Jonah Goldberg

In terms of self-correction, the examples are all over the place. In 2005, America had the lowest personal savings rate since 1933. In fact it was outright negative -- i.e., consumers spent more money than they made. Today it's at 3.4 percent.

For years intellectuals looked enviously at the way the Japanese live in multigenerational homes. Grandma and grandpa looked after the grandkids, and everyone looked after grandma and grandpa. From 2008 to 2010, American multigenerational households increased at a faster rate of growth than in the previous eight years combined, according to AARP.

In perhaps the most welcome news, laser tattoo removals have increased by 32 percent from 2011 to 2012 alone. "Employment reasons" are cited as the new No. 1 reason for the procedure. It turns out that in an era of austerity, having a Chinese-character tattoo that translates into "I have Kung Pao chicken pants" is an act of unnecessary self-indulgence rather than glorious self-expression.

It also turns out that our politics have a capacity for self-correction that few experts anticipated. When President Obama came into office, his administration's mantra was "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." This little prayer to cynicism masquerading as an idealistic insight was used to justify vast expansions of government. The social scientists even told us this was to be expected. After all, they explained, during times of economic hardship, voters rally around the government.

Except that's not true. Yes, it happened during the Great Depression. But ever since, liberalism has been a luxury thriving on prosperity, not austerity. The Great Society was a byproduct of the so-called Affluent Society.

Instead of a tsunami of political support for ObamaCare and government unions, we got the Tea Party and the rollback of public-sector collective bargaining. Instead of massive support for Obama's green agenda, the air is thick with calls for more drilling, more fracking and more Keystone pipelines. It turns out the "new progressive era" was just too pricey.

Hopefully, the interminable winter of Obama's "Summer of Recovery" will soon end. And when it does, I hope we take the lessons to heart.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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