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Money Issues in the US: Why Can’t We Party Like It’s 1905?

money issues in the USWhen writing historical things, I try to include perspective from people who actually lived through the events. And for money issues in the US, I’m able to do that back to about 1905.

So, do you think life was nasty, brutish, and short in 1905? That there were poor and starving people falling dead on every street corner?

Hardly.

The Wright brothers were flying for 30 minutes at a crack; Einstein was upgrading the laws of physics; telephones and electric lights were being installed all across America; Henry Ford was getting the final pieces in place for his moving assembly line and Model T; radio was being developed; art was flourishing; and the world was more or less at peace.

Sure, we have far more tech and better medicine now, but mostly because the people of earlier times (like the 1905 era) gifted it to us.

People in 1905 lived in heated homes, refrigerated their food, had access to professional physicians, traveled the world (mostly on trains and ships), read daily newspapers (there were many more of them in those days), watched movies, and ate just about the same foods we eat.

So, was it really that bad a time?

No, it wasn’t. In fact, it was better in important ways.

Money Issues in the US: The Facts Don’t Lie

Consider this:

The working person of 1905 kept his or her money. They ended up saving somewhere between a quarter and a half of everything they made – after living expenses.

It’s hard to be completely precise when reconstructing the budgets of average people in 1905 (records are hard to find), but we do have enough for a good, close guess.

Here’s how finance worked for a working family man of 1905:

Annual income:           $700.00
Annual expenses:      ($350.00)
Annual savings:           $350.00

If you’re thinking that I’m taking liberties with these numbers, let me assure you that I’m not – I’m being conservative. For example:

  • The income figure should probably be higher. I’ve found figures of well over $800 for construction workers.
  • As for expenses, I rounded up from a New York Times article, dated 29 September, 1907. It specified $325 per year.
  • Added to that is the fact that many people grew their own food during that time, which would skew the figures further.
  • As noted initially, I compared these numbers with stories I heard from relatives who lived through the time. My uncle Dave, for example, used to tell me how he got a job paying $390 per year sweeping floors as an unskilled immigrant (who spoke almost no English) in 1903.

The next time you drive through an old part of town and see the grand old houses, remember that people were able to build and buy them because their paychecks weren’t stripped bare. There were no income taxes in 1905, no sales taxes, no state taxes, and not much in the way of property taxes.

There was also no such thing as a military-industrial complex in those days, and – miracle of miracles – the rest of the world survived!

And Now…

Today, the situation is much, much different. The average working family pays about half their income in combined taxes: income taxes (to the state and the Feds), payroll taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, utility bill taxes, sales tax, local taxes, and on and on.

So, figuring an average income of just over $50,000 (the 2011 figure). And combined taxes of about $25,000, the average American family is left to pay bills like these:

Mortgage                     11,000
Car payments              6,000
Gas, repairs, etc.         2,500
Property taxes             2,500
Food                              3,000
Total                          $25,000

That leaves people zeroed-out. And again, I’m being conservative, and I haven’t included a number of smaller expenses.

And if you think I’m going overboard, look at this graph of the savings rate from between 1947 (as far back as I could find) and 2009. This graph covers more than families, but it paints a clear enough picture:

money issues in the US

Great Grandpa Did It, So Why Not Us?

Your great grandfathers faced very few of the taxes that we face. (The government survived on tariffs.) There was no social security either, and – believe it or not – the streets were never full of starving old people. Families were able to take care of their own – it’s not that hard when you’re saving half of your income!

We have forgotten that it was once possible for an average person to accumulate money. The truth is that productive people should be comfortable. Well-off, as they used to say.

So, why can’t we party like it’s 1905?

You might want to think about that question. Here’s a thought that may be useful:

You can complain about abusers all you like, but the people who obey the abusers are also to blame.

Paul Rosenberg
“Money Issues in the US: Why Can’t We Party Like It’s 1905?”
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  • cat writer

    I have a better perspective, Paul:

    My late aunt ran the annual family Passover seders. We supplemented the Haggadah story with commentary, discussion and wide repertory of songs.

    The story refers to the Hebrews as “Avodim Hayyinu”. The correct translation was that we were WORKERS, not slaves.

