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The journalist Robert J Samuelson in his book. The Good Life and its Discontents, has an interesting perspective on the current American malaise. He attributes this frustration to what he calls the "age of entitlement." After the end of World War II, having pulled out of the Depression with an array of government programs to support the economically disadvantaged and having proved its military strength on the world stage, Americans began to believe that the country was able to achieve absolutely anything it wished. Americans had been convinced that the Founding Fathers had designed an "ideal society," with a flawless system of government that could cope with any problems that faced it. It is true that, in the second half of the century, much has been achieved: racial and sexual discrimination are less institutionalized nowadays, in general citizens are much wealthier than in the 19th century, people are healthier and live longer, the military commands respect and fear throughout the world. However, when asked if the country is going in the right direction, the majority routinely answers "no". Americans seem have lost trust in the government and many public debates are colored by a caustic, accusatory tone. The general consensus seems to be that America has somehow failed in delivering on its promise of a fantastic and magical society. This, Samuelson argues, is due to the sense of "entitlement" of each American who expects that all social ills could and should be eliminated from this great nation. This sense of entitlement in large part comes from the fundamental American concept, going all the way back to the creation of the republic, called "exceptionalism," that is, that America is a better society than ever has been or will be. This is more than just a patriotic conviction, as it represents the core ideology of society and its peoples. Americans believe that anyone who "plays by the rules" is "entitled" to security, stability, and well-being. In reality, though, this is not always the case. There exists far too many egregious examples of injustice and failure to match up to the expectations of Utopia. This has created a queer sense of distemper amongst a people that have relatively little to complain about.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 514

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