Monday, August 16, 2010

16 August 1956 “Housing then and now: The American Dream Home and a Typical Day in a 1950’s Town.”

50sfamilyhome Every so often my 1956 life gets thrust into 2010. There is no help for it, it just must be done. Recently, the past three days to be exact, I have had to have such a thing happen. Having to suddenly put our rental property back on the market and scramble to get a tenant by September first required it. Certainly, you might think, how has it really changed your 56 perspective and I can honestly say: Housing. My heart was breaking and I was also appalled by those multitudes who I showed through our shambles of a house.
The house was not left in a very good condition, though the tenants are still there through the end of the month. There was much unsolicited painting and random damages as well as a yard that, in one year, somehow looks as if it has been abandoned for 20!
Now, what has struck me the most by the people I have had to show my home to is that I was amazed by the number of multi-child families who are in desperate need of housing. These are families with children from teenager down to infant. Some even had children with special needs and they ALL had pets which were hard to find housing that accepted them. I am a softy, perhaps some would call me foolish, as I always take pets. I have dogs and appreciated my own landlords leniency in that regard when we lived in Boston, so I always figure, “Pass it on”. Pass the good luck forward for others. It, of course, usually gets me in the end. This last time in that their latest tenants dogs swam in my ornamental koi pond, shredded the liner and it is now devoid of water and all my many koi, frogs, tadpoles, frogs. It had evolved into its own ecosystem over the past few years and the Koi happily breed and ate from hands. But, I digress…
This left me wanting to look again at housing costs to median income in the 1950’s to today. For those of you not living in the US who may read my blog, our economy recently went through what we have ‘cutely’ referred to as the ‘Real Estate bubble’ which, though named after the circular shape it creates when mapped on a bar graph, makes it sound like a darling Japanese cartoon character. It is not darling and does not excite like bubbles on The Lawrence Welk Show.lawrencewelkalbum
Here are some basic numbers:
in the late 1950’s ( where I currently reside)
Median household income:        $5,620
Median home price:                       $11,900
Home price / income = 211 percent
(if this were adjusted for inflation to today’s money it would be $39,340 and $83,300)
In 2008 (the numbers are lower today but this is the most recent data for this article I found)
Median Household income:       $52,029
Median U.S. home price:             $172,600
Now anyone can see just by looking at the numbers the difference. And, in my area, the median price today is much higher than 172,00. You will be hard pressed to find a home, even in foreclosure, on Cape Cod under 200,000. And I know the median income here is lower than 52,000 as much of the income base here is retail or entry level healthcare which pays our minimum wage of 8.25 so for our area today it would look more like this
Median Household Income: $25,840
Median Cape Cod Home Price $ 210,000
I am sure it is different per state, but the average situation, even with prices falling sine the real estate bubble burst, is still much higher than in the 1950’s and that makes many of us ‘house poor’.
Now, add to this the other aspect I encountered in families that looked at my house.One of the families to whom I was showing the house had this scenario( of which I saw various versions over the last three days):  She works full time as a nurse. Her husband, who seemed fine and was walking about pulling on doorframes and telling me how he can build and lift etc, is on social security disability for sleep apnea. Their 30 year old son is also on social security, for what I don’t know, but she told me she has to make sure he gets 10 hours sleep a night! This son recently got his girlfriend with child. To which she said to me, “Now that we know it is his child she is moving in with us” and she, too, will receive government money. They drove to my house in a brand new shiny SUV. So, this family gets money both from the woman’s full time job, her son and husbands and now live in girlfriend and new baby government assistance as well as receiving 100% rental coverage through section 8 ( a government assistance program that pays your rent for you.) This is a hard pill for me to swallow when I am scrambling to get a tenant to pay only the cost of my mortgage ( I make not one cent from my rental) so I don’t have to take money out of our savings to keep paying the mortgage for the house and therefore depleting our recent ‘new roof savings’ for the home we currently live in. We have kept this home going with no income from it as we considered it part of our retirement. Because we, as many did, fell into the lie a few years back that homes are always investments and not just a place to live. The idea being it would have greater value as the years went on. However, since we bought it, the house went up in value almost 100,000 (which we should have sold then) and now is back to almost what we paid for it.
We work very had and pay our taxes and scrimp and save and yet we get no actual outcome from our taxes, except the roads and garbage pick up. We have no children and would not send them to public funded school if we did have them. This might just sound as if I am simply bitter or jealous of their set up. In fact, I am sad for their set up. This systems in place seem to be there to take government collected money (mainly from the middle class) and allow the recipients enough ease to then go and put that money into the private sector such as Wal-Mart and the Mall.
