Bill Bonner Remembers 1958


“Back in 1958, America was a not only a net exporter . . . but the largest net exporter in the world. Now, it is the largest importer.

“Back in 1958, America was the world’s largest creditor. Now it is its largest debtor — with a net financial deficit of $4 trillion dollars.

“Back in 1958, the national savings rate was over 10%. Today . . . it is near 1%.

“Back in 1958, total debt in the U.S. was under 150% of GDP. Today it is over 300% . . . a level never before seen.

“Back in 1958, a gallon of gas cost . . . what . . . we don’t recall, but we remember spending 25 cents for a gallon only a few years later. We also remember someone coming out to pump the gas and clean the windshield while we waited.

“We’re not saying 1958 was better. Back then, if you wanted to buy a house or a car, you had to save up to make a down payment. And we had to watch Amos & Andy or The Honeymooners on TV; we had no reality shows or celebrity boobs at half time. And you couldn’t come down here to Nicaragua and work in an air-conditioned office as though you had never left home.

“In 1958, our family built a house. We do not recall any hassles with zoning boards, building inspectors, environmental panels or other busybodies. Our father designed it and built it himself . . . following his inner architect. It is still standing . . . as big an eyesore as ever.

“And when Eisenhower spoke, you didn’t have the pleasure of trying to figure out how the sentences fit together or what they meant; they were pretty straightforward. And you didn’t have the thrill of trying to guess what the dollar would be worth next year . . . or how America could possibly pay its bills.

“Nor did we have the benefit of at least 80% of the laws now on the books. People were still allowed to call each other names or make jokes without going to jail. You could still drive around country roads and throw beer cans out the window.

“And can you imagine . . . when you took a trip on an airplane, you were treated as though you were an important customer, rather than someone bent on the destruction of the planet. There were no x-rays . . . no body searches . . . no moronic questions . . . no Homeland Security. In fact, there was no Homeland at all . . . just a big, open, free, cheap, solvent, loony and agreeable country we called America. “We miss it.”

(Source: Bill Bonner’s “Daily Reckoning”)