The booming economy of post war America was the gold standard for the American Dream. It is the benchmark many refer to when they refer to making America great again or pledge as Ted Cruz did, to “restore the great confident roar of America.”
I Am America… Hear Me Roar
The mid century USA stood united and confident at the apex of global power and consumer abundance, racing boldly and confidently into the future.
Moving forward at ever-increasing speed was what Americans expected from their country, their cars, their consumer goods and their economy.
“Because there’s nothing you can’t do when you’re ambitious and industrious,” proudly exclaimed one ad produced by the Advertising Council. “That’s the free, dynamic American way.”
The people of mid-century America had never been more prosperous, never had Dad the breadwinner taken home so much money.
The soaring strength of the roaring bull market was at an all time high symbolizing confidence in the Capitalist system. American industries were the symbol of our strength and like the biceps of the healthy and strong spoke of the wisdom of our ways.
Bristling with as much bravado as Donald Trump, advertising and articles proclaimed the wonder and glory of the American way.
In early January of 1953 Life Magazine published a special issue devoted solely to the booming American economy. Entitled “The American and His Economy,” it was an unabashed love letter to capitalism and to this record-breaking economic splendor.
In 75 pages of lush pictures and articles Life presented this new America in terms of the people – housewives, factory workers, engineers, business managers – who brought it all about.
Color pictures, they promise will show “how several quite average Americans have proved that the U.S. is still a place to get rich quickly and honestly.”
A Land of Good n’ Plenty
“During the past dozen yeas or so,” the magazine begins in an introduction written by social historian Frederick Lewis Allen,” we have been watching in the United States something close to a miracle…The once sick American economy has become the wonder of the modern world.”
The article then goes on to boast:
“In two decades the US has by-passed the methods and exceeded the goals which old-fashioned socialism had set up as ideals for an economic society.
“It has achieved instead something totally new and something infinitely better.
More or less unconsciously the nation has pulled off a major social revolution. The means to this end have been historically unique, a process mainly of grading society up from the bottom rather than down from the top.
More Of Everything
“Most of the change has been wrought by a simple but bold economic idea: more of everything for everybody.
It is an idea of production and consumption rather than conservation and thrift.
Some of the results are far-reaching:
- More Americans now own their homes than rent
- Since 1929, the US has moved halfway toward equality of income for all members of the population
- The US has reached a state almost unique in history where increase in population means increase in prosperity.”
For Mr. and Mrs. America, the factory workers, engineers, housewives and business managers, the issue never lets us forget that, “the U.S. is still a place to get rich quick and honestly.”
A Confident Future
And finally, to answer for the reader the most important question of all about their economy the article asks: “Where are we going from here and what will happen to me?”
According to the giddy experts, there was no end in sight for this soaring economy. The bull in our soaring bull market was a symbol that the U.S. could compete and win.
And in this land of good and plenty one thing we were never short of was confidence.
“These are big facts. Most Americans, caught up in their daily lives and their own small jobs hardly realize the great forces at work around them. Only occasionally do they stop to think how different is their life now from what it was only 10 or 20 years ago.
A Tarnished Dream
Today we find the middle class, the heart and soul of the American Dream, dying on the vine. Sadly, today they do stop to think how different their life is now from what it was only 10 or 20 years ago.
America’s economy has swung out of balance – ordinary Americans are working more than ever, creating record wealth that’s everywhere but in ordinary people’s wallets.
It will take more than bravado to get us back on track.
Copyright (©) 20015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved