How has the country changed during your lifetime?


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A couple of years ago my youngest daughter gave me a Christmas Gift. It was about 75 questions about my life that she wanted me to answer in the format of a book to my Kids and Grandkids. I am in the process of proof reading and editing that book now to give to them this Christmas. I ran across this letter I wrote to them on the subject of this title and thought this would also be a good one to publish to the public. I hope you enjoy reading it, even if you may not agree with all or any part of it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Chapter 20 – How has the country changed during your lifetime?

Date Asked:  07/12/2021                                                                        Date Answered:  07/20/2021

Dear Kids and Grandkids;

I am not sure the country has really changed that much in my lifetime, though there have been many changes in society of this country over my lifetime.

Politically

Politics have not really changed that much.  Politicians for the most part have always been “scammers” of the American People.  They all lie and have been lying since the birth of the country. 

Though the country was founded on a constitutional government that is supposed to be “for the people” and “by the people” we have slowly, through the years, gotten away from that one truth.  I believe it all started because there were no term limits put on members of the Legislative Branch of Government while the Judiciary Branch of Government has lifetime appointments.  The only branch of government that has TERM LIMITS is the Executive Branch – The President of the United States – and that was not mandated until the constitution was changed sometime back in the 1940’s. 

I am not a constitutional scholar; I don’t claim to be one and I don’t want to be one.  However, I do have common sense and I know that if you give people lifetime appointments and no term limits, they will make a career out of their jobs that they are supposed to be doing “for the people” and will eventually make sure they are doing the job to better benefit themselves, rather than the people they are supposed to be benefiting and representing.

We now have too many people in the Legislative Branch of government.  As of now there are currently 435 voting representatives in the House of Representatives. Five delegates and one resident commissioner serve as non-voting members of the House, although they can vote in committee. Representatives must be 25 years old and must have been U.S. citizens for at least 7 years. Representatives serve 2-year terms.  However, these terms can be extended simply by Representatives being voted back into office.  There is no cap on the number of terms they can serve.  Therefore, for many, they make it a career, and it was never meant to be a career.

The Constitution prescribes that the Senate be composed of two senators from each State. Therefore, the Senate currently has 100 Members.  A senator must be at least thirty years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for nine years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State from which he or she is chosen.  A senator’s term of office is six years and approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every two years.  Again, these terms have no limits so people can serve their entire lifetime from age 30 till death if they keep getting voted back in.

If you are counting that means there are 535 people trying to make and pass laws for US Citizens to live and operate by.  Trying to get 30 people to agree to one thing is a task, let-a-lone a total of 535 people.  In other words, as I said previously, we have too many people in congress.

We pay US Representatives $174,000 per year (plus all they can steal).  We pay US Senators the same $174,000 per year unless they happen to be the President pro tempore of the Senate or a majority leader or minority leader then we pay them $193,400 per year (plus all they can steal).  And let’s not forget the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico who also gets $174,000 per year. 

All in all, we pay these morons $93,148,200 per year from taxpayers and give them several vacation days per year (called Recesses).  For example:  Out of 365 calendar days in a year the 116th Congress from 2019 and 2020 (730 Calendar days) actually worked 193 Calendar days in 2019 and 163 Calendar days in 2020 (for a total of 356 Calendar days).  This means they took in excess of one year off out of two.  Who wouldn’t want to make this a career for that kind of money with all that vacation time?

Why do I say “Plus all they can steal?”  Because of the book deals and speaking engagements many of them are paid for from outside sources.  There is no limit as to how much they can earn here nor is there a requirement that their books or speeches contain one syllable of the truth.  They can lie as much as they like and still get the book or speaking deal paid for.

And it does not stop there … Look at their pensions:

Congressional members are eligible for their own unique pension plans under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), though there are other retirement benefits available, ranging from Social Security and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).  Currently, members of Congress are eligible for a pension dependent on the member’s age at retirement, length of service, and salary.  The pension value can be up to 80% of the member’s final salary.  Since 2009 Congressional pay has been $174,000 per year, which, at an 80% rate, equates to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200.  All benefits are taxpayer-funded.