So, what I get from all this is our country believes in ‘socialism’ when it is rewarding socially negative behavior or to keep the ‘very old’ in privately run nursing homes through Medicare, but for the hardworking middle class citizen, we are left to not only fend for ourselves with healthcare and education, but to also foot the bill for those who have children without thought, manage to drive expensive SUV’s while ‘we’ pay for their section 8 housing. It seems increasingly, as the middle class grew from the 1950’s, that we are the new work force for the country as corporation.
 detroitmural When I think of the 1930’s paintings often done representing the working class as being tread upon by the factories, I have to envision a new image (as we have almost no production in this country any more) with the middle class being tread upon by the corporate run government and the government subsidized social security classes. Yet, where is this pictured today? The plight of the poor seems to leave out the hard working law abiding tax paying middle class. Even our artists care little about the plight of the common man and more about their own identity as art moves towards more and more installation work often obscure and not easily understood by the general public.
Even banks now are not lending with their own money and if they did the housing cost would reduce pertinent to that. Here is a quote from an article I read:
“Home prices have gotten more expensive because the crony banking system is hungry for more and more profits.  If banks had to lend their own money, home prices would automatically adjust lower.  Is that necessarily bad?  This would provide more mobility and less of a focus on homes as commodities and more as a place of shelter.  Take for example the current bust.  Say someone in struggling Detroit finds a job in New York but can’t sell his home.  Say that new job utilizes their skills more effectively.  How is their inability to move helping the overall prosperity of our economy?  It isn’t.  Yet this is the position millions now find themselves in.”
Again and again I find that to live a truly Vintage life, that is to say to look to the past for the good as well as the fun and beauty of it, we must be aware of the social and financial changes that have taken place. To be aware of what we once had and what we could now enjoy for the benefit of all, is so much more important and much MORE vintage to think about others as well as if we can ‘go buy more stuff’.
What is the solution, then? I haven’t a clue. This one really stumps me. I feel increasingly in charge of my life as I begin to take on the role and skills of a 1950’s homemaker and I grow my own food, sew my own clothes, manage money better and buy what is needed and enjoy what I have rather than need more. Yet, here I am in a situation and a country that seems to gladly trade our old dreams and values of even 50 years ago for a fast buck. And what worries me most of that is that most of the people this negatively affects are too easily swayed by media talking points of one being a Republican or Democrat or Socialist or a Capitalist. We need to stand up and be the smart party. The party that sees things for what they are, call a duck a duck. Policy and spending should be viewed on an idividual basis not to cater to a party platform. If things are not working, they need to be fixed. Ah, if only there were  a Vintage Party, I’d join up. Yet, I find no affinity with either of our two political parties as it has just become a sort of scary machine.
I do hate to get too political, but in some aspects this post is about getting LESS political. About forgetting those terms Socialism, Capitalism etc, we need to worry about the future our children will inherit. I feel a sadness and remorse for a country I would have been proud of in 1956 and hate to see where we have come. I am not anti-American but perhaps, “Early American” in that I believe in our people and our personal rights for the good of our people and not the pursuit of the mighty dollar. The American Dream of small business ownership is gone, it seems. The dream of a happy simple life of choice has been replaced by the bloated final days of Rome where we have become so placated and easily led, we simply wait, like lambs for the slaughter. Perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but I do honestly fell sadness and frustration. This only cements my need to withdraw to 1950’s more and more. I only wish I could take some of you with me and we could claim some small bit of some state for our own independent world. The Vintage World, where common sense and the betterment of people and life comes before the dollar. A gal can dream, can’t she?
So, back to my initial point. It seems it is very hard for many families to own homes as their income to housing cost ratio far exceeds what is good for home ownership. Even those who struggle to hold onto their homes are still very ‘house poor’. It is a sad state indeed. And all this from three days of showing my sad little rental property. Lessons, it seems, are always lurking around every corner.
And many banks would have us believe that today if we had such a low income to house price ratio it would be bad for the economy. This, of course, is also nonsense, as all you have to do is look back to the 1950’s! In the 1950’s when this was the case the BEST GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth! This article HERE is very good at explaining it more than I could.
Now, I don’t want to end a post on a negative or sad note. So, here is a video I once showed in 1955. It is a typical day in a 1950’s town. A town I would like to see return to our country. One in which things are made and sold and done locally. No Wal-mart or mall. Milk at the door, safe streets full of happy healthy children, affordable housing but clothing and food expensive enough to make sure we don’t overbuy nor lose our own abilities to make these ourselves. Could this ever be again?


