our insane ideas on child rearing.

  • ||

    From someone old enough (56) to remember:

    Would I go back to 1968 and give up all of today's goodies?

    In a New York minute.

  • ||

    "From someone old enough (56) to remember:

    Would I go back to 1968 and give up all of today's goodies?

    In a New York minute."

    Why not have the best of both worlds; 1968 freedom with 2008 goodies? I would go back to 1968, or anytime after the invention of antibiotics, if you gave me big bucks. Being a millionaire back then would be more fun than being one now because it was more exclusive. Places like Key West that are tourist traps now really were cool back then. Europe was much less traveled and cooler back then. Also, you could go to the middle east in reasonable safety.

  • SIV||

    iPods are over-rated. Give me cherry bombs and M-80s. The real kind that could destroy mailboxes,metal trashcans and whole schools of fish.

  • SIV||

    I wouldn't want to go back before antibiotics or I'd have a little headstone with a lamb on it.

  • ||

    It is all what you were used to. I can remember thinking 8 tracks sounded pretty good. Having never heard a really high end stereo much less what we have now, I didn't know the difference. Like I said above, no way would I want to be a kid no days. I take the cherry bombs and freedom of the video games, cell phones and ipods any day.

  • egosumabbas||

    "We are producing a generation of kids who literally have not developed full cognative ability thanks to our insane ideas on child rearing."

    Is that why I thought everybody in college was retarded?

    Did you know that in the 1950's people actually dressed in suits when they went to class, out of self-respect and because they took it seriously? Oh and you could smoke in class too.

  • ||

    Forty years ago, no one was subject to road stops.



    Forty years ago road stops were routine. Maybe not in your neck of the woods, but they were in mine. I distinctly remember road stops inspections. The inspections were for smog compliance, as I recall.

  • ||

    I'd really be interested in seeing this question polled among people who are are old enough to remember 1968. I have a feeling the results would be very, very different from de Rugy's conclusion.

    I'm old enough to remember 1968. Back then, women had a hell of a time getting a decent paying job. Now I'm married to an orthopedic surgeon who makes way more money than I ever could.

    2008 -- better on this issue.

    1968 -- family owned a single 13" black and white TV that got a handful of heavily censored broadcast channels. We drove around in this shitty, poor-handling, unreliable 1963 Pontiac station wagon with an AM radio. No internet. No personal computers. Too poor to afford long distance calls. Porn consisted of lame issues of Playboy, if I could find someone who had an issue. Reason was a cheesy low circulation zine.

    2008 -- Where to begin? So much better on all fronts for technology.

    1968 -- if bad things happened to you medically, you had a good chance of dying.

    2008 -- I've survived metastatic melanoma, while with 1968 technology I'd be dead or dying.

    Bottom line -- we're on an exponential growth curve for technology. Read Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near".

    Despite the government's best efforts to screw things up, life is much better for most people than how it was 40 years ago, and it's about to get exponentially better in the near future.

    Your personal results may vary.

  • ||

    over-pumping your Crossman 760 until you ruptured the seal on the air reservoir

    One word, dude: shuriken.

    Give me cherry bombs and M-80s. The real kind that could destroy mailboxes,metal trashcans and whole schools of fish

    Buy some Triple Seven and make them yourself, dude. It's not like it's hard.

  • ||

    I hae to be much more careful about my publicly stated political views.

    Seriously? You're saying that you have to worry about going public with your views and comparing it with the era of the Red Scare and McCarthyism?

    Can't have a drink and drive home.

    But you can worry about not getting killed by a drunk driver. People who complain about the existence of drunk driving laws are douchebags, pure and simple. There are an assload of valid complaints about how drunk driving laws are enforced, but not their existence. Why not complain about not being able to fire a gun in the air in a crowded city or being able to burn crosses on people's lawns. (Note: I am not calling you a klansman)

    Is quality of life improved by living in a larger house even though that house comes with higher maintenance costs? For instance.

    The free market answers that. Ceteris paribus, a larger house is worth more than a smaller house. Therefore a bigger house is "better" than a smaller house.

    The house I grew up in, a modest home, is now worth half a million dollars.

    What was it worth back when your parents bought it, in that years' dollars?

  • Paul||

    Well, so much for the cranks who assert that the Federal Reserve has destroyed the American economy since the Fed began in 1913.

    They're not done yet.

  • ||

    Oh, and I'm listening to Pandora right now, the alternative indie station, Hate to Say I Told You So by The Hives is on right now to be specific, on expensive Sony headphones that have great sounds.

    Waaaaaay more awesome than 1968.

  • egosumabbas||

    You'd think with the advent of modern medical technology parents would be LESS worried about kids playing with cherry bombs.

  • ||

    With stop loss and ready reserves, I would say that the draftee deaths in Iraq are probably a number greater than 0.


    I also look back at the activities I did while growing up (skate boarding, cliff diving, etc.) and see NONE are legal in my hometown anymore. Kids can basically stay in their yard or join a town organized activity. Our big liberties may erode slowly, but our small liberties have all but disappeared.

  • ||

    "Did you know that in the 1950's people actually dressed in suits when they went to class, out of self-respect and because they took it seriously? Oh and you could smoke in class too."

    People used to be clean to. If there is one thing that really bugs me about today is the hillbillization of America. No one dresses up to go anywhere anymore. A suit is now "black tie". Go to a grocery store or a fly on an airplane and people just look like dirty hillbillies. My father grew up very lower middle class. His father died when he was 5 and they had to live with his grandparents. Yet, you never see a picture of him during his youth where his clothes weren't clean and he wasn't properly dressed. It doesn't take much money to wash your clothes and bathe. It just takes a bit of pride, which a bunch of people no don't seem to have.

  • Paul||

    Sign Sign everywhere a sign
    Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
    Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign


    That's how I sum up the modern situation. Progressives are putting up most of the signs. Irony? You decide.

  • ||

    John, how old are you? You seem a little young to be romanticizing "the old days".

  • Paul||

    People used to be clean to. If there is one thing that really bugs me about today is the hillbillization of America. No one dresses up to go anywhere anymore. A suit is now "black tie". Go to a grocery store or a fly on an airplane and people just look like dirty hillbillies.

    Yeah........

    I remember we used to dress up to make a long distance call.

  • ||

    I hae to be much more careful about my publicly stated political views.

    Really?

    Fuck Obama. He's a (charming, statist) asshole.

    Fuck Bush. He's an asshole.

    I'd like the federal government to be taken down by an armed rebellion of pissed-off citizenry and replaced with something remotely Constitutional, rather than the kleptocratic mob rule we have now.

    Not the least bit afraid to say all of the above.

    WTF are you afraid of? I've been saying stuff like this for years and nobody has ever shown up and told me to shut up or else.

  • ||

    Honestly though, are the poor blacks today much better off than they were 50 or 60 years ago?

    Honestly, the percentage of blacks in poverty has decreased dramatically. Is life in the inner city ghetto worse? I'd say yes. Most blacks don't reside there. The mythical average African American is so much better off than in 1968 arguing otherwise seems almost is demonstrably stupid.

  • ||

    "What was it worth back when your parents bought it, in that years' dollars?"


    A lot less than now. The housing bubble has been a crime. Greenspan and later Bernake pumped up the housing market to avoid a recession and raised the real price of housing and thus lowered everyone who didn't already own a home's real wealth. It was absolute madness. People bitch about Bush over Iraq, Iraq is nothing compared to the housing bubble. That was the fuck up of the century or maybe the crime because I think they meant to do it as a way to buy off the baby boom.

  • Paul||

    You seem a little young to be romanticizing "the old days".

    Give him a break. It's all relative. To some, "the old days" are 1991.

  • Paul||

    Honestly though, are the poor blacks today much better off than they were 50 or 60 years ago?

    Word. It makes one wonder if there will ever be a black man who holds a high office?

    Hmmmm... a man can dream, though......

  • SIV||

    I'm old enough to remember 1968. Back then, women had a hell of a time getting a decent paying job.

    The only kids I knew with working mothers came from "broken families".Women didn't have to work.
    Women could work at decent jobs if they wanted to, my first pediatrician was a woman.

    We didn't have color TV until I left for college.Now I buy DVDs of the TV shows and movies I enjoyed on that B&W set(no remote, pliers for a channel changer, move the antenna too) because they are better than what we have now.

    Playboy? How about the Sears catalogue and your sisters issues of SEVENTEEN?

    While there has been medical progress since 1968 it is not anywhere near the level from 1928-1968.There are more antibiotic resistant infections from a decline in hand washing by "medical professionals".I'd rather have heart surgery now, infectious disease? not so much difference and in some ways worse than then.

  • ||

    "John, how old are you? You seem a little young to be romanticizing "the old days"."

