Politics

Our National Funk

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Michael Barone (via National Review) looks at the recent Pew Global Attitudes Project's poll of citizens of 47 countries and notes:

Only 25 percent of Americans are positive about the direction of the nation, down from 41 percent in 2002. In only a handful of the 47 nations are there declines of similar magnitude—Uganda, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, and Italy. Obviously, one factor here is the decline in the job rating of George W. Bush and of Congress (and the response in other countries to squabbling politicians in Prague, Paris, Ottawa, and Rome)….

But what basis do Americans have to suppose that, for the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents? Perhaps it's just a feeling that things cannot possibly get any better. In any case, we seem to be in a pronounced national funk.

Perhaps most importantly, the Pew Global survey showed sharply reduced numbers of Muslims saying that suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified as compared with 2002. That's still the view of 70 percent in the Palestinian territories. But that percentage has declined from 74 percent to 34 percent in Lebanon, from 43 percent to 23 percent in Jordan, and from 33 percent to 9 percent in Pakistan.

More here.

Barone suggests that funky Americans, e.g. residents of "this most blessed country are registering a verdict that is in tension with reality." What say you? Is the future so bright you gotta wear shades or do you tremble in fear for your children's coming years?

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  1. I recall this same kind of thing going on the early 1990s when I graduated from college. “For the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents” could be cut and pasted from any number of collumns written in the early 1990s. Somehow we managed. People’s views of the future were clearly out of touch with reality in the early 1990s and probably are now.

  2. I’m afraid that I find myself in the pessimistic class.

    On the one hand, technological and distributional improvements will make lives longer and healthier, good better and cheaper, and free us from the tyranny of experts, technocrats, and the canon. But these innovations will only occur if the various governemtns invoved refrain from hindering them. Long odds at best.

    On the other hand, the chains that bind me-to the old whose retirements I have to fund, the sick whose care I have to pay for, and other peoples’ kids whose educations I have to shell out for-will only get heavier.

  3. Meh. Things tend to get better, but at a slower rate than anyone would like. The future is pretty bright, it’s just a ways off. And the present isn’t all that bad (for me) either.

  4. Did the respondents need to have children to respond to the question of whether the future is better for children? I didn’t see that detail on the Pew website.

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed among my friends that the childless are bleaker on the future than those with children.

  5. Anybody who reads of the policy presciptions and hopes of Reasonoids is bound to have a wonderful feeling of optimism that comes from realizing that they will never come to fruition. After all, things are not so dark that a lunatic like Ron Paul can actually get anywhere in our electoral system. Nobody is really going to abolish the FDA. Things aren’t as bad as they might be.

  6. It also gives Edward a wonderful feeling to realize that he can troll to his heart’s content without having his teeth knocked out. Almost as wonderful a feeling as the bureaucratic cock sliding over his tongue, down his throat.

  7. We need a funky President. Vote James Brown 2008! He may be dead, but he’s still funky!

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed among my friends that the childless are more rational on the future than those with children who are super self-delusional and think their kids are bigger than Jesus.

    Seriously, I am not an optimist about our future. I think that when we have another major terrorist attack we will abandon all but the pretense of liberty. The American expiriment is dying and the Bill Of Rights are becoming just words on a page.

  8. But what basis do Americans have to suppose that, for the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents?

    “Worse off” can mean a number of different things. Sure, we may live longer and have more toys, but so what? If we breed a bunch of self-important collectivist-minded assholes who have graduate degrees to confirm their perceived intelligence but still have the reasoning skills of a 12 year old, what good does it do for these people to live longer? All they have is the confidence that they can fix all the world’s problems, and they’re increasingly more willing to seize the means to try.

  9. https://www.reason.com/blog/show/119340.html

    Don’t forget to hit us with a Tillman update today, Mr. Gillespie. There have been developments in the case. It turns out the SI article is not the last word after all.

  10. damaged justice

    Nice to know that you would knowck out the teeth of those who diagree with you if you could. I take it you represent the fascist wing of the libertarianism. Asshole.

  11. Seriously, I am not an optimist about our future. I think that when we have another major terrorist attack we will abandon all but the pretense of liberty. The American expiriment is dying and the Bill Of Rights are becoming just words on a page.

    I dunno – at what point in the past did Americans not have as much liberty as they had today? Especially if you have money, you can pretty much do and be whomever you want.

  12. For fighting words? Bet your ass, punk. But we already knew you represent the troll wing, who will say anything to get a reaction. Until the reaction you get is a punch in the face.

  13. MyTube

    Do whomever you want?

  14. for the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents

    I related news, I hear that the Great Depression and the American Civil War/Reconstruction aren’t covered in every American History book.

  15. “In related news,…”

  16. We need a funky President. Vote James Brown 2008! He may be dead, but he’s still funky!

    George Clinton’s still alive, which gives him a leg up on Brown, plus he has a very presidential sounding name that could confuse the hell out of Democratic voters!!!

