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The Good Old Days, 100 Years Ago, and Today…

Jay Evensen wrote an article in my local newspaper that really struck a note with me.  He said that things don’t change much over the years and people pretty much worry about the same things now as they did a hundred years ago. He noted in the article that it cost $75,600 to buy a house in 1915 after you adjust for inflation.  But then he cautioned that annual income was also only $16,063, making it almost impossible to purchase one. According to Evensen’s research, we are living longer to an average age of 78.8, compared to 54.5 back in 1915.  Let’s be very clear about these statistics.  If a married couple reaches age 65 today, the husband will die on average at age 84 and the wife at 87.  While we live longer, we also make more money, so that a smaller percent of our income goes for food and shelter and clothing.
In other words we work fewer hours, live longer, and have it a whole lot better than those living 100 years ago.
Today we heat our homes with clean gas or electricity.  Back in 1915, they heated their homes with coal, and black dust got on everything.  The average worker worked 10 to 12 hours a day and always six days a week, not a customaryGreatDepression 5-day work-week like we enjoy now.
So tell me why so many politicians are pushing the idea that today is so bad and that we need to “get back” to what America once was, to America’s so-called “greatness” of 100 years ago?  Remind me why I want to work my whole short life for $16,063 a year, to only have Sundays off, never to be able to afford a home?  I like the fact that I was able to purchase my home in under 15 years and that it doesn’t require me to clean out a smoky furnace or wash down my walls every month to get the coal dust off of them!
When I compare my grandfather’s world of a hundred years ago and the fact that most of his contemporaries never traveled more than 100 miles from where they were born to my visits to Europe, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Alaska and many parts of the United States, I see that this travel has expanded my vision and brought my children new and innovative ideas. I wouldn’t want to hitch my horse to a wagon and go into town 10 miles away and have it take three hours to get there. In addition, I wonder if back then, in 1915, if you would have been required to clean up your horse manure as you drove down main street… just wondering.
I think of these “good old days” occasionally when talking to my 93-year old mother.  She is also glad for the economic abundance of our current world and the modern conveniences she enjoys.   We made a list of what she and I liked the most about living today.  We concluded that smart phones, airlines, 4-wheelers, relative travel safety, high-quality education, nice warm homes and the freedom to move about as we wish topped the list. There’s much to be thankful for, so for the politicians that want the old greatness back, I say we stay with today’s greatness but work on solving some of the same problems that existed 100 years ago. Instead of talking about how things once were, let’s talk about how great things are now and learn to make the most out of the resources we have so freely at our disposal.

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