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Old 02-09-2013, 02:57 PM   #1
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United States of Entropy

First, what this is and isn't.
This isn't to say these negative trends don't precede President Obama, most do, often by decades, Nor do I assume that the election of Mitt Romney was the solution to all our problems. Nor frankly am I enamored with the current Republican leadership. This is to say that President Obama has failed to provide the leadership this country needs and in fact over and over provides the wrong answers and prescriptions for our problems. Sadly the election of Barack Obama will only prolong and deepen what I see as our national entropy.

After the 2012 election I, like many conservatives, had to go micro for a while and concern myself only with work, church, friends and family. It was simply too sad to realize that the last chance to change course had come and gone and now my generation (born in the 60's and early 70's) was to be the first generation to pass on to our children a less prosperous America. One with less economic opportunity and optimism for the future.

Instead we pass on an America where the values that turned a normal people into a great country are now openly mocked and belittled; faith in God above all else, individual initiative, a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, thrift, pride in the goodness of the country and our unique role in the preservation of liberty (American exceptionalism) and a belief in limited government. Some of us had even hoped to pass on an America where the words of MLK rang true and our children would be the first generation not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We aren't even on the right course for that now... sigh.

Besides the objective economic numbers I'll get to shortly (and I realize all older generations say this and it's subjective to a great degree), but we truly live in a time of societal entropy as well; a growing government crowds out the civil society (non-profits, private charities) that once defined this country, the most stabilizing factor in civilization, the family, is now in upheaval and too often dysfunctional, the culture is rotting (violence, the base and profane glorified) -- and I'm no bluenose trust me -- modern art sees no inherent beauty in man, academics is in decline, dependency is increasing and there is growing pessimism and unhealthy narcissism in the country.

If your 're still with me and think this is tough to read it's even tougher for me to write. And now let's document some numbers (which I looked up!!):

Avg. retail price/gallon gas in U.S. (regular all formulations)
Beg. of 1st Term
$1.85
Beg. of 2nd Term
$3.32
% change
79.5%

Consumer Price Index (all urban consumers)
Beg. of 1st Term
211.1
Beg. of 2nd Term
229.6
% change
8.8%

Unemployment rate, civilian labor force, seasonally adj. (current = Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
7.8%
Beg. of 2nd Term
7.8%
% change
0.0%

Unemployment rate, alt. measure of underutilization (U-6), seas. adj. (current = Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
14.2%
Beg. of 2nd Term
14.4%
% change
1.4%

Unemployment rate, blacks, seasonally adj. (current = Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
12.7%
Beg. of 2nd Term
14.0%
% change
10.2%

Civilian labor force participation rate, seasonally adj. (current = Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
65.7%
Beg. of 2nd Term
63.6%
% change
-3.2%

Number of federal employees, seasonally adj. (current = Dec '12 prelim.)
Beg. of 1st Term
2,790,000
Beg. of 2nd Term
2,794,000
% change
0.1%

Real median household income, in 2011 adj. dollars (2008 vs 2011)
Beg. of 1st Term
$52,546
Beg. of 2nd Term
$50,054
% change
-4.7%

Number of food stamp (SNAP) recipients (current = Oct '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
32,204,859
Beg. of 2nd Term
47,525,329
% change
47.6%

Number of unemployment benefit recipients (current = 1/5/13)
Beg. of 1st Term
7,770,779
Beg. of 2nd Term
5,659,482
% change
-27.2%

Poverty rate, individuals (2008 vs 2011)
Beg. of 1st Term
13.2%
Beg. of 2nd Term
15.0%
% change
13.6%

Disabled workers in current-payment status, SSDI (Jan '09 vs. Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
7,442,377
Beg. of 2nd Term
8,827,795
% change
18.6%

U.S. rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings
Beg. of 1st Term
6
Beg. of 2nd Term
10

U.S. money supply, M2, in billions, not seasonally adj. (current = Dec '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
$8,249.3
Beg. of 2nd Term
$10,475.6
% change
27.0%

