Why We Are Here: A 65-Year Historical Perspective of the United States

Why is the world like it is?

It is an interesting question. Unfortunately it is the wrong question. The world is what we perceive it to be and our perceptions are based largely on our experiences…or at least the experiences we tend to remember. This is why attitudes about the world are vastly different between generations. This doesn’t mean that age determines attitude, just that age contributes to attitude. 

So why do different generations tend to see the world differently?

The 1950’s – The Calm After the Storms

Mass Production of New Technology


If you were an adult, you just survived through the most massive conflict in history. Millions died directly or indirectly because of the war. The United States of America was expected to fold after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, Americans pulled off a miracle by sacrificing normal daily life for a united country at war.

With victory in World War II came a fierce pride, but nobody was ready to rush into another war anytime soon. Despite that, a growing fear of Russia’s aggression put everyone on edge that they might be plunged into even a more horrible war than the one they survived.

Children of the 1950’s were witnesses to a traumatized adult population. Their grandparents lived through the Great Depression where the unthinkable financial disaster became everyone’s reality. Both grandparents and parents survived World War II. An event that stopped normal living and put everyone under the shadow of death and fear. Children also became a victim of the Cold War where fear of a global extinction event was a real possibility.

The massive industrialization for World War II created new jobs, more money, and a sudden burst of growth in the economy. Companies grabbed up anyone with advanced training or knowledge to incorporate advancements in technology created during the crisis of the war. People suddenly could afford luxuries like televisions, phones, cars and new homes. This prosperity was juxtaposed against the horrors that the world had experienced in the previous 20 years. It was truly the best of times and the worst of times. 

The 1960’s – The Three Americas

The Decade of the Roar

The space race continued technological advancement for both the Soviet Union and the United States; however, USSR kept even the most simple advancements secret from everyone, including their own citizens. The space-related advancements for the United States were often generated by private contractors. The advancements that were not ‘Top Secret’ could be applied in open commerce and available to the private citizen. USSR didn’t lose the  Space Race when an American stepped on the Moon, they lost it when millions of Americans were able to buy consumer goods that incorporated technology generated by sending a human to the Moon.

This thrust America into the center of technological advancement in commerce. In addition to space technology, new super highways, power grids, and phone lines increased commerce. The capitalist system of “build only what we know will sell” was replaced with a new space age economy of “solve problems that no one ever thought of before.”

The downside of a growing economy is that when people have more money to spend, then greed steps up to take their money. It’s one thing for a business to raise their prices to cover additional costs, or to pay for improvements to their products or services, but when prices increased for the sake of greed, then worker wages must increase to help them pay for a higher cost of living. That was the root cause for the upward spiral of inflation in the 1960’s. 

Communist aggression and American pride clashed as China and Russia sought to halt the threat of bottom up government (self determinism) to their model of top down (power to the few.)  The space race was fueled by Russian moves to claim the ultimate higher ground. Russia, China, and the United States began winning over developing countries in a blatant attempt to win control of strategic regions around the world. Military might became a primary resource in diplomacy. Those who stood to make money through weapon development and sales were strong proponents of meeting aggression with aggression. Governments found that the concept of small wars as a means to prevent larger wars were more palatable to the public.

With the onset of smaller wars came the utilization of forcing young men into fighting wars, while those who made the decisions to fight went home to their families every night. The gap between those who sacrifice and those who benefit from war became crystal clear. Civil unrest across the nation against the Vietnam war created a split that was widely visible through national television news. America was no longer in a post-war honeymoon.

The Civil War purchased an end to institutionalized slavery, but it didn’t end white domination of African-Americans. Societal tools to humiliate and dominate black people created a divided America based on skin color.

Determined to no longer be oppressed, African-Americans began to challenge white society. This caught many white Americans living in communities outside of the South by surprise. Meanwhile in the South, some white groups committed heinous crimes in an effort to derail any African-American challenge to the dual-class society that protected white supremacy. 

Few people fully understood how the United States of America could become so divided in the two decades following the World War II. Small town people sought simplistic solutions to issues for which they had very little understanding. The complexities leading to the chaos of the 1960’s were two much for a ‘Mayberry RFD’ mind.