    The slaves of Pharaoh were NOT plantation slaves. Everyone in Egypt had his own occupation and means of earning his own living, less whatever taxes and tributes Pharaoh demanded. The term “worker” referred to the four months of the year when the Nile was down and Pharaoh dragooned the population to “community service” which in this case were public works. This was a 33% income tax.

    So we have the spectacle of Jews, let alone the rest of America and Western “civilization” celebrating freedom while they advocate, impose, and suffer burdens that Pharaoh may not have even conceived of.

    • Robert D’Arensbourg

      “Obama; let my workers go!”

    • cat writer

      Wrong. If we can point to a group, it would be the Puritans.

      • cat writer

        Thanks for the deletion. Here is a relevant article: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/07/the-mcdonalds-budget-laughably.html

        One of my grandparents arrived from Europe with his father and two brothers in time to see the first World Series. They had $120 between them. That is $3600 in today’s money. They did exceedingly well. Now 20 grand/year does not cut it.

        Furthermore, I doubt the numbers presented. $20/month for health insurance? What would these numbers be without the taxes.

        There has to be an economic point past which war is inevitable. I am trying to find historical precedent: Bohemia (Czech Republic) up to the beginning of the Hussite Revolution which began in 1419 and the lead-in to the Thirty Years’ War beginning in 1618.

        Note that these wartimes involved not only that Kingdom but also large parts of Europe for at least 40 years. What surprises me is that several Eastern Europeans I know consider both of these wars, AND especially the 40 years of war from 1914-1954 and the 40 year aftermath into the 1990′s as necessary! I had to think about this for a while before I agreed with them.

        Both the 15th and 17th century wars led to an increase of state power. That initially enabled more freedom at lower levels, but evil eventually consolidated at higher levels. America is the prime example, a nation at least as corrupt as the medieval Church; its people launder their wickedness through their government.

        However, the violence during the Renaissance was necessary because the people learned of the consequences of their attitudes and behavior. Reason and science replaced faith. Menno introduced the concept of responsibility with religious choice. Copernicus brought the beginning of maturity: the Universe does NOT revolve around us.

        From Genghis Khan to “Yes we can!” in eight centuries: Americans by their actions contradict these principles and reverse eight centuries of Western and world progress. Without widespread and total warfare, this people has not had the opportunity to experience the consequences of their belief systems themselves in their homes.

        Soon, it will become necessarily ugly in North America and this will last generations. Even if current technology makes the war cover a shorter period of time than previous ones, the aftermath and aftershocks should be good to last for the balance of this century.

        I have studied history for decades. I would prefer that enough people would read, understand and implement the ideas promoted in websites like this and apply reasonable solutions to our problems so that everyone can profit. However, I do not see this happening. Most people, especially Americans now, need extremely hard lessons about engaging in mutual rape. War and its aftermath will be the school.

        If we want a civilization, we have to quit uncivilized behavior and by whatever means necessary, repudiate those who choose to continue profiting from their mayhem.

  • texaschris

    Wonderful piece. Great perspective.

  • Tjeffson

    This sure helps point out to people why all this taxation and massive government is so bad. And this article didn’t even touch on inflation. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be publish all over the MSM.

    • ShaneJax

      Which it never will be as long as MSM is mainly just a propaganda branch of the govt

    • Phenry

      Great article. If people only knew how bad our government really is…

    • jdieter

      inflation is why we don’t save. why save something that evaporates? so the genious bankers tell us, buy stocks, McDonalds won’t evaporate. but 250,000,000 people can’t all make money on stocks. “ha ha. we will make saving impossible so they all have to borrow and buy stocks”

    • Sunflower_Girl

      Makes no mention in article of insurance expenses that you are required to have for home, vehicles, etc. That is a big chunk of $. Especially with teen drivers on your policy. There are so many extra costs to keeping a household, on top of food, utilities, housing and transport.

    • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

      What inflation? I run a computer repair shop and all I see is prices going down. It’s killing us. The right has this fixation on inflation and has no awareness of the deflationary forces at work. A little inflation would help small businesses a lot, not to mention increasing the value of your assets. You watch it all crash and your asset prices with it. It’s coming soon.

