Grandfather Economic Report series
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This chapter celebrates several
very positive things about America.
However, much of this chapter of celebration was prepared before the 11 Sept. 2001
Terrorist attack in New York and Washington.
It saddens me that I should now delete the part celebrating no war.
But, for a while longer, I shall leave that part intact
for your review
We celebrate a nation without hot or cold war (prior to
with longer life expectancy, and more choices
The Grandfather Economic Report is a series of picture reports to raise awareness of difficult economic challenges facing families & youth, compared to prior generations - by displaying hard data evidence in picture form - on trends of family incomes, debt, social security, education, government (federal, state/local) spending, taxes, foreign trade & exchange, inflation, regulations, productivity, voter participation, trust in government, energy, national security and health care - - now vs. prior generations.
Although certain negative trends are graphically shown in the above chapters of this series, about which we need to become aware so even more solutions & positives may occur - - there are so many great & positive things about our beloved America to celebrate. This page is about positive things to celebrate -
Quick Links: Improved Life Expectancy - - Peace not War - - More Choices
(comments about this page from Dr. Milton Friedman ).
We Celebrate improved LIFE EXPECTANCY
This is a happy chart, showing improvements
| The Health Care Report contains
a more complete picture regarding life expectancy, but here is a summary.
The black curve in the chart represents the over-all increase in life expectancy at birth for both sexes in the past 54 years - - growing from 68.2 years in 1950 to 77.8 years in 2004 - - an improvement of 9.6 years from 1950 to 2004. That performance is something to celebrate. (White race was 78.3, black was 73.1)
The over-all increase (black curve) in the 30 year period between 1950 and 1980 was 5.5 years (66 months) - or about 2.2 months per year. In the 24 year period from 1980 to 2004 a 4.1 year (49 months) increase occurred, although at a slower rate of 2 months per year. However, the difference in the past 24 years between males and females has been dramatic.
The green curve on the chart represents female life expectancy from birth and the pink curve represents life expectancy growth for males - both have increased. In the period 1950-80 female life expectancy increased 75.6 months, 43% faster than the 52.8 months for males. Thereafter male life expectancy increased 73% faster than females 1980-2004, as if 'magically' trying to narrow the gap.
In the more recent period, 1990-2004, male life expectancy increased 113% faster than female life expectancy - as male life expectancy increased 41 months in this 14 year period (from 71.8 to 75.2 years) while females increased just 19 months (from 78.8 to 80.4 years).
Despite past life-expectancy growth within the U.S. as shown in the above chart, the left chart shows life-expectancy in the USA is less than most other advanced nations, despite others spending a smaller share of their GDP on medical. A recent UN study showed the U.S. lags other nations in quality care.
Looking forward, all nations are faced with a crisis in their government-operated social security and medical programs. See the Health Care Report for pictures of U.S. health care spending relative to other nations whereby the U.S. consumes 82% more of its economy on health care than others, including trends of life-expectancy for seniors - - and the Social Security Report for long term graphics on social security, Medicare and demographics.
Today's generation can celebrate the advancement in life expectancy for both sexes, compared to the past.
No. 2 Celebrated Item
We Celebrate a Nation FREE OF WAR
- our founding founders #1 reason
for forming a federal government -
(at least we could make that claim when this section was written prior to the 2001 attack on Iraq)
A reading of the Federalist Papers and a special Historic Summary shows that our founding forefathers defined 4 principal reasons for forming a federal government, which were: (1) national defense, (2) preservation of peace between states (civil wars, riots), (3) trade between states & nations, and (4) international relations. That's a short list. Some would say we have added too many other items to the list in recent decades, but the priorities must remain these four items. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues knew exactly what they intended.
Note: #1 item is National Defense. I believe our founding forefathers would be very, very proud with our nation's performance to their number one principal. Today's young families and youth do not face a 'hot' war-time threat - - not even a military draft to upset their lives - - not even a 'cold war' with pointing missiles. We must celebrate this achievement over and over. We must never forget it has not always been so 'rosy' nor was the price of this accomplishment a 'free-lunch', as the supreme sacrifice of so many attests - - America again may be so challenged in the future.
