Are we on the wrong track?

A poll out today from the New York Times and CBS says 81% — that’s a lot — say we’re “on the wrong track.”

Almost half of those surveyed say the era of good jobs is behind us. And over half the adults say they’re worried about losing their job.

Given the high first number, the second number seems low.

Either way, we’re a nation with a “can’t do” spirit.

Today’s topic: How do we get the “can-do” spirit back?

  • brian

    I don’t think thinking the country is on the wrong track and being worried about the job market means that the nation has a “can’t do” spirit. It doesn’t mean people aren’t optimistic about the future. If anything, it means that people will demand that the powers that be do something about those problems (i.e. stimulus package, rate cuts, foreclosure protections…). I think it means that more people are finally paying attention.

  • brian

    I may be too young to be saying this, but can’t we just be patient? I think our can-do attitude can get us in trouble sometimes. It is part of what makes this country great, but it also leads to things being rushed through congress without much thought other than “we need to look like we are doing something or we won’t get re-elected” (i.e. stimulus package). Sometimes the best thing to do is not doing anything.

  • GregS

    Could it be the New York Times and CBS are the reason behind the loss of confidence in America?

    Both organizations — along with others, PBS and NPR included, have a political agenda that drives their steady barage of negative press. A barage that will suddenly reverse itself once those organizations find themselves in the position of supporting rather than opposing the forces in power.

  • c

    I think that “can do” is being confused with “can consume”. I don’t think that stepping away from our compulsiveness to consume so quickly is a bad thing.

    I think we need a ‘do over’ on our economy and the way it works. I think the buying on borrowed money or pretend money has gotten our tails in a sling.

    At the same time I think those that borrow as well as those that sell need an honesty check in their sales pitches. No more tricking hard working good people into buying. I think that we need to go back to more of a cash on the barrel for goods NEEDED, (key word here) or something close to it.

    That’s what I think.

  • bsimon

    We are on the wrong track, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck on the wrong track. There’s an interesting op-ed by David Ignatius in the Wash Post from a week or so ago. He writes about Pittsburgh & how its been undergoing a revitalization over the last decade or so. The nutshell summary is that Pitt was a pit during the long decline of the steel industry. But they invested in colleges & universities (Carnegie-Mellon, Pitt) and are now a booming tech center for robotics & healtcare. To get out of the rut we’re in, we have to think long term & plan for the future economy, rather than trying to maintain the economy as it is or was before.

  • Danielle

    I think that our diminishing state of “can do” directly relates to the growing amount of entitlement “babies” in our country. Too many people are waiting for someone to pass the magic bill that waves away all their ills, instead of taking an active part in their own lives and communities. It’s like we have bred into being a nation of faux Cinderella’s all whining because their fairy godmother has yet to appear.

    Too few people claim responsibility for their problems. But those that do may find a growing list actions that they “can do” – and it is absolutely amazing how taking action on an individual level can raise hope and morale.

  • bthek

    If wanting the same baseline access to education, health care and safety for my children as previous generations is an ‘entitlement,’ then put me on that bandwagon. Lousy boomers crow about their tax burden, when their parents paid their fair share to ensure the success of their children. Maybe they should suck it up and be a little more adult about it.

  • Danielle

    I’m not a boomer, I’m a mid-twenties tax payer who lived on the poverty line for many years and never benefited from the multitudinous government programs to provide for “every man”. I’m off that precarious gap right now because of my own actions, and my mother’s insistence when I was five that reading the dictionary was “fun”.

    My generation won’t get the benefit of social security. It’s a foregone conclusion. Therefore, as individuals, we all must do our part to secure our own futures. Is that crowing? Or is that just being responsible and proactive?

  • c

    “Too few people claim responsibility for their problems” “It’s like we have bred into being a nation of faux Cinderella’s all whining”

    I am not following you-I do not see that, I see people trying to survive. I see people getting jobs because of who they know. I see people who hav been lied to about their mortgages, I see sales people trying to make a sale so they slant the sales pitch to ‘trick the buyer’.

