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When John Fogerty wrote and released Proud Mary in 1969, the unemployment rate was 3.4%.
3.4%! Amazing. And that was back when the unemployment rate was measured more honestly, too. It was before the unemployment calculation was split into six different flavors.
Depending on where you set frictional unemployment, 3.4% is actually better than “full employment.” Let all that sink in for a moment before we dig into some culture and economic analysis.
The United States is a very angry, divided place today. It is certainly more angry and divided than at any point in my lifetime. But I’m not certain it is more angry and divided than at any point in my parents’ lifetime. Ma Concord was a flower child and had a front row seat during the counter-culture revolution. I never get tired of bouncing my Gen X perspectives off of her Boomer worldviews. It’s always useful and interesting. The rolling river of history is a fascinating thing.
But the 1960s were an angry and divided place for a set of completely opposite, complementary reasons. The economy was rocking back then and everybody who wanted a job had one. I think a lot of people in my generation are tickled by the idea of “not wanting a job,” especially now that we’re all in our 30′s and 40′s. For most of our lives, how many things have we wanted more than a satisfying, high-paying job?