By Richard Colman
From the end of World War II (1945) to the year 2000, Americans seemed to be a rather happy lot. The years when the Vietnam War was intense (1965 to 1972) may be an exception.
But for most of the post-World War II era, Americans saw a rising standard of living, jobs that paid well, children going, in most cases, to relatively good public schools, affordable housing, and better cars. There was optimism about the future.
A college education, especially at a state university, was basically affordable. Getting accepted at a good university seemed, for a talented student, guaranteed. People could save for retirement and have some funds left over for their children or their favorite charity.
In recent years, from 2001 to today, the mood has changed. Americans now seem angry and frustrated. Traditions are under assault. The neighborhood is different. Who are all these people who don’t speak English and seem reluctant to assimilate into American culture?
Many public schools are failing. Pupils in many cases are unable to read and write well. They have trouble with simple arithmetic and elementary mathematics. The school environment can be violent. Some schools have programs to prevent the bullying of pupils.
Many Americans cannot afford to buy a single, detached family home. Everything is so expensive that a family of four in a suburban location like Walnut Creek, California, might have trouble living on an income of $200,000 a year. Walnut Creek is about 30 miles east of San Francisco.
Government bureaucracies, businesses, public entities (like schools), and universities are now putting a priority on diversity — a diversity that is based on ethnicity. Whatever happened to ending discrimination against anyone?
Even the English language is under assault. In Berkeley, California, the city council recently decided that “manholes” are to be called “maintenance covers.”
In politics, there is talk that certain kinds of people must be elected. Does this mean that other kinds of people, however talented, are unwelcome?
In the area of housing, single, detached family homes are under attack. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city government has decided to ban zoning for such homes.
Then, there are government restrictions on the use of plastic straws, certain types of light bulbs, and vehicles that exceed prescribed limits on miles per gallon. Many stores require customers to bring their own bags.
In the 1950’s, people could find jobs, buy a home, start a family, obtain affordable health insurance, and drive to work on highways that were not overly crowded. Even taxes were not a burden. Inflation was low.
Quaint neighborhoods with specialty stores (like wine shops and kosher butchers) are disappearing. High-rise buildings, often 60 stories high, are driving out the small merchant.
Now, people who may have no legal right to enter or live in the United States, are pouring in, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. For some reason, the government is providing food, shelter, health care, and other assistance to these individuals. It’s nice to be charitable, but can the U.S. absorb as many people as now want to live in the country? Shouldn’t these immigrants be required to have a source of income (like a job)?
Everything is a fight. In California, some cities are banning natural gas. The State of California is mandating that new homes have to have solar power, and such power can add $20,000 to the cost of a new home.
Taxes and fees are increasing. Everywhere, prices for water, electricity, and garbage-collection are going up a rates higher, often substantially higher, than inflation.
American now has 333 million people. California, still the largest state, has almost 40 million people, more than all of Canada’s 37.6 million residents.
Vehicular traffic is overwhelming. Parking, if it can be found at all, is very expensive.
That pleasant America of 1945 to 2000 is quickly disappearing. Random killings seem to be a weekly occurrence.
Americans still have their constitutional freedoms. As long as these freedoms exist, Americans might want to elect candidates who promise to preserve open space and preserve the existing character of their neighborhoods. These things can be done without violating anyone’s civil rights.
Americans still have time to prevent their entire country from becoming a version of Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Manhattan.
Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company. He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Orinda, California.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.