# Is your quality of life (due to economics) higher or lower than it was 30 years ago?

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Seattle, Dec 8, 2019.

1. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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6,004
Is your quality of life (due to economics) higher or lower than it was 30 years ago? Obviously if you are younger you can comment and substitute another number for 30. If you are older feel free to go even further back.

I'd say mine was about the same overall. Wages are somewhat stagnant however inflation is very low. Cars, housing, food (in general) has gone up. My current computer costs a fraction of my first computer. I now have no landline phone, cable TV but it's all replaced via the internet for less.

Banks used to have a lock on your money, now a brokerage account or mutual fund can offer more convenient services at a lower rate (in general). Cars cost more but my last car has lasted over 20 years. In the past cars generally didn't do that.

Air travel is cheap in comparison to pre-deregulation. I don't see the present wide availability of the internet playing out the way it has under the old regulated systems. Ma Bell never changed in 50 years.

People have learned to be more entrepreneurial with more people working from home, going into business for themselves or just by simply having a side plan/income. There are less people with 20 year guaranteed jobs but more people not having to go to the same dead end job for 20 years.

401k's with employer matching, self directed IRAs, a low inflation environment, these weren't always the case. When I was a kid parents could fork over hundreds of dollars for a set of encyclopedias for the family. Now much better is available for free over the internet.

When I use a phone, which is rare, I can make unlimited (long distance) phone calls for free. Mom and pop shops, when that's all that existed, were generally expensive and didn't necessarily carry everything that you wanted and you might not be able to afford it if they did.

Fewer people worked on their houses, if necessary, and had to call a "professional" whereas now anyone can go down to Home Depot and cheaply buy the materials yourself and just watch YouTube videos if necessary.

Gas had a big percentage jump in the 70's but has had long periods of relative stability since then.

It's easy to buy most anything that is on Ebay or Amazon for much less than at any time in the past. It's easy to sell used stuff and get a decent price which was not the case in the "little nickel" days when you either basically gave away something or just clogged up your garage with it.

Is your actual quality of life materially worse, better or about the same now as opposed to some fixed period in the past?

3. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,547
Standard of living is considerably lower due to external economic factors; quality only slightly lower, due to changes in lifestyle.
Best years for my generation: 1967-1977.
Highest disposable income personally: 1990-2000
My bank charged no fees for maintenance, withdrawals or cheques.
Yes, they did. Look at the vintage cars from 40's, 50's and 60's, still going if they're properly serviced. 70's and 80's were not so good, especially for American cars, but they came out with a few decent models in the 90's. We've bought low-end Hyundais since the 1985 Pony, because they're economical to run and reliable. From time to time, we've pickup trucks - Toyota, excellent; Dodge, OK; Chevy the pits.
Also a whole lot more uncomfortable and dangerous. Not going anywhere anymore.
Done all that - mostly because we had to. It has a few highlights and a whole lot of pitfalls. Highest income on contract: US$95/hr in 1993; other times, struggle to break even. N/A to self-employment. We got some encyclopedias for$1/volume with groceries, but that was back in the late 50's. They also had these big imposing buildings full of books you could borrow, gratis; didn't have to fork out a few $hundred every six months for the latest device and whatever the multi-user internet fee is... My phone line in the$70's was around $14/month, unlimited local; might fork out$4-6 for the Christmas call to Europe. mostly, we wrote letters. By hand. With a pen. In cursive script. We were so quaint!
Except you have to monitor your kids every minute, so nobody lures them into sex-abuse or drives them to suicide; failing that, you worry about attention deficit, social-media or game addiction, sleep deprivation, research that goes directly from the screen to the term paper without leaving a trace in their heads...
Again, not my problem.
How far back are you thinking? They had supermarkets and department stores in the sixties. Food was considerably cheaper. Clothing was comparable in price, better quality. (Do you happen to recall when a stripes on a shirt matched up at the seams?
And quite a lot of smaller, family-operated specialty stores, too, with a more interesting selection of merchandise at reasonable prices. Hey, you could even buy stuff that was made in the US or Italy or England or Canada or France!
Rents were a lot lower (% of income) on a wider range of far more rental accommodation - there, repairs were the landlord's responsibility. You wouldn't buy a house until you were pretty well established in your career and saved up a down payment, which wasn't that hard to manage. Took me about four years from when decided.
Everyone I knew who owned a house worked on it. In fact, nearly everyone I knew in the 70's and 80's was renovating, upgrading, repairing or restoring an old house, learning the necessary skills and buying the necessary tools as they went along. I still have my B&D electric screwdriver from 1976, when I bought my first house - have gone through four generations of the inferior cordless ones.
We would call tradesmen for wiring (code) and roofing, possibly major plumbing - like swapping out all the lead pipes for copper, where it had to hook up to the mains - not just to install a sink; anybody could do that.
Building materials were much cheaper. Of course, I started back when a 2x4 measured four inches by two inches and the lumber store delivered free of charge.
We used to have books with diagrams and blueprints. Permanent, portable, could make notes in the margin; could pick one up for two bits at the Goodwill.
Which is why so many people don't have jobs.
I've had lean times and flush times, but finally wised up.
My life is better, not because the crap is cheaper but because - Who needs it?