    I am 38, but I turned 40 the day after I turned 5. All of my siblings were from 7 to 13 years older than me and children of the 70s. I remember the 70s better than most of my age. Because I spent my life chasing and trying to be like my older siblings in the 70s, I really remember them. No, I do not remember the 50s. But even in the 1980s, you didn't see the number of dirty people you do now. People who just don't care how they look or dress. Maybe I am romanticizing but I just don't remember seeing many 300 lbs women in dirty spandex wandering through the grocery stores back in the day.

  • egosumabbas||

    Also, why is the house I grew up in went up in market value, is somehow "better"? You'd think that *I* would be the best judge if something is better or not, having lived in it, not the masses of unwashed home buyers. That would be like saying Britney Spears is better than Mozart because she sold more CDs than he did.

  • ||

    People used to be clean to. If there is one thing that really bugs me about today is the hillbillization of America. No one dresses up to go anywhere anymore. A suit is now "black tie". Go to a grocery store or a fly on an airplane and people just look like dirty hillbillies. My father grew up very lower middle class. His father died when he was 5 and they had to live with his grandparents. Yet, you never see a picture of him during his youth where his clothes weren't clean and he wasn't properly dressed. It doesn't take much money to wash your clothes and bathe. It just takes a bit of pride, which a bunch of people no don't seem to have.

    They used to know how to spell and properly use "too", too. Now people are too goddamned lazy to check their spelling even though they have easy access to spell checkers.

    By the way, being able to wear whatever the fuck you want when you go out is called "freedom". I know you rank it below the freedom to get sloshed and get behind the wheel, but I like not having to wear a suit to work. I've done it before and found the experience to be highly over-rated. Especially in the summer.

  • ||

    "Honestly, the percentage of blacks in poverty has decreased dramatically. Is life in the inner city ghetto worse? I'd say yes. Most blacks don't reside there. The mythical average African American is so much better off than in 1968 arguing otherwise seems almost is demonstrably stupid."

    How many black kids are raised in a two parent home now versus then? How many black teenagers die a violent death now versus then? How many black men were in prison then versus now? Yes, there is a black middle class now. But, that isn't everything.

  • BDB||

    "Maybe I am romanticizing but I just don't remember seeing many 300 lbs women in dirty spandex wandering through the grocery stores back in the day."

    I think this started in the late 80s. I hate it, too.

  • ETJB||

    Personally it often depends on who you are and were you are sitting as far as how much freedom has grown.

    * We have greatly expanded suffrage, but have also greatly restricted candidacy and or party rights.

    * We have expanded the Federal Bill of Rights to the States, thus ensuring a minimum standard for civil liberty, but the 2nd Amendment was only recently really dealt with and sometimes i wonder what how the court rules on the others.

    * Technology has given rise to tv, radio, cable, internet, CDs, DVDs, games, bloggers and cell phones which all change how and when we communicate, debate, discuss, even plays with ourselves. Yet, each has raised tricky 1st amendment issues and access and diversity are always a nagging criticism.

    * We got rid of the anti-gay criminal laws, but neither major party is terribly interested in a 'color blind' legal system when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity.

    * Drug laws have become much harsher to the point where it seems almost illegal to attempt to debate or criticize drug policy, even when it comes to a legal drug like booze.

  • ||

    "By the way, being able to wear whatever the fuck you want when you go out is called "freedom". I know you rank it below the freedom to get sloshed and get behind the wheel, but I like not having to wear a suit to work. I've done it before and found the experience to be highly over-rated. Especially in the summer."


    Yes Mo, today you have the right to be a dirty no class hillbillie. Good to hear you are using it liberally. The "sloshed behind the wheel" is an excellent touch. Yes, everyone who has ever had a drink and driven a car is "sloshed". The violations of privacy and due process that take place every day in this country in the pursuit of stopping drunk driving are certainly justified.

  • BDB||

    I was a child in the late 80s and early 90s. I had a completely un-safe treehouse I broke my arm jumping off of once, I shot BB guns, I didn't wear a helmet when I rode a bike, there was a very tall high dive at my local swimming pool. I don't know when this stuff about kids being shielded from everything started, but I don't remember it. Would being in a rural area vs. a suburb make it different?

  • SIV||

    Prolefeed,

    I'll say the radio in a major market was better back then as long as you had FM.
    I was way to young but Jimi Hendrix played at the stock car track here around 1968.The Velvet Underground played the art museum 2-3 years earlier.

    Don't get me wrong, I like living now.I just don't think it is net better.I wouldn't want to be a child growing up now.

  • BDB||

    I also played pretty "violent" video games. I guess if you can still call Wolfenstein 3-D "violent" now.

  • ||

    BDB,

    I think it happened in the 90s sometime. I didn't notice the ludacris helmets on bikes until the last few years or so.

  • ||

    i can remember my department at university having a 100th anniversary. they took a picture of all of the students and professors on the large stone stairs of the entrance. the picture of 2006 was placed next to a picture of the class from 1906.

    in 1906 everyone was a white male, but sharply dressed in clothes that would be unthinkable today. in 2006 everyone was wearing some form of jeans and a t-shirt, but it was about 45% women, and 75% white.

    the comparison was, fascinating.

  • ||

    The other thing that sucks about today is how everything looks the same. I have been to nearly every state, all but a couple in the West and Alaska and Hawaii, at some point in the last 15 years. It is the same stores and restaurants wherever you go. It gets depressing after a while.

  • BDB||

    Well I was a teenager by the mid to later 90s so that is probably why I never saw it. I don't remember even one kid wearing a bike helmet or pads, even the ones with semi-psycho parents.

  • kinnath||

    Born in '57. By 1970 I had seen:

    The assasinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King

    Race riots all over the place

    The 68 Democratic convention in Chicago

    As well as:

    Dozens of rocket launches and the moon landing

    The Beatles

    Free love

    And so on.

    Most people are addicted to drama. The world gets better and safer so they find or create new problems to worry about.

  • ||

    Yes Mo, today you have the right to be a dirty no class hillbillie. Good to hear you are using it liberally. The "sloshed behind the wheel" is an excellent touch. Yes, everyone who has ever had a drink and driven a car is "sloshed". The violations of privacy and due process that take place every day in this country in the pursuit of stopping drunk driving are certainly justified.

    Barking up the wrong tree. I dress pretty cleanly and neatly (though only in a suit if I have too). I just don't give a shit what other people wear. I'm perfectly comfortable hanging out with people that wear whatever the fuck they want. Just because I think gay people should be able to get married doesn't mean I want to marry a dude. It's the same principle, to each their own.

    As for the drunk driving comment, you're reading comprehension is clearly lacking because I said, "There are an assload of valid complaints about how drunk driving laws are enforced." By the way, unless you're a 90 lb girl, you can have a drink and drive. In fact, at my weight, I could have 3 drinks and still be under the legal limit. According to this calculator, I could have 4 beers in an hour and still be legal.

  • ||

    One other point for 40 years ago; no HIV. HIV puts a serious kink in people's sexual freedom. There was about a 40 year window between the end of syphilis as a life threatening disease and the rise of HIV. I am sure it was nice while it lasted.

  • ||

    I'm old enough to remember 1968. Back then, women had a hell of a time getting a decent paying job.

    The only kids I knew with working mothers came from "broken families".Women didn't have to work.



    Au contraire. I had a working mother. Full time at the bank. She was the general teller of her branch before she was 50. She had a high school diploma and started out in safe deposit boxes. Unlike today it was unusual but hardly scandalous. Most of my schoolmates had stay at home moms back then, but I don't think anyone denigrated her working full time while raising a brood.

    It's all a mixed bag of victories and losses. X steps forward, Y steps back. I'm confident that if people don't keep fighting for freedom, pushing the envelope as it were, Y > X will be the result.

  • ||

    Yes Mo. People can wear what they want and I am free to object to it.

  • Paul||

    The world gets better and safer so they find or create new problems to worry about.

    It's the news. Really, what is the state of the world? Watching the news is just watching the same shit, over and over, but happening to different people. Except Africa. Africa is the same shit happening to the same people. Seems to be a lack of new ideas over there.

    They used to know how to spell and properly use "too", too.

    I partially disagree. There was a time when fewer people were educated, but those few were better educated. Now everyone gets the same cookie cutter education so, much like public healthcare, everyone gets it, it's just relatively poor quality.

    I'm not sure if that's necessarily a bad thing, though.

  • ||

    The question, John, is did you have to walk uphill through the snow both ways?

  • ||

    1996. 1996 seems to me to be the time when progressive liberalization of America stepped in to destroy childhood. Being born in '86 I am throughly convinced that people +- 3 years of my age are the last generation to have a "real" childhood.

    Two things destroyed childhood, the reaction to Columbine-like events, and technology like cell phones. It is now possible for parents to monitor and micromanage every part of a child's life and the government is all too willing to help.

  • BDB||

    phalkor -

    I was born in '84, so that makes sense. By 1996 I was in Middle School, and Middle School always has and always will suck and suck hard regardless of the decade.

  • rhywun||

    Would being in a rural area vs. a suburb make it different?