Additionally, members of Congress enjoy the same Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) as all other federal employees, which is similar to a 401(k) plan.  More taxpayer funds are used to match Congressional contributions up to 5% per year, in addition to an extra 1% giveaway regardless of how much the congressman or congresswoman contributes, if anything.  Because members of Congress earn far more than the average American citizen, their initial Social Security benefits average just under $26,000 per year compared to $17,652 for the average retired worker in 2019.

Source for the above two paragraphs on pensions:  https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/080416/how-congress-retirement-pay-compares-overall-average.asp

So, has there been much in the way of changes in the political spectrum during my lifetime?  No, not really.  I/We are just becoming more and more aware of the lies and deceit being fed to us from the politicians – thanks to technology.

Technology

Now here there have been humungous changes during my lifetime.  When I was born in 1951 people had telephones … but they were the old fashion dial phones (see below).

During my childhood we even had pay phones that I spent many dimes in talking to girlfriends (see below): I think you were allowed 10 minutes for a dime. 

Very few people had phones at that time.  Now, it is hard to imagine a person from about 10 years of age to older not having a phone jammed down in the pocket of their jeans (or in their hands) that they are constantly looking at.  Look how tiny they have become:

As a kid growing up, we had a hero … Dick Tracy.  What was so neat about Dick Tracy is that he wore a watch that was also his radio and phone:

And what do we have today that many people (including some of my kids) use?

We have the Smartwatch …

We used to fantasize about driverless cars and planes we saw on cartoons like The Jetson’s. 

And look at what is coming at us next …

Let’s not even get into medical technology.  But I will touch on it!

There was a time when only a surgeon could do surgery … but more and more of it today is robotics:

And something near and dear to me is how far they have come to repair an Abdominal Aortic Aneurism.  This is the way it was done years ago – and the only way it was done if caught in time before eruption.

The surgeon would cut you open (sometimes from throat to belly button), remove anything in the way, make the repair, stuff your guts back in your abdomen and you would be in fine shape in about 3 months after a 3-week hospital stay and about a 12-hour surgery procedure.

Today it is different.

A small incision is made on each leg in the groin area, a catheter containing a stent is placed in the incision and ran into the Aorta, the stent is released and unwound in the Aorta forcing the blood to flow through the Aorta.  This reduces the pressure on the walls of the Aorta and allows them to shrink rather than rupture.  Total time for surgery is one to two hours, total hospital time is two days (day of surgery and day of observation) and total recovery time is about 3 days to a week.

There have been major changes in all technology and it is increasing in quantum leaps annually.  Some of this is good and some not so good.  For example:  Few people can make proper change today.  When an item cost $7.67 and a $10.00 bill is handed to the cashier who then must have a computerized cash register tell he or she how much change to give back.

Information

Because of Technology, this has really changed a lot during my lifetime. 

I remember mom and dad spending about $300 for a book case full of Encyclopedia Britannica for us when we were in school to assist us with our homework.

I understand a full set of these huge, heavy cumbersome books today would cost about $3,000 which is why Encyclopedia Britannica has killed it’s print edition.  Who would buy them with the technology we now have to provide the information we need?  You can buy a computer for as little as $300 (or less) and get on the internet for as little as $15 per month.  No need to spend $3,000 on books that will get beat up and eventually thrown out.

All a person must do is go onto the internet and they can learn about anything they want to … even with instructional videos if that is their best way to learn.

The problem is there is simply too much information available now.  It is hard to tell what is true and what is not true.  Denzel Washington (a Hollywood A-lister) said it best when he said, “If you don’t watch or read the news you are uninformed and if you do watch or read the news you are misinformed.”

I could not have explained it better than that.  Information is good.  Good information is Fantastic and Bad Information can be Devastating.  Be careful of the information you put into your mind.

Crime

As a kid growing up, we did not hear as much about crime as we seem to hear today.  We spent a lot of our time outside playing with friends rather than inside chatting with friends on the computer or phone.  We walked or rode our bicycles to school.  Today we hear kids don’t play outside and parents prefer to take their kids to school because of the excessive crime rate.

However, the stats tell us that violent crime and overall crime rates have actually been going down over the years from 1990 through 2020 while they were on the increase from 1960 through 1990.  The graphic below compares crime rates to Spending on Police.

