Monday, March 28, 2016

Better Times Ahead?

American Prosperity

Westward Bound: “Rear view of an Okie’s car, passing through Amarillo, Texas, heading west, 1941,” Wikipedia writes. John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), set during the Great Depression & the Dust Bowl in the U.S., follows the travels and travails of a poor farming family from Oklahoma, the Joads, who join thousands of other “Okies” on their way westward to California in search for a better life. 
Photo Credit & SourceWikipedia

What does the future hold for the middle-class? An article (March 26th), by Tom Streithorst, in the Los Angeles Review of Books says (using the example of Hollywood) that the old world of job security and economic prosperity for the middle-class is long gone—and has been for at least a generation— and such a way of life is not likely to return, despite the promises of some candidates in the U.S. presidential elections. This proves the argument that believing something is true does not necessarily bring it about. I think this describes wishful thinking or magical thinking, as if the words themselves can engender the desired change. I am not sure if things were generally better for the middle-class thirty-five years ago when I entered the market for permanent employment, but they were sufficiently good for me—even though this was a decade after the end of the post-WWII economic boom  [1945–c. 1970].

Even so, there was no permanent economic downturn. I had a lot of opportunity and viewed my prospects for the future as positive. Viewed from the vantage point of today, it might have been that I was just younger and more hopeful. Or, that given the way the global economy is structured, prospects today are especially bleak and appear worse than they were during the Great Depression. In twenty years, will a good full-time job be the exception rather than the rule, with less people working full-time than not working at all? This is both hard to imagine and hard to accept. That so many lives can be in disarray and disorder. That the transition to better times is unclear and unknown. This does not suggest, however, that it can’t happen.

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