How Bad Can Things Get?

As a country, we are not very happy these days. Even though the economy has dramatically improved, as a nation we still feel anxious.

Sometimes, not always, it’s helpful to look back on what has happened and to compare it to what is now happening.

Let me help you do it.

Below is a timeline of events that have occurred over the past seventy five years. Check to see where you fit in, meaning put a star by the ones you have experienced directly. Then put a zero by the ones you have not experienced directly.

Compare the stars and zeros with what you think we are going through as a nation today. Then, take a step back and ask yourself: are things better or worse than they have been in the past?


I will use my birth-date as the starting point, assuming I’m among the oldest people reading this essay.

  1. I was born December 12, 1944. 
  2. 1945. WW2 ends. It kills over sixty million people. The worst loss of life in world history – by a long, long shot. 418,000 Americans lose their lives. 
  3. 1945. Two atomic bombs are dropped on Japan, incinerating two cities immediately. 
  4. 1950-53. The Korean War breaks out. Three million are killed, including 55,000 Americans. From 1939 to 1953, close to 65 million people lose their lives. 
  5. 1948 – 1952. The House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington D. C. conducted hearings on membership in the Communist Party. It caused Hollywood movie studios to create a blacklist of actors, writers, screenwriters, and producers. Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Hellman, Orson Wells, Dalton Trumbo were among the many artists blacklisted. Many, if not most, lost their means of livelihood, had to leave America to find work, or had to write under a pseudonym. Although not as dangerous as the Nazi Party expelling Jews from university position in the 1930’s, it showed that the American Government can act in frightening ways against those classes of people it deems a threat to its interests. 
  6. 1952. The polio epidemic hits its peak year crippling 58,000 mainly children. It was the worst epidemic to hit America since the influenza epidemic of 1918. I was one of those hit with the virus. Panic swept the country. Hardest hit were those between the ages of 5-9. I was seven. I was at the center of that epidemic. My family and I personally suffered the consequences. 
  7. 1963 – 1868. One American president, one presidential candidate, and four black civil rights leaders are assassinated. This was the time when the political order of America came under severe stress. President Kennedy was murdered in 1963, his brother Robert was shot to death while campaigning for President in 1968. Earlier that year Martin Luther King was murdered. Others civil rights and religious leaders to to be killed were Malcom X, Medgar Edgers, etc. 
  8. 1966. There are campus takeovers by anti Vietnam war militants. This starts the sexual revolution, the burning down of cities across America by African Americans. My own city of Los Angeles has nearly been burned down in riots during the 1960’s and 1990’s. In the 1990’s I was trapped on one side of the city with two colleagues trying to escape. 
  9. September. 11, 2001. Twin Towers in New York City and Pentagon in Washington D. C. Attacked and destroyed by radical Sunni Muslims. Four thousand lose their lives. 
  10. 2016. With the election of a playboy to the presidency of the United States, economy makes a giant leap forward. I did not vote for this president, but cannot deny his impact on the economy. He’s rude and insensitive, but results are stronger than rough language. 

This is an interesting time, but not a bad time by any stretch of the imagination. Since December 12, 1944, today’s events seem mild in comparison.

One thing that is new: I’ve never seen more people involved in direct democracy via the internet. You want democracy, you got it.