Friday, May 25, 2007


There have been 3 presidents during my adult life - Bush, Clinton, Bush - a period of optimism bookended by pessimism. At the end of Bush I there was a recession. It wasn't a very big one but it seemed to be accompanied by growing pessimism about the future. Maybe it was just that I was graduating from college roughly around that time, but there was a sense of diminished opportunity, of diminished options. That changed during the Clinton era, when eventually everything seemed possible. There was something new and wonderful, the internet, and there was the great sense that the future could be bright. Some of this was "irrational exuberance," but some of it was based in reality. Real wages were going up. Inequality was shrinking and black unemployment was declining. The deficit was gone and thought could be given to some positive and necessary things the government could do. The sense of possibility was back.

And then little George turned it all to shit.

I'm fascinated by this 72% wrong track number. I'd like to understand it more. I'm not sure I have sense of the basic reasons why so many people think things are going to hell. We can all come up with various possibilities, and there won't be one single answer, but I still think there's probably a coherent narrative to be teased out. I'm just not sure what it is.