“People who create things nowadays can expect to be prosecuted by highly moralistic people who are incapable of creating anything. There is no way to measure the chilling effect on innovation that results from the threats of taxation, regulation and prosecution against anything that succeeds. We’ll never know how many ideas our government has aborted in the name protecting us.”
— Joseph Sobran
“Revolutionary” is a term bandied about today to describe just about everything except for those things which are really novel and innovative. However, when one looks at the 100 year period from 1890 to 1990 I think it is fair to describe the innovations developed during that period as revolutionary. In every aspect of human activity progress advanced at a breathtaking pace, and America led the way.
What has happened since 1990? There has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the world, but little of it has come from America. As Mark Steyn points out we have spent billions of dollars on medical research, and the only condition we have been able to cure is erectile dysfunction. And even that was an accident. The scientists were actually diligently researching the ever important issue of balding and discovered an interesting side effect. We have also abandoned our leadership in every other aspect of scientific research intended to better the human condition. We have given up on curing diseases, and instead focus on how to keep people from getting fat, depressed, or anxious (at best). We no longer try to develop new and affordable means of transportation like high-speed rail, supersonic jets, etc. The space race is now a distant memory for us; no research platforms located in geosynchronous orbit for us. All those pursuits and many more have been picked up by our competitors around the world while America languishes in Reality TV oblivion.
There are a few industries we still seem to dominate: internet pornography. We have surpassed the Swedes in this vital area of human behavior with California becoming a global center of production. Who needs scientific innovation when you can have a steady stream of free pornography and cheap designer drugs to satisfy, or perhaps deaden, your every desire.
Although America has accomplished little during the last 30 years Americans have learned to be extremely confident in our lack of accomplishments. I think it is fair to say Americans have become the most successful people in promoting self-esteem. I remember reading a study about global math skills; needless to say American students performed poorly. The interesting aspect of the study was the student attitudes in regards to their abilities. Before and after the test American students believed they had performed much better than they had actually scored. Asian students on the other hand, who had in fact performed much better, believed their personal performance was far worse. I can only suspect the Japanese students must have been suicidal after the test. So much for self-esteem. Without real accomplishment self-esteem does very little.
And that is where we come to delusion. It appears if you feed self-esteem to people long enough they become truly insane. Just look at the entire nation of Greece. A few years ago there was a study asking all Europeans who are the hardest working people in Europe. Clearly the Germans won, and quite justifiably. It was a conclusion that few contested. The French are quite proud of their culture but they are wise enough to know that they are not the hardest working. The same can be said for Spain and Italy. They did not fool themselves into believing that hard work was part of their national character. But not so for the Greeks who when polled believed that they were the hardest working people in Europe. Now I love Greece and I love the Greeks, but no rational person after spending any amount of time in the country would conclude that the Greeks suffer from working too hard. In fact I would have to say that they may very well be the laziest group of people in Europe, which is just fine by me. It is perhaps one of the things that is most charming about Greece; a decidedly slower pace to things. However the Greeks seem to have mastered the power of self-esteem to the point of insane delusion. I think the last election in Greece confirms this. They confidently voted themselves into prosperity; who needs hard work, a responsible government, or a competitive business environment.
As an American I see my country going the same path. We have abandoned innovation, embraced degradation, and are on the path to complete and total delusion. We are not quite as desperately insane as the Greeks, who have nothing whatsoever to support their delusions of grandeur (after all WE can still bomb the begeezus out of just about anyone in the world), but we are on our way.