GERN Stock Price and Chart — NASDAQ:GERN — TradingView

WTF Happened in 1971?

In a recent spillover of internet-based long-form intellectual new media into the mainstream, Eric Weinstein appeared as a guest on Ted Cruz's podcast. Eric was well prepared. Cruz played the role of a charitable and engaged critic while avoiding direct confrontation.
The conservation laid bare the intersection of the anti-corporate socialist left and anti-government libertarian right and the potential of these forces as a combined political interest. There was a strong sense of shared acknowledgement of the current crisis and they touched on all the culture war aspects. But I'm more interested in what Eric has pointed to now several times as the root cause of the systemic decline, and what seems to be the original trigger for the slow decay and building of tension that has ultimately led to the rise of darker elements on both the left and right that we see today: a Great Decoupling of productivity (GDP) and wage growth in the early 1970's. The significance of this time period has also been highlighted by Eric's boss, Peter Thiel.
We are referred to https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/, where a collection of charts give the impression that a profound change in the foundations of the economy took place, effectively causing a divergence of all kinds of metrics related to equality, wealth creation, the complexity of regulation, and implicitly downstream effects like political polarization, incarceration rates, and age of marriage.
The simple, seemingly persuasive answer is that the effective cancellation of the gold standard set us on a path towards borrowing ever larger sums to avert financial crises as they arise, and the return to a currency backed by something provably scarce, i.e. bitcoin, is a solution.
I can't say I'm convinced it's that simple. And Eric doesn't mention currency specifically as the problem.
So what I want to know is, was 1971 a real inflection point, the real root of inequality and dysfunction we see today? Was the removal of limits on the Fed's ability to print money a mistake? Or was there some other government action or change at that time that was the real cause? Do we need to let stock market crashes happen from time to time?
A year ago, u/gwern posted a 1986 Atlantic article that described a lot of the problems in black America that are still around 4 decades later and offered more in the way of nuance and insight than most of the discourse we see today. What struck me on revisiting it was how the timing of the decline of Chicago aligns with the early 1970's trigger hypothesis:
In 1970 thirty-seven percent of the population of the area was below the poverty line; in 1980 the figure was 51 percent. In 1970 the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent; in 1980 it was 24.2 percent. In 1970 forty percent of the residents of the neighborhood lived in families with a female head; in 1980 the number had grown to 72 percent. In 1980 of the 54,000 residents 33,000 were on welfare. Experts agree that all of the numbers are even worse today.
My mental model for social issues is that they are mostly rooted in economics. If you have a society that generates wealth, you can pay teachers, doctors, and police well enough to attract competent candidates and the competition necessary to create real expertise. You can afford to build and maintain good infrastructure and spend time on figuring out how to best help the disadvantaged. You have the resources to advance technology and support the arts. You get all the positive feedback loops that come with this.
When wealth generation becomes concentrated and restricted, public institutions start to struggle, people feel they have less opportunity, and social issues start to bubble up like the formation of outgroups of all kinds. A massive oversimplifation, I know, but a useful general framework to approaching issues that avoids (mis)placing blame on cultural degeneracy, "evil" corporations, or other common scapegoats that are largely symptoms of greater problems.
Today, this mindset seems to align with the conservative right, but in the 1986 article it's the "liberal answer" to the problem of ghettos that I identify with:
In Chicago the harbinger of the change was the closing in the late fifties of the stockyards, which for half a century were the sine qua non of lower-class grunt work and a heavy employer of blacks. Chicago lost 200,000 jobs in the seventies; small shut-down redbrick factories that used to make products like boxes and ball bearings dot the city, especially the West Side. The lack of jobs, the argument continues, caused young men in the ghetto to adopt a drifting, inconstant life; to turn to crime; to engage in exaggeratedly macho behavior -- acting tough, not studying, bullying women for money -- as a way to get the sense of male strength that their fathers had derived from working and supporting families. As Murray believes that one simple step, ending all welfare programs, would heal the ghettos, the unemployment school believes that another simple step, jobs, would heal them. "When there's a demand for the participation of the black underclass in the labor force, most of the so-called problems people talk about will evaporate in a generation," says John McKnight. an urban-research professor at Northwestern University.
Indeed, Mr. McKnight. And up until this spring, it looked like the Trump presidency's aggressively pro-jobs and pro-American workers policy was showing promise of vindicating this view - the presence of BLM and racial tensions leading up to 2016 had all but subsided by 2018-2019. I wonder just how little backlash the George Floyd incident would have caused if the pandemic hadn't undone the economic progress of the past 3 years.
Mind you, that "progress" was but a tiny step in the right direction in terms of improving wages and opportunities for the lowest earners. And for all the times the "audit the fed" meme hit the top of the_donald, it now seems impossible that the current administration has any capability or willingness to take the drastic steps needed to address the real root cause that apparently started 50 years ago. To do that, we may need an actual revolution.
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