Fawcett: A chance to regain long-lost economy

Our economy has been badly damaged by the COVID-19 disaster. It likely is damaged badly enough that it will require more than just flipping a switch to get it running smoothly again.

Recovery will require innovation and making changes where needed. Our goal should be to bring back an economy that rivals the best economy in modern times.

Editor’s note: N-R Publisher Jeb Bladine’s weekly column will return to this space on Sept. 4. His thanks go to Fred Fawcett for filling in this week.

Most of the American workforce today weren’t even born during the long 20th century period of stability and prosperity, and have no memory of what once was.

I was 10 years old in 1962, the year my parents bought our house. My dad was an accountant, and we lived in a neighborhood of blue- and white-collar workers. My friends’ dads were a fireman, a mailman and a TV repairman — all middle class Americans.

Our home was a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath house that cost $19,000 in 1962. Our mortgage payment was $113. That year, you could buy a new Ford Galaxy sedan for $2,500, with a monthly payment of $73. At 27 cents per gallon, you could fill the tank for under $3 … and you got a Flintstone glass!

A month’s worth of groceries ran about $120 in 1962, and you could send your kid to Harvard for $1,500 per year.

My dad earned about $700 a month back then. We weren’t wealthy, but we didn’t lack anything. It took about half his paycheck to cover all the bills. As in most families then, my mom was a housewife.

Through nearly six decades since 1962, there has been a steady erosion of the standard of living for middle-class Americans. Yes, some do very well today – the highly skilled and the professionals — but it’s not widespread like it was back then.

One constant over the course of those six decades has been the loss of buying power by people with steady, full-time jobs. While one adult in the family used to earn enough to pay the bills, we now have two adults working and still struggling.

If we do nothing else during this COVID-19 recovery time, let’s push to regain some of what we have lost so that our families can enjoy a quality of life once more available to which still is quite possible today.

This being an election year — despite being overshadowed by a health care disaster — we have all the opportunity we’re ever likely to get. Let’s not waste it.

Fred Fawcett of Lafayette, longtime writer to the N-R Readers Forum, is a veteran and dad with two grown kids. He is retired from a computer services career, and lives in Lafayette with a big German Shepherd named Elvis.


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