The Digressor

Politics, Culture, Life, and Unusual Takes

I keep trying to write but things keep happening.  And in the meantime, topics get moved or lost or lose relevance.  However, one question that I keep coming back to is: “Have we crossed the point of no return?”

Has the United States become effectively another country than it was even thirty years ago, different in fundamental ideas and assumptions about what even made America the world power it became?  Can we return?

This question may seem like a turning back the clock question, and maybe it is, but the question is vital.  If we are a new country using new assumptions on governance and we cannot turn back, the future looks very different.

The assumptions that built this nation of freedom and liberty and the ability to pursue success drove our industry and wealth to levels never seen before in the history of the world, especially as it pertained to a middle class.  We developed a level of comfort for most everyone never before seen.  Yes, there were poor persons, but the ratio of wealthy to middle class to poor was far favored the number of wealthy and middle class.  What drove this was a desire to earn more by individual American citizens.  Working hard and pushing oneself to earn more and provide more was just something people did; few expected to be given anything accept a chance.  The assumption was that work was required and that assumption was primary.

Now, I am not sure that assumption exists as the primary.  When I look out in the affairs of American men and women, I see not a primary rush to work, but a primary rush to ensure equality.  The assumption has shifted from working to expecting to be treated a certain way, and therefore being given certain things.

The work required to succeed has been supplanted by the grievance that all should be equal.  Does this mean people won’t work?  No, I don’t think that is the case.  I believe people are still willing to work, but before they work, they want recognition that they are equal.  This hampers work and distorts the paths to success, and yes, though most still work, a new population has come to expect to be given wealth and comfort apart from work.

This shift has disastrous long term effects on the nation’s ability to provide the levels of comfort we created in the 19th and 20th centuries.  We cannot provide the levels of comfort this new population seeks if we do not have the motivated persons to create the wealth to begin with.  Yet, the motivated are now decried for the motivation that gives them the wealth.

Have we gone too far in this new direction to return?  I believe we can still return, but there is going to be a lot of pain to get there, as people face the reality of true poverty.  The hope is that as they experience this pain they recognize what works and that wealth and poverty truly do not discriminate.  Currently, I am not as hopeful as I should be that they will learn this lesson.

Should I be more optimistic about these prospects?


3 thoughts on “Is there any going back?

  1. BrianR says:

    Well, this is a topic to which I’ve written extensively, and for literally years. They’re excellent questions, and define the problem succinctly. Kudos.

    Back in the ’70s I came to the conclusion that we were following the historical arc of the demise of the Western Roman Empire, and not only has that situation not improved, it’s gotten immeasurably worse. As I’ve often written, I believe we’re in the midst of a cultural civil war every bit as fundamental and profound as the one in the 1860s As you wrote, the issues that divide us go to the very definition of the social contract and mores of our society.

    Those divisions are diametric in nature and, in my opinion, don’t lend themselves to “compromise”. For example, how do you compromise communism with capitalism? You can’t. And that’s the nature of the issues in play.

    So, in answer to your titular question, I say “no”, there is no going back. One side or the other is going to win, and in the process our society may be utterly destroyed.


    1. MJP7200 says:

      I agree with the civil war completely, but would add that even if the “right” wins the fight, what will be left is not what existed before. Even then, the fundamental assumptions driving our society have even changed on the political right. The reverence for our system of government has been perverted, and I fear that the abused that have followed will prevent a return to the respect our system deserves.

      The current immigration “negotiating” is a great example. While I fear that Trump issuing a national emergency may be poor precedent, I also think the antics of Schumosi are also poor precedent. We have a situation where political victory is all that matters, not putting forth sound and honestly gained policy. While not the first time, the extremes in this case, and Kavanaugh, et al in recent years, reveal a system that is being abused and not honored.

      I hope I am wrong, and am generally optimistic, but in this, I admit my fear about our future.


      1. BrianR says:


        When I was in college 50 (Count ’em, 50!) years ago, if someone had described today’s political climate to me as what was coming I’d have laughed in their faces and asked them what they were smoking.


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