Sunday, August 08, 2010

The glass is two-fifths full

Peggy Noonan is always worth reading. This weekend she writes about what we might call the New Pessimism, or whatever happened to the American dream that the kids would always have it better than we did?

Parents now fear something has stopped. They think they lived through the great abundance, a time of historic growth in wealth and material enjoyment. They got it, and they enjoyed it, and their kids did, too.... But they look around, follow the political stories and debates, and deep down they think their children will live in a more limited country, that jobs won't be made at a great enough pace, that taxes—too many people in the cart, not enough pulling it—will dishearten them, that the effects of 30 years of a low, sad culture will leave the whole country messed up....
Optimists think that if we manage to turn a few things around, their kids may have it . . . almost as good. The country they inherit may be . . . almost as good. And it's kind of a shock to think like this; pessimism isn't in our DNA. But it isn't pessimism, really, it's a kind of tough knowingness, combined, in most cases, with a daily, personal commitment to keep plugging.
But do our political leaders have any sense of what people are feeling deep down? They don't act as if they do.
Sure, part of this is just growing old: the world doesn't look as bright at sixty as it did at thirty. (Ms. Noonan was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.) But every once in a while I look at my red Irish passport and I think: I'm glad I've got that. Just in case!  And I'm glad that my granddaughters carry red passports (British, in their case) as well as the green ones. Americans didn't used to think that way. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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