With the boom in suburban living, the segregation of the races led to a flash point in many major cities. Whites choose to run away from inner city issues to live a sanitized life that sucked taxpayer money out of the neighborhoods that needed it the most. From the comfort of their new recliner in their new subdivision, white people embraced small-town thinking. Nuke Russia, nuke Vietnam, nuke Cuba, war protesters were just drugged out hippies, Blacks were responsible for their own failings, etc. were typical of positions of the 1960’s Caucasian.

The 1970’s – American Implosion

The Decade of Oil Domination

America was rocked by the internal conflicts during the 1960’s, and the 1970’s did little to sooth the hearts and minds of the citizens. Inflation slowed slightly in 1970, only to be followed by recession. Then the White House was rocked in 1972, by an ever-growing scandal called ‘Watergate’ after the place where Republican operatives attempted to break into Democratic headquarters. Over the next year it would be revealed that the Republican party, including President Richard Nixon played dirty politics during the President’s re-election campaign and then used power tactics to cover up their misdeeds.

In the Fall of 1972, the world was shaken by a group of Palestinians that took Israeli athletes hostage in Germany’s Summer Olympic Games. The Palestinians were given logistical assistance by German Neo-Nazis which helped them penetrate the athlete’s living area and capture eleven of the Israel delegation (two of the eleven were killed during the invasion of the Israeli rooms.) As the world watched, the Germans eventually attempted a botched night rescue as the hostages were moved to an airport. The German snipers were untrained and had no night vision equipment. Every aspect of the German rescue plan was flawed and the Palestinians eventually made a decision to kill all hostages during a stalemate in the fighting.

In October of 1973, Israel responded to a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria (the Yom Kipper War) with a counter attack. The United States and Russia quickly began resupplying their allies (US/Israel and USSR/Syria-Egypt) with arms and materials. In response the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, later OPEC) began a six month oil embargo that created massive fuel shortages in the United States. This caused the price of oil to rise from $3/barrel to $12/barrel and sparked a new round of inflation.

OUTCOME: American Politics
By the late 1974, the Watergate scandal had ended in resignations by the Vice President and President. Gerald Ford, who had just replaced the Vice President, became the President and limped his administration through the end of Nixon’s term. By the 1976 elections people were done with the Republican party and Jimmy Carter was thrust into the job of restoring faith in government.

OUTCOME:  Oil, Greed, and the Middle East
The OPEC oil embargo and the Munich Massacre sent a message that America should be focusing on the Middle East, but the Watergate scandal had caused an information overload, so many Americans still saw Russia as the main foreign threat. However, because the Middle East had massive oil reserves it became the most strategic region in the world for oil consuming countries. This caused the governments of Russia and the United States to attempt to secure the region for each country’s own self-interest.

The questionable tactics of unscrupulous American oil companies opened new wounds in the Arab world.  Our public image had been defined by U.S. business and political interference in internal matters of many Arab countries. Americans were caught off guard by the festering hate for America in the Middle East.

OUTCOME:  Economic Instability
The roller coaster of inflation, recession, inflation left Americans with a sense of fear about the economy. The typical American was caught by surprise in 1973 when the oil embargo practically put the United States on its knees. The pride America had after beating the odds in World War II and putting a man on the Moon were all erased by one unethical President and our country’s economic vulnerabilities.

Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976, brought a new hope to America. That produced a new fear for Republicans. Nothing could hurt conservatives more than to have a Democratic President restore America’s self-confidence. President Carter focused on peace and humanitarian initiatives that conservatives said made America look weak. Fortunately for conservatives, the Middle East would be what they needed to derail the Democrats and return to power.

In 1979, Russia invaded Afghanistan and students in Iran overran the American Embassy and took hostages. At the same time a mythical oil crisis (world oil supply dropped by only 4%) drove oil prices up to $39.50 per barrel in one year. The events dominated the news and overshadowed Carter’s re-election campaign. Republicans successfully used political ads to paint Democrats as out of touch during the worst political crisis of Carter’s administration. The events of 1979 could not have been more perfect for the resurgence of the disgraced conservatives.

