Jonathan Alter: The Worst Decade in a Hundred Years

I personally don’t think enough time has passed for me to really have a strong opinion on the meaning and overall significance of the last decade (the 00’s or the aughts or the oughts).

But Jonathan Alter feels pretty strongly that the 00’s were the Lost Decade, for a variety of reasons.  Here’s his decade-by-decade summation from a larger opinion piece at Bloomberg:

Century of Progress

In the 1910s, we expanded health and safety standards, established the Federal Reserve, and (unlike today) quickly lifted the limitations on civil liberties enacted during World War I.

In the ‘20s, we pioneered jazz, widespread radio use, motion pictures and the managerial approaches still used by modern business.

In the ‘30s, amid the Great Depression, we built much of the infrastructure we still use — including, most likely, the roads you drove on today and the schools where you dropped off your children.

In the ‘40s, we not only emerged as the preeminent power in the world but also helped develop radar, antibiotics and nuclear energy.

In the ‘50s, we built the interstate highway system, cured polio and used the government to help people own their own homes.

In the ‘60s, we went to the moon, made great strides toward racial equality, directed federal money toward better education and opened our borders to many more non-Europeans.

In the ‘70s, we moved toward gender equality, began dramatic advances in medical research and started cleaning up the environment.

In the ‘80s, we strengthened Social Security, reformed the tax code and fixed the immigration system (at least temporarily), while peacefully winding down the Cold War.

In the ‘90s, we balanced the budget, reformed welfare and watched the Internet — a government creation — transform our world.

The Lost Decade

And the past 10 years? Shoes off in the airport. Bruising unemployment. Slipping from first to 12th in college graduation. Even classic loser decades, like the 1930s and 1970s, were more productive than the oughts.

I think Alter is downplaying how wonderful it’s been to watch large-market sports franchises crush everyone else along with the talent shows that became the most-watched programs on TV.  Surely there were great things like that to balance out the bad…


Batting .000 for the 00’s, America’s Lost Decade (Bloomberg)