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Opinion | The Best Year of Our Lives
April 6, 2019 | The New York Times | By Ross Douthat.

There’s a theory of human psychology that holds that the time you enter maturity becomes fixed in your mind as a civilizational peak — with everything since a falling-off that conveniently matches your own stagger toward the grave. Thus it doesn’t matter if you came of age in the Great Depression or some other nadir; because you were 18 then, it must have been a golden age......I’ve been thinking about how good we had it lately because we’re 20 years out from 1999, and the cultural press is thick with reminders that it was a pop-culture annus mirabilis — from the premiere of “The Sopranos” that defined a golden age of television, to the yearlong cascade of brilliant movies .....from a Hollywood not yet captive to the superhero era......Widen the aperture a little, so that the “Xennial” cultural era covers 1995 to 2005, and you get everything from the perfection of the sitcom (late “Seinfeld,” season one of “Friends,” the silver age of “The Simpsons,” “Arrested Development”) to the peak of HBO (when “The Wire” and “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood” and “Sex and the City” were all airing). Oh, and those were also the days when George R.R. Martin could publish three “Game of Thrones” novels in five years, inventing all the good parts of the TV show’s plot in an end-of-millennium rush.....cold hard economic data also suggest that ours was a uniquely blessed coming-of-age: a time of low unemployment, surging productivity, strong working-class wage growth — and all without a huge overhang of public and private debt.......a statement about generational experiences, Alter was basically right. If you were born around 1980, you grew up in a space happily between — between eras of existential threat (Cold War/War on Terror, or Cold War/climate change), between foreign policy debacles (Vietnam/Iraq), between epidemics (crack and AIDS/opioids and suicide), and between two different periods of economic stagnation (the ’70s and early Aughts).
'90s  op-ed  Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez  annus_mirabilis  cultural_gatekeepers  films  golden_age  millennials  movies  noughties  popular_culture  Ross_Douthat  television  shared_consciousness  shared_experiences  coming-of-age 
11 weeks ago by jerryking
Stop fighting over scarce educational opportunities
March 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Sarah O’Connor
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Democratic congresswoman, believes there is a shortage of routes available to children who want a better future.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez put her finger on a phenomenon that is showing up in many different guises as economic growth has slowed in the developed world. When the pie stops growing, the fights become fiercer and dirtier over how to divide it. One of the areas where this is playing out most emotively is education — an issue critical to the life chances of our children.

As developed countries grew steadily richer over much of the 20th century and educational opportunities expanded, absolute social mobility — the likelihood that children would do better than their parents — was commonplace.

There was never a perfect meritocracy, of course. Elites have always used their wealth and connections to put a “glass floor” under their children’s feet. But that seemed to matter less when it was easy enough for others to join them.

Now, in a world of stalling growth and yawning gaps between the top and the bottom, the chances of making it into the elite feel slimmer, even as the economic rewards for doing so grow fatter. At the same time, the economic penalties for not securing a decent education have become harsher....The underlying problem, as Ms Ocasio-Cortez points out, is the scarcity of routes available to young people who want a better future.

There is no single solution, but the list of fixes would include better state schools, more affordable higher education that is less variable in quality, a broader range of alternatives to university that still lead to decent jobs, and a revival of broad-based economic growth that lifts all boats, not just the yachts.

That may sound like an expensive laundry list, but inaction would cost more in the end.
Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez  children  college-educated  cost_of_inaction  education  elitism  income_inequality  scarcity  Varsity_Blues 
march 2019 by jerryking

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