Thought experiment, better more articulate

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3 Comments:

At 5/15/10, 6:52 AM, Blogger Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

I can't comment at Daily Kos, but the 50's dude belonged to a union, had more free time and in inflation-adjusted dollars, had more money. Also, I may be wrong, but I think the Key system was still running. He could get on a trolley that would take him all over the bay area, up to Oakland and Berkeley, across the bridge to SF and even all the way down to Fresno.

On the other hand, if he was gay, he was living a life of quiet torment. If his wife was a different race than him, there were several states where their marriage was illegal. A lot of California was segregated and since the GI BIll probably figured into his house-buying, the neighborhood had red-lining stuff going on. Some areas also restricted residence for Jews. If he was ethnically Japanese, he would probably have been interned during the war. Which he might have fought in, regardless of his race.

He might also be concerned about the political organisations he belonged to in his youth, because of anti-communist black listing.

Still, if he was straight, cis, white, able and middle class, aside from the crushing restrictions of 50's masculinity, life was pretty good for him and, given the union thing, he had a lot more hours to himself and a lot more income.

(Why are people saying "homosexual" again? Did I miss a memo?)

 
At 5/15/10, 4:35 PM, Blogger Crinis said...

No people aren't saying homosexual again. I just didn't think that my doppelganger would use the word gay. Still, A.E. Housman despised the term (b/c it was a wretched Latin-Greek hybrid) so maybe I should too.

I completely agree with you that life sucked for minorities and mixed-race couples and gays, and it sucks a bit less now. It's looking like the the big lifestyle differences between then and now are that gender roles are a bit looser, and it's ok to have friends who aren't straight and white and male. This is massive progress(!!!!) but I've still got a petrol engine in my garage, no solar panels on my roof, hot water heating technology that's older than my grandparents. It's a good plateau, and my argument wasn't that the fifties were some weird golden age, but that lifestyle progress seems to have stagnated (and most of my friends have less leisure time now, so arguably, it's backslided a bit).

I guess the really big difference between then and now is that are a sihtload of channels on the TV not to watch, vs. 3.

 
At 5/15/10, 6:15 PM, Blogger Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Oh yeah, on the gender roles. Tammy would have probably worked during the war, but would have been fired as soon as the GIs came home and it would be her home with Viola now, not you.

If you guys tried to do it the way you are now, you wouldn't just be fighting major social disapproval, and ugly rumours that you were gay, but major income discrimination as well.

I know you're not saying that the 50's were a golden age, but some things were definitely better, mostly due to strong unions and government investment in infrastructure. We could replicate the good bits and skip the bad ones.

I've seen the word "homosexual" about five times in the last couple of days, which is kind of weird, but you at least have a good reason for it. I'm not sure about the other folks using it.

I dunno, when I think about how my life would be different between the 50's and now, I think of a whole hell of a lot ore than the number of TV channels. But yeah, technology did not go as predicted. Most of the stuff you mention has to do with petrochemicals, and that's because the companies selling those played a direct political role. I think they've held us back.

 

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