Last edited: Dec 9, 2019

5. ### Beer w/StrawTranscendental Ignorance!Valued Senior Member

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5,647
I think a better question is: would quality of life due to the internet be higher or lower?

:EDIT:

30 years is actually a long time...

7. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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6,004
OK, is life better with or without the internet for you? Without it you wouldn't be able to ask this question however.

8. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I grew up in a smallish city (30 thousand people) in SE U.S. and although there were general stores and grocery stores, there weren't large box stores until I was in high school. Prices in those stores were a lot lower than in (for example) a mom and pop sporting goods store.

McDonald's wasn't in my town until after elementary school. If someone took a trip to Hawaii it wasn't a regular vacation, it was a "trip of a life time".

Today flying is more like hanging around a bus station but more people can afford to fly. If money isn't an issue you can still have comfort if you want to pay for first class.

When I was a kid there were no Home Depots and local hardware stores, in my town, didn't carry construction materials in small quantities at reasonable prices.

Sometimes people would drive for an hour or so to get to a large city for something like more choices for expensive things like 35mm cameras but even then for something like that I would just order from NYC from a catalog because the prices were so much better.

Most stores weren't open on Sunday and most stores closed at 6pm or so most other days.

9. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,547
We didn't have Sunday shopping, either - except milk stores and some drug stores. Didn't miss it. I'm not sure the convenience of spending money (we often don't have) is a major factor in improving our quality of life. I'm quite sure shopping ought not to be a main component of life.

I think many of our different observations are not of time or economy but of location.
In the late 60's, my parents built a house out in the boonies. The nearest town, 3-4 miles away, had a population of 2000 or so. It had a good lumber yard, hardware store and feed store, but not much else.

From 1958 when my parents moved there to 1985, when I moved out to the country, Toronto was a big, cosmopolitan city with all mod coms, terrific hospitals and entertainments, while also safe and mainly pleasant to live in. No MacDonald's (didn't miss it). On allowance day, I had lunch with two friends at Woolworth's - hot dog and Boston cream pie, \$.35

As for the internet, yes, it's convenient, now that I'm old and feeble.
I feel lucky that my kids were fledged and dispatched before it was "the thing"
and I'm glad I grew up without it.

Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
10. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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6,004
I think for those who are able to adapt to change (always required) most eras have their pluses and minuses.

I tend to think the present is usually as good as or better than most periods in the past when all things are considered.

11. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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18,257
Higher. I've been saving all my life, and now I work because I want to, not because I really need to. And that's a relief; it helps me make better decisions on what I want to do.

12. ### LaurieAGRegistered Senior Member

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468
The main difference started in the early 70's, in Australia at least, when television producers really learned how to make money out of children (Countdown - pop music show).

It's hard to describe to someone who has never experienced what it's like to watch TV without the modern 'in your face' advertising. If you were a child of the 1960's or before you had a relatively untainted first 10 years of childhood.

13. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I don't generally see any advertising. I watch things without advertising including whatever I browse online (ad blocker). Everything now and then I'll watch a program that is direct from TV and I'm reminded how many ads are on TV and how in your face they are...usually about some prescription medication that you might "need'.

We didn't even have a TV until I was 6. I haven't had cable TV now for 10 years.

I was a child in the 60's though and I seem to remember plenty of advertising, using about Tide laundry detergent or Rice a roni the San Francisco treat.

14. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,547
Not to mention, Plop-Plop, Fiz-Fiz...
But it was relatively benign (nobody flushed their nose or indicated where diarrhea comes from) meted out at predictable intervals, so you could get a piss or a drink without missing the action, and it was never, ever on top of the program currently running.
Internet is all nice and good, but out here, I have to budget my bandwidth - especially in the schmaltz wonderland of December.

15. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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2,974
I honestly don't know. In some respects, better, in others, worse. Of course, 30 years ago I was just finishing high school, so...

My lifestyle has always been rather "unconventional," so it's kind of hard to compare things in economic terms. I'm nomadic and have often been voluntarily (mostly) homeless, in a sense--like living from a bike, or a backpack, and, a couple of times, from a van (VW Westfalia), for months on end--and often out in the sticks, in the middle of nowhere. Don't buy much, barter a fair bit, and have largely avoided both rent and work for significant chunks of time. (I often joke that I'm lazy, but that's either compensating or coping--epilepsy has made full-time, "proper" or "regular" employment a virtual impossibility for me. Also, I've made money from things that don't really seem like work to me.)

