I sent the following email message to a former history professor of mine on October 19, 2008, exactly three years ago.
He sent me back my original message tonight, noting my prescience.
The current contraction is different from the contraction of the 1930s, at least in terms of the attitude of the populace.
In the 1930s, the attitude of Americans was to seek work, and lots of it. Work was viewed as the ultimate solution to their own—and the nation’s—problems.
Today the attitude of too many Americans is to seek handouts, and lots of them. Handouts are viewed as the ultimate solution to their own—and the nation’s—problems.
I wonder whether such persons have any idea that they are held in contempt, even loathing, by much of the American populace.
To be honest, I don’t think such persons have a clue.
Among the uneducated, the unsophisticated and the unsuccessful, statism is now viewed as a viable solution to most problems, real or imagined. This attitude is destined to be a short-term phenomenon, clearly, but observing this temporary attitude is surely troubling to most Americans, who must be terrified every time they open a newspaper or switch on a news program or read a magazine.
We live in an era in which most persons who express opinions in public are obtuse. They seem never to have taken an elementary logic course, or a basic philosophy course, or a beginner’s economics course, or a fundamental history course.
They appear to live in perpetual states of seventh-grade infantilism, words and conduct guided by situational ethics, ignorance, blather and cant.
Is our body politic in a state of decay?
My father says that the short-term answer to that question is “Yes”, and that we as a nation have several years of ugly deterioration ahead. However, he is quick to add that the managerial class will be the one segment of the population to emerge unscathed from the coming maelstrom, and that it will be those in the bottom half of the socio-economic stratum that will take it on the chin, over and over, relentlessly, for the next several years, because this group is going to find itself in a near-permanent state of unemployment.