  1. I hope my rant is not a bad idea. I wonder if I am better to keep my rants to myself and try to focus more on the positive of my experiment. Let me know, any of you readers out there, should I just relate the good and leave the bad 'at home'? I don't want to seem an old curmudgeon.

  2. No, you should not feel you must keep this to yourself. This is unfortunately sad but true. I have been there with tenants and pets, too. We allowed it, but ended up with totally ruined carpet, etc. Sorry about your pond. I don't want to return to the days of The Jungle where factory workers were exploited (so hard to find balance, I guess), but we certainly are not there now. The scene you describe is more like it today. I appreciate what you said.

  3. We have owned our home for 10 years now and in the last 5 have watched our neighborhood deteriorate. The people across the street from us lost their home to a foreclosure-it was sold, fixed up and rented out to young people who I'm not sure even work. The house next door to us on both sides are also rented out, and depending on who is living there at the time, we have had to make complaints to the landlords for various reasons (we aren't big complainers). It's sad but many renters just are not going to take care of a property that isn't their's. I, too, am sorry about your koi. My mom has a pond and it takes some maintenance that I don't believe renters are going to take care of. My son-in-law is interested in buying homes and renting them out but my daughter is very much against it because it is a hassle. I hope you are able to find just the right renters because I know they are out there. :)

  4. Oh, no certainly not! I don't want to return to 'The Jungle' either. It is odd, however, how quickly and silently so much manufacturing has slipped away from our country. And though there may have been some unfair worker/manager treatment, we also could provide a good job for a laborer and also add to our economy and make a product to export. Not everyone is really made for college and the idea of manual labor seems so abhorrent when really it can be a very good career choice for some. I am sad that many people who might feel good about themselves and be able to work such jobs (which are no longer here) and afford homes in our country based on very real money and GDP are now either on government assistance, working at Mcdonalds or struggling away at some uncredited university spending far more than they can ever pay back and will still end up without a home and a rising debt. It is quite sad, indeed.

  5. Right now the leading candidate is a nice young lady and her female best friend and a cat. They both have good jobs, loved the house and kept saying, "Oh, it feels like home, so much potential, I love hydrangeas" they saw the beauty in the yard amongst the weeds and looked past the bubble gum pink room with a child's name in sequins on it. Yet, I also feel bad as if I should rent to one of the families with multiple children. I don't want to feel I am contributing to a problem for a family down the road, but then is it unfair to someone who has not settled on a family yet, as they are first getting started? It is all a conundrum and I will be gladly rid of it when I can. I think the house may end up on the market in a year or so.

  6. Your rant was very appreciated by me.
    Although I own a home, it is back east, and hunny & I rent here in CA. We both work full time, and pinch pennies to pay our bills and do it on time.
    All around us, we see people like those in your rant, who survive on government handouts, with no viable reason.

    PS, As renters we SO much appreciate pet positive landlords. We have a dog & 4 cats, all well behaved, and well taken care of. There is no filth or order, which is more than I can say for the family next door with 5 chiildren.

  7. When we looked at houses a few years ago after moving to IL we could not afford a decent house for under 170,000 which was about our range. When I say decent, I mean run down, a lot of damage or major repair issues etc. Nothing I would want to raise my family in...after my husband serving 20 years in the AF we couldn't afford a nice home, what does that say about our country? Really sad, we bought our 1st home last year and it's very nice but it's in IN where the cost of living is much less and we still spent a lot on it.


  8. I wish there was a solution. It is also discouraging that even at the current 'lower' rates since the real estate bubble burst, houses would still need to go down almost another 40% to make a similiar income to house value ratio we once enjoyed in 1950s. Maybe it could only exist for a short period of time, I don't know I am not an economist, but it does seem odd. It is also unfair that when banks and economists now talk of home prices and cost of living, this ratio of income to house values is often intentiionaly left off, so data is never really accurately given. I have a friend and she and her hubby both work full time (She two jobs!) and I am sure that together they do not make anywhere near 50,000 a year. Their home, a very small two bedroom ranch in a neighborhood of loud annoying 'renters' was 250,000. The vast dispargement between that income and housing costs is almost criminal and yet is very average or 'expected' here on the cape. And that price was the least expensive they could find for a home that was literally not just a house waiting for the wrecking ball. We have often thought of moving to other less expensive states, but this is our home and I am sure wages are less as well. What can one do.
    I will stay hopeful, though, and if I figure any good solutions or formula out, I shall surely share it with all of you.