I think that were I to feel the "need" to have all the things that most people seem to think that they "need" these days, I suspect that my "quality" of life would likely be much lower today. But apart from a laptop and a kindle, most everything I own and use is at least thirty years old--or was made by me.

Yeah, flights are cheap, but back in the day, the savvy sorts could figure ways around that--courier flights and suchlike. And it sucks having to fly everywhere in the US and it's environmentally catastrophic--every other country has a decent rail system. And rail travel is a blast--more so in developing countries, but even in Europe, I find it rather enjoyable. Cars? I've only had two in my life, both 1982 diesel vanagons--still useful after an EMP and can run on anything. New cars are crap (except electric).

And as far as DIY: as Jeeves mentioned, books! I make a lot of music related electronic apparatus, and on that front, it's nice being able to source any and all components with minimal difficulty. Even in the late 90's, tracking down parts was a fair bit of work.

In other respects pertaining to "quality of life" but not necessarily economics related, I suspect that if one is black, female, gay, ... quality of life has improved in many respects. One would think that would likely be true for those with disabilities, as well, but oddly, I find that a lot of people are either disturbed or terrified by epileptics--and I'm not just talking about uneducated folk. (And it's not just me--I've heard this from a lot of people). Not really sure what that's all about.

Seattle likes this.
16. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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That's interesting regarding people being disturbed by epileptics. I haven't come across many (that I knew about). When I was a kid my older cousin married a girl who was an epileptic. I wasn't around when she had any seizures but she did have them.

She actually died shortly after they were married due to a seizure (indirectly). She was home alone taking a bath and had a seizure and drowned.

If people are disturbed by it, it must just be due to not knowing what to do or say? I don't know.

17. ### Beer w/StrawTranscendental Ignorance!Valued Senior Member

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I haven't had seizures all my life and there are different kinds of seizures. Some you even feel it coming on. It's like and indication that it could happen. It's like, for me, an intense gloom cause the universe decided to collapse in on you. I've had sensation while taking baths, but fortunately didn't succumb to one. However, my bigger fear is freezing on the side of some lonely road at night in winter.

That feeling could save your life (especially if you have violent seizures) but you only have a fraction of a second react and then it's lights out. Home alone and sitting at my desk I got the sensation. Quickly swiveled my chair on dove at the couch...

I woke up in my bed, with all my clothes on, and not knowing how I got there. Groggily coming to the realization I had a seizure. All my muscles seemed tense, I was laying in my feces and urine, and a blood stain on my pillow. I stagger out of the room and see a blood stain on the floor a foot away from the couch. I don't know if I even made to the couch, but I guessed I would have crawled from the location on the floor and into bedroom. Yet, still not having and recollection.

Anyway, if I maintain a good sleep regimen seizures shouldn't concern me.

18. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,547
Not equally everywhere, but in general, I expect you're right. At least the legislators have done some of the right things, after protracted, intensive pressure from the less benighted portion of the population. (Just don't let the "God, Guns and Trump" faction win the next round!!)

No legs is okay; deaf, you can be accommodated; it's even relatively safe to be small. But don't be disfigured, bipolar, schizophrenic, or have PTSD or Turrett's, and if you have Down's, pose for the 'inclusive' ad picture, then disappear. I suppose I'm jaded, but I hear a lot more platitudes than material aid.
It's a holdover from the middle ages. They don't know what to expect, so they expect the worst... and very, very deep down, secretly, they may believe you're being possessed by the devil. The devil is making a sneaky come-back in some parts of what's supposed to be the developed countries.

19. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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2,974
My auras (generally regarded as simple partials by most, these days) typically precede worse seizures by a couple of hours. As I couldn't know precisely, if I had something important to do I used to induce a seizure. Then I would either be out for the day, or be able to resume whatever I had planned after an hour or so. I don't do that anymore, as it didn't always work out so well.

Last week, I broke my glasses--somehow, it was the first time I've ever broken glasses (I typically fall backwards--or, at least my head does). I was sitting on a stool at a kitchen counter and was thrown (heh, "was thrown") back with such tremendous force that I wound up, like, a good ten feet from the stool. Apparently, the back of my head just missed the edge of a wraparound counter by an inch, which likely would have resulted in my demise.

Apart from all the clinically recognized forms of seizures and epilepsy, there are "unofficially" two fundamental varieties: those who can tell you how many seizures they've had in, like, the past decade, and those who honestly can't tell you how many seizures they've had in the past week. Unfortunately, of all the other people I've known with the latter variety, they're all dead now except for me. Yikes.