So, when I was a kid, Crime was actually rising and I went out to play with friends.  Of course, I had no idea crime rates were on the rise.  When my kids were kids, Crime was at an all-time high (and I had them going out to play).  Again, I had no idea that crime was as out of control as it was.  There was not any good reporting of it – or I didn’t pay attention to it.  Now, as my grandkids have become of age to go out and play my kids keep them in because of the High Crime Rate, they are hearing about on the news and other outlets, which has actually been falling year over year since 1990.  So, why is there still not any good reporting on the crime rates in America?  The answer is simple:  The media reports what sells, and crime certainly sells.

In addition, since 1994 big city crime has been falling at a much greater clip than small city crime, but you are not going to hear much about it in the media because of the Misinformation Denzel Washington referred to:

Education

I believe this is where some major changes have occurred in my lifetime.  Some for the better and many of these changes for the worse.  I have recently learned with the new “Core” math the schools no longer want our students to memorize the multiplication tables.  This may be one reason cashiers have a hard time making change these days. 

I see math questions on Facebook all the time that confuse the hell out of me the way some come up with answers totally different than what I was taught.  Again, not saying it is good or bad; just that it is far different.  However, it must be understood also that Math was the worst subject I suffered through, in all of school.  I failed beginning algebra two times in high school and had to attend summer school to get a passing grade (D) in order to graduate on time.  Then I landed a career after the military that was all math – Financial Planning.  However, I was allowed to use a financial calculator to do the problems with, which was not allowed when I was in school.  I understand calculators are allowed in school now, and this is a good thing.  When I went to school, they were available, but not affordable, and never allowed in the classroom if you did happen to have one.

Another area of disappointment is that of learning to write cursive.  It is my understanding that for years this was not taught in school – though I understand now that it is coming back in some areas of the country.  Today, it appears to be more typing and printing than anything else.  I can’t understand this.  I’ve always prided myself on my ability to actually write (using my own handwriting) in a way that people who could read cursive could easily read what I wrote.  I tried to encourage my kids to do this as well.  For the girls it seemed to work, but as for my boys – I’m not even sure they can read their own handwriting.  They say they can, but they also say it is not important to them.  I remember in 2nd through 5th grade we would spend about an hour a day in practicing cursive.  That does not happen today – and I think it should.  In my opinion, writing in cursive brings out the creative side of an individual.

Today’s schools tend to focus all their teaching energy on teaching all kids to prepare for college and institutions of higher learning, even though not all kids are cut out to be college material.  When I was in high school, we had classes such as …

  • Home Economics
  • Cooking
  • Home Finance
  • Public Speaking
  • Metal Shop
  • Electric Shop
  • Electronics Shop
  • Welding Shop
  • Concrete and Brick Construction Shop
  • Automotive Repair Shop
  • Automotive body and fender and painting shop
  • Plumbing Shop
  • Carpentry Shop
  • Cabinet Making Shop, and
  • Architectural Drawing Shop.

These classes (with the exception of architectural drawing) were for those students who believed, or their parents and school counselors believed, they were not college material and they needed courses to prepare them for good trades when they finished their academic studies of high school.  These shop classes were for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors in High School, once that first year was completed, and was based on academic scores from that critical Freshman year.

In addition, from 2nd through 4th year of high school we had both Diversified Occupations and Distributive Education for those students who wanted to try various skills live.  They were allowed to go to school half a day and work in the communities at various jobs for the other half day and make money while learning.  I’m not sure this is any longer allowed.

I know when my oldest son, David, was in high school he was in such a program and I would allow him to work for me in my office each afternoon.  However, because of this he was told by the school that he could not also play sports in the evening at school because of the additional work load.  I thought this was BS and took it up with the school board.  I won the case and he was allowed to do both because I simply pointed out to the Louisiana School Board that if I were a farmer he’d have to work before and after school and they would allow him to participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities, no questions asked.  I got him special permission to do both, but it was not an easy battle. 

