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Onward and upward, worse and worse

According to a generally thoughtful and well-informed conservative weblog, Power Line, a recent poll shows

“Americans believe by a 62 percent to 26 percent margin that American society ‘is generally fair and decent.’ This strikes me as a bit alarming. I’m pretty sure that such a survey taken 45 years ago, when I first started following politics, would have yielded a more overwhelming affirmation of the overall goodness of our society, even though we were actually a much less fair and decent society in those days. The liberal elites, led by the MSM, clearly have made inroads in spreading their contempt for America.”

The liberal elites, led by the mainstream media, have made more inroads than the writer recognizes. For starters, they’ve persuaded basically all thoughtful and moderate conservatives to accept as obvious that American society was much less fair and decent in 1959 than it is in 2004. But why should anybody believe that? Social changes since 1959 have taken mothers away from their children, led millions of them to destroy those children before they’re born, forced young people to grow up without fathers, taught boys there’s nothing good about being a man or specifically respectable about women, told girls they’re victims and predators who deserve everything and nothing, destroyed common culture and common sense, imposed universal bureaucracies of thought control and racial preference, multiplied crimes and prisons, set up an enormous economic gap between top and bottom, increased the working week and economic anxiety, and led to a radical decline in intellectual and cultural standards, rabid and mindless political partisanship, and the kind of entertainment you see on TV. What’s so fair and decent about that?

If you’re concerned about the marginalized and weak, those changes hurt them more than anybody. Black economic progress slowed down and reductions in poverty basically stopped after the ’60s, the period that supposedly gave us the great advances in fairness and decency. Today we have Condi Rice, and also millions of black men in jail and black women without husbands. That’s progress? What happened in the ’60s, in effect, is that fairness and decency were turned into nationalized industries. Instead of people having to treat each other decently, Society was going to ensure decent treatment. From the standpoint of the Left, and mainstream conservatives who have absorbed the outlook of the Left, that means that in the ’60s fairness and decency first came into their own. When you look at what has actually happened it makes more sense to say that outputs dropped while inputs shot up. That’s the way nationalization works for the manufacture of pig iron. Why wouldn’t the same thing apply to something as hard to force as fairness and decency?