Defying the 'declinism' that grips us today

"The Good Old Days: They were terrible."

That's the contradictory title of symposium scheduled for April 24th in Bethel, examining the period between the end of the Civil war and the early years of the 20th century.

While there are very few people alive today who have actual memories of that period — either good or bad — the point is well taken: The past looks better and better the older we get, sometimes unrealistically so.

Just as predictably, it seems, with age our perceptions of the future seem to turn increasingly gloomy.

Today, of course, we are going through a period of agonizing turmoil and uncertainty, and there is a natural tendency to fear the worst. Newspaper columnists and TV talk show opinionators are constantly predicting the end of the American era.

In fact, that book — "The End of the American Era" — was written by a college professor, Andrew Hacker. In it, he convincingly predicted the collapse of U.S. supremacy — in 1971.

The next 30 years were a period of unprecedented growth for the U.S., rudely destroying his premise.

So, even in troubled times, it's good to take pessimistic predictions with a grain of salt. 

Yes, we face a lot of problems at the moment — unemployment, foreclosure, public debt, expensive health care, terrorism — but we've also been around long enough to see this country show remarkable resiliency over the long haul.

That's why we were excited to find someone to put logical arguments behind our vague sense of optimism.

Joel Kotkin is a college professor and demographer who published a book in February, "The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050."

Kotkin uses demographic and economic data to predict that by the middle of this century, the U.S. will be the most affluent, dynamic and successfully nation on Earth.

It's in the numbers, and it's in the structure of our society, he says. He predicts the U.S. will add another 100 million citizens by 2050, many of them young, energetic immigrants from around the world.

Meanwhile, our economic rivals -- particularly Europe and China -- will slowly grow older, while failing to assimilate and harness new people, ideas and energy.

Immigrants, the statistics show, are more likely to get advanced technical degrees and to start new businesses, and the U.S. gives them that opportunity.

In a recent Forbes magazine column, Kotkin compares the current awe for China with common perception in the 1990s that Japan would rule the economic roost.  That dominance failed to materialize.

What explains the "declinism" that grips us today?

We tend to view history as  a "straight line project," says Kotkin. Meaning, we think because things are going badly today, they will continue to go badly.

In fact, he says, America has gone through continual phases of expansion and decline.

He's betting on a "more youthful, resource-rich and democratic America" to again surprise the world.

We think he's right.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

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Comments

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Pretty good. So, why

Pretty good. So, why then, are oBAMa and his regime constantly trying to circumvent it? 

 's picture

So, you failed?

So, you must have been a miserable failure in 6th grade if you can't even understand bills don't become laws without the President's signature, or a veto override, ya teatard.

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Republicans want the country destroyed?

Yes, they do. Every economic downturn since the great depression has occurred while a Republican controlled the White House. Russ told you he wanted America to fail. Why, becaue they have changed the rules so that exporting businesses and jobs is more profitable then keeping them here. They oppose all immigrantion because they plan on moving the jobs out that would support the immigrants. Fact is they have the opposite ideas to Kotkin. 

 's picture

I know 6th grade civics is

I know 6th grade civics is lost on the libtards but once again i will tell you (slowly so even albrecht and tron might remember)  the president proposes and congress disposes.  got that moron?  congress controlls the purse strings.  ah yes purse, a work liberal men are familar with i am sure, just remember to cordinate it with your nail polish.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

...but until wealth

...but until wealth redistribution is fixed so that the bottom 95% of the population gets a fair shake"...

And what about the top 5% who, it just so happens, pay 80% of all taxes? What will happen to the 95% when the 5% say "screw it" and take their companies and money to Asia and other far off places. Ever had your paycheck (assuming you even work) signed by a poor person? Didn't think so. Read my lips, This country needs the wealthy capitalistic entrepreneurs in order to survive financially. It's called capitalism; the foundation of our economy.

 's picture

'Tron'I' hate to sound

'Tron'I' hate to sound 'Picky.

' But You certainly need to work on your 'Obvious ' 'Lack of creativity' and refrain from 'Painting everything with a 'Partisan Brush'.

 Now 'Tron' can you show me why having 'Twelve Million Illegal Immigrants is a Good Idea ? And 'Tron' can you do that without resorting to making negative remarks?

It is a Good Idea to have a melting Pot .Lets just make it Legal

 

I really do not see any reason why some would think that showing opposition to the Flow of 'Illegal' Aliens' could be cast in such a Negative way like you have written.

 

I have read the book by 'Joel Kotkin' it was a good read' I suggesst Tron that you might get a Library Card and take that Book out. Also Tron I would hope that you can break out of that 'Same'Old Son & Dance Rut that you are 'Stuck In . Stop blaming the 'Republicans' because the Time to 'Welcome them Back to the 'Majority in Congress  is coming sooner than you think' How about it Tron can you make a Change? and Please.

 'Tron' Reject the impulse to be Mean Spirited and 'Hateful'

 's picture

Tron, place a plastic bag

Tron, place a plastic bag over your head and secure it about your neck woth duck tape.

 's picture

do us all a favor and ban

do us all a favor and ban tron

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