A few days ago I posted a link to the Economist’s article about the growing divergence between the U.S. and Europe. David Brooks follows up on this in the New York Timeshere. Here’s a look:
[Note: I finally figured out the block quote feature in HTML. Cool!]
As we settle down to the Thanksgiving table in a few days, we might remind ourselves that whatever other problems grip our country, lack of vitality is not one of them. In fact, we may look back on the period beginning in the middle of the 1980’s as the Great Rejuvenation. American life has improved in almost every measurable way, and far from regressing toward the mean, the U.S. has become a more exceptional nation.
The drop in crime rates over the past decade is nothing short of a miracle. Teenage pregnancy and abortion rates rose in the early 1970’s and 1980’s, then leveled off and now are dropping. Child poverty rates have declined since the welfare reform of the mid-1990’s. The black poverty rate dropped ‘to the lowest rate ever recorded,’ according to a 2002 study by the National Urban League. The barren South Bronx neighborhood that Ronald Reagan visited in 1980 to illustrate urban blight is now a thriving area, with, inevitably, a Starbucks.
The U.S. economy has enjoyed two long booms in the past two decades, interrupted by two shallow recessions, and perhaps now we’re at the start of a third boom. More nations have become democratic in the past two decades than at any other time in history.