When I started reading this book my first and immediate thought was that the author was trying to be Bill Bryson, particularly since Bryson actually wrote a book along similar lines, namely about his life growing up iWhy the 70s were Bad 22 May 2019
When I started reading this book my first and immediate thought was that the author was trying to be Bill Bryson, particularly since Bryson actually wrote a book along similar lines, namely about his life growing up in 1950s America. Okay, this book is slightly different in that it is not so much about growing up in Australia in the 60s and 70s in the same way, namely because Bryson is able to personalise his accounts much more than the author of this book, who happens to be a radio personality, though one that I have never heard of.
Anyway, this book is actually more an argument about how life is actually much better now than it was back during that time, and in a way the author is attempting to remind us of how things have changed and how we are so much freer now than we were back then. In fact, the only thing that he can find that was better in the 70s than now is the music (something which I’m going to have to agree with him there).
Before I go into the areas with which I disagree, namely because he conveniently ignores them, let us consider where he is right. For instance, it is much better being a woman now than was back then, particularly with the anti-sexual harassment laws that have come about. Look, there is still a long way to go with regards to equal pay (particularly since we aren’t supposed to talk about how much we get paid which means that companies can conveniently continue to pay women less than men), as is the case where there are a number of industries where women are either excluded, or simply harassed to the point that they are simply forced to get out as quickly as possible. Oh, and let us not forget the men’s rights groups who pretty much make the whole female rights advocates out to be extreme radicals.
Another thing he writes about is how things were much more expensive back in the 70s, due to tariffs and all that. Look, I can’t really make much of a comment because, honestly, there really hasn’t been all that much change when it comes to prices where I am concerned – Roleplaying books and computer games are all still pretty expensive, though there are always the free to play mobile games, which are on a whole new level. Okay, books are slightly cheaper, but in my mind they are still pretty pricey. As for music and videos, yeah, they have come down a lot, but then again we are talking about things that would have been imported despite there being tariffs.
However, the concern really comes down to the fact that while the prices of luxuries such as TVs and video players (and computers) have come down significantly, this is something that was generally trending downwards anyway. The other catch is that while the price of consumer goods has come down, the price of necessities have actually gone up, particularly with the rise of China as an economic powerhouse – why has meat suddenly become much more expensive – because it is being exported. Oh, and don’t get me started on petrol and electricity (one is due to excises placed upon it, while the other is due to privatisation). Oh, and let’s not forget that these days we have to pay for decent television (which is actually something new in Australia).
Yet he is right when he suggests that things have become much more safer these days than it was back then. For instance, drink driving laws have actually been introduced. In fact, one would think that pretty much everybody understands that driving under the influence is a bad thing, though it turns out that there are still quite a lot of people out there who have the mistaken belief that they drive better while drunk, or simply just don’t care. Actually there is also the issue of people seeing how much they can drink and then hopefully get home without being pulled over, or simply being so drunk that they basically don’t realise that they really shouldn’t be driving and do so anyway (something that I saw numerous times back in my university days).
It is interesting that you do get a lot of conservatives claiming that our society has become so cushioned these days, and that when they were young they would do this, and have play equipment like that, and they survived. Yeah, when I was young we didn’t have fences around our pools, and it just happened that I was one of the lucky one’s that didn’t fall into the pool and drown (namely because we didn’t have a pool). Yeah, it might be the case that these particular people survived, but I assure you that a lot of children didn’t. Let us not forget the school yard as well – these days we are actually trying to do something about bullying, and also holding teachers accountable for their treatment of the children that we have placed under their care. Honestly, back when I was in school, the teacher would always be believed over and above the child, which meant that bullying didn’t just exist in the playground, but also in the class room – oh, and teachers were also allowed to physically assault children in the name of discipline.
Yet despite all of the changes for the better, I still have to say that things have also changed for the worse. The ability to own a house has become harder and harder, though this has only occurred since 2008, and I probably should also point out that houses have always been expensive – this is nothing new. Then there is the casualisation of the workplace, and the gutting of the manufacturing sector. Sure, more people are going to university these days, but that is because they have to if they want to get a decent job (though there is also the trades, which as it turns out, tends to pay a lot more than a lot of professional jobs do). You see, these days the unskilled jobs are in the service industry, and honestly, I would rather work in a factory than in the service industry, considering some of the crap that people have to face on a daily basis.
Look, I could go on, for instance we also have climate change, and the extinction crisis, which includes the distinct possibility that within a generation insects will have been completely wiped out from the Earth. Oh, and not to mention the fact that society is becoming every more fractured, which isn’t helped by the existence of echo chambers developing inside the many social media platforms out there. The other problem is that while it has been suggested that a lot of change has occurred over the fifty to sixty years, and the suggestion that things have changed of the better, the reality is that history does move in cycles, and sixty years is still an awfully long time. Further more, the forces of conservatism tend to end up being much more powerful than the forces of progressivism, which is why we are still having debates over whether the climate is changing or not....more
Juho wrote: "I think the red might have more to do with blood, fire, and other such unsavoury things. Thay is about as far removed from communism as pJuho wrote: "I think the red might have more to do with blood, fire, and other such unsavoury things. Thay is about as far removed from communism as possible."
You probably have a point there, though this is no doubt another one of my incoherent ramblings that was written when I should have been in bed asleep....more