Remembering the Good Old Days

Humorist P. J. O’Rourke says, “When you think of the good old days, think ‘dentistry.’” Gary North writes, “The greatest invention of the modern world is anesthetics. Prior to 1844, in preparation for an operation, you drank booze until you passed out — hopefully. Then the physician—‘sawbones,’ he was called—got started hacking away.” You can have the “good old days” of just a hundred years ago:

  • The average life expectancy in America was 47. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of Americans will reach the age of 100 in 2020 will be more than 240,000.
  • Only 14% of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
  • Only 8% of the homes had a telephone. Now most homes have three or four and each family member has a cell phone that in many cases can be used anywhere in the world.
  • A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11, if you could get through.
  • There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour. It would have taken someone 50 hours to pay for that $11 telephone call.
  • The average American worker made between $200–$400/year.
  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000/year, a dentist $2500/year, a veterinarian between $1,500–$4,000/year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000/year.
  • More than 95% of all births in the U.S. took place at home. Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital.
  • The five leading causes of death in the US were:
    1. pneumonia and influenza
    2. tuberculosis
    3. diarrhea
    4. heart disease
    5. stroke
    6. Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.

What’s America’s most publicized health risk? Obesity! We have too much food. What a great problem to have.

Some things are worse. Taxes come to mind. In 1910, there was no federal income tax. There was no Social Security administration or Department of Education or any number of alphabet soup regulatory agencies. Crime and divorce are up. In 1910, “There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.”

There has been a moral breakdown in America in the past 100 years. Like the Israelites who chose a king to rule over them when their nation fell into moral corruption (1 Sam. 8), Americans have done something similar. Too many believe that by changing things at the top, life will be better at the bottom.

There’s need to be a wholesale reformation in America. It will come about when a majority of people understand that the State cannot and will not save them.