“If we gave todayâ€™s consumers the goods consumers had in 1950, theyâ€™d feel like they were in a penniless wasteland.”
I’m not sure about this. All of my homes were built during the 1950s (all of which are in mostly original condition). None of them are lacking modern amenities. In fact, I’d argue that in regard to household appliances and amenities, it is surprising how little has changed for the better since that time. I accept and understand that electronics have changed (thus providing consumers with easier to see televisions which have more channels, entertaining gaming consoles, computers with internet access, etc.), but these consumer goods, I don’t believe have improved quality of life other than what is provided via distraction and detachment from reality. The fundamentals, ovens/ranges, central heating and cooling, clothes washers and dryers, dish washers, refrigerators, indoor plumbing, etc., I would argue, have changed, but not as much as one would expect, I think, over the course of the past 60 years.
“Poorer rural areas didnâ€™t have electricity or drinking water.”
Maybe our community was not super poor. But, I am familiar with rural communities (because of my family’s origins and direct experience). And, I admit, for example, that up until 1997 one of my homes (located in a small rural town) had a shared party line telephone (shared with a few other homes on our road). But that was due to choice (stubbornness to change on the part of one of my relatives) rather than due to unavailability of the new service. When I took over the home I found the local phone company was very willing to install for me 6 telephone lines as well as run new fiber optic cabling down my road in order to accommodate my need (free of extra fees/charge to me). If there was a lack of amenities in a given rural environment in the 1950s (reference for example: http://www.economichistory.ca/pdfs/2014/lewisSevernini.pdf which states 95% of farms had electric service by 1955), I’d speculate, perhaps, many members of that community were reluctant to change to electricity, running water, and other amenities in their homes and community because of something like “if it isn’t broken, why fix it”. Not necessarily because the amenities were not available or were prohibitively expensive.
“Thatâ€™s not to say foreign production changed all of this, but it did play a major role in making a lot of technologies affordable to everyone” and “Made-in-Canada/USA goods exist, you just need *to be able to afford them.*”
And, as an aside, I’d like to mention that I am one of an increasingly smaller number of folks who still remember what it was once like in our once prosperous small rural community. Through approximately the early 1980s, we had, in addition to farming, a couple automobile parts suppliers, factories which made small wooden pieces of furniture (like chairs and tables), a light bulb factory, a clay and brick works, a small armory, a clothes mill, and some mining. Only two remain: farming and some mining. I don’t know what is the solution to bring back the lost jobs. But, the point is that the items manufactured in our small town through the 1980s did not make cars, light bulbs, tables and chairs, bricks, and clothes too expensive for the consumers (folks were buying this stuff before the early 1980s just the same as they do today). And, I don’t know this for sure, but my guess is that not one of these items is less expensive for the consumer today than it was prior to the early 1980s.