BACK IN 1966, I WAS 22 AND THE U.S. WAS A VERY DIFFERENT PLACE
ONE TENDS TO FORGET JUST HOW DIFFERENT
I first visited the U.S. in the early Seventies. At the time I was the founder and Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of the Addmaster Corporation of California (the latter still exists, and is thriving, I’m proud to say). The subsidiary was called Addmaster UK—and despite great odds, we were very successful.
At that time, though I am Irish—albeit Anglo-Irish—I lived in London. Many Irish still do. That is where the work was—and still is.
Back to the Seventies: In that era, the main commercial threat came from the Japanese, flying was still enjoyable, there was no accepted terrorist threat in the U.S., and the American Middle Class was still in good shape (though the Vietnam War had exacted a heavy toll in American lives and treasure—and, most crucially, on American self-confidence).
Just about everything, from the American diet to the cost of Healthcare, was to change over the next 40 years—and mostly not for the better as far as most Americans were concerned. Perhaps the most disturbing development was that rising American prosperity, stemming from significant increases in productivity, ceased being shared. Previously, since the end of WW II in 1945, all the stakeholders—shareholders, management and workers—benefited, more or less proportionately. That ended around that time.
Subsequently, after the early Seventies, the Rich got ever richer, but the bulk of the population—the Middle Class—saw virtually no increase in earnings at all. And now Middle Class earnings are in decline; and unions have been virtually crushed—at least in the private sector. The Rich have won—and some have stated quite publicly that they are unhappy with that fact.
I’m far from sure this is the way the U.S. is meant to be; needs to be; or should be. It is not the American way to want to pull down those who are successful, but neither is a low wage economy, combined with a steady downward pressure on earnings, acceptable—especially because costs are going up. Sinking wages combined with rising costs does not happiness make; nor does it make for a healthy democracy.
It kills the American Dream.
I have written about all this in my book, TITANIC NATION: How To Avoid Icebergs.