Price of gold, London (per troy oz.)
Beg. of 1st Term
$835.00
Beg. of 2nd Term
$1,688.00
$853.00
% change
102.2%

National debt, in billions
Beg. of 1st Term
$10,627
Beg. of 2nd Term
$16,433
% change
54.6%

Federal expenditures, in billions, current $ (4 yrs ended FY '08 vs 4 yrs ended FY '12)
Beg. of 1st Term
$11,945
Beg. of 2nd Term
$14,515
% change
21.5%

(S&P) federal gov credit rating
Beg. of 1st Term
AAA
Beg. of 2nd Term
AA+

Dow Jones
Beg. of 1st Term
8,281
Beg. of 2nd Term
13,650
% change
64.8%

GDP real growth rate
2012 2.2%
2011 1.7%
2010 2.8%
2009 -2.6%
2008 1.1%
2007 2%
2006 3.2%
2005 3.2%
2004 4.4%
2003 3.1%
2002 2.5%
2001 0.3%

Am I wrong, will these trends start to reverse? What will the country look like in 2016?
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:34 PM   #2
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I think a lot of people feel the same way. Someone was just telling me the other day that it seems like we're going backwards. We have all this technology and knowledge to make life better, but something just isn't right. It's almost like we're self-destructing, and no one seems to care.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:47 PM   #3
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Your country is a fucking mess, but I think you give to much credit to your President for the pulling of the strings.
I'd also say you're defining yourself too much by your country
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:15 PM   #4
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I can't hear for all the sanctimony and holier-than-thou rhetoric.

What are we saying? That the country is indeed in a slow but consistent recovery from the worst economic disaster sincere Great Depression? Because that's what all those numbers say to me.

As for "a fucking mess" ... Nah. We're doing just fine by nearly all measures, and we've wisely avoided the austerity trap some argued for in here that has crippled Europe. We're a better society than we've ever been, the world is objectively a better place than its ever been (more food, more medicine, less war, more access to information).

Things are far from perfect. And there are good things we've lost along the way.

But never for a second do I actually wish I lived in any era other than the present.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:22 PM   #5
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I meant socially your country is a fucking mess
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:22 PM   #6
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I just got through a blizzard, can't worry about all that. Sorry.

Life sucks then you die.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rachel D. View Post
I think a lot of people feel the same way. Someone was just telling me the other day that it seems like we're going backwards. We have all this technology and knowledge to make life better, but something just isn't right.
Notice what word is missing, wisdom. Not much value put on it today.

Quote:
It's almost like we're self-destructing, and no one seems to care.
I'll generalize here but to me we now seem hellbent on tearing down institutions and our cultural identity in the name of change (which some mistakenly believe is always progressive) rather than working to reform institutions with specific goals for the purpose of preserving and improving them. Change and reform not being synonymous.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:25 PM   #8
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Instead we pass on an America where the values that turned a normal people into a great country are now openly mocked and belittled; faith in God above all else, individual initiative, a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, thrift, pride in the goodness of the country and our unique role in the preservation of liberty (American exceptionalism) and a belief in limited government. Some of us had even hoped to pass on an America where the words of MLK rang true and our children would be the first generation not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We aren't even on the right course for that now... sigh.


Besides the objective economic numbers I'll get to shortly (and I realize all older generations say this and it's subjective to a great degree), but we truly live in a time of societal entropy as well; a growing government crowds out the civil society (non-profits, private charities) that once defined this country, the most stabilizing factor in civilization, the family, is now in upheaval and too often dysfunctional, the culture is rotting (violence, the base and profane glorified) -- and I'm no bluenose trust me -- modern art sees no inherent beauty in man, academics is in decline, dependency is increasing and there is growing pessimism and unhealthy narcissism in the country.


Some of what you've mentioned is happening in other countries too, not just in America, or they are nothing new.

Faith in God is mocked in Europe, Canada, Australia and other industrialized places.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by individual initiative, so please explain.

