Jewish World Review June 6, 2012/ 16 Sivan, 5772
The upside of the downside
By Jonah Goldberg
One of my heroes,
Kristol (father of the more famous Bill, by the way) wasn't hoping for a recession, he was merely making the point that so many of the problems with our culture, both popular and political, were the sorts of challenges that come with affluence.
Wealth makes it easier to abandon the old customs, rituals and habits of the heart that generated the wealth in the first place.
For instance, I always love reading about irresolute rich families that lose their mojo within a generation or two. When the illiterate shipping and railroad magnate
And then, of course, there's the universally recognized lesson of
Anyway, you get the point.
And while I hope we can get back to having the problems of a rich country really soon, it's worth pausing to appreciate America's capacity for self-correction and the fact that many of the problems we had over the last couple decades were good problems to have.
Illegal immigration is a great example of a rich country's problem. (For instance, no one but terrorists are sneaking into
In terms of self-correction, the examples are all over the place. In 2005, America had the lowest personal savings rate since 1933. In fact it was outright negative -- i.e., consumers spent more money than they made. Today it's at 3.4 percent.
For years intellectuals looked enviously at the way the Japanese live in multigenerational homes. Grandma and grandpa looked after the grandkids, and everyone looked after grandma and grandpa. From 2008 to 2010, American multigenerational households increased at a faster rate of growth than in the previous eight years combined, according to
In perhaps the most welcome news, laser tattoo removals have increased by 32 percent from 2011 to 2012 alone. "Employment reasons" are cited as the new No. 1 reason for the procedure. It turns out that in an era of austerity, having a Chinese-character tattoo that translates into "I have
It also turns out that our politics have a capacity for self-correction that few experts anticipated. When President Obama came into office, his administration's mantra was "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." This little prayer to cynicism masquerading as an idealistic insight was used to justify vast expansions of government. The social scientists even told us this was to be expected. After all, they explained, during times of economic hardship, voters rally around the government.
Except that's not true. Yes, it happened during the Great Depression. But ever since, liberalism has been a luxury thriving on prosperity, not austerity.
Instead of a tsunami of political support for ObamaCare and government unions, we got the
Hopefully, the interminable winter of Obama's "Summer of Recovery" will soon end. And when it does, I hope we take the lessons to heart.
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