Time to switch gears for a sec.
I came across this CNN story about how guys in their thirties are doing compared to their fathers, and it triggered some hard memories.
American men in their 30s are earning less than their father's generation did, challenging a long-held belief that each generation will be better off than the one that preceded it, according to a new study published Friday...
Relying on Census Bureau figures, the study's authors found that after adjusting for inflation, men in their 30s in 2004 had a median income of about $35,000 per year, for a 12 percent drop compared with $40,000 per year for men in the same age group in 1974.
That stood in stark contrast to men in their 30s in 1994, who earned 5 percent more than their fathers did.
Similarly, American families, which experienced a 32 percent increase in income levels between 1964 and 1994, saw household income growth slow to 9 percent between 1974 and 2004, according to the report.
"There is clearly some story here that [U.S.] productivity gains are not trickling down to the median family," said John Morton, a co-author of the study and the managing director of economic policy initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
This took me back to the early sixties, when I was in junior high school.
Dad was making about twelve to fourteen grand a year at Disney. When you tacked on the royalties from his Christmas cards, the art shows, the royalties from the little indie films he did, he was up around twenty five to thirty grand per year. Thirty-five grand in a really good year.
This put us in the top quadrant of middle-classdom. Mom was stay-at-home. The family spent a big chunk of each summer at the beach. I'm told by my surviving parent that family income fluctuated wildly year to year, but I never noticed any difference in our living standards from the vantage point of the eighth grade.
Twenty-five to thirty-five thousand a year.
You make that kind of money now, you live in a studio apartment and drive a third-hand car. You clip coupons. Eat in a lot, with an occasional splurge at Burger King or Sizzler.
And if you're going to work in Toonland, expect big years and small years. Expect layoffs. As part of an extended family that's been in the animated sector of show biz for seventy years, I can tell you that it's a cruel business. Just when you think you've got stability and a rising standard of living, it can all get yanked away in the wink of an eye. All it takes is a couple of under-performing movies or a cancelled t.v. series.
The cold reality of the business, coupled with the income study that's just been released, is enough to give anyone pause.