The 1980’s – Political Con Game

President Ronald Reagan: Actor, Cowboy, FBI Informant

President Ronald Reagan: Actor, Cowboy, FBI Informant

The Republican leadership had been tainted by President Nixon’s Watergate scandal. In order to move back into power they needed a fresh face, and Ronald Reagan, an experienced actor, became that face. Reagan mostly had played nice guys and cowboys in the movies which formed the basis of his political persona. He was twice elected as Governor of California but twice (1968 and 1976) failed to gain the Republican party nomination in his quest to be President.

Ronald Reagan, who, in 1976, had fallen just short of winning the Republican nomination from incumbent President Gerald Ford, had finally won the party’s nomination and found himself as the beneficiary of the perfect storm of political crisis in 1979, that sunk President Jimmy Carter. As if to emphasize his luck, the American hostages in Iran were released on January 20, 1981, the same day that Ronald Reagan was sworn into office as President.

President Reagan believed that government was to blame for America’s woes. Despite the role of the American corporation in damaging the our public image in the Middle East and their greed in price gouging that spurred inflation, Reagan proposed that it was the government that was at issue, not American business. He sold the idea to the public that America Can’t, meaning that government can’t and shouldn’t help its citizens to a better life. Reagan convinced the public that the wealthy are to be worshiped and the poor are guilty of laziness, so the government shouldn’t interfere with the natural order.

In his first year as President he pushed through tax cuts for those in the upper tax brackets (70% down to 50%) and in the lowest tax bracket (14% down to 11%,) buying him goodwill with all citizens; however, in 1986 he pushed through additional tax reform that cut the upper tax bracket down to 28% and increased the lower tax bracket to 15%, making the lowest wage earners pay more in taxes than they did when he took office. The irony of his tax increase on the lowest tax bracket was that his “Supply Side Economics” depended on people having more money to spend, which they didn’t by the end of his second term.

Like many conservatives, Reagan’s patriotism was limited to only those who were of the same mindset. He was staunchly against communism and during the late 1940’s, he and his wife served as FBI informants, ratting out anyone in Hollywood they thought to be sympathetic to communists. This hate for communism manifested during his presidency in massive funding of weapon systems that forced the Soviet Union into military spending that they could not afford while they were also in an active war in Afghanistan.

Reagan, like most post-Vietnam war conservatives learned that showy patriotism for the American soldier as a warrior was vital in keeping the younger generation at bay when they were sacrificed to protect American business interests around the world. Reagan involved America in the invasion of Grenada (1983,) Lebanon Civil War (1983, ) and the bombing of Libya (1986.)

Reagan’s administration also defied Congress by secretly selling weapons to Iran, the country that held Americans hostage for over a year, and gave the money to an anti-communist group in Nicaragua. Later investigations could not prove Reagan’s direct involvement in the scandal; however, the reasoning behind the incident matched Reagan’s staunch anti-communist sentiments.

President Reagan biggest con with the American people was his two-faced position on spending. He wailed loudly about the government spending too much and took money out of the hands that needed it the most, but in reality he was the Big Spender when it came to the military. He tripled the deficit during his eight years as President leaving his successor, George Bush, to try to find ways to pay for Reagan’s uncontrolled military spending.

Fortunately, for President Reagan, America was able to survive his addiction for spending, which was not true for the Soviet Union’s effort to keep pace with the United States. After spending too much on the Soviet space program, (that failed to advance technology for the common Russian citizen,) Soviet involvement in a 10-year war in Afghanistan, (that sent the mighty Russian army home without any significant achievement,) and building up the military might to match Reagan’s excessive spending, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic went bankrupt.

The internal economic meltdown in Russia had a chain reaction with all of the Soviet aligned countries. Desperate East Germans sought to flee the economic disaster in their country and rejoin their cousins in West Germany. This eventually forced the East German government to either kill millions of their citizens, or open the borders completely. The fall of the Berlin Wall within a year after Reagan left office was quickly credited to him by conservatives who lauded his prowess in defeating a cardboard empire. The fact that it was self-inflicted wounds that caused the collapse of USSR and the other communist countries was ignored by those who wanted to glorify a cardboard President.

