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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our First President: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Posted by on Sun, May 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

What is it about America that insists on looking at the 1950s as the norm, as if it's the starting point of history, while ignoring the previous, oh, 14,000 years or so of human civilization?

Nearly 25 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds here live at home.

In fact, the share of Americans living in multigenerational households is the highest it's been since the 1950s, Pew found. The trend is being driven by "boomerang kids," so named because they moved out, then moved back in.

My mother grew up in a "multigenerational household." Her grandmother ran the house while her parents and uncle ran the family store. In fact, when my mother got married and moved out at the dawn of the 1960s, it was she who violated the cultural norms. My grandmother lived with my Bubbe from the day she was born until the day the old gefilte-fish-making matriarch died.

I don't mean to show a lack of empathy for the way the Great Recession has disproportionately impacted 20-somethings, but this not-since-the-1950s meme is annoyingly overplayed. In many, many, many ways, the societal norms established in 1950s America are historical and cultural anomalies made possible by unique, transient, and unsustainable economic circumstances.

Idealize it all you want, but historically, there is nothing normal about the past half century.


Comments (43) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
That's my point exactly.

Take 50 story vertical density and large metropolitan "cities". These are 20th century horror stories for living...a far cry from even 18th century London's "gigantic" 2 million population.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 2
So get used to lackluster leadership from DC and Olympia kids. This is now NORMAL!!! USA #1!! USA #1!! USA #1!! USA #1!!
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on May 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
TVDinner 3
This is so true. We pathologize adults who still live at home, too, which adds a whole heaping serving of shame on top of everything else. "Jesus, what's wrong with her," we wonder and then speculate, "She must have an unhealthy relationship with her parents/she must not be a real adult/something's wrong with her."

I think this rolls down hill, too, into adolescence. There is so much pressure on teenagers to separate from their parents so they're ready to be fully independent by age 18 that it manufactures unnecessary conflict.

And don't get me started on how we segregate ourselves by age group, either.

I spent two years in Central America, where unemployment and underemployment is almost total, and there is a damn sight less conflict between adolescents and their parents. There's no cultural pressure or expectation for the kids to establish themselves by a certain date lest they be perceived as losers.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on May 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
john t 4
I'd rather live in a van down by the river than move back in with my parents.
Posted by john t on May 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
I fail to see how this is a comparison to the 1950s. It's actually a comparison to ALL years between now and then. It allows us to have a metric for how "unusual" or "usual" a social phenomenon is. We're seeing something that hasn't been seen to this extent for 60 years. Few of us see any reason to extrapolate further back than that because so few of us were here then. I don't mean in any way to brand the young-adult-living-at-home as pathology. I just think it's a lazy fuss to complain that we're comparing now to the 1950's.
Posted by laurax on May 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
malcolmxy 6
we'd never had all our competition destroyed/participated in their destruction before (all proposed Japanese bomb sites sans Kyoto, were minor military, major industrial targets).

How could we fuck it up?

we were the only ones producing everything for quite some time. Instead of preparing for the eventuality of these industrial nations rebuilding and competing again, we bought into the idea that we were just better and it would last forever.

turns out, that was wrong. who knew? (oh yeah...anyone with half a brain.)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM · Report this
CBSeattle 7
I hope you are being facetious, but just in case, what all these people are saying is "since" the 50's. In other words, when you look at the statistics you can't find a number as high (or as low) since the 1950's.

It's not that they are advocating the 50's (although obviously some people do), it is a standard description of the numbers over time. For example, you equally commonly hear "since the Great Depression" in the cases where there have been no higher (or lower) numbers since then.

It's not an accident that measurements may refer to the the 20's and 50's since they were both times of extreme economic and social tumult.

The 20's created the post-WW1 world and the 50's the post-WW2 world. Get it now?
Posted by CBSeattle on May 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
treacle 8
The 1950's were a cultural nadir for us... all that stupid shit about "nuclear families" being the ideal somehow. Madness.
Posted by treacle on May 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 9
the 1950's were NOT a cultural nadir - jazz, rock, blues achieved classic form. phenomenal painters and sculptors.

it's WHO remembers WHAT. conservatives choose to remember cheap gas, leave it to beaver and ozzie and harriet, not the artists who made america the king of world culture in that decade.

