In reply to this comment below on Facebook to my re-posting of the meme above:
"From the pix in "kilos" the trend seems to indicate "more" (sic)... Now seriously: this is indeed a challenge but it is also true that back then we were fine to live: without phone, no newspaper, simple B/W Tv, no pay Tv, no pc's, no central heating, no ski holidays, at best a holiday to the North Sea coast for a couple of days, plane ride was completely out of reach, no eating outside of home except chip shop as a treat (if need be: take sandwiches), jumpers knitted by mom, hand me downs from rest of family, veggies from dad's veggie plot, simple car only sparingly used, no fancy beauty products just the bare essentials, no wifi, no music except for a small transitor radio ... etc.. etc..."
While you are right, the reality for those below the upper middle class in America today (and it will be America's economic situation that ignites the coming depression), about 82% of the population, is that they pay for the new things they feel they MUST have (and deserve because of the promise of the American Dream) not with salary (they are underemployed and making less in real dollars with every passing year), but first with the money they FORMERLY put into 'life's savings' and more recently with debt. Their debts are owed to the banks, the banks are owned by corporations, the corporations are owned by shareholder who are the 1%.
Every single thing you point to as our new 'must haves' today, the things people are willing to go into debt to have, make ever more profit for the corporations that manufacture them. The single reason that the list has grown so much over a few decades (and is currently growing faster -- kids MUST have fancy smart phones and tablets now) is the stock market -- when any firm is publicly owned it MUST grow at a minimum of 10% per year or lose value. With that demand for constant growth, new 'things' must be developed and marketed every year to ensure the growth of each corporation, and the consequent growth of indebtedness on the part of the consumers, along with the growth of hoarded profit by the owners of the corporate stocks.Back in the days you mention, the vast majority of companies were privately owned, and happy to simply make a decent profit for the families who owned them. Once the global gambling pool for the 1% that is the stock market gained steam and started making upper middle class business owners into millionaires overnight, the contentment we used to see in firms that saw no need to lower wages by outsourcing production overseas as they had no public shareholders demanding growth at any cost vanished.There is only one solution to this repeated cycle of a few taking over most of the wealth and power. Philanthropy is not going to happen at a level that will reduce global poverty, which drives over-population, even though all the money is there in the hoarded and exponentially growing wealth of the 1%. The rich are simply not wired to see the wisdom in spreading the wealth. They will fight tooth and nail against going back to the tax levels they happily got even richer under for decades up until the mid 70's. Only revolution by the majority to take the wealth and control by forces will work eventually, sadly, and all that will follow the revolution will be the gradual re-building of a new 1%, just like the astonishingly wealthy Politburo members in China today
And the reality is that it is not 'their money.' They did not 'work hard for it.' Yes, the original guy who started the ball rolling towards incredible business success worked hard for it and was smart enough and OCD enough to get over the hurdles, but even for that original individual (who eventually is not actually 'working hard,' but has the option of sitting back and watching his wealth accumulate) there's a point at which we need to look at his situation and ask:
"OK, but where is the money you are shoveling into your bank accounts and investments coming from? Other rich people? Or is the money either coming from taxpayers (in the case of any company supplying the military) directly, or indirectly through tax breaks? At what point do smart people look at your wealth and say that other really smart and hardworking people never had the luck you had to be in the right place at the right time and become super wealthy, but would have in other circumstances. If we value those human beings as worthwhile contributors to our society, should they not do well financially? Maybe not as well as you, but partway as well? Even if they work in your factory?"
My conviction is that there is a realistic and practical 'ceiling' on wealth that can be easily and simply arrived at, and that above that ceiling Money Hoarders should be on a sliding scale of tax contribution. Once any household or individual has sufficient annual income to afford everything we can all agree is nice to have, then they have reached a level at which the rest of society can reasonably say "Hey, you've got everything, now share the non-stop spigot of gushing cash you've created because the money flowing out of it is NOT 'YOUR MONEY,' it is coming from natural resources, taxpayers, regular folks, etc."
I suspect the ceiling is about $300k US per household, at which point the family has a nice house, two+ decent cars, kids in private school/university, a cottage, two 2 week vacations abroad, retirement savings program, etc., but let's raise it to $500k just to be 'fair.' If we then taxed these folks with a sliding scale so that as they approach $1 million a year they only lose 50% in taxes, but by the point they're making $10 million a year the tax rate is 80%, the point is that they would STILL BE STINKING RICH.
And their kids should not be permanently wealthy! If they are smart and hard working, like Donald Trump, they'll get enough to set themselves up when daddy dies, but allowing unbridled inheritance merely sets up a permanent elite class who merely were born -- they did not initiate the wealth accumulation and should not permanently benefit from it any more than 'royal' families anywhere in the world do.