  9. I appreciate your rant very much! I was in Property Management for a few years. I know exactly what you are dealing with. I worked with section 8 housing and tried to help families that needed it. Sad to say but families like you described with the shiny new SUV are everywhere.I always looked for someone who genuinely got excited about the properties and said they felt at home as well . It is always a challenging choice when choosing tenants. From a landlord perspective a good tenant that will respect and love your property as you would is well worth it especially if you are going to be listing the house in the near future.

    We have recently purchased our first house as well. We are getting ready to be new parents. We also recognized that we did not need a flashy house and wanted to be practical. We really lucked out and found a perfect little house which ended only costing us a little of $20 more than our rent on our old one bedroom apartment. The neighborhood we moved into is "coming back" so to speak.Sadly when we were looking there we're over 150 listings in the neighborhood and the majority of them foreclosures. Due to that we ended up getting our little house in wonderful shape for under $75,000. All brick built in 1901, completely rehabbed.

  10. Checking in after many months I am so very happy to see you discussing two issues about which I have strong feelings: housing and higher education. AT age 69, I can say based on life experience that housing is ABSOLUTELY not in reasonable proportion to income. The housing situation is just insane and ridiculous. When my husband and I as a young couple bought our first home in 1965 the cost was less than his yearly salary. The house price was $7300 and his salary was a little more than $8500. The mortgage payment was $75 per month INCLUDING TAXES and INSURANCE. Anytime you see current information TRYING to convince you that housing in modern dollars equates to a house in 1950's or 60's dollars, it has been convoluted into pure fiction. The house sat in a lovely immaculate older neighborhood of houses that dated from the late Victorian period with the majority built in the 1920's, 1930's up to the early 1940's. It was called the Duck Pond neighborhood because there was a very pretty public area with gardens and a stream with an island in it that was inhabited by a large group of ducks. Our two bed room one bath house was built in 1940-41 and was built from plans that appeared in Better Homes and Garden magazine! It had a 25 foot living room with a large red brick fireplace, an adjacent dining area, and two nice sized bedrooms (each 12 x 15 ft). Immaculate safe neighborhoods with reasonably priced homes are extinct in many areas. It is an incredibly sad statement.

    I always agree with your opinions about the state of higher education today and my opinions are based on my adult life being connected to several Universities. My husband was already a college student when we were married and I started married life on campus in married student housing. For the next 42 and one half years my life was connected to that University. Both of my children's careers have been at major Universities and my granddaughter is currently a student at a large University. You hit the nail on the head in the past when you said schools are big business; I can with knowledge say BIG BUSINESS. I will spare you and your readers my opinions regarding the small independent so called colleges that are sprouting like weeds.

    I certainly wish you the best of luck with your tenant problems. No need to apologize for forging ahead with serious life issues that have such a profound effect on everyone. As always, Best Wishes .......Dianne

  11. I am sorry you are going through this! Please do not stop your rants, I love them! They make great topics to discuss and make me think about things in a new way. You hit the spot with my husband and I about the family who doesn't work who gets money. I think what so much boils down to today-and as you live in 1956 you see this-is there is simply no pride today. Not pride in doing what needs to be done to support our families, take care of our homes, or to go out and earn a living. Why should there be when you can get money for sitting on your behind? Why should you wait and save to start your family when you can get someone pregnant and then get a check? (sorry, my own rant here!) Years ago, when my MIL lived through the depression, she said people then were ashamed to get any help from the government, and if they got it, the had to work, pick up trash on the road side, etc, so you could still have your pride. So many people don't have that at all anymore, which I think leads to so many of the other problems.
    Barb from CNY

  12. I never even thought about how the money from the government that some people get ends up being funneled back into the wealthy private sector via WalMart!! Never even thought about it.