    No. I grew up in the "inner city" in the 80s and had the same freedom as you (minus the BB guns - actually my older brothers had BB guns and I suppose I could have had one too if I had had any interest in that sort of thing).

  • ||

    No Epi, I rode my pony uphill both ways in the snow. He was good beast and handled it well though.

  • ||

    Now I'm married to an orthopedic surgeon who makes way more money than I ever could.

    In 1968, my doctor was a woman, too.

    That technology usually advances over time is a given. Technology ain't necessarily freedom.

  • kinnath||

    It's the news.

    It's all Ted Turner's fault -- fucking CNN with 24 hours a day of time to fill with news ;-)

  • ||

    By the way John, it doesn't sound much like you like freedom. It sounds like you want to live in some idealized Happy Days existence. Everywhere "looks the same" because businesses have expanded into other areas, due to free commerce. Of course, the upside is that you can eat strawberries everywhere in January and now Coors has rightfully lost its mystique on the East Coast. People dress "like dirty hillbillies" because they have the freedom to wear whatever they want.

    You'd better hurry, I think there are kids on your lawn.

    As a postscript, technology has destroyed one freedom I had when I was younger. Thanks to the accursed caller-ID, my kids will not be able to prank call at whim as I did as a kid.

  • SIV||

    Safety < Fun

    I see rural kids unsupervised with guns, ATVs,fireworks and trampolines .I don't see unsupervised middle class children at all(below 15 or so)in the suburbs and urban areas today. Rural and lower class children have more autonomy and freedom.

  • BDB||

    "1996 seems to me to be the time when progressive liberalization of America stepped in to destroy childhood."

    It is being crushed from both ends. Hillary Clinton/Lieberman/Tipper Gore liberals that did stuff like restrict video games, music, etc, and fundie evangelicals that tried to make everything revolve around church. Usually now a parent is either the former or the latter.

  • Paul||

    It's all a mixed bag of victories and losses. X steps forward, Y steps back.

    Couldn't agree more. For instance, we're better educated, have more access to food, more of us get some kind of healthcare, even the poorest among us often have a car, maybe a cell phone, and have access to greater amounts of wealth than ever before.

    It's just that Bill of Rights thing doesn't carry the same weight it used to.

    When I was growing up in the 70's, someone, somewhere would always get into an argument which would elicit the response: "Hey man, it's a free country".

    I haven't heard anyone on the street say that in two decades. What means this?

  • ||

    Mo,

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere. I am fully aware of how lousy things were back in the day. A decent restaurant was unheard of in many parts of the country. The Olive Garden got big because in many places it was better than anything available. That said, that doesn't mean I want a Gap on every corner. If you think the same homogonized mall on every corner is a great thing, good for you. I just don't find it appealing.

  • BDB||

    "A decent restaurant was unheard of in many parts of the country. "

    I can't imagine having only Bud/Miller/Coors for beer and Foldgers for coffee. God that must have sucked.

  • ||

    I don't find it appealing, but part of life is accepting the good with the bad. The medicine that prevents the expansion of chains would be far, far worse than the prevention of chains.

  • ||

    SIV -- I'm glad my kids are growing up now and not in the 60s like me. Some things better, some things worse, but overall much better now.

  • ||

    Come on BDB, you had Hams and Olympia and PBR to. And if you lived in Texas Lone Star and Pearl. Actually for its time Lone Star is a decent beer and Shiner must have tasted like mana from heaven if all you had ever drank was Bud or Coors.

  • BDB||

    Isn't Lone Star basically re-packaged PBR though?

  • ||

    I can't imagine having only Bud/Miller/Coors for beer and Foldgers for coffee. God that must have sucked.

    When Sam Adams came out it was like a revelation. And I'm not even that big of a Sam fan.

  • ||

    "Isn't Lone Star basically re-packaged PBR though?"

    Really? I have heard that but I am not an expert on the subject. Maybe it is. I always found Lone Star to be half way drinkable. I refused to touch PBR. If Lone Star is just PBR in a cooler package, that is pretty funny.

  • BDB||

    The first beer I snuk was Sam Adams. If I had been born say 10 years earlier, it would have been a Miller High Life. In that way, I'm lucky I was born when I was.

  • ||

    "When Sam Adams came out it was like a revelation. And I'm not even that big of a Sam fan."

    When i was 15, a friend of mine brought back some Linenkugal from Wisconsin. It was like this wild exotic stuff. Bud never tasted the same after that. We were ruined for life.

  • BDB||

    I just know they're owned by the same company and IIRC made in the same brewery now.

  • ||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Star_(beer)

    BDB,

    Lone Star is not repackaged PBR.

  • BDB||

    Eh, I never tasted it. I just had a college buddy from Texas and he claimed that it was just PBR in a different can. PBR sucks though. Miller High Life > PBR in terms of cheap-ass hipster beer.

  • ||

    When Rolling Rock is the better beer to pick at the package store, you are in a world of shit. When Grolsch is exotic, it's bad. And when Heineken is considered a premium beer, it's a nightmare.

  • ||

    Aren't all American beers owned by the same company these days? I know Sam Adams long since got bot ought along with Rolling Rock, Lines and pretty much every other regional beer. I think Shiner is the only legit regional beer you can buy anymore in that it is not a micro brew and is still made in the same place by the same company it always has been.

  • BDB||

    "Episiarch | November 24, 2008, 2:22pm | #
    When Rolling Rock is the better beer to pick at the package store, you are in a world of shit. "

    I'm glad I live on the eastern seabord, because even in the most backwoods redneck rural gas station you can at least find Yuengling or Rolling Rock if nothing else.

  • ||

    Oh, how I love Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat. Beer that tastes like Fruity Pebbles has no right to be that good.

  • BDB||

    Yuengling is a legit regional beer. It is privately owned, and Dick Yuengling won't sell out.

  • ||

    "With a name like Dick Yuengling, it has to be good."

  • SIV||

    I can't imagine having only Bud/Miller/Coors for beer and Folgers for coffee. God that must have sucked.

    It wasn't like that at all.Store beer coolers used to be full of different brands.Coffee shelves too.They might have varied somewhat less but they were all distinctly different.

    You wouldn't have believed the variety in cagarette brands,and you could smoke everywhere at any age.

  • ||

    John, try the Oskar Blues offerings. Particularly the Scottish Ale.

  • Fluffy||

    I will get called a misanthrope for this, but I think some parts of life have degraded somewhat in the US due to overpopulation. It's hard to put a dollar value on it.

    There are parts of the country that simply were better places to live in 1975 because there were fewer people trying to live there. Certainly this is true of California, Florida, Hawaii, many suburbs in other areas of the country, etc. Manhattan is nicer now than in 1975, but most other cities are not. Watch a documentary about surfing in CA or HI in the 60's and 70's and carefully watch the backgrounds and then try to tell me that those places haven't been absolutely destroyed. It costs more to live there now, but it's worth less. I know that sounds perverse and it's falsifiable economically ["Why are people paying more to live there if it's worth less?"] but it's true.

  • SIV||

    Now you cosmotarians are dissing Pabst? What next,iceberg lettuce, white bread and gas-guzzling American V-8 engines?

  • BDB||

    "SIV | November 24, 2008, 2:28pm | #
    Now you cosmotarians are dissing Pabst? What next,iceberg lettuce, white bread and gas-guzzling American V-8 engines?"

    What are you talking about? Where I live all the ultra-liberal hipster art students guzzle the stuff.

  • Fluffy||

    Everywhere "looks the same" because businesses have expanded into other areas, due to free commerce.

    Um, no. Everywhere looks the same because local governments demand a type of development that looks a certain way, and that development mode is only economical if large national chains occupy the spaces. And everywhere looks the same because the government invested taxpayer dollars in developing a national transportation infrastructure that favored national brands and chains. And everywhere looks the same because the government made media policy choices that created national broadcasting networks that spent a century imposing a uniform national culture. And so forth. Commerce my ass.

  • SIV||

    Fluffy is right about population to some extent but I think coastalbeaches were ruined by monetary creation and government subsidized flood insurance.

    Another bit of nostalgia that should appeal to liberals.I lived in a neighborhood,had friends and attended public school with kids ranging from "upper middle class professional" to the lower end of working class/poor, most were solidly in the middle.The only private school kids were attending parochial or Christian schools and were not clustered at the higher end.

  • egosumabbas||

    "What are you talking about? Where I live all the ultra-liberal hipster art students guzzle the stuff."

    In Chicago, the cheapest place to get beer was at a real dive of a bar with $2 PBR specials. The hipsters would drink that shit like water after a marathon.

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    That is a really good point about commerce. I never thought about that. You are absolutely right about some places being worse today than they were in the 70s. California's problems go a lot deeper than population though. They have adopted every failed liberal policy there in spades. They took what was once paradise and turned it into communist eastern Europe. Their government is going to go broke and the whole place is going to collapse. Never has one generation wasted such an incredible inheritance as this one has in California.

