Why is it that Americans, who by most objective standards have never had it so good, (longer lives, easier jobs, more money, more personal fulfillment, less discrimination) think the nation is going to hell in a handbasket? Wealthier and freer than ever before, Americans focus on crime, family breakdown, and the depressed economy. Newsweek
and Washington Post
writer Robert J. Samuelson looks at history, sociology, the media, and political promises as he studies this strange paradox. Americans, he theorizes, became overconfident following World War victories and strong economic growth periods. An "Age of Entitlement" developed in which Americans believe the government, big business, the world, owes them...jobs, money, health care, security. A fascinating analysis of the modern American psyche, The Good Life and Its Discontents
offers some ideas for change. Read it and decide if the "American Dream" has become the "American Fantasy."
From Publishers Weekly
Samuelson, a syndicated columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post, offers here a thoughtful exposition of a paradox: Americans feel pessimistic even as the country overall has prospered by most measures. His explanation is the concept of "entitlement," the American sensibility that "almost everyone deserves to succeed." And just as Americans have enjoyed the fruits of prosperity (consumer goods, etc.), they have accordingly demanded more of government. However, he warns, our economy cannot be managed as easily as some theorists say. Thus, "the politics of overpromise"?in which budget deficits, broadened "rights" such as equality and lobbyist gridlock?have led to bloated government. Samuelson's solution is a culture of greater responsibility. He suggests we raise the retirement age to crimp the costs of an aging America, and that all government benefits be "means tested" (limited by income). Otherwise, he cautions, we may not band together to fight pressing social problems involving race and poverty. Hearkening back to the early-20th-century progressive movement, Samuelson suggests that an interregnum, such as our era, is part of the cycle of history. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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