      • Tjeffson

        Inflation over time. The FED has inflated away over 95% of the value of the dollar in the last 100 years. Even 2% inflation over a working lifetime means 145% increase in prices (age 20 to 65).

        What the FED is doing right now is trying to stave off deflation. The reason you aren’t seeing widespread inflation from all the money printing is because most of it is going to the banks and not being spent. You do see a fair amount of inflation in food, gas etc.

        Deflation is actually good for the consumer… lower prices which equates to greater purchasing power. It’s also a natural result of innovation… better phones make older ones worth a lot less. Better technology in a TV drives down prices … LCD’s are much lower now due to LED etc.

        We need a good deflationary collapse … to put the failed businesses out of business (ie the major banks). It’s the only way to clear all the bad debt and the bad investments that were made based on bad policy.

        • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

          I mostly agree, except that deflation is good for the *employed* consumer. Those who have stable jobs benefit, except they don’t benefit from asset to debt ratio increase. Overall I see deflation as detrimental to the overall economy.

          • Tjeffson

            Actually, it’s not. It’s the natural order. The problem is you’re looking at a completely controlled economy (ie govt regulations and mega corps run the whole thing). In a free market system, unemployment would be a very small number. Even for those not working, lower prices would be a good thing.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            I do wonder how different things would be today had the banks been allowed to fail. i.e. a truly free market.

            Such a thing is a pipe dream however, no different than the extremes of Socialism in the USSR and China. As soon as everything is deregulated the vultures and wolves come out and the sheep get eaten. Free market Capitalism is the worst of all systems.

          • Tjeffson

            “Free market Capitalism is the worst of all systems.” now that’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s the best of all systems when it’s actually left alone to be a free market.

            Govt run cronyism is the worst of all systems. It enriches the elite few while robbing everyone else. It’s rife with fraud as well. And that’s exactly what we have going on now.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Present me one single example of free market capitalism that hasn’t resulted in extreme disparities of wealth. Just one. I’ll be happy with that. Greed will always win out in unfettered capitalism.

          • Tjeffson

            I don’t know that there are any examples because government cannot stay out of the mix. A truly free market capitalism system is more of an ideal than a reality.

            I would say if you want to see an example, look at the Internet. It’s a pretty free system that doesn’t have much, if any, govt regulation.

            What you ignore in past “capitalism” systems is that they weren’t truly a free market, govt was involved which leads to picking winners and losers. Thus, greed is allowed to flourish because the govt is backing certain groups.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            That’s my pint, it’s idealistic. Balance is the key. Just as a civilized society has rules to keep criminals in check, so it must keep *all* criminals in check not just the poor and powerless… and rules are needed to prevent abuse of power, both in business and government. No perfect system exists, however a true Democracy that does the will of the people, where political corruption is recognized and punished appropriately is, in my opinion, the best bet. We need to unite as proletariat vs oppressor, and leave the squabbling until we’ve fixed that.

          • danmac64

            I agree, balance is the key. We are way out of balance. Government always has and always will exist in one form or another. It is necessary. And it is not a necessary evil. Good government is good. Idealism always exists as well. It helps bring change. From me it says, the more self government and the less government from those who want to control all they can for their own selfish benefit the better. Or as Classical Liberalism states, “that government is best that governs least.” Ideally, what government should do is protect the rights of individuals. The individual is the smallest minority. No individual or minority should have their rights trampled by larger groups or more powerful entities. Government’s good work should be to serve this purpose. Unfortunately, The greater powers of our existing governments are trampling minorities and individual’s liberties into ruin, in service to those who control the government. We need to come to true understanding. In today’s world that means a revolution of consciousness. Yes, we need to unite and overcome oppression, and leave the squabbling. But not only as proletariat. For that cannot be the ideal of the proletariat. We want to become more than that. We want to be whole, independent and free people.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Well said. There is indeed such a thing a “good” government. There have been many, and the USA, at the behest of the power elites, has pretty much destroyed them all. The power elites can’t abide genuine democracy, which always tends towards democratic socialism at their expense. A true democracy benefits the proletariat, while reigning in the excesses of the oppressors. I am genuinely heartbroken at how many Americans do not understand this simple, yet so very important concept.