  13. Yes 50sgal (and ladies), rant away. After all your scrimping, saving, hard work and deep planning to have that partially stripped away because of irresponsible renters is very sad. With choice of tenants, it's imperative that you look after your own family first, and choose the best tenant who will more likely care for your property. The young lady, her friend and cat deserve the opportunity of a place to call home. 'Reward' those who are choosing the responsible path in life. I know you are very thoughtful but what's best for your family is your top priority. Hopefully you'll be able to enjoy being landlords to responsible tenants who in turn will be blessed by your kindness.

    Middle class in Australia too seem to be financially penalised causing life to be an uphill battle sometimes but even against those odds, we'll be victorious. Our 'work' and sacrifices are worth it. Never give up Apronites. We can do this Gals. Linda

  14. Don't stop ranting, Donna! This one is very timely and well stated. I completely agree.

    I say go with the tenants who seemed to genuinely care about the house and the yard. It'll save you a lot of heartache and hassle in the near future if ya'll do decide to sell. You'll have a lot less work to do to get it ready to sell.

    I'm of the opinion that here in America there is an artificial demand for a college degree. College degrees are now required for jobs that historically have not required a degree. You can learn far more about construction or woodworking or cars by actually DOING the job, than you can ever learn in a classroom. The old days of apprenticing to learn a trade was a far better setup IMO.

    The exceptions to this are healthcare jobs, a lot of engineering jobs, the sciences, etc. Those do need more education than you can get "on the job". I certainly wouldn't want to see a "doctor" who's never been to medical school. But I'd trust a tradesman who learned on the job over one who went to a traditional university for the same thing.

  15. Rant away! Our house value has dropped 40% since we bought it and we are ridiculously underwater. Luckily we can afford the payments, it just means we're going to be stuck here a lot longer than we would like to be. Could be worse, one of my friends is looking to move down to the Wareham area and she has basically no equity here. They were hoping to keep their current house for at least a decade and do it up but now they may have to move and pay Cape prices.

  16. i agree with everything you said 100%. im so tired of working my butt off..paying rent,bills,groceries,etc and having to live paycheck to paycheck sometimes less every week while people out there sit around and don't even try to get jobs and collect everything imaginable,have brand new cars,clothes,their hair and nails done,etc....seriously im all for people getting help..but not when they're not doing anything to find work and such. i don't think it's fair!

  17. TWUS-it hit me awhile back how this was working. How we are now set up with a heavy government funded section of our country (paid for by we taxpayers) that form a solid base of money to go into the private sector, mainly larger corporations. This is also true for the criminal passing of a law a few years back for medication in the Medicare/Medicaid program that really does't benefit the aged but provides money from that government run and money program (tax payer money) into the hands of the large pharmaceutical companies that can then charge ridiculous amounts for medication. What is odd, is this is actually a form of Socialized medicine, our Medicaid and Medicare, as is the coverage of healthcare for those on welfare. The system is allowed to be run horribly as the recipients aren't really aware and the rest of the country, we taxpaying middle class, are told, No. This is also true of things such as food stamps which could be used for healthy items for the poor but often end up at places such as Walmart and the like. It is almost a racket, legal mafia in a way.
    Linda-that is sad to know even in Australia the middle class are burdened.
    Rachel-Exactly! I don't want untrained nurses and doctors, my goodness. They must go to college, of course. I was speaking more of things such as nurses aids and some such which could train at a trade school and then on the job (blood pressure, taking blood simple things) but instead are now being lulled into 'degrees' from sham businesses desguising themselves as 'colleges' who literally let in as many people as they can process and pump them out like an assembly line product. It is sad that we have lost actual production of items in our country but seem to be increasing our 'production' of peoples lives through these schools, credit cards, real estate the list goes on. Sometimes I feel as if I am a product being made over and over and resold and repackaged to myself to squeeze every last dime out of me and then done over again!
    Rhonda-that is sad, and as you now Cape prices are criminal. If it will be in Wareham, then at least she as the little bonus of their house costs being a bit cheaper than we on Cape Cod, but not by much.

  18. TWUS-it hit me awhile back how this was working. How we are now set up with a heavy government funded section of our country (paid for by we taxpayers) that form a solid base of money to go into the private sector, mainly larger corporations. This is also true for the criminal passing of a law a few years back for medication in the Medicare/Medicaid program that really does't benefit the aged but provides money from that government run and money program (tax payer money) into the hands of the large pharmaceutical companies that can then charge ridiculous amounts for medication. What is odd, is this is actually a form of Socialized medicine, our Medicaid and Medicare, as is the coverage of healthcare for those on welfare. The system is allowed to be run horribly as the recipients aren't really aware and the rest of the country, we taxpaying middle class, are told, No. This is also true of things such as food stamps which could be used for healthy items for the poor but often end up at places such as Walmart and the like. It is almost a racket, legal mafia in a way.
    Linda-that is sad to know even in Australia the middle class are burdened.