Schools tend to baby the children too much today, in my opinion.  I remember when my younger kids were in elementary school and they would have their track and field day (relay races and such) they would get trophies and ribbons whether they won or lost.  These are known as participation awards.  In my opinion this cheapens the award provided to the winners.  This is one of the ways we tend to baby the kids too much.  I think kids need to learn there is winners and losers in the world and if they don’t want to be a loser, they need to work extra hard to become a winner.  This would also teach them to learn what they can excel at and learn what they will fail at, so they can spend their time on things that they can excel at and leave those things alone they know they will fail at.

One other thing about education before leaving this subject.  I don’t think our school systems today teach our children too much in the area of “Critical Thinking.”  They have given up on memorization of multiplication tables and such to focus more time on the area of critical thinking; but again, I think that is in an effort to get them ready for college and not to get them ready for life.

I remember one of the best classes I had in elementary school was American History taught by Mr. Erskine.  He would start every class using a story from the Chicago Sun Times or the Chicago Tribune (two widely read newspapers back in the 60s and 70s in the Chicago area).  Then he would have us think about the story and try to come up with something in our history that led us to this happening at the time.  Back then “the Equal Rights Movement” was in the news daily so we were able to learn a lot (in an all-white school) about the American Civil War, slavery, and the abolishment of such nastiness.  Unfortunately, Mr. Erskine was fired after two years because his teaching method did not follow the guidelines of what the Board of Education felt was appropriate.  It may have also had something to do with the fact that he would frequently bring in homemade root beer (that looked like real beer) and serve it with popcorn and caramel corn during class.  Yes, he kept our interest.  We loved the classes and really learned to think about real life things at ages 12 to 13.

One more thing – as I told you kids growing up:  Learn to read and comprehend and you will be able to learn and to do anything your heart’s desire.  I don’t think this is taught too much in school any more.  I know it wasn’t when some of my kids were in school.

Movies and Hollywood

In my lifetime, Hollywood, Television shows and Movies have made quantum leaps.  This is due to both technology and society changes that have occurred over my lifetime. 

Technology, of course, has really improved how we view a movie and TV show these days.  Back when I was a kid, I liked to watch war movies and cowboy movies (and still do).  I remember you could always tell the fights were fake because the actors were not as good at throwing fake punches or the technology could not make a fake punch appear like a real punch. 

If someone got shot, you knew it was a blank round because there was never any blood on the person who got hit by the bullet.  In addition, you could tell it was blank just by the sound of the gun.  If someone jumped off a building or was pushed off a building, you never saw them hit the ground.  You would see them after they hit the ground, but with today’s green screens and technology you actually see them hit the ground and start to bleed. 

On sit coms, like The Dick Van Dyke show, even though Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were supposed to be married you would never see them in bed together.  They were in the same room with pajama’s on, but never, ever in the same bed.  They each had their own bed in the room.

I remember the first X-Rated show I went to see (cutting school my senior year and lying about my age).  The movie was “I a Woman” and the hot scene was the lady in a room with a closed door and the shot was taken under the door and all you saw was a red dress and white panties slip down her lower legs and lie on the floor.  There was no nudity, yet the idea of it made it rated X.

Today, all that has changed.  The special effects, due to technology, are phenomenal.  People actually bleed.  You actually see arms and heads get blown off.  You see a guy (the movie Forrest Gump) on two legs during the Vietnam War (Gary Sinise) and watch him get his legs blown off and the rest of the movie he’s in a wheel chair with nubs above the knee and no legs at all.

We now have a lot of movies that are presented in 3-D.  You still must wear special glasses to view these movies but I’d say that too will end in the next 2-5 years.  They will figure out a way to show 3-D if they haven’t already (it’s been a while since I’ve been to a movie) without the special glasses.

I remember TV Shows like “Gunsmoke” with Matt Dillon and Festus where Festus would say, “Well Dadburn it, Matthew” and that was considered vulgar language.  Today, it is nothing to hear “God Dammit” or the “F-Bomb” dropped in every other sentence.  Skin that was not shown in movies years ago is now shown even on family TV shows today.  A lot of this has to do with the changing of our society.

This leads me to the final major change I’ve seen in my lifetime …

Children’s Behaviors

Children today do not seem to be as respectful to adults as they were in past years.  I mean disrespectful to adult strangers as well as adult parents.  I can’t blame the children for this, I can only blame the parenting of the children.