As Reagan passed the conservative baton to George Bush at the end of the decade, America was fading as the world’s economic and technological leader. Government had been the catalyst in bringing America out of the Great Depression, beating the odds in World War II, improving our roads, building dams and power lines, and in countless other projects that no private business would dare attempt. The money spent by our government went directly into the hands of the private contractor, who then used it to pay employees and buy services and equipment from other private businesses.

But President Ronald Reagan ended that by using the government as the scapegoat for the misdeeds of the corporation. Without any proof the public accepted his premise that government was the problem and then he began to dismantle government and give the money to the wealthy.  It was a master deception by the actor/cowboy who pulled off one of the greatest political cons since Hitler.

The 1990’s – A World Turned Upside Down

An Explosion of Change

POLITICS:  The Clean Up Man
George H. W. Bush was sworn in as President on January 20, 1989, as the 41st President of the United States. Having served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan, he was loyal and didn’t interfere with President Reagan’s destructive agenda. As President he then was left to clean up the messes created by Reagan and deal with new problems. Despite all that he had to deal with, President Bush managed to restore some of what Reagan had destroyed. This angered extreme conservatives who then refused to support him in his second term election.

Bush dealt with 1) an inflated deficit left by Reagan, 2) a revenue shortfall that required higher taxes, 3) restoring democracy in Panama and capturing Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, and, 4) liberated Kuwait and drove Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army back in a humiliating defeat. In addition, President Bush pushed through Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Immigration Act of 1990, that opened the borders for a 40% increase in legal immigrants. He maintained a conservative stance on most issues; however, President Bush did not hesitate to act against Wacko conservatives. When the National Rifle Association (NRA) sent out material slandering Federal Agents as “Thugs,” he ended his lifetime membership to the organization.

POLITICS:  Clinton’s Capitulation
From a political standpoint, the Presidency of Bill Clinton was a study in contrasts. His election was considered a victory for Democrats and liberals, yet he constantly compromised his positions to pacify aggressive conservatives. Almost all efforts for additional programs to help Americans in need, including healthcare reform, failed to move forward during the Clinton administration. Conservatives, who were disappointed at Bush 41’s rollback of Reagan’s efforts to dismantle the federal government, were determined to win Congress and reignite the agenda that favored white and wealthy Americans.

In 1994, conservative Republican Newt Gingrich was elected on the basis of his Contract With America. This document (co-authored with Republican Representative Dick Armey) outlined several reasonable goals to bring more accountability to Congress and the government, but was laced with several goals that followed Ronald Reagan’s vision to cut funding and eliminate the government’s role of overseeing fairness in business. President Clinton was faced with vetoing all legislation, or caving in to conservatives. In his 1996 State of the Union address Clinton delighted conservatives when he announced that “the era of big government is over.” 

As a result of Clinton’s capitulation, many laws were passed in his second term that continued Reagan’s destruction of good government. The financial disaster in 2007-08 can be directly traced to legislation passed and/or repealed in the 1990’s during the Clinton administration. Congress removed federal government eyes off of key areas of financial interactions. The laws and rules that had set standards on key banking and investor interactions were eviscerated allowing a ‘no questions asked’ environment. The natural evolution of this environment was for greed to take priority over common sense, which is exactly what happened.

Outside of the political landscape, the rest of America was becoming comfortable with the concept of owning ‘personal’ computers, and the new World Wide Web offered to interconnect computers creating a digital network of communication. It’s hard to overstate the impact of the marriage of computers and the Internet. It turned everything we knew upside down. Consider the following:

  • While personal computers increased the efficiency of certain tasks, it was the computer hooked into the Internet that made world-wide instant communication and sharing of information commonplace.
  • Television, radio, and newspapers shaped the public perception of world events until the Internet gave access to massive numbers of people who often had more timely information than traditional news media sources.
  • Younger generations adapted quickly to the possible uses of the Internet while older generations scoffed at its impact. As young generations rode the tide of the Internet, Older generations were left aground, looking foolish and ignorant.
  • Unethical governments and corporations would discover too late that their version of events would be exposed as lies and distortions by citizens who had access to the truth and shared it through the Internet. It literally brought down some governments.

The tsunami of change caused by the Internet wouldn’t hit the world until the next decade, but the earthquake of the Internet was felt in the 1990’s.