    There are other examples of that to. New Jersey used to be a low tax low cost alternative to New York. There is a reason why everyone moved out of the city to Jersey back in the day. Now it is if anything worse than New York.

  • SIV||

    BDB,

    I always drink Pabst w/o irony.

  • BDB||

    "In Chicago, the cheapest place to get beer was at a real dive of a bar with $2 PBR specials. The hipsters would drink that shit like water after a marathon."

    No kidding. At the local college here, every little undergrad douchebag wearing a Che t-shirt 1)smokes Parliaments, and 2) drinks PBR. It isn't really a redneck beer anymore. The hipsters co-opted it, because it would be "ironic" for them to drink a "redneck beer". It is the second biggest reason I avoid Pabst.

  • ||

    Where I live all the ultra-liberal hipster art students guzzle the stuff.

    But they do it ironically, dude. Can't you see the difference?

  • ||

    Hipsters who drink PBR as some sort of ironic fashion statement annoy the hell out of me. What is so wrong with drinking beer you like? But the whole American beer industry is annoying. I read the other day were the industry is worried they are losing out to vodka and wine because those drinks are viewed as being more sophisticated. Wow, you spend years and millions on ad campaigns that portray everyone who buys your product as beer obsessed morons and you worry that perhaps you product isn't viewed as being sophisticated anymore?

  • BDB||

    If they REALLY wanted to be ironic, they'd make Natty Ice the new hipster beer.

  • SIV||

    Me for the 2:40pm PBR irony win!

  • ||

    If they REALLY wanted to be ironic, they'd make Natty Ice the new hipster beer.

    No, Nat Lite, and they'd buy it in 30-packs.

  • ||

    What redneck ever drank PBR? Rednecks drink coors and miller. Only a urban hipster could be dumb enough to think PBR is a redneck beer. They probably thought it was named after Professional Bull Riders' Tour.

  • BDB||

    I never got the point of people in college buying 30-racks of light beer when they could just buy a 40 of Steele Reserve or Hurricane and bet blitzed for under $2.

  • ||

    I like natty, and with my cohorts drink copious amounts without a shred of irony.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "It is the same stores and restaurants wherever you go."

    So don't go there. I've found interesting local places in just about every town I've ever visited -- and I've visited a lot.

    (Unless, of course, you're not interested in driving more than a half-mile from the Interstate.)

  • ||

    "I never got the point of people in college buying 30-racks of light beer when they could just buy a 40 of Steele Reserve or Hurricane and bet blitzed for under $2."

    Or a six pack of Mickey's bigmouths. Man those things will put hair on your chest.

  • egosumabbas||

    I agree with fluffy on the homogeneous sprawl: did you know that most suburban governments REQUIRE certain size lots with businesses? That's just one example of many.

  • ||

    Because drinking games go well with light beers, BDB.

  • Hogan||

    What are you talking about? Where I live all the ultra-liberal hipster art students guzzle the stuff.

    PBR is a funny product like that. I only really saw folks drink it when I lived around lots of hipsters in NYC, as their safe little way to dress up like shepherdesses. I guess working class people actually drink it in the Midwest or something. Now if they'd started ironically drinking Busch or Natty Lite...

  • Hogan||

    aarg beaten to the observation

  • BDB||

    I like how Mickey's has a riddle under the cap you can only understand drunk.

  • ||

    I never got the point of people in college buying 30-racks of light beer when they could just buy a 40 of Steele Reserve or Hurricane and bet blitzed for under $2.

    the answer is simple, drinking games. if you are going to play drinking games that require each person to have a set number of beers the 30-rack is the way to go. during a certain carnival weekend at my school we were known to buy palette(s) of 30-rack natty.

  • ||

    My dear departed father gave me the best advice anyone ever has when I was a but a wee lad:

    Life's too short to drink shitty beer.

  • egosumabbas||

    I should have said parking lots not just plain lots.

  • ||

    Why would anyone want to play a game that requires you to drink copious amounts of shitty beer? I never got it and still don't. It is like having eating games where you are required to eat as much crappy school cafeteria food as possible. When did self abuse become fun?

  • BDB||

    Eh, no one ever gave me the drinking game explanation. They'd either say "Oh, malt liquor tastes bad" (again, not as bad as Natty/Busch/Beast" or "Malt liquor is a "black" drink."

  • kinnath||

    What redneck ever drank PBR?

    1975. My neighbor in an apartment complex in Atlanta went through a daily rotation of PBR, pot, and cocaine.

    He was a living, breathing, charlie-daniels-stereotypical redneck hippie.

  • ||

    In 1968 homosexuality was a mental illness.
    In 1968 an interracial kiss was not allowed on TV.
    In 1968 it was illegal to own gold bullion.
    In 1968, I am Curious, (Yellow) was banned in Massachusetts. The uproar you ask?

    The film includes numerous and frank scenes of nudity and staged sexual intercourse. In one particularly controversial scene, Lena kissed her lover's flaccid penis.



    OTOH,
    In 1968 pitchers could still bat in the American League.
    In 1968 quarterbacks could still be tackled in the NFL.
    In 1968 you could smoke at your desk or in a bar and the thought that government would outlaw it was not even imagined.
    In 1968 the drinking age in many states was 18. Y'know, like you were an adult or somethin'.
    In 1968 you could cross the Canadian border with no more than your word that you were a citizen from one of the two countries.
    In 1968 you could drive sans seatbelt, even if your car had them. They were made mandatory standard equipment that year.
    In 1968 a 16 year old could drive at night with 8 other kids crammed into his car. Teenagers were given unrestricted licenses.
    In 1968 the FICA tax on your first dollar earned was 4.4% (plus 4.4% from your employer). It's 7.65% each today.
    In 1968 the top marginal income tax rate was (hold on to your hats) 75.25% starting at $200,000. It's now 35% starting at $311,950.

    Like I said, it's a mixed bag.

  • ||

    "Life's too short to drink shitty beer."

    Your father was right. If you are too poor to drink only good beer, at least have the decency to buy some good beer and try to save the shitty stuff for when you are too drunk to know any better.

  • ||

    Why would anyone want to play a game that requires you to drink copious amounts of shitty beer?

    God damn, John, you really are old at heart. You play because girls play too and get loaded and uninhibited, duh. Pounding down some Colt 45 doesn't have the same cache as a game of Mexico, you know?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    John,
    My hillbilly grandpa drank epic quantities of PBR in the 50s and 60s. In fact, his bar, the Big Nickle, would acually order an extra case just for him on Thursday nights when he and his buds from the warehouse would come to start their weekend. I heard some great stories about him from the ancient bartender who still worked there until a decade ago.
    When I'm drinking cheap beer I still drink PBR, in his honor. Yeah, it's not the same stuff, but still.
    (Grandpa stopped drinking the day he was diagnosed with diabetes and never had another beer, living almost 20 more years.

    And when in Milwaukee, stop by the Pabst Mansion for a tour. Those beer barons knew how to live.

  • SIV||

    In 1968 an interracial kiss was not allowed on TV.

    Naaaa, that Star Trek episode where the alien borrows Uhura's body.

  • ||

    "God damn, John, you really are old at heart. You play because girls play too and get loaded and uninhibited, duh. Pounding down some Colt 45 doesn't have the same cache as a game of Mexico, you know?"


    I have been and had more than my share of shitty beer parties back in the day. They pale in comparison to a good punch party. Punch is so much better to get girls wasted and liberal with. Punch tastes like koolaide but packs the punch of brandy. I have been to a lot of lame beer parties. But I never had a punch party that didn't get totally out of hand because lots of girls who didn't normally drink that much just had a few glasses of punch because it tasted so good.

  • ||

    Two things destroyed childhood, the reaction to Columbine-like events, and technology like cell phones.

    Don't forget 24-hour news channels that hype every missing white kid and ramp up parental paranoia.

    I grew up in small-town Texas, and it was frickin' idyllic. We played outside all day, a pack of half-civilized kids and their dogs roaming the neighborhood unsupervised playing tackle football, riding our bikes (look, Ma, no helmet!), playing army and cowboys and Indians with an arsenal of firepower that could have conquered Iwo Jima.

    Looking back, I doubt we were rarely out from under someone's eye (lots of stay-at-home moms in our neighborhood), but we never knew it.

    Its unthinkable today, but goddam heaven then.

  • ||

    CN

    I guess it is what part of the country you were from. Out where I grew up it was Bud or Coors depending on your bent. Nowdays Miller seems to be the redneck beer of choice, at least in Texas.

  • ||

    And everywhere looks the same because the government made media policy choices that created national broadcasting networks that spent a century imposing a uniform national culture.

    I blame TV.

    It's hard to quantify the effects of TV on prosperity, culture, well-being, childhood, etc., but it's hard to say that TV has been a net positive. Literacy is way up but reading is way down. Entertainment is way up but parents are increasing excluded from parenting.

    I'm a little scared to think of what the current generation of "tweens" will look like, and vote for, when they grow up.

