No society in the history of the world has ever enjoyed the standard of living Americans know today...
Yet since 1960, the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide tripled, violent crime quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, and some estimates put the incidence of depression in the year 2000 at ten times what it was in the year 1900. Americans are less happy today than they were 40 years ago, despite the fact that they make 2.5 times as much money.
How did we get into this mess? Myers pins the blame principally on rampant individualism, fed by commercial culture that encourages materialism and a national media circus that makes the worst human behavior look normal.
To undo the damage, Myers argues for a return to "moral education" (he dispenses with the myth of value-free education), and a rekindling of religious faith and practice.
It seems to me that there is a casual relationship between the policies that have made us affluent and our growing unhappiness.
The ideology of the free market is one of individualism, materialism and freedom from constraint, and this ideology infects everything it touches.
The price we pay for unmitigated freedom in the market is the neglect and decay of almost all the social virtues that make life worth living.
It fills our bellies, but leaves us spiritually hungry.
The truth is that economic liberalism and cultural conservatism are inherently incompatible and self-defeating.
...Virtue's greatest enemy - the free market.
Extracts from "Waking Up From the American Dream" by Barry Schwartz, Ph. D. - Psychology Today, July/August 2000, p. 74.