As far as reducing incidence of... it's always been problematic for me. A lot of cognitive dissonance and mixed feelings. On one hand, I once recorded most of the basic tracks for an album during a prolonged fugue state (up to a week or so, and typically with total retrograde amnesia), and I've also written some decent music while seizing and also performed very well. On the other, well... Then when it comes to raising one's threshold, for me, regular sleep is difficult as I've got chronic insomnia. Another big trigger for me is... exposure to people who are utterly incompetent at whatever it is that they are doing. Obviously, minimizing that involves some major lifestyle changes, as in my experience, most people, frankly, are incompetent. However, I try to be around non-human animals as much as possible (for the most part, 24/7), as in my experience, they tend to be highly competent at whatever it is that they're doing.

I think that the erratic behavior--one person I know described it as akin to "acting out"--of focalized seizures tends to freak people out more than tonic clonic seizures do. The latter, at least, are kinda predictable insofar as how they're gonna play out. And unfortunately, the people most likely to be freaked out tend to be of a certain temperament, to have certain intellectual limitations, and tend to be cops.

Ian Curtis expressed the "mixed feelings" quite well here:

Err, that's a demo. Here, rather:

Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
20. ### Janus58Valued Senior Member

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2,145
You call that "the boonies"? From '69-'75, we lived in a house that was surrounded by 10,000 acres of forested land owned by a logging company. The nearest town of any size was some 10-11 miles away.

It was the only house on a connecting road*. The only reason it was even there was that it was originally meant to be a retirement home for merchant marines (it had even been constructed with lumber salvaged from a demolished maritime building). It had never been completely finished and had been left abandoned for several years before my folks bought it as a "fixer upper" ( And boy, was it ever in need of fixing up!)

21. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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I have to: that's where I first heard that word.
So, where did you get building materials and the knowledge to fix it up?
(I know it's off topic, but not inordinately so, since Seattle brought up DIY. I'm just interested. Before they started ground-work on the permanent house, we stayed in a shack my father - with a lot of help from juvenile press-gang - built of native cedar log, with basic hand tools. Raised floor, two separate rooms, naturally ventilated, porcupine-poof. Pretty nifty.)

22. ### Janus58Valued Senior Member

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2,145
Fortunately, much of the building material for structural repairs (there was a fair amount of of dry rot to deal with was scavenged from the house itself, the whole front section (big enough to be a house in of itself) had never been finished and was basically a shell with exposed interior studding. So it provided a source for the needed lumber. In addition, there was a whole stack of windows from the original maritime building in it, which was a good thing, as there was not an unbroken pane of glass in the whole house. Once you got past the top few windows in the stack, we had a number of replacement windows to chose from. Nails sheet-rock, etc, was purchased from a lumber yard ~ 17 miles away.
The knowledge was from what Dad had picked up over the years by necessity. During the late 30's he worked on the construction of the Grand Coulee damn, and while there lived a shack they built themselves. Later he worked as a carpenter on housing meant for ship yard workers at Vancouver shipyard (WA). Except for maybe the small farm house they got after he married Mom, He either built or majorly remodeled every house he owned.
The actual purchase of the place was a spur of the moment thing. We were actually on vacation from Minn. Dad was planning on retiring in a year or so (at that time he worked as mechanic at an Iron mine), and they wanted to move out West ( As my parents had lived out here before and preferred the Winters.), and they were just kind of looking around and scouting things out. Long story short, they end up buying the place, it's decided that Mom. My sister and I would stay while Dad would go back until he could retire. Dad spent the rest of his vacation getting the place ans livable as possible, (luckily, the family friend who lived not too far away and showed the place to my folks as a joke, was able to loan us tools.) Mom, my sister and I (I was just shy of 11) spent the rest of the Summer/fall getting the place ready for winter. For the first couple of months we had basically no furniture and no running water(other than my sister and I running to get water from the creek in the back), which meant we also used an outhouse that we quickly erected for our toilet. At the end of the Summer, an Uncle, who we had talked into changing his vacation plans, arrived towing a u-haul with some of our furniture. While there, he was also able to set us up with an electric pump to deliver water from the creek to the house. So at least we had running water after that. (except when the pump lost prime or the foot-valve broke loose and washed down the creek. )

23. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,547
Well, so much for everyone calling in professionals back then!
Good story. You probably had some pretty good days in among the hardship and inconvenience.
We were miserable a lot of the time while things like that were going on - not all the time! There's the creek full of little brown trout, and the smell of cedar, the first encounter with a wild animal and neither of you dares to blink first ... - but you can't regret the experience, the skills and self-reliance you gain.