samhill wrote:My fear now is that with the world turmoil as it is the result of a depression would be far more violent,
Agreed, there are far more that think they are entitled now to live off the efforts of others.
Regarding prior times of prosperity: You have heard of the roaring twenties. As I was growing up the evidence of a prior wealthier civilization was all around me. Boarded up houses ,especially large mansions on the waterfront. The local boathouse was huge. It was in the shape of an enormous Chinese pagoda. It had been a dance pavilion back in the twenties where excursion boats brought in revelers to enjoy themselves. Now it was storage for 100 foot yachts that would never see the water again. I felt very much like the people in those films that survived an atomic Armageddon and witnessed the ruin of a civilization all around them. Talking to a friend who was 40 years my senior he described to me how he and his friends while playing golf would discuss when to get out of the market, whether to wait till their portfolio was worth a million or to settle for a bit less. They settled for a lot less.
Then as now our primary need was for food, clothing, and shelter. With the exception of clothing the others were much much cheaper, and wives rarely worked outside the home. A house could easily be bought by anyone with a reasonably good job and the mortgage was for 10 years or less instead of 30.
So with all the progress the most important basic needs have become out of reach for more and more as our government creates chaos in what was a healthy free market. As you rightly point out the gimcracks and junk can be bought for almost nothing. Hard to enjoy without a roof overhead.