From an article titled Decline and Fall of America Starts at the Bus Stop by A.Barton Hinkle. It’s got some interesting observations. Click the link to read the whole thing.
When those of us of a certain age were growing up, playgrounds were surfaced with gravel. Sometimes even scrap metal and broken glass. It hurt like heck, but it made a man out of you.
Not to get all philosophical, but that is the problem with how we treat The Youth of Today. Thirty or forty years ago Mom and Dad did not have time to hang out at the bus stop and take Polaroids. By the time you left the house Dad had already been slaving away in the hellish furnace of the steel mill for several hours, and Mom was too busy doing all the manual labor needed to keep the household together. No Roomba vacuum for her.
Now look. America has gotten soft.
Did anyone see this coming? You bet they did. Years ago, many conservatives lamented what Daniel Bell called the cultural contradictions of capitalism. In this view, market economies develop and thrive thanks to a particular set of values: hard work, thrift, persistence, and so on. But those market economies then produce a level of material comfort that degrades precisely those same values. Capitalism, therefore, contains within it the seeds of its own destruction.
You used to hear this sort of thing a lot. David Frum, for instance, once wrote that “without welfare and food stamps, poor people would cling harder to working-class respectability. . . . Contemporary conservatives still value that old American character.” He cites another cultural conservative, William Bennett: “In his lectures [Bennett] reads admiringly from an account of the Donner party written by a survivor that tells the story in spare, stoic style. He puts the letter down and asks incredulously, ‘Where did those people go?’ ”Frum wonders, too: “If you believe that early Americans possessed a fortitudethat present-day Americans lack, and if you think the loss is an important one, then you have to think hard about why that fortitude disappeared.”