  19. Rachel-Exactly! I don't want untrained nurses and doctors, my goodness. They must go to college, of course. I was speaking more of things such as nurses aids and some such which could train at a trade school and then on the job (blood pressure, taking blood simple things) but instead are now being lulled into 'degrees' from sham businesses desguising themselves as 'colleges' who literally let in as many people as they can process and pump them out like an assembly line product. It is sad that we have lost actual production of items in our country but seem to be increasing our 'production' of peoples lives through these schools, credit cards, real estate the list goes on. Sometimes I feel as if I am a product being made over and over and resold and repackaged to myself to squeeze every last dime out of me and then done over again!
    Rhonda-that is sad, and as you now Cape prices are criminal. If it will be in Wareham, then at least she as the little bonus of their house costs being a bit cheaper than we on Cape Cod, but not by much.

  20. xta-exactly and what is also sad for these people that instead of a societal push or feeling of guild towards getting a 'free ride' which would encourage them to use it while they need but work towards their own independance, we instead have literally breed generations of people on subsitence who EXPECT it. As if it is their rightful inheritence, like they somehow are more deserving than others. This is a very dangerous precedent we have allowed to be set and now it is generations into it. Young people not only have no societal taboo against just 'having a baby whenever' but in fact can almost rely upon it as a means to an end. And then that child will only be raised by some who will feel such expectations normal. In a way it robs these people of the pride and right to be self-supporting and happy humans

  21. My mil was a dental assistant. Back in her day (it was in the 50's through the 70's), dental assistants were trained by the dentist him/herself, they didn't have to go to jr. college. Lots of professions like that were trained ojt: nurses' aides, like you said, office administrators (after basic typing and shorthand in high school), veterinary assistants, lab technicians, para-legal, all kinds of things. By the time a mid-level profession like those I mentioned gets to be taught in junior college today, it is already flooded and there are few jobs left. Education is definitely a racket -- many working-class kids get talked into going and majoring in "whatever interests them" and then it doesn't lead to a job, but now you have big bills to pay and are right back in a minimum wage job (which is what happened to me, although I got much more out of going to college than just a good-paying job, so I can't say I'm sorry I went -- just mentioning how it doesn't necessarily lead to a good job). If you don't get a good job out of college, what is the answer??? MORE COLLEGE, MORE EDUCATION (more bills). Yes, a racket. Well...I'm happier as a homemaker than as a career-woman.

  22. I went to university in the 'old school' way. Not to say, that I was there to improve myself and then get myself a husband, though that is in fact what I did do. However, my education in Art history was for itself. I had toyed with ideas of graduate school and teaching and knew it was not for me. I had toyed with education for the Museum world, also not for me. So, I do not regret my education, but and this is the big BUT, my education was provided for me by my family. I only paid for my housing the last two years of my six years, as was our agreement. I knew I would not be supported beyond that point, but had been promised, really expected, a college education. It seemed normal to me to follow what I found of interest, history and art, though I did start as pre-med which lasted all of one semester! So I am an art historian with some good college level Bio/Chem/Calculus. My point was that my education was not for a job. Had I had to pay for it myself, you bet it would have been. Did I waste my parents money? They don't think so, as I then began and continue to provide for myself. It is sad that so many people, though, are horribly in debt for basic training they could get elsewhere or to pursue the arts that could easily be done on one's own free time while pursuing a career and getting a home. It is all a complicated mess and I really feel for the young kids today. The second they walk onto that campus (even when they 'walk on' digitally) they are given credit cards and their REAL education of becoming a consumer and a debt holder begins. Why have we allowed ourselves to end up here? No wonder 1956 looks so good to me.

  23. This may sound harsh but I agree you should choose the ladies with the cat. Those SUV driving ones on government assistance don't really need the break of a nice respectful land lady since they get so much from the government for doing very little. To take pity on them only makes assistance more attractive to those who abuse the system. It makes me so mad when I see news stories about families in dire straights who get nearly nothing while those who know how to work the system get more than enough. I'm happy my taxes help those who truly need it but feel taken by the small percentage of assistance abusers. The abusers include those corporations who steer the assistance money their way and then pour untold millions into marketing campaigns touting their community involvement. (instead of paying their employees a decent wage and including health benefits, which in turn would really help their communities!).