  • SIV||

    Shitty beer is a matter of taste.That micro/craft brew swill all tastes like homebrew to me.Home and craft brewers can't make good American Pilsner.*

    *I'm sure to be corrected with a reference to some over-priced hippie piss water.They probably ran off a batch for the irony.

  • BDB||

    Well, Michelob is a good American Pilsner. It's like, what, $.50 more than Bud? It is much better.

  • ||

    SIV,

    I find a lot of micro-brews to be piss beer. There are some good ones but not that many of them and none of them compare to what you can get in Germany. The local brewery in a typical german city, Swabianbrau in Stuttgart of Henninger in Frankfurt for example, make beer that your typical American micro brewer couldn't make in his dreams.

  • shecky||

    I dunno. Los Angeles seems like a better place than it was in the 70s, overall. Things are certainly better for this non-white average guy.

    Once again, John, you are full of shit, spouting off abut a world you've only imagined.

  • Crow Eating Dumbass||

    The purpose of beer as of any alcoholic drink is to get one drunk not to taste good.

    Shit, if you want that drink Gatorade pansies.

  • CED||

    "In 1968 quarterbacks could still be tackled in the NFL."

    We get more running qb's and then we get this rule where you can't hit the f*cking qb...And This helmet to helmet rule is complete bullshit imo.

  • CED||

    From the documentaries I see girls were giving it away in 1968 though...If that was true that would have been nice...

  • ||

    What? No one praising Iron City beer? Very fond teenage memories of that retched swill.

  • ||

    I think this is relevant. This is a passage from The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, published :

    While we teach knowledge, we are losing that teaching which is the most important one for human development: the teaching which can only be given by the simple presence of a mature, loving person...



    He goes on to cite examples in Chinese and Indian culture, where teachers were valued for their spiritual qualities as or more highly than their knowledge.

    If we should not succeed in keeping alive a vision of mature life, then indeed we are confronted with the probability that our whole cultural tradition will break down. This tradition is not primarily based on the transmission of certain kinds of knowledge, but of certain kinds of human traits. If the coming generations will not see these traits anymore, a five thousand-year-old culture will break down, even if its knowledge is transmitted and further developed.

  • ||

    In 1968 an interracial kiss was not allowed on TV.

    Naaaa, that Star Trek episode where the alien borrows Uhura's body



    You got the specifics of the Plato's Stepchildren episode wrong, but I stand corrected. Of course they were forced into it, but that's a poor excuse for my faux pas.

  • ||

    [published 1956]

  • ||

    This post is full of paleo-con "law and order" drug-warrior types.

  • SIV||

    JsubD,

    Fun fact via wiki:

    Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed in the 1967 TV special Movin' with Nancy

  • ||

    "I dunno. Los Angeles seems like a better place than it was in the 70s, overall. Things are certainly better for this non-white average guy.

    Once again, John, you are full of shit, spouting off abut a world you've only imagined."


    Oh really shecky? Things are so much better in LA now than then? By what measure? Things better in compton now than then? Things better for your typical immigrant who pays higher taxes and faces higher costs of living now than then and goes to schools that are worse by any measure? Things going to be better when the state of California goes into bankruptcy? Was it really necessary to bankrupt the state and make it into tax hell to make things better for the average non-white guy? Just like Bob Knight didn't have to choke players to get them to graduate, maybe California didn't need to run the state in the ground to help out the non-white guys of the world.

  • BDB||

    "Things better in compton now than then? "

    Actually Compton isn't what it was in the 1980s anymore. It is considerably safer, but now mostly Mexican.

  • Jennifer||

    You're quite likely comparing apples and kumquats.

    I think that despite technological gains, things overall are worse than 40 years ago. The decay of our freedoms has already been mentioned on this thread: SWAT teams, police roadblocks, mass drug testing, zero tolerance, etc., but there's material-life problems as well.

    Thanks to technology, I do indeed have a much better and cheaper TV than my parents would've had at my age. On the other hand, I must spend a MUCH larger percentage of my income for a home in which to store it. The bad-neighborhood ranch house where I lived as a child, which at the time cost about three years' median salary for that area, now costs about seven years' median salary. Medical technologies can help me, perhaps, if I catch some rare and exotic illness, but a simple broken bone costs far more to treat than it used to.

    A vast MP3 music library better than anything my parents had will not comfort me if I can't afford a place to live.

    When I catch a cold I can no longer buy inexpensive OTC drugs to make the symptoms better, because the government assumes any cold-sufferer is a meth manufacturer in waiting. Thank God I don't have any allergies, and I feel damned sorry for my fellow Americans who do.

    When I was a kid, my civics teacher could brag that "torturing people" or "spying on citizens without warrants" was something other governments did, not ours.

    When I was a kid, "cops" were people you only had to be wary of if you were an actual criminal who committed actual crimes.

    Through my teenage years, there was this nifty concept called "mens rea," which said you had to have actual criminal intent before being charged with a crime. Had the Internet existed 40 years ago, Julie Amero would not have been facing 40 years in prison for accidentally showing pop-up porn in the absence of criminal intent. Even if Amero had deliberately showed the kids porn, she wouldn't have faced a stiffer sentence than most murderers.

  • Eric Sundwall ||

    Children are definitely less free. As someone was grew up during the seventies, once we hit second grade coming home occurred when it got dark. If you missed dinner, it was your own fault.

    Now they become wards of the state for the slightest infractions. The author makes a critical mistake in this regard.

  • ||

    "Actually Compton isn't what it was in the 1980s anymore. It is considerably safer, but now mostly Mexican."

    I have read that. Still though, was it really necessary to bankrupt the state and ruin the schools to help out all the non-white guys of the world? Couldn't they have helped them out and kept the small government and the good schools?

  • ||

    Excuse me, what is the point of asking people to agitate for me liberty, if the massive growth of government and regulation over the last forty years has made them freer and more wealthy? Not only is this article deeply flawed methodologically, Reason is strategically nuts for having printed it.

  • ||

    What Jennifer there is a downside to the housing bubble? I thought we were all going to get rich? People our age got completely screwed by it. Every time someone gets on TV and talks about the need to prop up housing values I want to go Elvis and shoot the TV. Why don't they just be honest and say housing prices must be kept at artificially high levels for the benefit of current owners at the expense of all current and future non-owners.

  • classwarrior||

    Gee Veronique, no draftee deaths in Iraq! I'm sure that will make the surviving loved ones of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian dead feel so much better, not to mention when they get reliable electricity and water/sewer service back.

  • Steve J Hedonics||

    It's all about the iPods.

    iPod > Liberty

    We are all better off with iPods.
    Fisk, Gould,Vanderbilt,Morgan,Croesus,Scrooge McDuck, Richie Rich, Daddy Warbucks, Rockefeller all would have traded their fortunes for even a 1st gen iPod. Therefore the poorest person with an iPod is wealthier than all who came before him.

  • ||

    Yes class warrior. The sewer and electrical service was wonderful in Saddam's Iraq. It was especially good if you were a Shia or a Kurd.

  • classwarrior||

    Eeeek! there a gerbil in my pants, he must have slipped out

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    Mid 40's remember the 70s well (also had older siblings)...

    In general we are better off when it comes to possessions: better quality, more accessible, more variety. We are also better off in terms of medical care if you can afford it.

    But I don't believe the possessions (yes, even the i-Pod) make up for all the other negatives. The loss of freedoms being one of many. There was more community, less traffic, less homogenization across the country. Children had much more stimulating, healthy and less fearful lives.

    Single-earner families were content to have less, because the Jones were in the same boat. Smaller houses are already coming back into style as people realize that a large house is too much expense to clean, to heat (or cool) and maintain. You simply do not need a lot of space.

    Final note: in the early 70's people were getting ahead and had expectations that things would continue to improve. This is not the case anymore and one of the sources of our discontent.

  • ||

    Better off? I can't judge between now and when I was four. But if I had an option to live my current life or go back 40 years. I'll keep my current. I'm happy I can access my bank accounts 24/7.

    Freedom then vs now? I'm going with then. Now freedom is more about supressing others, the freedom to not be bothered by X. Are we more free today because smokers are less free?

  • ||

    Final note: in the early 70's people were getting ahead and had expectations that things would continue to improve. This is not the case anymore and one of the sources of our discontent.

    I remember that. You listen to the music of the early 70's and you can hear that sense of anticipation in it. The last thing I expected of the 21st century was to be stuck in what amounts to a religious war in the Middle-east. I was thinking colonies on the moon and Mars by this time. It looks more like we're headed back to the middle-ages...

    The Luckiest Generation

  • ||

    Freedom has contracted in some ways but it is expanded in many other ways. For example:

    Parents can now homeschool their children. This would have been unthinkable in 1968. (I think it is a rotten idea and it should be banned but we do have more freedom now that we can do it.) In the U.S. traditionally the state has controlled parents and children to an extent that would be inconceivable today. In colonial America, when parents did not teach their children the alphabet by age 6 the total would be taken away and given foster parents. In the 1960s, when mothers were judged to be mentally ill, children were summarily removed from the house. People would be up in arms if something like that happened now.

