Notes and quotes from Brink Lindsey’s "The Age of Abundance"

  • Adolescence came into general use around the turn of the 20th century as the time between adulthood and childhood became protracted enough to require a name.
  • Everything about [Elvis] – his country-boy simplicity, the stripped-down rawness of his sound, and the screaming swooning pandemonium that surrounded him – proclaimed the rude vitality of the primitive. He was Rousseau’s noble savage, updated with a swivel and a sneer.
  • Bracket creep describes the process by which inflation pushes wages and salaries into higher tax brackets. Via Wikipedia – Many progressive tax systems are not adjusted for inflation. As wages and salaries rise in nominal terms under the influence of inflation they become more highly taxed, even though in real terms the value of the wages and salaries has not increased at all. The net effect is that in real terms taxes rise unless the tax rates or brackets are adjusted to compensate.
  • Wage concessions extracted by unions were in line with productivity gains for a very long while, but when productivity slowed, wage increases started to run ahead of market-clearing levels.
  • Carter thought that we were entering a malaise, but it was just the breakup of the New Deal coalition and all that it entailed.
  • From 1943 to 1973, productivity grew at around 2.9%, but from 1973 to 1995 that number was only around 1.3%.
  • Most of the riots in the middle 60s were in Northern cities, not Southern cities, which seems to lend credence to the thesis proffered by Gurr in Why Men Rebel.
  • “The gradual transformation from an industrial to a knowledge economy precipitated a major shift in the demand for labor – one that caught millions of Americans unprepared. The prior phase change, from agricultural to industrial, has been what economists call skill neutral; in other words, workers displaced from declining sectors were able with relative ease to find jobs in growth industries.” p. 285
  • “The New Deal liberal order was, at bottom, a peace settlement. Its signal achievement was to broker an end to the bitter class conflicts that has raged during the rocky transitions from scarcity to mass influence.
  • In 1960 Nixon received money from 40,000 to 50,000 donors, JFK got about half of that. By the end of the decade, Goldwater’s campaign got contributions from 650,000 people.
  • “The ballooning size of government was both a cause and consequence of interest-group proliferation. The epochal shift in the 1930s toward larger and more activist government doubtless created strong incentives for the creation of interest groups. A rapidly expanding federal budget was a trough that tempted droves of claimants to muscle their way up for a taste; Washington’s sprawling regulatory apparatus encouraged both offense-minded interests seeking some change in the rules, and defense interest content with the status quo, to organize themselves for competition in the legislative and bureaucratic arenas…At the same time, the rapid proliferation of interest groups due to technological, organizational, and cultural changes created a swarm of new constituencies dedicated, in one way or another, to the growth of government.” p. 292

First published Jul 13, 2011