          • danmac64

            I agree with much of what you say, and wholeheartedly with your sentiment. A “pure” democracy, however, does not protect the rights of minorities or individuals–unless the majority wants to at any given time. That is why the founders of the U.S. created a bill of rights, so even if fifty one percent of the voters at one time or another want to infringe on the rights of a minority, they are not allowed to. And in creating a bill of tights, and having laws that a mob of people (however in the majority they may be) cannot quickly or easily overturn–without some thought, consideration, and debate–our government became a democratic republic. Those terms, democratic and republic, did not and do not represent our contemporary political parties. The definitions of republican and democrat have evolved so much over the years, neither resemble the idealism of Abe Lincoln or JFK. But that is another story…

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Totally agree on all counts.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            My biggest disagreement here is the idea that government is the only problem. Unmitigated greed is what causes the government to be a problem, but it is that very greed, unregulated that got us into this mess, and catering to it further will only make it worse.

          • Tjeffson

            Again, the greed was backed by govt regulations… Community Reinvestment Act ring a bell? Fannie and Freddie? Whenever government gets involved, it shifts the markets to fit current policy .. and those connected to Congress (big banks, major corporations) use that knowledge to profit greatly and to get more favorable laws/regulations passed that will burden their competition.

            If the market was truly free and unregulated, that wouldn’t happen. Yes, you’ll always have greed but many places that get greedy will end up going bankrupt because they can’t compete or make mistakes that cost them dearly.

            No system is perfect because humans aren’t perfect, but a truly free market system would be the best you can get.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Idealism backed by lack of evidence = assurance. Sorry, I do not buy your argument. It is a theory and a bad theory at that.

          • Tjeffson

            Well, your suggestions have never worked in human history either. They only last so long before the system is too corrupt. The systems you advocate simply enrich the powerful/elites because they have access to the government which makes the regulations/rules.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            You go on believing that.

          • danmac64

            Unmitigated greed uses government. It governs government. It writes the regulations that destroy its competition. Also, it it writes the regulations that force people to buy it’s otherwise useless products and services. The Complex of Complexes: Military Industrial Complex. Medical Industrial Complex. The International Banking Cartel. This greed that rules the economies of all nations could not exist without government. A free market would destroy, not only International Complexes, but most other greed dominated corporations that produce little more than chincy junk and slavery.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            You propose anarchy? You honestly believe that would benefit the proletariat?

          • danmac64

            I don’t propose anarchy. At best, I see it as an ideal. In reality, if anarchy could work perfectly, then government also would be perfectly honest. Both depend on people being perfect. While I have a lot more faith in humanity than the elites in power, I don’t have that much faith. I would propose something much closer to anarchy. And, while I strive not to get stuck in any belief, I do think it would benefit the proletariat much more than the system in place, which sure seems to be leading toward “A Brave New World” type of slavery. The type of slavery we get drugged, entertained, indoctrinated, and enticed into believing we like it, and it is not named slavery. I may well be wrong, but based on all I’ve learned thus far, this is what I think at this time. At 49 my perspective is still evolving. My view is quite different than it was 10 years ago. Hopefully, it will be as changed when I’m 59.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            I respect your desire to change and grow. That is the very most important thing. I have the same approach. I assess evidence as I see it, and when it changes I modify my position accordingly. The right calls that flip-flopping. That is manipulation. As soon as you get people believing they must stick to their opinion, their opinion becomes irrelevant.

          • cat writer

            Bon appetit, if you think of yourself as a domestic sheep.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Is that really what you got from that? Honestly?

          • cat writer

            Honestly. Really.

            A typical American regards anyone else as either food, an enemy or both. Understand that and you will understand American politics (interpersonal relationships) and history.

            Of course, other nations and peoples have the same problems. Americans put up a moral, righteous facade when they engage in evil. This behavior has been wrecking civilization, regardless of form, worldwide. You not only bought into the American belief system but also sell it to others.

            The sheep/wolf cliche is a perfect illustration.

            Metaphors are symbolic illustrations. Words have power and people have used words and acted out metaphors for millennia. From the ancient shamans and medicine men to Neuro-Linguistic Programming, we use words to work spiritually.