    Most of the Bill of Rights were a dead letter for the first 150 years of the Republic. Civil rights were routinely violated by the government. See I. Glasser, "Visions of Liberty," (Arcade, 1991). For example, the government used to wiretap and search people's mail more or less whenever it pleased. It destroyed the lives and livelihoods of thousands of German-Americans during WWI and hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

    Many industries have been deregulated. Antitrust laws are more vigorously enforced. Restrictions on advertising have been completely lifted. In 1968, lawyers and other professionals were not allowed to advertise their services. These changes mean that it is easier for people to start their own small businesses and succeed. It means people can start their own software companies with less worry that IBM or Microsoft will crush them.

    Another important difference is that organized crime is somewhat abated and it is easier to start some businesses without being extorted, albeit probably not a restaurant in New York City.

    As noted in the article, lifestyle choices are broader. Also, minor things such as the way you live and dress, wear your hair, and what you do in your free time are freer than they have ever been in US history. For example, in the 1840s, men who wore beards in New England were harassed, beaten up by crowds and held in jail for extended periods without charges. In 1943, a man was summarily fired from a government job and ridiculed in Life magazine because he had once performed in modern dance. That sort of things was still common in 1968.

    Throughout US history well into the 1960s, people who suffered from severe mental illness or were disfigured and confined to wheelchairs were not allowed in public, and in many cases were locked up in filthy dungeons.

    People who know little about history have romantic notions about the past, and they imagine that people in the past had more freedom than they really did.

  • ||

    Aren't all American beers owned by the same company these days? I know Sam Adams long since got bot ought along with Rolling Rock, Lines and pretty much every other regional beer. I think Shiner is the only legit regional beer you can buy anymore in that it is not a micro brew and is still made in the same place by the same company it always has been.

    Wow, you don't even know beer. Miller, Coors and Bud are owned by separate (foreign companies) and Boston Beer Co (NYSE:SAM), maker of Sam Adams, is now the largest American brewer.

    BTW, the reason housing is more expensive for everyone is due to the significant amounts of urbanization that's going on. Cities have more people now, so housing is more expensive in cities. A higher proportion of people live in cities, so more people perceive things as more expensive. This has a lot to do with technological advances in agriculture and transportation. The upside is, fewer and fewer people are need to grow food. Also, because of commucations technology, we'll likely see people move to areas where the cost of living is lower, since telecommuting is a lot easier.

    Plus, you always remember things being better than they actually were. Looking back, I don't remember all of the shit that made me hate high school, but I do know, I'm a hell of a lot happier now than then.

  • ||

    "Throughout US history well into the 1960s, people who suffered from severe mental illness or were disfigured and confined to wheelchairs were not allowed in public, and in many cases were locked up in filthy dungeons."


    Now we just turn them out on the street and gawk at them as homeless people. I think it is pretty hard to make the case that deinstitutionalization was a good sollution to the problem you mention.

  • ||

    I remember the 70's as well (I also remember the 60's a wee bit). As already stated, many things have improved materially since then, for which I am eternally grateful. Frankly, I can't imagine how different my adolescence would have been with free 'net porn (the single reason no teenage boy today deserves pity for *anything*).

    However, I am pressed to find one area where liberty and our freedoms have expanded since then. Yes, we have the Intertubes and that's fantastic stuff so we don't have to remember arcane trivia any longer, but beyond that, we passed the peak of the bell curve a long time ago. What liberty we do gain is incremental at best and is more than offset by the restriction of other greater liberties elsewhere. The Bush years will be remembered as one of the greatest rollbacks in modern times.

    Yeah, life is way cooler and I have so many kick-ass gadgets now, but my sense of optimism has been shredded the past 15 years or so. We became a very wealthy and spoiled nation, insomuch that we solved most the big problems, so we invented new ones to beat ourselves over the head with.

    Life is now just one big, giant fucking special edition of "Fretful Mother" magazine.

  • ||

    "The Bush years will be remembered as one of the greatest rollbacks in modern times."

    Honestly, how was your freedom in any way rolled back over the last 8 years? Second, if it was, how was the roll back the direct result of Bush as opposed to nanny state forces that were already at work? Honestly I don't see it unless you have a tinfoil hat on and think the NSA is listening to your phone calls.

  • ||

    """"Most of the Bill of Rights were a dead letter for the first 150 years of the Republic. Civil rights were routinely violated by the government. See I. Glasser, "Visions of Liberty," (Arcade, 1991). For example, the government used to wiretap and search people's mail more or less whenever it pleased. It destroyed the lives and livelihoods of thousands of German-Americans during WWI and hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans during WWII."""

    Surviellance of our activites has expanded greatly in the last 8 years, mostly due to advancements in technology. Much of the technology we credit to a better life is being used to gather information on us in ways we thought impossible 40 years ago.

    40 years ago we thought Big Brother in Orwell's 1984 was impossible because we thought people wouldn't stand for that type of government surveillance. Now it seems inevitable and few people really care.

  • BDB||

    "Children had much more stimulating, healthy and less fearful lives."

    I can't speak for children now because it is post-9/11, but it sure was nice not having to grow up hearing about the possibility of nuclear war in the late 80s/early 90s. That wasn't the case in the 70s.

  • what?||

    "In colonial America, when parents did not teach their children the alphabet by age 6 the total would be taken away and given foster parents."

    I'm calling bullshit on this Jed. Maybe some sources would be nice.

  • ||

    """Honestly I don't see it unless you have a tinfoil hat on and think the NSA is listening to your phone calls."""

    40 years ago that was true, yet now the government has installed secret equipment with the purpose of listening to any call they want. It's not for people with tinfoil anymore.

  • ||

    """but it sure was nice not having to grow up hearing about the possibility of nuclear war in the late 80s/early 90s."""

    A fake threat of nuclear war opposed to the real soviet threat in the 50s? My uncle still says one of the scariest times of his life was the Atomic bomb drill when he was in school.

  • Jed Rothwell||

    I wrote: "age 6 the total would be taken away . . ."

    Meant "the children would be taken away . . ."

    Ah, the perils of voice input. Yes, nowadays we are free to dictate to machines!

    Actually, that raises an important aspect of this issue that was not discussed much in the article. Progress in technology has given us greater freedom in ways that we do not realize. People who have neurological problems and cannot easily type can write books on their own using voice input. Obviously, the Internet brings us information we would never have seen previously. It allows people to say whatever they want.

    For example, I distribute 5000 scientific papers about cold fusion every week to researchers all over the world. This is a controversial subject that is mired in academic politics and mainstream opposition. If it were not for the Internet (and for me) much of the information would be lost, or inaccessible. You can find thousands of papers about cold fusion in the stacks of the libraries at Georgia Tech, the University of Utah, and Los Alamos (which is where my copies came from). But scientists who live far from these major libraries would have difficulty getting this information without the Internet. Approximately 1.2 million people have downloaded cold fusion papers from all over the world, including small universities without major libraries, thousands of corporate labs, and research labs in India, China, Iran and many other third-world countries.

    We can thank the U.S. Government and Al Gore for the Internet. Government researchers invented it, and Al Gore played a leading role in funding the research and setting up new laws and standards to encourage public use and growth of the Internet. It was a great contribution to personal freedom, and Uncle Sam gets the credit.

  • BDB||

    "A fake threat of nuclear war opposed to the real soviet threat in the 50s?"

    There was a real fear from about 1979-1985, too, when relations froze again.

  • ||

    "40 years ago that was true, yet now the government has installed secret equipment with the purpose of listening to any call they want. It's not for people with tinfoil anymore."


    Granted they can, but do they? If anything it was worse 40 years ago. Johnson, Kennedy and Nixon all bugged their political advasaries. There is no evidence any of that is going on now.

  • BDB||

    Actually probably there was a big threat in the 1960s too, until detente.

  • ||

    "A fake threat of nuclear war opposed to the real soviet threat in the 50s? My uncle still says one of the scariest times of his life was the Atomic bomb drill when he was in school."

    I think the threat of an anthrax attack or stray nuke going off in a city is pretty real today and pretty damn scary. Not as scary as all out nuke war with the Russkies but not very comforting either.

  • Jennifer||

    In colonial America, when parents did not teach their children the alphabet by age 6 the total would be taken away and given foster parents. In the 1960s, when mothers were judged to be mentally ill, children were summarily removed from the house. People would be up in arms if something like that happened now.

    Compare that to today: if I don't like my neighbor-with-children, all I have to do is make a call to DCF -- an anonymous call, no less -- and claim abuse. Her life will be hell for at least six months. If she's lucky she will not lose her kids, but lawyer costs will bankrupt her.

    As far as her kids are concerned, if her 15-year-old son has consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, they both run the risk of being arrested on charges of sexually abusing each other.