    Thanks for this post. I thought we were the only ones who noticed this bubble as it grew. Our first place was bought for double my hubby's salary, since we knew we wanted to start a family we didn't count mine. Then our next place was a bit more than double but with all we made on the sale of the first it was fine. But the third place was 4 times hubby's salary. The mortgage company approved us for much more. Crazy. Luckily we had the sense to know what we were comfortable with. As our property value went up we felt fine with it. We don't spend extravagantly and hung onto our home instead of trading up as some of our friends and neighbors had during this time. So while our property is worth less than at the height of the real estate boom hubby's salary is now higher so our original purchase price is "only" 3 times it. We know we are very lucky and are grateful.

    This is a very thought provoking post. So much more I could say. Those "colleges" who advertise on tv that you can "go" in your pajamas?? What are people thinking? Maybe this is just our generation's equivalent of a medical degree bought from the back of a magazine. But so many people are at their mercy because they're trying to make a life for themselves. It's criminal!

    On that note, I must post this comment before I run on even more!


  24. Just wanted to mention that if the 30 year old is on social security it is because he is disabled in some way. Even if he does not appear to be it could be a mental disability.
    I just wanted to mention that because I know someone who was in that situation. It was not that he just didn't want to work and take money from the government.

    I do agree about the housing prices. We live in GA which is a lower cost of living area.. But even here the average person makes no more than $10 an hour even with college. And the average house is $150,000. Thats just a lower middle class smallish house.

  25. Oh, I wasn't saying the 30 year old shouldn't be on disability. I was saying that though he might be disabled, his actions of getting his'girlfriend' with child was irresponsible despite his handicap. And that the 'girlfriend' had to find out 'who was the father' meaning she has several sexual partners. And this behavior, rather moral or not, is just irresponsible when one has no means of income other than money from government that still requires the individual to live at home with mother and now a new life is brought into the mix. If it is a mental disability, that is even more sad to me. As the person should have better supervision.

  26. My dad was the first person on his side of the family to ever earn a post-graduate degree, his MD. He never encouraged any of us to pursue a college education unless we really wanted it. There was no "forcing" us to go to college, like so many families do these days. This was a major point where my husband and I disagreed. He thought every child should be made to go to college, whether they wanted to go or not. As I said above, I'm a big believer in college being over-rated and unnecessary for a great many vocations.

    It took Papa's parents a long time to accept that we weren't going to college, and I'm still not quite sure they have. All but one of my cousins on that side have gone to college, one is barely staying afloat and two others did finish master's degrees. One didn't really need it for what he's doing now, though it is getting him a slightly better salary and allowing Steph to stay home with their kids. The other cousin with a master's won a full ride to Baylor for it, which is incredibly hard to do so we're all very proud of him. Baylor is private and the closest thing the South has to an Ivy League university.

    The hardest thing to deal with has been the favoritism that our grandparents have tried to show the college grads, over my siblings and I who haven't gone to college. We made it known that some of the things they tried to do were very unfair. Playing favorites with this set of grandparents has always been a problem though.

    Part of the welfare mentality we deal with today goes back to the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction. At least here in the South. The newly freed slaves were made dependent on the government to survive. It was called 40 Acres and a Mule. All they did was trade one master for another, and the new master was not an improvement over the old. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. I'm not a believer in sugar-coating history.

    Social Security disability fraud is rampant in the system. People who have a true need for it have a devil of a time getting approved, while people who can't really prove they need it seem to get it with no problems. Medicare and Medicaid fraud is also rampant. It's a HUGE problem. Obamacare is going to bankrupt states because of the increased numbers of people who will be put on Medicaid, whether they want it or not. It's getting harder by the month to find a doctor who will accept either of those because they pay less than a pittance and take forever to make the payment. Medicare's absurdly low reimbursement rates are the reason my dad is no longer in private practice.

  27. As far as tenants go, we had the best time with single people. My husband and I owned a little duplex when we were in college and lived in one side and rented out the other. We "inherited" two single guys from the campus as tenants, when we bought the duplex. We thought, "Oh, No!" (expecting wild parties), but they were great, and every Saturday, their girlfriends would come from the campus with brooms and mops and buckets and clean the place up nicely for them! They graduated and married the girls who cleaned for them!

    After that, we had two single girls from the campus to rent from us, and they too were great. They eventually graduated and got married.

    Then we got a cute lovely newly wed couple, who were driven up to our place, by his dad, in a Mercedes Benz. We rented to them, but that couple trashed the place. I think they must have been used to a maid cleaning up after them. When we graduated and sold the duplex, the new owners, elderly folk who were appalled at the state of the apartment the young couple rented from us when we showed the house, got rid of those tenants right away.

  28. You got me thinking of the Stepford Wives! That is what we should start, but without the nasty robot-woman-thing. A vintage world, where we all dressed nicely and acted nicely to other people. I would consider moving, if that world existed.

    PS: Why don’t you earn just a little money by renting, then you would have money for repairs.

  29. Well, originally, I thought if I added a few hundred a month to the cost of the mortgage I would not be able to find tenants. Now, I see that the rental market is much different than two years ago. Two years ago everyone was buying. Now many are losing their houses and I thought such a flood of rentals would lower the rental rate, but it seems to have increased it. I have now, already, advertised at the rate of just my mortgage. But I think I have found a nice pair of ladies to rent it who might like to buy it in the future. This will be good for me, as I really just want to sell now and not worry of it anymore.

  30. Keep ranting!! Ironically, just last night I read a column by a Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass that applies *exactly* to what you & other posters are saying [and answers the question "How did we get to this point?"]. Kass's column which originally ran on July 4th, 2010 [Titled: "Pigs in a pen deliver a lesson about freedom"] has been reprinted in other sources so it should be easily found online. Anyone interested can google: John Kass Chicago Tribune July 4 2010 Pigs In A Pen Deliver A Lesson About Freedom, and several links will show up. It packs a punch, is worth reading, and explains how easily it is to lure a society away from being a hard working society that values self sufficiency and freedom.

  31. Sorry, I am almost ready to rant myself so I have to post another comment, ha ha! Again - don't apologize for your rant!! What people expect from housing just absolutely can not keep up with reality. It used to be that an extra bathroom was a big deal - now it's not only the norm but also a master bedroom "suite", 3 car garage, etc. I'm NOT bashing big homes - but only for those who can afford them. I feel what has happened is that the idea of what a "normal" home is has gotten so far off track that even young couples starting out, with no kids, feel that they "need" a big home with all the extras. And gone are the days of young couples buying a "starter home" and moving up as their income allows - now it's going immediately into The Really Nice Home. Again, fine if it's affordable, but in reality how many couples can actually afford such a home? What % of income is going for house payments? Several years ago a realtor friend mentioned to us that he'd just sold a home to a family that was "two paychecks away from losing the home", meaning that's all the financial wiggle room they had. He was shocked they were given a loan for a home they could just barely afford. I feel - and this is my own rant - that there are too many folks who just won't accept hearing "no, you can't afford that". No matter what it takes - even if it means losing some Freedom - they'll accept it as long as they can get what they want. Somewhere, and I feel it's recently, the line between "want" and "need" was blurred so that now every "want" is considered a "need".

  32. fullhouse-thanks for the heads up on the article and so true, what you say. Want and Need are almost completely replaced by Need. And I hear SO often that someone 'deserves' that thing. "Oh, I work hard so I deserve to put myself deeper into debt therefore having to work more and needing MORE reward". Odd, indeed.
    I know myself, before 1955, when we had bought land and were going to build a house (for just the two of us)I totally over planned and had we not sold the land, have built a house far too large for only the two of us. I may have had to turn it into a rooming house to afford it in the end. I know as someone who has been 'on the other side' of this equation (as it seems many of you ladies were already aware and much smarter with your money) that what I considered normal or how to live was merely a part of my 'being of my generation and society as a whole' yet, now I see anyone can change and that change is not only liberating but increasingly becoming necessary to survival. How much longer CAN we, as a country and people, grow into debt. I fear we have all fallen, in the past decade or so, so deep into a pattern, I am not sure that the masses as a whole can get out unless there is horrible trauma. Though, we had our housing crash and oil prices, but as soon as they are a few months old, we forget and go right back out and continue the bad behavior. I think we might all be spoiled unruly children.

  33. I think your rant is justified and hope you rent to the two young ladies with a cat. The family you mentioned will probably just give you more grief.
    I'm old enough to have actually lived in the 50's as a child. I want to come live in Vintage World with you. Also, thanks for the video. I remember a lot of that.


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