    WE WANT THE FUNK
    GOTTA HAVE THAT FUNK

  17. MyTube

    Do whomever you want?

    Uh, yeah, that was poorly worded.

    Do whatever you want and be whomever…

  18. Wasn’t there the same fear back in the late 80s and early 90s that gen X would be worse off than their parents?

  19. i guess it’s part of feeling special. cause you know, we’re alive now and stuff.

  20. Prices are rising. Dollar is falling. The government spends vast amounts more than it takes in every year. Social Security and Medicare will bankrupt us or force us into hyper-inflation. The home market is in recession.

    Economically, there are a lot of things that look pretty bleak.

    Whether or not all of these lead to a worse case scenario is another matter, but there is certainly cause for concern about the future.

  21. two key things lead to bleakness:
    1- 6 years of Bush co. means things have been going downhill for six years, and people always push tredlines into the future
    2- high real estate prices leads people to think that they will not be able to afford as big a place as their folks had, and will not be able to buy as soon (or they have to move to South Dakota where land is cheap)

  22. Agro – I’m banking on all the foreclosures to get an excellent price for a big house!

  23. fyodor,

    Hell, we’ve already had a George Clinton as Vice President. This time George Clinton for President and Isaac Hays as Vice President (if he agrees to give up his job as Duke Of New York, A Number One. That’s one funky ticket, my friend.

  24. No,MyTube, it’s whoever, not whomever, you want to be.

  25. Prices are rising. Dollar is falling.

    Isn’t this two ways of saying the same thing?

    I’m banking on all the foreclosures to get an excellent price for a big house!

    That thought has occurred to me, too, which suggests it won’t work.

    That is to say, if someone as dim as me has thought of it, then everybody has thought of it. Therefore, the DEMAND KURV will keep the prices from falling too far. Or am I mistaken here?

  26. Wonder why people are pessimistic? Try this: Real wages peaked for Americans in 1972. Highly educated folks are doing much better now but middle and lower classes are doing worse. Reason readers tend to be well-educated and do well financially so they don’t understand the angst. Try looking at the stats.

  27. Purely anecdotal, but I’m making about what my father made at my age…but I ain’t paying 70’s prices…

  28. for the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents.

    This is true, but young adults today still have it better than their grandparents did. The baby boomers enoyed America at its peak. In a decade or two, it will be one country out of many instead of “the world’s only superpower”. The French, Dutch, and Brits still live good lives after losing their international clout. Future Americans will do fine.

  29. Thanks for the grammar lesson, Eddie. Before you corrected MyTube, none of us had any idea what he/she was talking about. Good thing we have you around to clarify things.

    I’m very mixed on the near future. We’re in a real “could go one way, could go the other” time in our national history. The state is expanding rapidly and people aren’t taking their liberties seriously. On the other hand, movements like homeschooling seem to be exploding, which suggests to me (among other things) that parents are sick of having their children indoctrinated by the state. We could be a generation away from slavery, or a generation away from a significant move in the direction of liberty. Being one of those parents who are “super self-delusional” I’m going to put my money on the latter (by leaving it to my kids) but I don’t believe I’ll be around to enjoy it.

  30. I’m optimistic. It’s a strange feeling to be the only upbeat guy in the room, but I think it’s because I take a longer view of things. Fifty years ago it was anathema to think of the state as anything other than a benevolent and wise institution that was the first solution to any problem. Economically our buying power is significantly improved over fifty years ago. We still have the poor, but now they have a car, television and playstation. Fifty years ago the grocer’s was a wasteland of canned goods and a few items of locally grown produce. Today’s my grocer’s is a literal corncucopia of fresh variety. fifty years ago we had three indistinguishable television networks, today we hundreds of stations (and Tivo to help us get through it all).

    Yada, yada, yada.

    Yeah, we’re going to hit a few bumps here and there, but our children are going to have a wonderful life ahead of them.

  31. Where me and mine are concerned, I’m an optimist, but I fear that most everyone else in my neighborhood is fuxxored. The mortgage moster’s coming for them.

    When the shit hits the economic fan, I hope to buy the neighbor house for a song and a dance.

    Considering the (too) many houses currently sitting empty (but not for sale) in the neighborhood, I don’t think it’ll be all that long before we get to expand the anarcho-capitalist collective we call home.

  32. Only when citizens realize that it is a bad idea to demand political solutions for every inconvenience in life will they enjoy a renewed sense of optimism. Optimism requires faith in the future and a sense of control over one’s destiny. Politics cannot reliably deliver either one. If anything, blind faith in politics leads to frustration and despair.

  33. World per-capita GDP has increased by an average of 2-3 percent per year for the last 30 years.

    By 2010 to 2020, it will be 3-4 percent per year.

    By 2020 to 2030, it will be 4-5 percent per year.

    By 2050, it will be over 8 percent per year:

    http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/economics/index.html

    http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2005/11/why_economic_gr.html

    By 2060, no one in the U.S. will need to work.

    Welcome to the 21st century artificial intelligence revolution.

  34. Hey, there was a superfriends about that!

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