When I was a kid if I talked back or sassed my parents, I would get a slap to the mouth before anything was said.  Then, I would get a stern talking too, or even a spanking to go along with that slap. 

We were taught to respond, “Yes Sir and No Sir” and “Yes Mam and No Mam” when I was growing up.  We were taught to begin a conversation with an adult as Mr. Mrs. or Miss and not “Hey.”

Of course, it is human nature to lie if we think it will keep us out of trouble, but we were taught that Honesty was the best Policy and if we were caught in a lie, it was another spanking we were facing.  Even if we told the truth and did something we knew we were not supposed to do, we’d still get the spanking if it was thought to be deserved.  Why?  Because if we knew what we were doing was wrong, then “truth” did not matter than much.

The discipline I had to go through growing up was not reserved for my teenage years, it started as early as age 2 or 3.  My parents figured if they waited till my teenage years to discipline me it would be a waste of time and effort on their part – and they were 100% correct.  I hate to say it this way, but it is like teaching a dog to be obedient and not pee in the house.  If you wait until the dog is 1 to 2 years old (7 to 14 dog years) it is way too late to teach the pet.  You have to start early.

I see kids today so disrespectful to adults that I sometimes want to slap a knot on their head, even though they are not my kids.  It has happened with my grandkids, and I just have to shake my head and leave the room for fear that I may end up slapping a knot on my kid’s heads (their parents) for not disciplining their kids. 

All that being said, I cannot put all the blame on the parents.  I have to put some of the blame on Hollywood and the Movies and Movie Rating System.  Each Saturday I pick my mom up at the retirement home she lives in to bring her to my house for dinner.  I attempt to find a good movie we can watch either before or after dinner before I take her back.  I look at the ratings and think that a PG-13 rating would be much better than an R-Rating.  Wrong!  I’ve found most PG-13 rated movies are full of vulgarity and skin – though not full nudity like the R-Rated movies happen to be.  But the language, for my 90-year-old mama is still questionable.  If I go with a G-Rated movie that is going to be primarily for young children, and I can’t stand most of those.

Kids see kids in these movies “trash talking” adults and they seem to pick up on the habit of doing the same.  They see kids bullying other kids, and again they want to replicate that action.  Hollywood doesn’t care, it’s all about the damned money to them.  They will moan, groan and bitch about kids bullying other kids, yet make a movie about it and charge money to see it. 

Another reason, I believe, children are as disrespectful as they are today is our Educational System.  There was a time in this country, that I grew up in, where if you did something at school that would have gotten you discipline (a spanking at home) then you would get some form of discipline (and yes even spankings) at school.  Because of certain silly laws that have been passed, that does not happen today – and in my opinion – it should.  Especially considering that most who passed, or called for laws being passed, have never raised a child.

No, there was no spankings in high school since many of the students were as big or bigger than the teachers, but there were plenty handed out in elementary school — if they were deserved.  In high school what we had was “detention.”  However, detention was not an hour after school, it was 6 hours on Saturday (from 8:00 AM till 2:00 PM) and if you had lunch, you brought it yourself.  If you did not have homework, you were given homework to do there.

I remember some detentions I went to in high school.  I had to write a paper on a particular subject (or notes) then get up in front of the class and give a 10-minute talk on my particular paper.  This was good.  It taught me to (a) stay out of trouble since it cost me money (remember I had a part-time job the last three years of high school) and (b) it taught me to get rid of the fear of speaking in public (which came in very handy giving seminars as a financial planner later in life).  I had detention twice, that I can remember, in high school.  Once for smoking in the bathroom and getting caught and once for a fist fight, I had on school grounds after school one day (my freshman year).

It was usually the athletic coaches that were responsible for watching over us in detention since they could better handle any trouble makers.  Each coach would rotate Saturday duty – and boys and girls never were in detention together.  We were separated.

Conclusion …

That’s about it for notable changes that have occurred in my lifetime off the top of my head.  I am sure that given enough time I could certainly come up with more; potentially a book full, or better yet a volume of books full.  But I will leave this article/letter right here.

Love always and forever,

Dad & Pappy!

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