@1: i have no idea what you're on about, except you think auto-dependent suburbs have a future.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Banna 10
That's because it's as far back as the boomers can remember, and they're the first generation to matter (in their own mind). After they die off, all statistics will include a "...since the 1970s" caveat, since anything before then will be ancient history to gen X.
Posted by Banna on May 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM · Report this
We also had different traditions about how multigenerational housing worked. Where my Dad was from the biggest family got the main house and the previous generation was there but in a smaller section of the house; rather like mother-in-law apartments now. That makes it easier.
Posted by david on May 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
We'd be better off with the tax rate structure of the 50s.
Posted by MikeB on May 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
eastcoastreader 13
@12 very much so

I get annoyed with the whole "Ooh, the 50's!" kind of crap too though. I love what my mother says about the 1950's- "the food was bad"
Posted by eastcoastreader on May 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Goldstein discovered that people romanticise their past!

I take it all back, Goldstein. You are a stellar journalist (ya know, rather than a sub-par partisan hack propagandist mis-stating or outright lying about your 'facts') after all. With this unique and never before noticed insight into the human condition, you take your rightful place among the Edward R Murrows of your profession!

My apologies.
Posted by Seattleblues on May 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 15
Well, at least this gives Obama and Romney cover for not offering any real economic solutions to our current problems or reform our tax structure to tax the rich like they were in the 1950's.

"That last 50 years of relative prosperity? It was just a fluke of nature. Enjoy living with your parents and grandparents. THAT'S normal!"

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on May 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 16
Seattleblues: Nobody takes you seriously, goober.

Where were you in the thread about the woman forced to take in her gay niece because her religious family disowned her? How come you didnt step in there defend the religious nuts that kicked out their own daughter? Why didnt you speak up and defend the actions of the crazies - the actionsnew that proved that hundreds of strangers fifteen hundreds of miles away are more of a community, and more of a family than the religious nutters ever will be?

You're filth, seattleblues.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on May 20, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
venomlash 17
@14: Hey bro, you have no standing to go after Goldy about factual accuracy. Hate crime laws give some people more rights than others? Homosexuality is only innate if there's a gene causing it? Gay marriage will hurt straight marriage? You wouldn't know accuracy if one fell on you out of a tree. And if an accuracy dropped on you out of a tree, it wouldn't miss.
Posted by venomlash on May 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Adding to 5 and 7, it's an oversimplified term for a data point. Just like *shudder* the term and usage of 'Baby Boomer Generation' cuts off in 1965, because of the change in immigration law that year. Or 'Darwinian Theory' as a broader abused term. It's valid data, it's the interpretation that can turn it to shite.
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on May 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this

Aww. Somebody needs a nice cup of hot cocoa it sounds like! Maybe get a hug from your mommy, too!

I didn't read any thread about a disowned child. I'd venture a guess that the facts were twisted or outright lied about, as per usual Stranger standards, but won't state that without having read the thread.

What a collection of strangers 1500 miles away has to do with an aunt taking in a niece escapes me, but in your bile you got a bit confusing anyway.

However, family means something specific. It isn't the neighbor, her cat Buttons, the homeless guy who sleeps in the alley and the clerk at the coffee shop you go to every morning just because you speak to them most days. It is those tied to you by blood. It is your mother and father, grandparents and aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers. Just thought you should know, since you suffer the usual liberal confusion about how words work.

And hey, you have a nice day too, okay there Chief?

Posted by Seattleblues on May 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 20
A major reason for using the 1950s is that there was an explosion of data, communications, and record keeping that began (or reached for its maturity) during that period. For example, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had only been established in 1944. Random sampling and statistics to track population and demographic trends were developed and refined. Furthermore, conducting surveys by telephone became more accurate as the majority of houses had a phone, rather than being skewed towards the wealthiest.
In conclusion, the 1950s are often the first period of time where widespread data collection, record keeping, and statistical sampling are considered accurate enough to be useful.
Posted by unknown_entity on May 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this

Item by item, kiddo-

Show me one single instance where a thought crime, sorry, hate crime law was prosecuted against a minority for saying 'Honky.' Show me one passage from legislative deliberation where a catholic interpretation of such manifestly unjust laws included discussion of how this would help white guys too.

