Quality of Life

I read an alumni profile recently of someone who graduated in 1950, and is quoted as saying,

“I worked there from sophomore year through senior year. The work paid much of my way through college.”

He worked as a waiter at the college-owned restaurant. I wonder if you could pay your way through college today, on campus, as a waiter? An Ivy League college?
These are questions that define quality of life for me. It’s not about the vastly increased bling, or the so-called time-saving machines and so-called paper-saving computer equipment. It’s about affording the basic building blocks of progress. Shelter costs, educations, literacy, numeracy, consciousness. On these measures it’s hard to argue we’re better off than in 1972, when my Dad bought a nice house near the center of town for the price of a department manger’s one year salary. Today that same house is easily double the cost of a similar salary. Maybe close to triple.
Our education system is largely a factory producing people for last century’s jobs. 17% of Americans are illiterate. If there were rising numeracy then Bush wouldn’t get away with rampant spending amidst top-tier tax cuts. And we know consciousness is not evenly distributed. I guess we live longer, if you can afford health insurance.
And…. and…. what are some other ways we’re better off, as a society, since 1972? (“We have blogs” is not a valid answer!)