The View From 1776

Generational Behavior Modification

Over a period as short as two generations, roughly fifty years, expanding the entitlements mentality of the liberal-progressive welfare state can corrupt expectations and behavior of an entire society.

In Human Motivation I argued that Keynesian macroeconomics fails to attain its objectives, because people are not the automatons implicitly assumed by macroeconomists and other varieties of social-engineering state planners.  In the short run of an economic recession - say two to four years - people remain individualistic to the extent that they respond or fail to respond to government stimulus programs, based on their widely disparate aims and fears at that time.

It is true, however, that inculcating society over a couple of generations with liberal-progressive-socialist ideology alters average expectations and behavior, and not for the better.  See How the Welfare State Corrupted Sweden, by Per Bylund.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New-Deal welfare state damaged social mores in the United States.  Fortunately the necessity to fight against Japanese and German aggression in World War II kept enough spine in the average citizen to preserve the self-reliant individualism that had built the nation.

The 1960s’ Vietnam War, because it did not require the total mobilization of World War II, was a different matter.  Many self-centered, self-indulgent Baby Boomers, who never had experienced their parents’ hardships, became anarchic activists, determined to destroy the societal values of their parents.  The creed of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) under Tom Hayden and the Weather Underground under Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn was, “Hell no; we won’t go [to fight in Vietnam]” and “Bring the war home; kill your parents; ice the pigs [police].”  Every effort was made to stigmatize individualism and to stress communalism.  As had been true of socialism and anarchism since the 19th century, “free love,” i.e., sexual promiscuity, became the norm; monogamous marriage and marital fidelity were denigrated as anti-social selfishness.

Over the ensuing fifty years those student activists and their progeny have come to dominate education, the judiciary, and governmental bureaucracy, as well as state and Federal legislative bodies.  Young people today have been warped by activist ideology, having been instructed that free education, free housing, readily available jobs, and free medical care are their constitutionally guaranteed “rights.” 

Immediate gratification of sexual, social, and economic desires has been the general expectation since the 1960s.  Hence the almost non-existent personal savings level and massive accumulation of credit card and mortgage debt that presaged the 2007-08 housing and banking meltdown. 

This website in its statement of purpose stands in opposition to such degradation:

The View from 1776 presents a framework to understand present-day issues from the viewpoint of the colonists who fought for American independence in 1776 and wrote the Constitution in 1787. Knowing and preserving those understandings, what might be called the unwritten constitution of our nation, is vital to preserving constitutional government. Without them, the bare words of the Constitution are just a Rorschach ink-blot that politicians, educators, and judges can interpret to mean anything they wish.

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, to the Officers of the First Brigade, Third Division, Massachusetts Militia, October 11, 1798.