            Judeo-Christianity has extensively used the sheep/shepherd metaphor and we see the results daily. This subsidiary belief system supports power-elites. It shape-shifts people by robbing them of their humanity, disabling them, making them into food. If one person attempts to become an equal, to remove the wool, he becomes an enemy. This is the wilderness of constant warfare. It is not civilization.

            As much as you complain about how less profitable your business has become, consider that I have yet to see any animal successfully and productively use a computer. My cats consider my laptop as a warming pad.

            So for you and others of your ilk, do us all a favor. Become a man.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            My dog thinks she a k9 technician. She loves computers. As for your insults, go stick them up your arse where they belong.

          • cat writer

            To Paul and most my fellow readers: Tony is an example of what we are up against.

            The difference between man and beast is that man can consciously choose whereas animals, in this case wolves and sheep do not. Tony is typical in that he limits himself to being an animal. As an American, he defends his limitations and inadequacies behind a moralizing, intellectualizing facade.

            I am too old for this nonsense. I have been too old for at least half a century. I hope most of you are also way too old.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            What exactly did I do or say to merit this kind of vilification of my character? Either you totally misunderstood what I have been saying, or you are just an ass. Maybe I’ll get away from the animal metaphors and just call you a dick. Will we now get a dissertation about my penis inadequacy?

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            I am determined to be one of the wolves if it comes to that. I just hope to do it with integrity.

          • cat writer

            Tony,

            I deal with antiques, and am reasonably knowledgeable about at least the past 700 years (and counting).

            The evidence, which I have handled for over fifty years in one form or another, supports Paul’s article. For example, pocket watches: in Europe, I was hard-pressed to see any watches from 1860-1950 other than the very luxurious or the extremely cheap. The UK and Switzerland are exceptions. In the USA, an ounce of gold ($20) would have bought a high-quality timepiece and a decent case. Waltham, Elgin and other manufacturers of such watches made profits for the order of a century. How and why?

            I have lost patience with these intellectual discussions. At my age, I don’t have the time to watch the same replays. I’d rather get to the point and thank you very much for your immediately previous comments. Everyone should learn from this, as you have shown your character, and my experience is that all statists have similar attitudes.

            You see yourself as a sheep or a wolf. Try being a man instead.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            It’s an analogy, in case you missed it.

      • danmac64

        Prices of what going down? Your labor? Or parts?

        • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

          Computers.

          • danmac64

            I think that has to do, in part, to the growing technology and availability–also of the growing need for these machines. It think does not represent inflation or deflation in the wider economy. My guess is your labor, like all labor, has been going up–in terms of feral reserve dollars, which really means only that the value of the dollar is going down and we are constantly trying to readjust. (I’m leaving my feral typo)

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            Feral Reserve! LOL. Love it!

            Whatever is causing those price decreases, it provides buyers with less incentive to repair their computers when they can buy a new one for just a little more. Therefore it benefits the mega computer corporations like HP and Dell at the expense of the small computer repair entrepreneur. If prices were more reasonable, the consumers would be more inclined to use our services, putting money in my pocket and creating employment opportunities for potential employees I might hire to process the increased workload. Higher computer prices would be a boon to main street small businesses, enabling us to survive and thrive, rather than worrying about going out of business due to low prices.

          • danmac64

            Yes. Like the auto industry, and so many industries these days, we see corporations manufacturing things that are not meant to last and are often made in such a way that fixing them is not worth the cost when one can buy new for a little more. Also, stuff is out dated so quickly. The next generation of junk is ready to be rolled out as soon as the sales of the old generation of junk start to slip. How would a freer market affect this scenario? How would a more regulated market affect this scenario? Ideally, a guy like you would be in government, helping create the legislation. But in reality, I think, the way it works is someone from IBM or Microsoft writes the regulation. Folks from Monsanto and Merck head the FDA. Folks from the nuclear, coal, and oil industries control the EPA. The Federal Reserve System is owned by the International Banking Cartel. I must sound cynical, but I’m not. I have High hopes. This is just the way it is now, as far as I can see. Small companies usually can’t survive the regulations written by the folks who have interests in the megacorps. I think the mega corps would all fail, if not for government intervention, bail outs, regulations, etc.. In fact, limited liability corporations would not exist in the first place without government protection saying they can get away with murder.

  • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

    What utter codswallop! Do you seriously
    believe these numbers for the “average person” in 1905? Certainly there
    were those who were well off, but the seething masses were poor
    as church mice, worked 7 days a week 16 hours a day, children
    were uneducated and sent to work long before puberty,
    sweatshops, coal mines, … I could go on and on Why would anyone just accept this kind of nonsense as if
    it weren’t just propaganda?

    • Trutherator

      What are your sources? The author provided his. How do you know it was like you say? Children “uneducated”? Really?

      I homeschooled my kids, and I got a reprinted McDuffy ELEMENTARY-school reader from about 1915. Today’s Ivy League grads would have a hard time understanding it!

      • ErnestineBass

        You homeschooled your kids?

        I feel sorry for those children.

        • Jonetwo

          Why would you feel sorry for them? Because they missed out on the idiocy of the American School System? Oh yeah, that’s a real loss.

        • George G Collins Jr.

          I know many, many homeschooled kids. After meeting many hundreds of them, my wife and I were so impressed by what we saw, we now homeschool our own. I hope mine turn out to merely be a average among this amazing group for if they do, they will be better than the legacy of the public school setting by several orders of magnitude.

        • Gotham Knight

          My child is taught at home because public education has been compromised by and infested with charlatans who worship the state and have more of a desire to indoctrinate than educate. No need to feel sorry for children freed by parents who love them enough to actually teach them superior academic skills compared to their peers in public schools. Here is one of innumerable articles that details the benefits of homeschooling:

          http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/06/01/home-schooled-teens-ripe-for-college

        • clemensb

          @ErnestineBass “You homeschooled your kids?
          I feel sorry for those children.”

          “You grew your own vegetables? I feel sorry for the ones who enjoyed them.”

          Public school is a half step above federal incarceration. Only a half step.

          You idiot.

          • ErnestineBass

            OK. Can any of you morons provide at least three examples of the “indoctrination” you claim exists in public schools?

          • clemensb

            Why bother? Is it going to change anything you believe? Instead I’ll provide a simple example. My daughter, home schooled from K-12, went on to earn an AA in community college and then a BA with honors in English from a fine private university. A wonderful, successful free-thinking young woman, married with a beautiful daughter.

            Not bad for a moron.

            So you can go ahead and feel sorry for her.

            What, exactly, is your problem with home schooling?

          • ErnestineBass

            You’re dodging the question.

            No surprise there.

          • Trutherator

            Almost the only ones left who defend government indoctrination centers are leaders in teachers’ unions and a few dupes.

          • ErnestineBass

            So you can’t provide a single example?

            Just as I suspected.

          • clemensb

            Good grief. I looked at your comment history. You comment on hundreds of articles a week all around the clock. Are you a paid troll or just lead a pathetic life in some basement in your underwear supported by other people’s money?

          • ErnestineBass

            I’m a retired professional. Deal with it.

          • Dr. Artt Martin

            Yes I can my parents could not afford to send me to college so I worked my way through. I became the Student Body president in my Junior year. I disagreed with an instructor about his position Our movie was a teaching experience his student should be able to attend. O contention was that the student Govt was run by the students and we did not have to allow his students into our film festival free just because we were showing a movie which had received many awards for excellence on world history. He was going to flunk me and told me I could withdraw from his class. What he wanted was parrots who would follow his lead. I reported him to the the dean of Instruction and he was reprimanded and told to allow me to stay in his class. I knew I could not get a good grade but I needed his class to graduate and he was the only one teaching it or I would have dropped out. If that was not an example I do not what It represents.

        • Trutherator

          Gimme a break. Daughters graduated high school at #1, #3, and #8, another daughter is doing a doctorate in Statistics at Ann Arbor Michigan (best for the subject), another gave up a scholarship to a famed Design school to be a missionary, another graduating soon from UC Davis. A son network engineer, another doing pre-med, another is music studio engineer and producer.

          Poor things.

      • Phenry

        Amen.

      • dubld

        Hey Tony,

        “Economic Fact and Fallacy” by Thomas Sowell cites many statistics that render your claims the ‘codswallop’ (whatever that means). In fact, even among blacks, literacy rates, achievement rates and marriage rates were all significantly higher at the turn of the 20th century than they were at the turn of the 21st. This despite public works, the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society and compulsory schooling.

