This is worth a read for all those folks (like so many of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s supporters) who yearn for a return to the “good old days” when America was great.
Still, Trump’s supporters might not appreciate what an economic return to the ’50s—even a ’50s lacking overt discrimination against women and political, racial, and sexual minorities—would entail. The ’50 were, as Stiglitz puts it, “a time of war-induced solidarity when the government kept the playing field level.” In other words, they were a time of Big Government. And Big Labor: As Alternet reports, “By 1953, more than one out of three American workers were members of private sector unions. That means there was a union member in nearly every family.”
Then there’s the matter of taxes. Though a conservative writer at Bloomberg View scoffs at the oft-cited statistic that the top marginal tax rate in the ‘50s was an astounding 91 percent, even she admits that “the Internal Revenue Service reckoned that the effective rate of tax in 1954 for top earners was actually 70 percent”—vastly higher than it is today. Indeed, for most of the past 100 years, tax rates have been much higher than they are now, including during some boom times.
If bigger government, stronger unions, and higher taxes on the rich are what it takes to make America great again, Republican primary voters might be surprised to learn that the candidate who truly shares their values is not Donald Trump, but Bernie Sanders.