Show me where the supposed biological differences between one who engages in homosexual sex and one who doesn't are causal.

Show me why we should redefine a keystone social institution for the benefit of a bunch of whining babies who can't accept the consequences of their life choices.

Then we'll talk facts, m'kay Junior?
Posted by Seattleblues on May 20, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
"Show me where the supposed biological differences between one who engages in homosexual sex and one who doesn't are causal."

Actually there is an easier test for that.
Why don't you "choose" to be homosexual for the next year?
Since you claim that it is a "choice".

But you make lots of claims that you cannot support.
Such as a single penny more in taxes on Romney being worth more than the lives of 10 dead soldiers.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 20, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this

Actually, I'm going down neither road.

So far as I can tell, this thread has not one blind thing to do with those who self identify as gays (since of course there is no objective way to classify such a person, and it's entirely an unscientifically self assessing condition) wanting to be priviledged citizens.

Nor has it anything to do with your odd Romney/dead soldier equation.
Posted by Seattleblues on May 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
"So far as I can tell, this thread has not one blind thing to do with those who self identify as gays ..."

Yet you had posted:
"Show me where the supposed biological differences between one who engages in homosexual sex and one who doesn't are causal."

But now that there's an easy way for you to demonstrate your point you decide that this thread is not the place for the point you just posted.


But it was the place for that point when you posted it.
But not now.
Because now is after you have been shown an easy way to prove your point.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
venomlash 25
@21: One instance? You're setting the bar awfully low on this one. In 2010, there were at least 349 anti-white hate crimes perpetrated by minorities. A further 218 anti-white hate crimes were committed by persons of unknown race or unknown identity. The data are here.
The biological causes of sexual orientation? Well, here's a nice little correlation between brain structure and sexual orientation in men. And here's a similar effect found in male sheep, because sheep are gay at similar rates as humans. Here's a nice little rundown of the evidence, with citations, and adding evidence of CONTROL* of the development of sexual orientation to the accumulation of correlation. (Remember, you need two of the following three in order to reasonably infer causation: correlation, control, mechanism.) And just as a bonus, here and here are two papers exploring the biological underpinnings of gender identity disorder and transsexuality. Do you have any counterarguments to the collection of evidence I've presented? Or are you going to pretend I never showed this to you and slink off with your metaphorical tail between your metaphorical legs?
If you want to talk about redefining marriage for the benefit of a tiny self-selecting minority, I'll remind you about the redefinition of marriage to include biracial couples. I'll also challenge you to tell me how same-sex marriage will in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER affect straight people. And if it doesn't affect us, and it doesn't hurt the people it does affect, why is it any of your or my business?
The ball is in your court, Seattleblues, and I've set it on fire.

*In rats, naturally. Any experiment attempting control of sexual orientation in humans would run into ethical issues. Don't worry, rats are damn good animal models for human biology.
Posted by venomlash on May 20, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this

Hate crimes are still a bad idea, as would any thought crime in a supposedly free nation. But I concede the point for the moment that they've been used against caucasians as well.

As to 'gays' being the helpless victims of their sexual inclinations, here are the problems from my laymans view.

Using lab animals may be helpful, but is in the end inconclusive. So far as we know, animals don't feel the complications of sexuality or express themselves socially as human beings do. What family and tribe and nation mean, if anything, to my dog or to the rats in the fields come to that is beyond my ability to conclusively discern. I can look at homosexual behavior and make some guesses, even prove some correlations to irregularities in certain parts of the brain, but in the end I can't prove causality by that means.

More importantly, if I study ethnic Japanese or Haida, I can set a standard for genetic variance and say objectively that within such and such a range, these are the folks I'm studying.