The 2000’s – The Defeat of America

Decade of Fear: Y2K, 9/11, WMD's, Katrina, Banking Collapse, Unemployment, Global Warming, Putin, ISIS

Decade of Fear: Y2K, 9/11, WMD’s, Katrina, Banking Collapse, Unemployment, Global Warming

If the 1990’s were a seismic event of technological and social change, the twenty-oh’s is when the tsunami of change hit. Had nothing else happened but the advancement of the Internet, the changes by that alone would have drastically remade the world as we knew it; however, the twenty-oh’s were not content in merely redefining society and the way we communicate, the first decade of the new millennium was going to do an extreme makeover of all our expectations in life. Here are twenty things that made us say Oh!

  1. Y2K, the disaster that never came (Jan. 2000)
  2. Elections of 2000
    1. Florida election fiasco (Nov./Dec. 2000)
    2. Supreme Court appoints George W. Bush as President (Dec. 2000)
  3. Attacks of September 11, 2001
  4. Anthrax letters
  5. Wars of Just Because
    1. Afghanistan (2001-2014)
    2. Iraq (2003-2011)
  6. Rise of Smaller and Smarter Technology (Entire Decade)
    1. Smartphone
    2. Texting
  7. Space Shuttle Columbia destroyed on reentry (Feb. 2003)
  8. Mars Rovers bounce to successful landings and missions
    1. Spirit (June 2003)
    2. Opportunity (July 2003)
  9. Saddam Hussein captured (Dec. 2003)
  10. Assault weapon ban expires (Sept. 2004)
  11. Online Wonders
    1. Amazon.com
    2. Facebook
    3. Twitter
    4. Google
    5. YouTube
    6. Wikipedia
  12. Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami (Dec. 2004)
  13. Pope John Paul dies (Apr. 2005)
  14. Global Warming
  15. Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 2005)
  16. Virginia Tech Massacre (Apr. 2007)
  17. Global Economic Disaster (2007-08)
    1.  Financial giants collapse
    2.  Housing market collapses
    3. Auto industry collapses
    4. Massive unemployment
  18. Price of gas soars, and falls….as a function of conservative politics
  19. Barack Obama elected as President (Nov. 2008)
  20. Nuclear weapons
    1. Iraq
    2. North Korea

The Twenty-oh’s began with the most bizarre Presidential election in American history, followed by the most shocking attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, followed by two United States initiated wars that would be fought simultaneously, followed by the loss of the Space Shuttle and its crew on reentry to Earth, followed by an earthquake/tsunami that would kill almost a quarter of a million people in 14 countries in one day, followed by a massacre at Virginia Tech, followed by a near meltdown of our global financial system, followed by an African-American being elected as President.

Despite all that happened, it was politics that defined the 2000’s. Keeping with the two-faced Reagan policy of “America Can’t” and money must be taken from the poor and given to the rich, President George Bush took the cost of running two wars off the books so that he could look like he was cutting government spending when he was, in fact, putting the government deeper in debt and running massive deficits.

Behind the scenes, a decade of conservative-driven deregulation in the financial industry created a bad debt bomb that exploded in 2007-08. Almost overnight, America’s economy was devastated by greed and a lack of common sense. People who saw the disaster coming took the attitude that everyone else was unethical, so why should I be the only good person? When the curtain fell on Wall Street, Republicans, who created the environment for the disaster, quietly stepped away and whistling as if they were unaware there was a problem.

Bush 43, was completely out of his league in dealing with the problem. To repair the damage to our economy would require taking actions that was would essentially prove that the Reagan doctrine was the cause of the disaster, and President Bush was not willing to take the necessary actions. Fortunately, Barack Obama had just been elected and, with Bush impotent in action, the 44th President stepped up and began to manage the crisis and establishing a plan of recovery.

The Republican caused disaster did not cause conservatives to humbly acknowledge their failure, but rather pushed them to further deny the facts. As the economy began recovering, conservatives began blaming Democrats for not making the recovery happen faster. As conservative predictions of Democratic policy failure began to be proven wrong, conservatives began raising absurd and meaningless issues to redirect people’s attention (e.g.; Obama was not an American, Obama was a Muslim, Obama had a secret plan to take everyone’s guns away, etc.) 