        So let me be the first to recommend this to you since whatever sources you’re (not) quoting are the ones that are quite verifiably wrong.

    • Gordon Johnson

      Bulls**t,

      My grandfather was one of the ‘seething masses’. He received a bachelors degree in agriculture, was able to save, and was able buy his own ranch before the age of 30. He said his experience was typical for the time and location. When I spoke to others of his generation from other places I discovered…that grandpa’s experience was indeed pretty typical for his generation.

      My great regret is that I was too young to absorb much from his father, my great-grandfather, who grew up before statehood and was a contemporary of figures such as Butch Cassidy, and others. Such was the ranching trade in those days. Unfortunately he died when I was a toddler and when he was a handful of years short of 100.

      I’d have liked to have the first-hand accounts of adult life in the 19th century.

      From their first-hand descriptions, the “Guilded Age” narrative in the government textbooks of my childhood – about Monopolies, Child Labor, and abusive employers is utter and complete propaganda.

      You need to rely on first hand sources, second hand if you must.

      You might start by inflating 1905 average wage data using the manipulated-to-the-downside-CPI so as to determine the modern equivalent of salaries in 1905. Given your statement above, that data is likely to shock you.

      I could include a 7th-grade test from 1895 as evidence of education. But why bother?

      If you were like most modern people with a graduate degree, you’d fail (tested at 65% failure).

    • Jopolio

      Tony needs no sources. Just take him on his word. hahaa.

      Wait, correct me if I’m wrong, but the latter half of the 19th century and entry into the 20th saw the biggest increase in living standards that ever happened – in the history of the world. Prices fell as production increased. We were the world’s largest creditor nation. We had a huge savings rate. We were the richest country in the history of the world. What am I missing, Tony?

      • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

        Hmmm, I may need to re-evaluate.,

        • Jopolio

          You may need to simply put forth an argument worth taking seriously.

        • Jeremy VanGelder

          Yeah, Tony, I think you were thinking of England and Scotland in the 1810s. Conditions were significantly better in America in 1905.

      • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

        And there is no need to be rude. :-)

    • Biggly

      Tony, what you’re describing is from before the industrial revolution, which began in the UK in 1760, not America 1905.

      • ErnestineBass

        Bollocks.

        • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

          ROFL

          • ErnestineBass

            Your characterization of this article as utter codswallop was absolutely spot on. And these comments – truly mind-boggling! Apparently villages across American are missing their idiot.

          • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

            I really have a hard time believing the implication that poverty didn’t exist in 1905. (I thought the “Bollocks” comment was aimed at me. LOL)

            Hey, Biggly! Translating from Queen’s English to Americanese, Ernestine’s comment would essentially say, “Bullshit!” :-)

            (Love the village idiot comment. ROFLMAO)

      • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

        I was thinking more Dickens’ day. 1800′s. Certainly within 20 years or so of 1905 it all came crashing down and poverty increased exponentially for many. We could say that the 1990′s was a great time when we partied heartily and most of us had a great time, wealth grew and it seemed it would never end, but it was a bubble and it would be a mistake to use that as an example of what America did well. Quite the opposite in fact. I wonder if the same could be said of the early 1900′s. So I must question the author’s conclusions as suspect until proven otherwise. I’m a cynic. This feels like right wing propaganda to me and I have to go with my gut on this and be wary of his agenda.

    • Ryan Nace

      The were, however, far better off than they were prior to the industrial revolution.

    • Tjeffson

      He’s not that far off , if at all. Even lower wage earners were making about 400 a year. Dentists made around 2,500. Do a little research on your own to find out if the data is wrong.

      The biggest point of the article is the savings rate. Back then, even if you were really poor / lower wage earner, you could still save a fair amount of your money. Today , you can’t save anything even if you’re near the middle class. Government and inflation have taken away everyone’s purchasing power.

  • dubld

    Well said. Especially the part about homes. If you’ve ever seen the magnificent Victorian homes that line the streets of San Francisco, ask yourself roughly what it would cost to build such a home today. Undoubtedly a small fortune, if you could even find a craftsman to do it properly (they didn’t cnc routers back then either). Then realize that many of these homes were built or purchased by fishermen, midshipmen and dock workers. Who also saved half of their incomes. This scenario seems an impossibility by today’s standards, yet back then it was commonplace. This is a great context for understanding how much wealth and quality of life has been lost to the machinations of big government.