There are plenty with a strong work ethic in this country. I suspect you are looking at a small group of people being lazy and thinking this is the future of the entire country.

Personal responsibility has always been a human problem. In the past, people blamed the devil or someone else for their problems. Nowadays, it's our parents' fault or a co-worker or whoever. It isn't good to not be responsible for yourself, but it is not easy. I think it takes a lot of self-respect and strength to have full personal responsibility. Also, this is a problem everywhere in the world; there's not one society that is free from dishonesty.

True, not too many people are frugal with their money, but that's a long standing problem throughout the world.

There are plenty of progressives who are proud of America. Just because people have different political beliefs than you does not mean they all hate this country and want to destroy it.

I think families have always been dysfunctional. Husbands and wives got married too young and since divorce was taboo, stayed together for miserable decades. Doesn't sound like a stable home to me. I do agree that families need to be strengthened, but that comes down to personal responsibility and the need to look ahead into the future and accept the changes - gender equality, same-sex parenting, etc. - as human evolution, rather than looking back at the good old days which weren't really so great.

Culture may be rotting, but that has more to do with Hollywood and record companies trying to shock audiences for the sake of money. I think the average movie watcher of music listener just accepts what entertainment says and doesn't question the semantics.

Academics is in decline in many ways. On one hand, you have students who can barely read their grade level. On the other, you have students being taught creationism as a legitimate fact, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the fact that the U.S. is the only industrialized country debating evolution.

Narcissism is a worldwide problem, not just an American issue.

INDY, I think you see our country as the super great, unique, utopia-like place, when it really never was. Yes, it is great that a simple country developed into a huge economic and political superpower, but we've always had our flaws. But you seem to think America and its people are unlike other countries and other people in the world. We're all human.

The problems that you've mentioned are not unique to the United States; everyone is going through them. Europe is having a worse economic situation than we are, technology is changing our world in ways we were never prepared for, the same with new ways of seeing society. The world is in the middle of a huge revolution, there's no stopping that.

The sum it all up, instead of looking back on the past and trying to go back to those days, we need to look forward and fix what needs to be fixed and accept what cannot be.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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But never for a second do I actually wish I lived in any era other than the present.

Neither do I. I agree about the sanctimony stuff too. Oh well

I don't ever actually wish I lived in a different country either. Just some place warmer, with no snow.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:29 PM   #10
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I meant socially your country is a fucking mess

How so?

Examples.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:30 PM   #11
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Notice what word is missing, wisdom. Not much value put on it today.

Wisdom is broad term. Which one do you mean? Events, social, emotional...?
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:31 PM   #12
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Notice what word is missing, wisdom. Not much value put on it today.

What does this even mean?


Quote:
I generalize here but to me we now seem hellbent on tearing down institutions and our cultural identity in the name of change (which some mistakenly believe is always progressive) rather than working to reform institutions with specific goals for the purpose of preserving and improving them. Change and reform not being synonymous.

Thanks for your thoughts.
This too. It's utterly meaningless. What are you talking about, Hugh Hewitt?
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:46 PM   #13
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But never for a second do I actually wish I lived in any era other than the present.
Will future generations be able to say that? That's my point.

I too can list good things. The longer life expectancies (though that too may be coming to an end at least in America), the recently discovered energy right beneath us, medical miracles, and the outstanding young adults I know are out there (some I have had the pleasure of precepting in my clinic) that will not be afforded the luxury of kicking the can down the road and will hopefully begin to reverse much of this and return us to the tradition of leaving a better country to our children.

Quote:
I can't hear for all the sanctimony and holier-than-thou rhetoric.
Either you don't know what those terms mean or that is simply always your knee-jerk response to a judgemental statement. Since I put the blame for most of this squarely on my generation how am I being "holier-than-thou"? Because I am noticing what's happening?
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:49 PM   #14
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What does this even mean?
Look it up.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:49 PM   #15
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The longer life expectancies (though that too may be coming to an end at least in America),
Whoa, where did you hear that? That sounds outrageous.
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