What Did the 1950’s Really Mean?

Wikimedia Commons/ Evert F. Baumgardner

Wikimedia Commons / Evert F. Baumgardner

I attended and spoke at a Kauffman Foundation event this summer focused on new entrepreneurial growth opportunities in the American economy. It was clear that one of the key points of debate about that question was actually how we ought to look back at the past, particularly the immediate post-War era from 1945 to 1965.

I investigated that question for my latest column for Governing magazine, which is in the November issue and available online now, titled “What is the real American Dream?”  Here’s an excerpt:

“How we see the present depends a lot on how we see the past.” This observation from Dane Stangler, the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation’s vice president for research and policy, was one of his summary points at a recent discussion on how to boost declining rates of entrepreneurship in America and, more broadly, the engine of broad-based socioeconomic mobility and job creation.

The key question, as Stangler suggests, is this: What is the baseline we should be comparing today to? Many people look back with nostalgia at a golden postwar era from 1945 to 1965, when the modern American middle class was built, and suggest that those kinds of economic conditions are what we should be trying to reproduce.

But how should we really look at that period? Is it a model of what a modern and just society should produce?

Or it is an anomaly, or even undesirable in some ways?

Click through to read the whole thing.

from The Urbanophile


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