What caused consumerism in the 1980s in the US and what was its impact?

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The consumerism of the 1980's can be directly linked to the economic growth after World War II. As millions of men came home, so did mass employment for the country's economy. This, along with the fervor of patriotism, built the foundation for consumerism in the 1950's. Cars and TV's became...

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The consumerism of the 1980's can be directly linked to the economic growth after World War II. As millions of men came home, so did mass employment for the country's economy. This, along with the fervor of patriotism, built the foundation for consumerism in the 1950's. Cars and TV's became the staple of American home through the lens of consumerism. With that in mind, it is important to consider that the economic high was short lived. Social chaos in the 1960's and the devastating stagflation of the 1970's essentially brought consumerism to a halt. As with most economic situations, this was a vicious cycle; businesses were not producing like they had been because consumers were not purchasing like they had been as well. Frustration was at a tipping point and resulted in Ronald Reagan being elected president in 1980. With Reagan came "Reaganomics." The idea was to jump start the economy from the top. This trickle down idea allowed corporations to save money via tax cuts, which created growth and ultimately jobs. Although many points of Reaganomics are debatable, there were some major benefits. Families benefitted from the tax cuts and spurred more purchasing power, which brought on the consumerism of the 1980's. Imagine the frustration of the 1970's and what you would do with more money in the 1980's. The rational consumer spent. The impact of consumerism in the 80's was in the social and cultural aspects of the country. To get a fictional yet fair idea, you should watch the film Wall Street. This new "yuppie" culture was beginning to gain ground. Many saw these Americans as trust-fund babies and white-collar millionaires. The American dream, because of the consumerism of the 1980's, had become more about wealth than freedom.

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Consumerism grew in the post–WWII years and reached a zenith in the 1980s. One of the factors in the growth of consumerism in the 1980s was increased personal wealth for many middle- and upper-class people as a result of Reaganomics, as President Reagan's economic policy was known. Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy while effectively raising taxes on the poor. The wealthy, who had more money to spend, celebrated consumerism and materialism. The popular culture of the time, including TV shows such as Dynasty, celebrated wealth and consumption.

The result was a popular culture that celebrated excess, greed, and mean spiritedness towards the poor. People accepted government policies that ignored the plight of the poor, and the situation of the poor, particularly of poor people of color, worsened as government programs to help them were cut or reduced. The "greed is good" ethos of the 1980s worsened the situation in many poor urban areas while concentrating wealth in the hands of those who were already wealthy and were able to benefit from Reaganomics.

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