It was easy to take our good fortune for granted, but we’ve since suspected that we may have started our lives together during the best of times. There were problems in 1967, of course, including somewhat stressful periods between school and full time employment when grocery shopping could be challenging; but our government was making progress, and our middle class was strong. We would marry, buy a house with a Veterans Administration no-money-down mortgage, and start a family at a time when one person working could support all off this. I took a year off when our daughter was born, and then chose to go back to work; but most of my married friends were stay-at-home housewives then.
A simple graph arriving in a newsletter recently hit home. It tracked the percentage of young adults living with their parents from 1930 to 2020. 48 percent were living back at home with their parents during our Great Depression. We reached a low of 29 percent in 1960, but were back up to 47 percent by 2018 and reached 52 percent during the pandemic. We have again reached a Great Depression level of dependency; and it may not surprise us that fewer of our young adults are attending college, fewer are marrying, and birthrates are down – or that our level of income inequality has also reached Depression levels.
It’s difficult to conceive of this now, but our top marginal tax rate was 70 percent in 1967, and even higher while we were paying off our WWII debt. Our wealthy seemed to be doing okay, though. Capitalism was not only alive and well, our economy was growing at an annual rate of 3.9 percent.
Our top marginal tax rate had been cut nearly in half by 2017. Our wealthiest would benefit most from yet another cut; but not only is our debt large, we haven’t had an annual GDP growth rate as high as 3.9 percent since 1999.
It would seem that we all do better when we all do better. Middle class incomes have stagnated since 1980, and it is understandable that tax cuts are attractive when we’re stressed financially; but we have the highest level of income inequality among the G7 nations.
At this point it is also understandable that we are experiencing anger and unrest. Only the wealthiest among us have become wealthier since our Great Recession. And while we’ve gotten tax cuts, it is beginning to disturb some of us that billionaires paying no federal taxes are rocketing into space as class and racial divisions threaten our democracy.
People are ideally more supportive of one another in functioning democracies, and they’re generally better off for it. Our wages have started to move up, but there’s more:
The Voting Rights act of 1965 was designed to undo voter suppression once and for all. Republicans reaffirmed it in 2008; but by 2012 nearly 90 percent of eligible black voters were registered to vote, and Republicans realized that would not favor their reelection.
Ed McBroom, a Republican state senator and devout Baptist farmer from the upper peninsula of Michigan who chairs their Oversight Committee, recently released his report of an 8-month long investigation of Michigan’s 2020 election. The senator also known as the “choir boy” wrote: “There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud, or that an organized wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”
For good measure, he added: “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”
McBroom’s investigation was described by Donald Trump as “a cover-up and a method of getting out of a Forensic Audit for the examination of the Presidential contest,” and that’s the nice part. The McBroom family is receiving threats, and McBroom hates leaving his family at home alone when he drives so many miles away to work.
The nonpartisan Partnership for American Democracy recognizes that “we must work across partisan lines and cultural divides to empower voters and support a common purpose of opportunity and commitment to our Constitutional democracy in a spirit of cooperation that is an expectation of American citizenship.”
My husband and I were fortunate. Let’s move in a positive direction for our next generation.