By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Last month, the Pew Charitable Trusts did a research project called:? Is the American Dream Alive and Well??
????? It found that American men in their 30’s in 1974 had median incomes of roughly $40,000, while American men of that same age in 2004 had inflation adjusted incomes of only $35,000.? As a group, today’s men in their 30’s men earn roughly 12 percent less than their fathers.? Incomes at this age accurately predict lifetime earnings.
????? The American Dream has always been the key to American culture.? The Pilgrims came here to find freedom, and soon ended up far wealthier than the folks who had persecuted them in England.?? Since then, almost every generation of Americans has given their children the chance to have richer, safer, and more comfortable lives than their parents had given them–until now.
???? Men’s income don’t tell the whole story.? Many couples today can afford the same houses, cars, clothes, food, and vacations, etc. their parents had, but only if Mom works full time.??? They have the same material things as their parents, but not the time to enjoy them, or their kids, or each other.?
????? Many two income families are in higher tax brackets.? They are too busy to cook,? invite family and friends over, or volunteer to run scout troops or youth groups.?? So lots of Mom’s “extra” money pays for higher taxes, eating out, child care, and expensive activities and electronic gadgets to keep their kids out of trouble.?
????? And there are hidden costs.???? Today’s two income parents are often too tired or stressed to deal with their kids when they are home.??? Add counseling and therapy to the list of new expenses.??? Public school teachers today do lots of things parents used to do, and this causes higher school taxes.?? Lawyers like me do lots of divorces when angry parents blame each other for their unhappy situations.
????? What happened??? Fifty years ago, My Weekly Reader? grade school newspaper reported that the biggest problem for us Baby Boomers when we’d grow up would be “too much leisure time”.?? In fourth grade, we were taught that modern machines would make American farmers and workers productive enough to produce everything we needed by working just two days a week.?? Our generation had to figure out what to do with five days off each week in the 21st Century.
???? But in the last fifty years, everything we gained from new technology, we lost by having less old fashioned liberty.? Liberty does bring prosperity.??? New Jersey’s motto has a real message.
?Fifty years ago, my parents rented out our rooms and we lived in the basement when money was short.?? Our neighbors opened little restaurants, shops, and offices in their homes, until they saved enough money for commercial buildings.??? Today,? they would all get busted for zoning violations.
????? Fifty years ago, police looked the other way when ordinary middle class people ran illegal games that ruined far fewer lives than the legal gambling we have today.?? Now only billionaires can afford the 500 rooms, a zillions of approvals you need to open a legal casino in Atlantic City.?
????? Fifty years ago, a builder bought a lot, cleared the land, and built a house.??? He did not have to pay for an army of lawyers, planners, and politicians to get permits and approvals.?? Everyone could afford to buy or rent a house back then.?? We had? plenty of? forests, fields, and other “open space” when we enforced our immigration laws.
????? Fifty years elected officials were free to set the salaries of our public “servants”, and public employees were not forced to spend hundreds of dollars of dues to organizations they did not want to join.??? Property taxes were affordable, and kids learned more in school.?? We had no sales tax, income tax, government lottery, or riparian rip-offs, and hidden business taxes were a fraction of what they are today.
????? Fifty years ago, we were free to either support the musicians and artists we liked, by buying tickets or making donations—and we were free to pay them nothing at all.? Today we are all forced to pay millions in taxes to support those artists? musicians, and museums (like the Doo Wop Museum and Duck Decoy Museum) selected by our politicians.?
????? The list is endless, but I only have 750 words.? Some of these laws and taxes were crooked from the get-go–some had good intentions.? But all of them took away some of the liberty that created our prosperity.? The people who will suffer the most are not complaining.? They are still in school, and most public schools don’t teach much about liberty these days.
For more information, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.