If I study those who suffer paralysis from MS, again an objective standard of my test group is possible.

If I study 'gay' people I study a self identifying group, one whose parameters are entirely subjective. It is their experience that same sex attraction is a default position for them. Maybe. Or maybe they're 'bisexual.' Or maybe they twist their understanding of reality so badly they don't even understand that being born with a penis means you're a dude, a vagina means you're a gal. Okay. Not my business, nor my problem. But any data derived from such a group is worthless, from any rational objective viewpoint as defining causal relationships. If your primary data is subjective, you can't reason to an objective conclusion from that point.
Posted by Seattleblues on May 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
@7 nailed it.
Posted by madcap on May 20, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
"My grandmother lived with my Bubbe"

Your grandmother lived with your grandmother? Oy.
Posted by sarah70 on May 20, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Medina 29
Interesting, it seems that this generation either lives at homre or alone. CBS reports, "Roughly four out of ten households are single-person homes, in cities like Seattle (42 percent), "
Posted by Medina on May 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
venomlash 30
@26: We're not talking about modeling human sociality here. We're talking about sexual attraction, which doesn't vary too much across the placentals. There is tremendous homology between rat and human as far as neurochemistry goes.
But here's why we CAN trust the rat study, which I will link directly to here. (Let me know if that link doesn't work for you.) Some researchers looked at the differences known to exist in humans and tried to replicate it in rats, AND IT WORKED. Using human homosexuals as a template, researchers were able to make permanently queer rats by hormonal methods alone. When they altered developing rats in that way, the resulting adults were bisexual. If rats weren't adequate models for human sexuality, this wouldn't have happened. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Now, you can say "self identifying group" all you want, but would you also discard the results of any study on depression? But here's the real issue: homosexuals consistently have distinctive and atypical brain structuring at several loci. (Ditto for people with gender identity disorder.) If "homosexuals" wasn't a real group, why would the people assigning themselves to it share this unusual trait? Additionally, we CAN quantify sexual attraction scientifically. They put you in a chair, attach a few sensors to your junk, and show you porn of various sorts to see what induces arousal. (Which they can measure by checking the flow of blood to the genitalia.)

You seem pretty judgmental of transsexuals, so I'll give you a little thought experiment. Suppose you were put through gender-change surgery and given a course of feminizing hormones. You'd feel that something was irretrievably wrong, correct? In your head you'd feel like a guy, but if you checked your pants, you'd find the entirely wrong set of equipment, and, distressingly, you'd need to start shopping for a bra. Sounds mighty stressful.
You'd be in the same situation, roughly, as a pre-operative female-to-male transsexual. And that's gender dysphoria for you. The body has physical sexual dimorphisms, but the brain has its own ideas about what it should have in its tackle box. And if they don't match up, due to developmental abnormalities, you have to change one or the other to make them fit. Since we're no good at fucking around with brain structure and chemistry, the best treatment at current is to change the physical form.
Posted by venomlash on May 20, 2012 at 3:30 PM · Report this
@26 --
If I study 'gay' people I study a self identifying group, one whose parameters are entirely subjective

You're crazy if you think we don't have tests that can measure sexual attraction outside of self-reporting.
Posted by six shooter on May 20, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
I'm going to just ignore the direction this thread has taken, and go back to the original topic.

Just because the last half-century hasn't been "normal" doesn't mean we are going to be able to go back to what was normal before 1950. The world changes, people change, nothing is the way it was before. We need to accept that and get on with trying to make things better than they are now, not pine over whether or not now is "normal".
Posted by wingedkat on May 20, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
"Just because the last half-century hasn't been 'normal' doesn't mean we are going to be able to go back to what was normal before 1950."

I think that is what the issue with "Seattleblues" is.
He's advocating for resisting change.
And he is trying to support that with his claims of "self selecting" and such.

There is no way we are going to go back to pre-1950 era society.
You can either choose to resist the changes (and claim that the reasons for the changes do not exist) or you can work to make improvements to society as it goes through those changes.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 20, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 34

There'll be plenty of time for living in a van down by the river...