  • BDB||

    "I think the threat of an anthrax attack or stray nuke going off in a city is pretty real today and pretty damn scary. Not as scary as all out nuke war with the Russkies but not very comforting either."

    Yeah, but I grew up between the Berlin Wall falling and 9/11. There was no real, scary and present threat inbetween those two events.

  • ||

    There was a big threat in the 80s. Andropov thought the US was going to declare war in Russia and damn near launched a pre-emptive strike in 1982 or 83. Also, there was a false positive on Soviet Radar about that time where the Soviets thought we had launched against them and only the actions of a Soviet officer not to follow protocol saved the world. MADD was just that, madness. It is a miracle we are still alive.

  • ||

    """Honestly, how was your freedom in any way rolled back over the last 8 years?"""

    I guess it depends on how you define freedom. 8 years ago I could walk into an office building like it was no big deal. Now I must present an approved picture ID, which they will copy, to enter many buildings, including where I work. If it changes from the freedom to enter a building without ID to ID required, did I lose a freedom? Or, do I still have the freedom as long as I'm approved? Does that count as a rollback?

  • BDB||

    You also didn't have to be practically strip-searched every time you boarded a plane, and come three hours or whatever in advance.

  • ||

    """Granted they can, but do they?""""

    We'll never know, they may never tell.

  • what?||

    Jed fixing your typo doesn't solve the problem. I'd like to see some actual evidence of children being taken by the state, in the colonial era, because they couldn't read the alphabet.

  • ||

    As far as her kids are concerned, if her 15-year-old son has consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, they both run the risk of being arrested on charges of sexually abusing each other.

    Except that fact is less true today than it was 40 years ago. Right now, we're repealing those sorts of non-consensual sex laws. Just like I can now buy beer on Sunday in more places today than I could 40 years ago.

    I think the threat of an anthrax attack or stray nuke going off in a city is pretty real today and pretty damn scary.

    I think the odds of that are way, way overblown so the government can justify taking away our freedoms. I say this as someone that live in NYC during 9-11.

  • ||

    "I think the odds of that are way, way overblown so the government can justify taking away our freedoms. I say this as someone that live in NYC during 9-11."


    I say this as someone who honestly can't tell you why, but I think you are mistaken about that. I wish you weren't, but I think you are. But since it is not like you personally can do anything about it, you probably better off thinking as you do.

  • ||

    What wrote:

    "'In colonial America, when parents did not teach their children the alphabet by age 6 the CHILDREN would be taken away and given foster parents.'

    I'm calling bullshit on this Jed. Maybe some sources would be nice."

    See the Massachusetts education law of 1642. See any history of Colonial period education, such as on-line (Google books) M. Vinovskis, Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity (Yale U. Press, 1995) pp. 7, 8. Quote:

    "The Puritans not only required the establishment of schools in towns and the use of approved catechisms in the home, sometimes they were willing to remove children from households that fail to educate and catechize them properly."

  • ||

    """Johnson, Kennedy and Nixon all bugged their political advasaries."""

    Not even a close comparison. The tech difference in equipment between what they had, and what the Executive has today, is too great. Besides I'm talking about the ability listen in on any call upon request by a few keystrokes. Not having to give an order then have a few people break in to place a bug or two.

    Today we can find an answer to any question we want by typing it into a web browser. These inquiries are saved for months for possible review by government. A warrant is not necessary if the ISP is will to hand the data over without one.

  • ||

    You also didn't have to be practically strip-searched every time you boarded a plane, and come three hours or whatever in advance.

    Not that it mattered to most people. The over-regulated and government protected airlines in the 60s were too expensive for the average person to fly.

  • BDB||

    J sub D, I mean as recently as the year 2000. Not the 60s.

  • ||

    40 years ago, a kid wouldn't be suspended from school for having an asprin. You could tell a woman at work that she looked good without fear a sexual harrassment complaint. We could smoke just about anywhere.

  • ||

    It is debateable about whether you are more free today than 40 years ago as an adult. It is not debatable that you are less free as a child. What we have done to childhood is the real crime of the last 10 years or so.

  • ||

    Honestly, how was your freedom in any way rolled back over the last 8 years?

    A good run down here.

    I would add:
    -An enormous increase in national debt
    -An enormous increase in the number of pages of regulation
    -The Bailout™
    -Kelo
    -McCain-Feingold
    -Vastly increased police powers and No-knock searches

    and so on....

    If there was an expansion of liberty under Bush's watch, please list that.

    Second, if it was, how was the roll back the direct result of Bush as opposed to nanny state forces that were already at work?

    Oh, it's clear that many forces are at work with their own agendas.

    The rule remains: if a president can claim credit for something good that happens under his administration, even though he had nothing to do with it, they get the blame for the bad stuff too.

    BTW, liberty took it on the chin under Clinton too.

  • ||

    Watch a documentary about surfing in CA or HI in the 60's and 70's and carefully watch the backgrounds and then try to tell me that those places haven't been absolutely destroyed.

    HI hasn't been destroyed. I live here. It's a really desirable place to live if you love warm weather / surfing / hot wahines, etc.

    Has many drawbacks, certainly not for everyone, but "destroyed"? Get a fucking grip.

  • ||

    Jennifer wrote:

    "Compare that to today: if I don't like my neighbor-with-children, all I have to do is make a call to DCF -- an anonymous call, no less -- and claim abuse. Her life will be hell for at least six months. If she's lucky she will not lose her kids, but lawyer costs will bankrupt her."

    Such abuses are real, but they are being addressed. The laws allowing anonymous reports of abuse were established in an overreaction to child abuse. But child abuse is a real problem and it was not addressed in the 1960s. No system is perfect. It is difficult to balance the rights of parents against the need to protect children from abuse. It is easy to rail against the authorities, but when they fail to intervene and some poor kid is microwaved to death, that's upsetting too.

    Of course there have been extreme incidents and modern witch hunts such as the Mcmartin Preschool Trial, and the Terri Schiavo case. The ACLU can tell you about many other outrages and abuses. No one claims that we are living in Utopia.

  • BDB||

    "Has many drawbacks"

    An ultra, ultra-liberal Democrat government and high prices for everything except sugar and pineapples? Just guessing.

  • ||

    Of course John, I'm not saying that Johnson, Nixon, Kennedy, or even FDR would have had restraint with the technology of today. Bush wins as the worst, but only becuase of the level of tech. The President that will have robotic flying insect spys will most likely beat Bush by a long shot. 40 years ago flying robotic insects for spying was science fiction.

  • ||

    The author is off in defining what freedom is about. it is not about material acquisitions, for as we see in China today, the ability to acquire is growing fast and personal freedom shrinks almost daily. The economic arguments are indeed correct, and long known (the average person living under the poverty line in the US owns more square footage of home than the average European regardless of their income).

    But as far as freedom goes, what matters is if the range of fields of choice are improving. Choosing to buy a color TV or not, or which of many brands, is one level of choice, the next level, and more important, of choice is to choose how to utilize the new color television. And now you get into the real discussion: restrictions.

    Every freedom has with it a restriction and a responsibility. Thus the hedonistic approach is ruled out. We must apply the freedoms annunciated in the Declaration of Independence:

    Freedom of access to the political system
    Freedom of access to the justice system
    freedom of access to the economic system

    otherwise known as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Fluffy||

    HI hasn't been destroyed. I live here. It's a really desirable place to live if you love warm weather / surfing / hot wahines, etc.

    Has many drawbacks, certainly not for everyone, but "destroyed"? Get a fucking grip.


    I'm not saying you personally can't enjoy yourself there. I'm talking about the relative change over the last 40 years.

    A lot of people think Park City, UT is nice too. I bet a lot of people enjoy themselves there. People pay big money to travel there, stay there, buy second homes there, etc. And I would submit to you that, relative to what it was, it has been fucking destroyed. And no, I don't want to hear from realtors in Park City telling me I'm nuts and how great it is and blah blah blah blah like some Frederik Pohl character.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Nice discussion folks.

    It is apparent to me that "more/less free" is at least as difficult to define as "real libertarian."

    Maybe these are vague, qualitative terms that defy quantification.

    Maybe they are too subjective to submit to objective analysis.

    Might as well go with: Is "life" overall "better" or "worse" than it was in 1968.

    Opinions will differ based on what aspects of life are being emphasized.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Freedom of access to the political system
    Freedom of access to the justice system
    freedom of access to the economic system

    otherwise known as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


    What an odd formulation:

    life = access to political system?
    liberty = access to the justice system?
    pursuit of happiness = access to the economic system?

    Life seems bigger than politics and happiness is certainly about more than economics.

    I'll give you that there is a close relationship between liberty and justice....


    (for all!)

  • Sosnowski||

    "Draftees accounted for 30.4 percent (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam. The number of draftee deaths in Iraq: 0."
    Yes, thank God every one of the 4,000+ Americans who've died in Iraq has been a volunteer. Why should the rest of us be responsible for our nation's actions? Just because enjoy the benefits of living in the US shouldn't oblige us to DO anything.

