Ronald Reagan and Pathological Dimwit Optimism

I’ve said it before here, but finally, Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book spells it out for the masses…

An unwillingness to embrace realism and engage in scientific empiricism has limited America’s capacity to solve growing problems and embrace real progress.  It has contributed to new crises, like the sub-prime/banking meltdown precipitating this Great Recession.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter was labeled a “downer” when he informed us we had a MAJOR fossil fuel problem.   Instead, we labeled Carter’s realism “malaise” and elected “Ronnie the Popular”.  Big.  Jovial.  Well intentioned and – above all – optimistic, Ronald Reagan.

Now, three decades later, few fundamental problems have been solved: Not fossil fuel addiction; not declining living standards, even with rising technology adoption; not a soft-fascist, pro-corporatist class system that excludes more workers from the American Dream each day.  Instead such problems have deepened and worsened.

But if the Great Recession restores a sense of American realism – even if only financial realism – it may be a net positive.