Is American culture itself part of the problem?

My experience is not universal but having come of age during the raging bull 90s, I remember even then it seemed that Americans were fawning over the achievements of rising tech moguls like Bill Gates, Steve Case, Michael Dell, and putting executives on a pedestal that was unhealthy. My guess then, and now, is that the American worker was getting just enough of the action to feel good about venerating the lions of late 20th Century and early 21st Century capitalism.

What we experienced in 2001 and 2008 was probably remarkably similar to how people of the Gilded Age felt during the panics of 1893 and 1907. Yet as bad as those crises were, the mother of them all was waiting for them two decades later. I don’t think we’ll have to wait two more decades for the defining moment of a generation to come. My guess is we’re already on that trajectory. Wealth inequality of this magnitude is unsustainable.

Amateur sociologist time: ISTM two events in the 60s transformed the sentiment of the white middle class:

  1. The Civil Rights Movement upset the comfortable (for whites) racial status quo.
  2. The Vietnam War demonstrated that the government could be untrustworthy.

With #1 triggering the modern conservative movement and #2 casting doubt on the government’s motives, voila – a huge voting population of anti-government conservatives. (Or “paranoid racists,” if we’re being less charitable.)

Many times, ‘revolutions’ have counter-revolutions. The struggle for racial harmony has included revolution and counter-revolution at several points in our history, and so has the struggle for class and equitable distribution of wealth in general.

I’ve always said things have been going downhill since football overtook baseball in popularity. The two games represent fundamentally different psyches. Cite: Philosopher George Carlin’s treatise on Baseball vs. Football. Not a cause but a symptom.

It used to be everybody thought they’d be rich someday. That’s why they would go along with tax breaks for the rich.

At some point that changed and a lot of people decided they’d give up money in exchange for an unending supply of bad-mouthing of the people they hate.

Amazon has historically poor labor practices (though they’ve made some improvements), and Bezos tries to bully around city governments, to mixed success.

Um? Not sure how that fable makes sense here, unless you’re suggesting “you must just be lazy if you’re not a billionaire”.

Takes a willful misreading of the OP to see the question as such. It’s not about equating those people, but finding shared common cultural causes to their behaviors. If you don’t think there are any, that’s fine.

FWIW, though, I do think Zuckerberg helped Trump kill 200,000 Americans through deliberate inaction and propaganda. Clean up your house, man. Not the same category as, say, the Golden State Killer or even as Trump himself, but certainly sociopathic and poopy.

Wow, I didn’t realize there was a fucking prequel. I thought it was an isolated incident… was thinking of the Oregon chapter:

Intergenerational white terrorism. Great, even worse than I thought.

Do you think the folks who were against the Vietnam War form the libertarian and alt right today?

In response to your response of my comment I don’t personally think that people who aren’t rich are lazy. I currently live below the poverty line and have live at or near poverty my whole life.

And I have definitely heard people say that people are poor because they are lazy my whole life.

That fable illustrates that type of thinking dates back to ancient times and is not unique to America. People have been selfish and elitist long before the United States came into existence.

I see what you mean now: that line of thinking has existed for a while, even if you don’t personally believe it. Thanks for explaining.

Vietnam was probably when I began to stop believing in American exceptionalism. It appeared to me that we were no smarter nor braver nor more moral than many others. But that has been a minority belief for most of the last 50 years and may even be one now.

It’s a little difficult to relate this to our cultural shortcomings but I think I could do it if pressed.

I think about this facet of American culture whenever I hear someone lament that what we need are politicians willing to practice ‘leadership’. In fact, anyone running for office who tells the truth–that there are no pain-free solutions to our problems–gets trounced by a candidate who says there are.

The polarization of the electorate has accelerated this: a Republican candidate can promise to cut taxes and spending on social programs with no fear of losing any votes; same for a Democratic candidate who promises to raise taxes on the rich and cut defense spending. It’s always the other side’s fault.

That was a delusion that was perpetuated by those who wanted to not pay taxes on their extreme wealth. Not everyone was taken in by this lie.

At no point was everyone fooled by this. It’s just that those who still consider themselves to be temporarily embarrassed millionaires get insulted when they are reminded that they aren’t, and consider any criticism of the actions that they choose to take to be bad-mouthing.

Quite a bit of hypersensitivity on their part, with a tendency toward violence and over reaction.

You talk like a person who gets too much validation from dogs,

I can’t be the only one who has said this in the last week or so.

And clients, bankers, business peers, and members of my community. But dogs are cool, too.

Actually, you are, and not just this week or so, ever. That seems to be a rather odd thing to say, and is not relevant whatsoever to the thread or topic at hand.

You talk like someone who does not have an actual point to make, or ability to refute one made, and is trying to instead make a distraction by taking personal pot shots.

Did you have an actual response here, or is making derogatory one liners the only strategy you have ?

Most people don’t care about really being rich - if they did, they’d put a lot more work into it. As much as I rail on about the inequality of capitalism, I can acknowledge that most wealthy people work damn hard for their wealth. In fact wealthy people tend to care more about being wealthy and dedicate themselves to that task. They work hard. They save hard. They think smart. They make good short and long-term decisions. I won’t deny any of that.

The problem I have with modern capitalism is that once someone gets on the ‘wrong track’ (i.e. gets laid off, gets injured or sick, goes through a divorce, etc.), it’s harder to recover and get back on the right track. In a healthy economic system, people shouldn’t be doomed to poverty for occasional bad luck or circumstances, and it certainly shouldn’t lead to the kinds of desperation that causes people to make even worse decisions, deepening their financial hole, which is what we have now.


Please avoid making personal comments outside the pit. Criticize the post, not the poster. No warning.

There is no question that Americans are more individualistic than most others. Certainly more than Canadians. IMHO, the reason is that any kind of collective action (most importantly medicare, but this also applies to any element of a social safety net) is always seen as benefiting “those people”, mainly Blacks, but also immigrants and others. And this is anathema. As I see it, racism colors US politics in ways that are simply not repeated in other wealthy countries.

Of course there is racism in Canada. DWB is a very serious offense in Montreal. My wife knew a woman whose husband was a Haitian born doctor. He felt he had to drive a Cadillac because otherwise his patients–mainly Haitian–wouldn’t believe he was successful otherwise. But he was regularly stopped by the cops.

Modhat on:
Getting a little heated for IMHO. Please watch posts that edge into insulting of other posters. Any more will be a warning.

I’ve put seven dogs down, and one mother, one father and one brother.

I pinned my fathers legs down while he thrashed around and looked me in the eye on his deathbed in his delusions.

Come back to me later with your warnings.