    • Ryan Nace

      there’s a recent study, sorry i can’t find a link right now, that shows if we had kept regulations fixed where they were in 1949, our current GDP would be between $34-60 Trillion a year.

      • Tjeffson

        Government and the Plutocrats have been siphoning off the wealth of this nation for decades. They do it via social welfare / social justice / “we just want to help” policies. That’s why politicians enter Congress without much money and leave as multimillionaires. Heck, we aren’t that far from having Trillionaires now. Maybe people will finally wake up when the next crash happens, and it will.

  • Biggly

    Great article, nicely researched, puts the point across well.

    • bmz

      “nicely researched”?? Where? He cites to nothing where you can verify his allegations.

  • Citizen

    Bottom line…. Government has become a cancerous malignant tumor, sucking up our savings and our childerns futures.
    We have become tax SLAVES to our Government.
    Enjoy!

  • Citizen

    In 1905… America had a GOLD standard and the Government was only 3% of GDP
    In 2013…America has NO gold, NO standards and Government that is 76% of GDP
    Hmmm wonder why we are Tax Slaves today.
    Bow before the Beast!

  • http://www.tpteq.com/ Tony Pirog

    OK, the implication is that if we stop taxation and regulation everything will be just fine and we’ll be able to party like it’s 1905. The “Unfettered Capitalism” crowd would have you believe that if only we’d do it their way, things will get better for everybody. They’ve been selling this lie for ever and too many people believe it. The fact is, the deregulation and tax reduction on the rich that they have been pushing for is actually generating a neo-feudalism. The rich get richer while everyone else gets poorer. You want to see a time in history that is more apt to describe their goals, look at Dickens’ England. This whole article is a red herring. If this “resonates” with you, then you are buying “The Big Lie.” The power elites want it all, and 1905 is not their goal. We need to unite against the oppressors, and people are arguing about irrelevant crapola like this. Wake up folks!

    • Dr. Artt Martin

      There is not a way we are going to change GOVT without a total crash which may happen in the next few years because the majority of the population which control the vote have the majority by defacto control. the sheepeople will control as long as they can get the GOVT to pay their way. 48% are on the dole now. We need a lesson on self sufficiency. A depression will bring the people who know how to survive out. the rest may find other methods to end their existence if the have no
      big brother to support them.

      The beltway boys control from the back rooms none of them ever show their faces
      they use the rubber stamps we call politicians to play their game. They have done it for hundreds of years. It almost got out of control in their game 1929. They tried again in 1967 and in 1987. then again in 2000. The 2008 game was another debacle which almost got out if control. Their attempt to destroy the financial structure and take control almost worked. Now the whole world is involved. we will have a world wide depression very soon. The survivalists who know how to self to be self sufficient will come out on top this time. They have in the past if we go back hundreds of years in history. My parents were survivalists in the 1930 depression so I know the ropes as was born during that depression.

  • Ed Wapole

    Go back to sleep, Little Sheeple. We will wake you when it is time to re-elect our puppets.

  • danmac64

    I would add that many more people had their own small businesses when
    the tax structure allowed it. It was simple. There would be a lot less
    accountants and lawyers…and a lot more productive people. Also, I
    would like to see a comparison on the number of hours people worked,
    annually. My bet is they worked a whole lot less–as employees, that
    is. Because of the greater prosperity, which equals more free time,
    people were able to work more hours on their own properties, their own
    dreams, ideas, etc..

  • Paul Stramer

    I would like you to write about the world wide currency reset that seems to be happening.
    It seems the BRICS nations are writing trade agreements with each other excluding the US FRN which will stop the dollar being the reserve currency.
    What do you see happening with the other currencies values in relation to the FRN?

  • ocarol500

    NO INCOME TAX … NO PAY FOR CONGRESS … SMALLER GOVERNMENT, fewer Cabinet positions … bring those back and we CAN party like it’s 1905 — and repeal the 17th Amendment and bring back REPRESENTATIVE Government.

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