Posted by Ipso Facto on May 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM · Report this
venomlash 35
Goodness me. Sorry about the shitstorm. Well, Seattleblues won't be back anytime soon, having been:
[  ] Not told
[  ] Told
[  ] Batman: The Brave and the Told
[  ] No Country for Told Men
[X] Knights of the Told Republic
Just kidding! He'll be back in two or three threads pretending that he and I never had this conversation.
Posted by venomlash on May 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 36
BTW, Goldy, that would mean Truman was our first President and not Eisenhower.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on May 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 37
I apologize too, for the shitstorm.

However, (especially to the filth known as SeattleBlues), my point stands.

SB quite likely did read the thread about the gay teen that was kicked out of her family, due to the family's religious background (side note to SB: You must have understood that part from my original post, brief as it was. Yet you had to blather on about what "family" is regardless, since you had no constructive point to make).

It was the most commented thread in recent weeks on SLOG. Seeing as it had to to with 'teh gayz', which is total shark chum for you to weigh in with your preposterously wrong opinions, your lack of participation was pretty obvious.

SB, you can blather on and on all you want about what you think family means. But tell me this: Why in the hell would a Jebus-lovin' pro-life Gawd-is-Great family kick out their own flesh-and-blood? The mother, the father, the aunts, the uncles, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, and all the rest of the kin agreed that kicking that girl out of the family For Jebus's Sake was best for them (and Jebus). Just because the girl was gay.

It's not about me having or not having cocoa, you piece of filth.

It's about you defending your proven-to-be-wrong opinions many times, opinions that are so wrong, they lead to things like a family (those tied to you by blood) deciding that they don't want you. Deciding that the tie that's bound by blood is not good enough just because you are gay. That you aren't family because you are gay.

That was the point, Seattleblues. And you are wrong, you are an idiot, and you are filth. Because you are on the side of the religious nuts that think being gay suddenly means family bonds, ties, and blood do not matter.

You are filth, Seattleblues.

Go join useless WiS and useless Bailo in the killfile. I am not reading your proven-to-be-wrong posts any longer.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on May 20, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
There are a lot of things that have become "the norm" since after the war that were not the norm before. The nuclear family is certainly one example. Retirement is another. In the whole history of the world only about three generations have looked forward to and enjoyed retirement in leisure.

The trick, I suppose, is to question whether the post-war changes represent progress along some centuries-long trend or simply an aberration.
Posted by Charlie Mas on May 20, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
After WWII a new norm was established by the government who wanted to rev up the tax base, and companies/corporations who wanted to sell stuff, mainly houses and things that went in them. The houses had to be built where there was land, which was outside cities where multigenerational families had lived. The nuclear family was hyped, with women leaving factories so returning servicemen could have those jobs, and the women were told to be homemakers and buy appliances which would make their jobs easy. The advertising business became very important and shaped a new culture: the 50s.

That's never really changed; the only thing that's different now is that women are supposed to be homemakers PLUS holding jobs -- "having it all", which means doing it all. Advertising has moved from women buying appliances to 10-year-olds buying everything. Bubbe now either lives in a cheap apartment, or in an expensive condo in a retirement development, and talks on the phone once a month to her child 6 states away.
Posted by sarah70 on May 20, 2012 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 40
Things were actually kinda-sorta OK until the Reagan-Thatcher mule team destroyed the Unions and the middle class. Economically downhill on the banana republic trail ever since. With a Landed Gentry class with the world's best private education, private medical care, private security... the rest of us can just get fucked.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on May 21, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 41
The 1950s were a time of massive teen pregnancy, out of control youth gangs, and divorce.

Posted by Will in Seattle on May 21, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
Not only have 20-somethings moved back home, but a not insignificant number of middle aged (hell, retirement aged) folks have started having their elderly parents move in with them. Cheaper than a nursing home, and changing mores re: inter-generational living.
Posted by Sally Hemings' daughter on May 22, 2012 at 7:26 AM · Report this
venomlash 43
@41: You wouldn't know a fact if it bit you on the ass.
Posted by venomlash on May 23, 2012 at 9:26 AM · Report this

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