Originally Posted by BigRedChief
That era is never coming back. We had factories already ramped up for war. We were undamaged at home. We had a monopoly to sell the goods that rebuilt after the war.
During this post WWII era, we allowed the largest middle class the world has ever known to be built. We are still living off that success as our exports have declined.
We can't compete with $5.00 an hour wages. What we have to discover is that widget that we can build cheaper and pay "American" wages and still sell overseas or we are going to be a consumption economy forever. This is why I strongly advocate to keep the middle class strong. Without it, we are doomed for failure. Maybe not next year or the next but eventually everything will collapse.
I'm not trying to bring any bygone era back. I'm anticipating the future world. Talk of keeping the middle class strong is a democrat (and to some extent a populist Republican) codeword for insulating our old ways from the realities of the global market and you can only keep that going for a while before the real world smacks you in the face. It's better to get out in front of it and do what we can now to align our society to thrive under those conditions.
Your mention of the era when we had the luxury of being the supplier for a war-torn world is worth keeping in mind. Under those conditions, we didn't have to be streamlined for export because we were the only game in town. Like you said, that's not likely to ever be the case again. We need to face that reality and stop trying to cling to the old ways (e.g. progressive income tax, luxurious employee-provided benefits like healthcare, high wages for jobs that don't require extensive training or skill, gold-plated welfare state, etc.).