  • sosnowski||

    WE. Just because WE enjoy the benefits blah blah blah. I'm the worst editor ever.

  • Douglas Gray||

    She fails to mention the greatest destroyer of freedom; debt. Almost everyone is in its shackles. It doesn't affect your freedom until it finally catches up with you.

    I feel sorry for today's kids whose debt ridden parents supply them with an endless supply of tech toys.

    Her concept of freedom is limited.

  • ||

    I'm with Sosnowski on this one. Is there a name for libertarians who support the draft?

  • ||

    Her concept of freedom is limited.

    You forgot to mention the chief destroyer of her freedom in the years to come: Myspace. Eventually all of her social and even economic actions will be regulated, one way or the other, by the network.

  • ||

    er... i thought you meant that today's kids' concept of freedom is limited. Anyway, I'm worried about the kids.

  • ||

    I feel so much less free because I no longer have the right to choose an inferior, mislabeled mattress or the right to drink polluted water. What planet are you from? Can't you do any better than that?

    And since when is an artificial, known toxin (trans fat) considered food that we should be "free" to choose?

  • ||

    More freedom or less freedom can be debated, but responsibility/accountability has diminished in the past 40 years. There should be a balance between the freedoms we enjoy and the resulting responsibility for these freedoms.

  • ||

    "One other point for 40 years ago; no HIV. HIV puts a serious kink in people's sexual freedom. "

    No, it doesn't. At least not for heterosexuals it doesn't. I've never known a heterosexual who contracted HIV (I have several friends who contracted it. None were straight) and the fear of HIV spreading to the hetero community was unfounded. It never did. People who didn't use dirty needles, and were straight, have a tiny risk of getting HIV. Women do have a higher risk though due to the mechanics of how the disease is contracted.

    I went to college at a UC school in california, and people were fucking like bunnies.

    And the drugs for STD's in general are better than they were in 1968, but you were referencing HIV, so we'll stick with that.

    The ad campaign that HIV was an equal opportunity disease may have deterred some people but it has pretty much retraced from public consciousness.

  • JohnE||

    "50 years ago my grandfather worked in a steel foundry and was able to support a wife and *seven* kids."

    50 years ago your grandfather owned one car one television with free programming had one home phone and raised seven kids in a 950 sq ft three bedroom one bath home. Now a normal family is 2 jobs 2 kids, 3 cars 4 televisions with pay programming, one home phone 4 cell phones and a 3500 sq ft 4 bedroom 3 bath home with air conditioning.

    If you want you can raise a fmily on one average income. You just need to dial back your expectations. When I was in high school just 20 years ago my parents total telecomnuications bill was about $10-$20 per month. depending on how many long distance calls were made. That was one home phone line. If I chose to I could keep my bill about that range. My bill runs around $200 per month. That is satelite TV with 200 channels, high speed internet, unlimited local an long distance home phone service and two cell phone lines. That's why we have two incomes.

  • brandon||

    I'm surprised to see libertarians take such a broad view of freedom. An individual is free when his person, property, and behavior is not taken or regulated by the state. On balance, I reckon the state does more taking and regulating now than at any time prior.

  • ||

    When did the draft end? My recruiter sure fooled me! But seriously, the author of this rant should spend some time educating herself about our so called "volunteer" military. Ever heard of stop-loss and the IRR? They were first used in 1991 and have become a modern version of the draft. Even better in fact, for the goverment, since they don't require congress to go on record as having voted on anything. From what I hear reenlistment rates are a joke, achieved partially through extortion and threats. The choices are: reenlist, get a big check, deploy to Iraq OR get stop-lossed, do not collect a big check, deploy to Iraq. Yeah ok, these folks had to sign up willingly the first time, but many of us did dumb things when we were young. When you are 18 and dirt poor the promise of a "free" college education sounds like a good deal for only two years of work. Until under stop-loss and IRR those two years turn into 4,6,8 years, which of course you may server in the ranks, or in prison, your choice. Volunteer my a**. Anyway, had to rant.

  • ||

    It would seem that the idea of freedom is completely dependent on one's own perception and/or definition of that word and state of existence. If we're to accept the premise the property rights are the basis for all other rights, then any claim to freedom would be highly suspect. Do you really own your home if you payoff the mortgage? Or, you vehicle if you pay cash? Try not paying the annual taxes or registration. So, who owns what? We can invoke the argument that we are free to pursue whatever goals and ambitions we choose. Conversely, we can argue that we are prisoners to our desires that we can never seem to satisfy. Once we obtain one target, we're scanning the horizon for the next one. That's how we live; pursuing one pleasure after the next because the satisfaction doesn't last. We're prisoners to what we identify as the freedom to do what we choose to do. And through these endless pursuits we have lost contact with each other. It may take something like the current global economic crisis to reveal to us just how disconnected we have become. We do not understand the purpose of humanity nor our individual roles as components of humanity. We really do not understand. With all of the advances in medicine, science, and technology we still have not improved how humans relate to each other. All of this "progress" has not brought an end to the killing of each other. Instead, we develop ways to kill in greater numbers with a higher level of efficiency. Perhaps, we should engage an effort in making humans out of ourselves. First, we need to learn what that means.

  • ||

    Wow. Thanks for throwing a bone to men, Veronique. I had to wait until the last paragraph to get my reward: I won't get drafted! Wow.

    If you think your recitation of anecdotes and fuzzy "statistics" is anything other than examples that confirm what you want to see, then I think you are mistaken. I am all for freedom (not license) being open to all. Your collection of anecdotes, however, says only that we have been blessed with a dime but been charged a quarter.

  • ||

    Parts of this article make no sense. How am I 'yielding freedom' to have a safety commission make sure my bed doesn't explode into flames and my milk is safe?

    Bigger Government does NOT always (or even 'usually', I would argue) lead to less freedom. The premise is flawed but is presented as a statement of fact.

  • ||

    I have to agree with jeff in the main. I was 17 in 1968 and quite frankly there was more freedom then than now. de Rugy confuses fiscal options with basic freedoms and they are not the same thing. Nobody had a personal computer in '68 as the microchip had not been invented yet. But its lack of existence did not decrease my freedoms. If that is the case then it seems unlikely that the opposite increased them at all.

    Here's what you could do in '68 you can't do now --

    * smoke in a restaurant.
    * Buy unpasteurized milk.
    * Get on a plane without being frisked.
    * Purchase a hand gun without a background check.
    * Drive a car without seat belts or emission controls.
    * I could eat all the fatty fried foods I wanted, but no longer true in NYC today.
    * Do what I generally wished with my property. Today with wetlands laws I have to worry about my property being classified as a wetland and lose all economic value to it.
    ...

    The list is long. But you lost a basic freedom when you went thru the airport scanner regardless of the fact that today you can afford to go to Bora Bora when you could not 40 years ago.

  • ||

    Bigger Government does NOT always (or even 'usually', I would argue) lead to less freedom. The premise is flawed but is presented as a statement of fact. -- JohnJay60
    -------------------------------

    Stand back and listen to yourself. The fact that someone is making a decision in regards to a matter means you have relinquished the right to choose of YOUR own accord for yourself. That is the most basic freedom of all -- the right to choose good or ill.

    Fact that issue goes to the heart of the current fiscal crisis. By the government stepping in to 'save' some fiscal firms, the government is choosing winners and losers. As a consequence the govt is making a choice when in fact the management should be making the choice to win or lose.

  • ||

    Freedom to do what? Have all the uncommited sex you want? With whomever/whatever you want? Go on exotic vacations? Have your basic, and not so basic needs taken care of by a benevolent state? If I remember correctly, Huxley wrote about such a brave new world in his famous book. And I really don´t think his intention was to paint such a world as desirable, from a truly free people´s point of view...

  • ||

    I would suggest to Veronique de Rugy she read this --http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/12/01/do0102.xml -- tell us if she thinks freedom is expanding faster than government.

  • Harold||

    The Second Amendment/gun control is a mixed bag. 1968 was the start of the great modern wave of gun control and in almost ever respect we have less liberty in this area then than now. Import restrictions of various types starting with the 1968 GCA have also negated a good part of the advantages brought by increased wealth.

    But there's one big thing that partly counters all of the above: concealed carry. Back then only Washington State had shall issue (and Vermont then and to this day requires no license, and I think that's true of Alaska as well; some states probably had de facto shall issue as well). Now about 40 states have de jure or de facto shall issue (mostly the former) and there's quite a bit of license reciprocity between many states.

    This is a pretty big thing. The right to bear arms is nearly as important as being able to keep them, and depending on your occupation there's a good chance you can move to a state that allows concealed carry and has a sane self-defense legal regime.

  • #||

    in 1968 you could pour dioxin into Chesapeake Bay and kill generations of fish, fishermen's livelihoods, etc.

    More gov regs are not always a bad thing...I remember what the LA basin used to look like

  • nfl jerseys||

    nssweg

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