The Cooling Of America: The Uses of Economic Adversity

The cost is high, but adversity has its uses: the recession has played a major role in the calming of America. Looking for a job takes precedence over looking for trouble. Unemployment undermines the counterculture's confidence in a cornucopia able to feed forever both the straights and the dropouts. And in subtler ways the recession has lowered the general tolerance for uproar, enhancing the concern for private welfare at the expense of political concerns and street theatrics. Sidewalks are too narrow for protest marchers and food stamp lines.

The effect is ironic, because the 1970 recession was the nation's mildest in this...

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