I was born before World War II, a war which took our nation completely by surprise - the outcome of which was most uncertain. While I was in grammar school my father, my uncles and their friends put on military uniforms. Many did not return safely. Food and gasoline were rationed, and every neighborhood held air raid tests. Those sirens were scary at night, especially the night after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when my brother was born. Most of my high school friends were involved in the Korean War. The casualties from that also took our nation by surprise - perhaps the biggest casualty toll per year in history. My fellow college students included many wounded attending school on the GI Bill - we treated them special and honored their sacrifice. While a young father, many friends were in the Vietnam War and I designed weapons to assist them. Again, America was surprised by the casualty volume and so badly hurt by the impact on its national psyche. And, up to the 1990s we struggled with a 'cold war' and nuclear-armed missile threats that never seemed to end. At the beginning of the 1990s we could not bring down a rogue government in a war with a small nation with a minor, ancient-equipped army, Iraq. The same result occurred in 1999 regarding military action in Yugoslavia, with many military leaders claiming even then America was 'stretched too thin' while leaders of other nations (Russia, China and most in Europe) claimed we had 'over-stepped causing them to step-up their own unilateral military strength.
We can celebrate that today's young families and youth are free of that terrible cloud of the past. They must celebrate that their times are so much better, in this regard. While many today complain about this and that, the really tough life is behind us. They need not sit in trenches or concentration camps, bury dead relatives and friends, or listen to the frightening evening news. They can sit together on the sofa and watch the super bowl in peace. Past generations can be proud as we look at our own children and grandchildren. We are thankful that somehow our beloved America was able to rise to the challenge of the Number One premise of our founding forefathers - - a nation free of war.
WARNING: But, we must not let down our guard. We were surprised before, and will be again - - as warned by the September 1997 statement on PBS News of the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said, "America has a poor record of predicting in advance such challenges." The Economist (2/19/2000) reported : In September 1999, the National Intelligence Council reckoned that "during the next 15 years the United States will most likely face intercontinental ballistic-missile threats from Russia, China, and North Korea, probably from Iran and Iraq." Additionally, the US handling of the war in Serbia apparently has so angered many Europeans that they have initiated actions to form a European-only military operation which, together with the EURO currency, could threaten future US influence and signal a demise of past US-led NATO - - thereby threatening long-term US security.
"Between 1990 and 2000 our military has been cut virtually in half; the number of army divisions has been reduced from 18 to 9, the navy has shrunk from 600 ships to 300, and the number of air wings has declined from 36 to 18. That has been the national security policy of the administration." Former Vice President Dan Quayle, Imprimis, October 2000.
The Grandfather Economic Reports contains clear evidence 'that there may be future national security risks, since the government share of the economy is so much larger and more socialized than pre-world war II. This leaves less economic surge potential in the non-government-dependent sector (pure free-market) to provide massive defense build-ups as might be necessary to counter-act a major security challenge, than was the case before WW II. (see National Security Report). And, we have added social spending items which overwhelm the only four principles of federal responsibility outlined by our founding forefathers - which can weaken and overburden us. Already defense spending as a share of our economy is at an all-time low for the past 60 years, as government looks for funding sources to cover spending for things that were not included in than the four (4) principal reasons for forming a federal government - - number 1 being National Defense.
So, while there is so much to celebrate, let us never take down our guard, or weaken our number 1 priority - the safety of our nation. Let us focus less on the internal affairs of other nations and more on our own strategic security interests - - and not over-extend our military to include international 'police' exercises. We must not leave our younger generation with less free-market economic capacity for their possible defensive surge needs than we inherited. Dare we? But, that's what we are passing on. This means, of course, that the share of our economy spent on non-security measures should fall, instead of defense. Dangerous surprises have occurred in our past, and more may occur in our nation's future.
Today's generation can celebrate a nation safe and
at peace, compared to the past.
But - - we must be sure we are more prepared, instead of less.