Because the Reagan doctrine was based on white, 1950’s suburban thinking, the hate for President Obama came naturally to the white, male voter. Instead of a political correction for the failed Reagan agenda, conservatives became even more rabid and illogical. By the end of the decade America was heading for defeat at the hands of conservatives who had taken away American prosperity and were unwilling to accept any idea that didn’t match their failed version of the world.

The 2010’s – End of Civility

Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP.

White Conservatives: “Go F**k Yourselves America”

REAGAN:  The Killer of America’s Prosperity
From 1950 to 2010 the population of the United States of America doubled (+104.0%.) The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) tripled (+218.1%.) The median annual income is eleven times more than 1950 (+1028%.) Life expectancy has increased by over 15% (15.4%.) Men AND women are marrying an average of over five years older in 2010 than they did in 1950 (men +23.7%, women +28.6%.) The percentage of people with at least a high school degree is now almost 90% versus 34% in 1950 (+153.6%.) Today, 30% of our citizens have at least a college degree versus 6% in 1950 (+383.9%.)

Something went right for America in the last 60 years. But that is changing.

Prior to the Great Depression, Republicans controlled the House and Senate for the majority of the previous 70 years. After the Great Depression both the House and Senate was under Democratic control until 1980. In 1980, America began following the conservatives agenda (Reagan 1980-1988, Bush 41 1989-1992, Republican control of Congress 1994-2008) of dismantling the government at all levels, start more wars, give more money to the wealthy, and give less help for the un-wealthy. Since 1979, the wealthiest 1% after-tax income has increased by 200%.


The 1% are 200% wealthier since conservatives took control of the government

Since 1980, annual increases in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has stalled and fallen.

GDP Growth by Year

ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: Post World War II, U.S. annual GDP began a steady growth until shortly after Ronald Reagan became President.

Post-war prosperity was spurred by significant federal government projects and programs. Conservatives derailed that by blaming government for economic issues that were caused by corporate and business greed.

Despite the obvious failure of the Reagan agenda, conservatives have taken a position of complete denial and fantastical thinking. They no longer believe they have any obligation to acknowledge or respect the rest of America. Conservatives are behaving as a child would behave when they are not getting their way, even though their request is completely inappropriate. Rather than accepting that President Obama was elected twice by a majority of Americans, Republicans have blocked all efforts to move forward on measures proven to generate American prosperity because it would make those that have more, give more.

Reagan conservatives have failed and they are backed in a corner of failure. They will not accept reason, nor facts. Civility would force them to accept their failure, so they must be uncivil. They are willing to destroy America, rather than acknowledge failure.

America has experience massive change in the past 65 years. Most of that change has been good, but the one aspect of the American concept, the idea that we are all created equal, is the one issue in our country that has cast a shadow over us for centuries. White males believe that they are superior to all others and as our demographics have changed Caucasians have worked to obstruct equality rather than accept it.

Segregation was not considered racist until it became obvious it was motivated by whites who were racist. Dismantling government programs that benefit the poor and those in need may not be considered racist, until we realize that these ideas have been pushed forward almost exclusively by white politicians. Telling America that the rich are too burdened to pay a fair share of their taxes is not considered racist until you examine the loop of rich white people giving money to white politicians to pass laws that will reduce taxes on the wealthiest who are almost all white.

America is a country that has yet to commit to everyone being equal. In the 1950’s, white people took their money and ran away to the suburbs. In the 1960’s, the federal government finally stepped in and paid attention to the unequal treatment of African-Americans. In the 1970’s, we became distracted by unethical leaders, war, oil shortages, and inflation. In the 1980’s, we were conned into the idea that our government was to blame for all our problems in the 1970’s, while the Reagan spent money that America didn’t have to spend. In the 1990’s, the conservatives regained control of Congress and began dismantling the federal government and ending ethical business oversight. In the 2000’s, Republicans led America down a path of war and destruction that almost wiped out our economic system.

Why we are here is because we have become weak. We have listened to fools and we know they are fools. They are willing to tear America apart for greed and their own racist ideals. To a racist, compromise is unthinkable, and that is why conservatives will never work towards a unified nation.