Friday, January 29, 2016

And an F for History

Perhaps you've seen the Old Economy Steve meme. The meme depicts Kenneth W. Kiser from Ohio, who reached his late teens in the early 1980s.

To call the meme massively inaccurate is an understatement. The overwhelming majority of claims attached to the meme are fallacious.

The U.S. economy in the late 1970s and early 1980s was atrocious, worse than now, especially for young individuals. Unemployment peaked at over 14 percent. The 1980s and late 1970s were the McJobs era. The median income of young families with children declined in the 1970s and declined roughly 30 percent in the 1980s despite wives joining the work force.

Individuals born after the early 1950s ferociously competed for minimum wage jobs. Cedar Point amusement park in Kiser's home state held massive group job interviews for atrocious, minimum wage summer jobs. Only a small percentage of those applying were hired.

Later Boomers and Generation Xers worked hard. They had to. They were fired for the slightest infractions.

Private sector union jobs were almost non-existent for young adults then. Almost no one mentions what really happened. In the late 1970s, Republicans, Third Way Democrats, labor unions, and businesses reached tacit agreements. Older workers would keep their union jobs or get early retirements. Young adults would get laid off or shut out. The media complied by hyping the dog vomit new economy. New, non-union subcontractors worked young adults like dogs for minimum wages while a few miles away old workers at union jobs goofed off much of the time.

Trade deficits, budget deficits, and economic unfairness soared before Kiser was old enough to vote.

The global super rich deserve most of the blame. The alleged Greatest Generation deserves some of the rest. Those born between 1915 and the early 1950s were the ones who got good jobs and got to retire early, not the Old Economy Steves.

The so-called Reagan boom was for the rich, not young adults or working class individuals.

The Steves deserve criticism for partying hard and being politically apathetic and unorganized, but not the horse pucky spread by the meme.

I just shake my head at Reddit and similar sites.

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