No. 3 Celebrated Item
We Celebrate More Choices
We can add many, many items that have contributed to today's living standards, compared to prior generations. When I was a boy there were no such things as: TV, VCR, personal computer, microwave, air-conditioning, CD and tape players in homes and autos, automatic garage door and can openers, automatic transmissions, power steering, mobile phone, internet mail & phone, package vacations, etc. Today's average starter home contains more square feet, although lot sizes may have shrunk due to increased use of 'zero lot lines' and condominiums. There can be little doubt today's generation consumes more 'stuff' per person than ever before in history, simply because there is both more 'stuff,' more use of credit to 'buy now & pay later' and more expansive advertising mediums to tempt our fancy & raise expectations. In fact, there is so much stuff, advertising and credit use that some call today an era of 'Rising Expectations.' Perhaps many complaints heard today can be traced to unbridled expectations & impatience to 'have it all, now' - - not that they are living worse and with fewer choices than their parents did at the same age.
Nobel laureate Dr. Milton Friedman wrote on 2/24/98 after reviewing this report, "It is worth noting where you say 'we celebrate many other things' (above), every one of the items you mention without exception is a product of private enterprise."
WARNING: Prior generations lived more simply - - yet they were not unhappy. Before the deluge of credit cards, their starter homes contained mostly second-hand furniture until the kids were older:, they drove older autos, longer - - and, most families were supported by one wage-earner: they saved some from each pay-check, were more debt-adverse with many later realizing free and clear home, mothers attended church & PTA meetings, knew every teacher and almost everything going on regarding 'Johnny' during and after school. Summer school was required of failing students to gain another chance to pass on to the next higher class. Senior high school students worked during Xmas and summer holidays to finance their own purchases and save for college; college students worked part-time during the school year and full-time during summers to support most school costs. Those graduating from college did so with zero debt. There were fewer choices and less 'stuff' to crave, with less attention to media hype to overly-tempt 'wants'. Very few ever considered their house equity as a source for consumption spending. The pressure of war and the lack of credit card temptation held down and deferred consumption, compared to today. Today's families and young people have so many more choices to enhance their living standards plus more media bombardment to consume, than prior generations.
The warning is with regard to possible excessive expectations and increased reliance on debt for consumption purposes (see America's Total Debt Report), on negative savings, ballooning trade deficits, and on 'big-daddy-government', instead of depending on ourselves. To the young, this grandfather suggests: "set your priorities and take it one step at a time, pay as you go, save for the uncertain future, rely on yourself, obtain the highest quality & most comprehensive education you can, and enjoy the greatest bounty of choices in history."
Today's generation can celebrate more choices, compared to the past.
A good article containing several other positive comparisons for celebration is by karl Zinsmeister in the American Enterprise Institute magazine - October 1995, pg. 44.
Inputs from Nobel laureate Dr. Milton Friedman:
This creation of this 'Generational Celebration Report' as a chapter of the Grandfather Economic Report series, was suggested by Dr. Friedman. On 23 December 1997 Dr. Friedman wrote that he had again viewed various graphics and parts of the Grandfather Economic Report on the web. He said its an 'extraordinary document for which you deserve a great deal of credit' and 'your enterprise and activity continues to amaze me.' As in past letters, he had suggestions for improvement. He said since the Grandfather Economic Report series shows many 'negative trends that are valid and relevant,' he suggested adding a page which also 'celebrates some of the positive developments that have occurred' in recent generations. Although this author normally concentrates on areas of unfavorable trends to enhance awareness with hope actions will occur to turn them to favorable trends (called 'management by exception'), I always follow Dr. Friedman's advice. That's the reason for adding this chapter called the 'Generational Celebration Report' , which cover 3 major areas about which our nation should celebrate. On 24 February 1998, Dr. Friedman again wrote expressing his pleasure also with this new chapter, providing more suggestions and insights (some of which have been added above in the body) - and said, "I encourage you to keep doing your good work." How fortunate I am to have the continued council of this very wise and generous scholar.
If you have more positive items to add to this list, you are invited to send an email
If you would like a few laughs, visit the Jokes Page and find out 'Why the Chicken Crossed the Road."
For an article on some of the wonders of the 20th Century, see The Greatest Century That Ever Was - 25 Miraculous Trends - Cato Institute
Best regards & God Bless America,
Michael Hodges email
Thank you for your visit.
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