Table Topic questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"Soaring to prosperity"
Fifties prosperity touched Americans across the country.
In the Pacific Northwest, commercial aviation and the Cold War made Boeing an economic powerhouse.
The '50s were good times‹but during the '70s, hard times for Boeing meant hard times for Seattle.
Is this still a one-company town or have we diversified? How do we measure local economic health today?
What other industries have become key to growth?
- The Times was an unabashed Boeing booster. Although Boeing's fortunes are still front-page news,
is the newspaper as eager to support businesses today?
The company just announced acquisition of eight aerospace and defense divisions of Rockwell
International. Predict how this will affect stock holders in the immediate future and our area in years to come.
- Local prosperity inspired growth, confidence and a flurry of civic projects.
Can you name them? Is there a similarly ambitious time in Seattle's more recent history?
Is this a period of expansion or contraction for big-ticket civic undertakings?
- During the '50s, Americans representing less than 10% of world population were responsible
for producing and owning 50% of the world's goods. Does this production to wealth ratio indicate
crass exploitation of resources or a consumer revolution that benefits everyone? How did our dominance
of world markets affect the rest of the world? What's the ratio now? Today, we operate from a
trade balance deficit, importing more than we export. Are we as rich as we once were? What
countries are experiencing a surge of productivity and prosperity?
The term "Fatuous Fifties" implies an era of mindless materialism. Compare the televisions,
power mowers and appliances then with car phones, computers, logo fashions, sports salaries of
today. Which era strikes you as more materialistic and why? Have we become accustomed to
an affluent lifestyle, with higher expectations? Which decade had/has the most poor people?
The '50s saw the start of youth-oriented pop culture. What does television have to do with it,
then and now? Did the popular '50s shows accurately reflect the lifestyle or help to create it?
Looking at the "artifacts" of the 1950s, what can you guess about its popular culture?
What do modern advertising, television shows and fashions say about our own?
- Recently, two grandchildren of Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev met to commemorate
the "Kitchen Debate," which compared capitalism to communism. Who was the "winner"
of that debate and why? What do you suppose this generation had to say to each other?
Copyright © 1996 The Seattle Times Company