Good Times Bad Times

Finally — some good news for a change.

With Election Day just over a year away, a deep sense of economic anxiety and doubt about the future hangs over the nation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, with Americans’ distrust of government at its highest level ever…..

The poll findings underscore a dissatisfaction and restlessness heading into the election season that has been highlighted through competing voices from the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements, a broad anti-Washington sentiment and the crosscurrents inside both parties about the best way forward.

Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike. — NYTimes

Why is this good news?

Consider that in the middle of the last century, over 70% of Americans said that they trusted government to do the right thing most of the time.  This would have been when Baby Boomers were still babies — yes I know, many from that era never actually grew up —  and the hilariously misnamed “Greatest Generation” in their big-finned automobiles lorded over a world they were certain was jealous of American freedom, values, and lifestyles.  Ordinary Americans were naïve dupes on about every level you could name.  Think about it — not only did they actually trust their government, they admitted it!

A nation of asshats in stetsons.  Fortunately, like the dinosaur, that generation has gone extinct, even if their useless fossils remain.  Damn — we can’t even get oil out of ‘em.

Now we’re down to a more reasonable 11%, although it’s beyond me who those trusting souls could be: I sure haven’t met anybody in the last decade that meets that criterion.   Keep in mind I worked with Special Olympics for a few years, too.

So while the worldwide economy crumbles, unemployment retains its death grip on Americans’ confidence, and poverty levels in this nation skyrocket to levels unimaginable half a century ago, at least rank and file American citizens have caught on to the plain truth that our government is at best incompetent, more likely apathetic, and in numerous instances actually hostile to the welfare of the general population.   Elected officials understand that their best course of survival is to insulate themselves against the encroaching misery they themselves have a major part in manufacturing and maintaining, protecting their own assets, power connections, and revenue streams, and to hell with the rest.  As members of the wealthy ruling class, they understand their survival depends on crushing the opposition, and have perfected the art of dividing and conquering.

I doubt that 89% of the public grasps these truths in their entirety, but we’ve made a start.   Pop the corks.

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6 Responses to Good Times Bad Times

  1. Red White & Blue says:

    Why do you hate America?

  2. 'Nonymous says:

    This is a classic liberal statement of class warfare. Losers vs winners. Victims against oppressors. I’m not impressed.

    • Squathole says:

      I’m surprised, ‘Nonymous: I would have thought the classics are right up your alley.

      You — and many conservative thinkers — spit out “class warfare” like it’s a bad thing. Good or bad, it’s as intrinsic a feature of American society since before the nation was incorporated, and, if the history of civilization is any indicator, always will be. I know what side I’m on, and I know what the other side thinks about me, and I know what happens if I take this war lightly. Seems to me that concept is catching on lately. As I said, we’re getting smarter. Some of us, anyway. (As well as pretty, I guess, right Julia?)

  3. Merkin Way says:

    I don’t buy in to either the coronation of the “greatest generation” or your assessment of that demographic either. But I think you’re right generally about contemporary cynicism of government being a positive development. The next realization will be that it has always been thus, and that it needs fixing if not replacing. Ironically, both the tea party and the occupy wall street movement grasp this from different angles. What nobody has is the solution, or even a clue as to how to go about it.

  4. Beardsley says:

    Very good essay, and prophetic. There will be some very dark days ahead as more and more formerly middle class people find themselves out of options, confronting poverty, and without hope. It’s sad, and while I never thought it would happen in the America I live in, I can’t say I haven’t seen it coming, or that it was unavoidable.

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