History of Technology 10: New Economy, New Culture

Ever been to a '50s themed party or worn a poodle skirt for Halloween? We've got a lot of nostalgia about those good old days... which would be great, if those days were actually all that good.

LanguageEnglish Language
TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

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to the world . But it probably comes as no surprise that that wasn't the whole

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story. Well the story of America in the 1950s

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was a tale of two nations. America 1 and America 2. America 1 really was rich [2 books shown]

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and thriving, while America too was poor and struggling. America 1 assumed that

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every American had equal opportunity to succeed, but America 2 knew better.[protestors shown]

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during the Eisenhower era a ton of Americans achieved a level of prosperity

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they had never known before. Many Americans who struggled through the

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Depression in World War two finally had a chance at actually achieving the [smiling family]

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American dream. steady jobs, shiny cars swimming pools

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talking robot maids -and okay last one wasn't true yet - a lot of historians give

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President Eisenhower a ton of credit for this economic boom. They like Ike because [parade shown]

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he hit a sweet spot when it came to the economy. He found the right combination

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of low taxes balanced budgets and public spending that allowed the economy to hum

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along at a steady clip all of this set off a consumerism explosion, as people

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bought lots of stuff which made more jobs for people who then had more money [vintage TV shown]

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to buy more stuff, and the cycle went round and round. The middle class grew

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and shiny suburbs stretched as far as the eye could see according to many

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Americans America's prosperity after World War Two was proof that capitalism

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and democracy were the way to go. The Soviets weren't building new housing [new house being built]

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developments and glazing hams of the drop of a hat. No way! The Federal

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government encouraged consumer spending to keep the economy growing and to show

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the infallibility of capitalism. Every Sun hat and vacuum cleaner that

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Americans bought was a punch to the gut of the Soviet Union, so yeah. Well things

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were actually hunky-dory in America 1 but how about America 2. Something like

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25% of the US citizens were living in poverty.

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America 2 was easy for America 1 to ignore since it was going on in places that the

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suburban middle-class just didn't see. For whites the second America was mostly

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centered in depressed rural areas like the Appalachian Mountains where no [black and white mountain pictures]

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amount of banjo music could make people forget they were dirt poor. Blacks and

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other minorities struggled in mostly urban neighborhoods, the places

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middle-class folks moved out to the suburbs to avoid. This made it easy to

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ignore the ways in which segregation official and unofficial and other forms [police man talks to a woman]

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of discrimination tracked blacks in a seemingly unbreakable cycle of poverty.

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And there we have it. The tale of two America's. It was the best of times it

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was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom it was the age of foolishness. we

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feel like we're onto something here, well someone call our publisher this could be [man speaks to camera]

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huge.