    I live very simply and I am happy. I think people need to get away from the buying on credit and get past the desire to keep up with the Jones’.

  • c

    Danielle -while I admire your spirit, you are young. You have alot to see and the very fact that you have made it to where you are is a blessing. be grateful instead of spiteful . I do not have alot, I am not complaining and I am extremely grateful for what I do have. I also know that others have far less than I do. So I try to share what I have. I don’t buy the line “I worked for what I have and you can too”, and I do not worry about how much others have contributed. What I give I give freely and I keep my charity to myself.

  • Daveg

    If wanting the same baseline access to education, health care and safety for my children as previous generations…


    Access to education is universal through high school, and there are multitudes more ways of financing higher education through loans, grants, and scholarships than ever. All that’s required is parental guidance to instill a sense of personal responsibility – that’s the only benefit previous generations had. Today’s children refusing to avail themselves of the opportunities provided to them and their parents refusal to teach them self-discipline is the problem, not the lack of access.

    Health care? You can get health care today that didn’t even exist 50 years ago. You apparently just expect someone else to provide it for you. In my parent’s generation, they did not have any kind of health “insurance” (which is really just a pre-paid plan, these days, plus the “tax” we pay for the uninsured) – they paid for office visits, x-rays, etc. out of pocket.

    Safety for children? I don’t remember wearing a seat belt until I was in my teens. I don’t remember padded playgrounds. I walked miles alone and rode the bus downtown alone as a pre-teen. There were predators and sleazeballs back then too, we just weren’t as hyper-aware of them as we are now through the advent of the 24 hour hews-hype cycle. How exactly are your children less safe today?

  • c

    A child would have to get a scholarship or a grant these days. Getting a loan for college will keep them in debt for a long long time provided that their employer pays them a fair wage once they do get a job. I am bracing myself for the financial impact when my son goes to college.

    Once upon a time paying the doctors was not the expense that it is today. I think this is why they came up with insurance…I think.

    Dave -do you have kids?

  • Bob Collins

    Regarding kids today. I think I’m the luckiest person alive. My parents turned me loose in the morning and I came back around suppertime, after playing army in the field, exploring the woods, damming up the creek (just to undam it and pretend the town was flooding) etc. etc etc.

    Man, it was great. It must’ve been a great time to be a parent, too.

  • Danielle

    I wasn’t aware that being a young concerned member of my community was spiteful and uncharitable.

    The subject of this thread is what we can do to take back the ‘can do’ spirit of our nation. For all the postures we’ve made against society and one another, I have yet to see an answer. Forgive me if I think this beautifully demonstrates my earlier point.

    Yes, we are all “trying to survive.” Yes, kids will have to take responsibility for themselves and take out loans to get through college (been there, doing that). Yes, we all have home truths. But how do we take back hope, and make our lives worthwhile? As individuals, we work hard, stay determined, and live towards that American dream. It’s not keeping up with the Jones to want more from life than living from paycheck to paycheck.

  • c

    “Too many people are waiting for someone to pass the magic bill that waves away all their ills, instead of taking an active part in their own lives and communities. It’s like we have bred into being a nation of faux Cinderella’s all whining because their fairy godmother has yet to appear.”

    I felt that comment was not sent in good will towards all.

    My point is that the ‘american dream’ of consumption is costing us-we’ve consumed more than we have had to pay for it. folks work two and three jobs to have more. I think that the loss of Can Do has nothing to do with our problem. I think we can learn to live in moderation.

  • David Wilford

    Bob, my mom once said that because there were so many families with kids when I was growing up (I was born in 1955), she didn’t have to worry much about my safety as she figured someone else’s mom was keeping an eye out. Of course that was back when most mom’s stayed home while dads went to work, and that’s certainly changed, mostly.

    I do fondly remember though as a thirteen-year old getting together with friends and borrowing saws and axes on the sly to go to a nearby ravine to chop down lots of brush and a few sorta small trees that were in the way of some vines we wanted to go swinging over the creek on. It was great fun until one broke, but thankfully the mud was soft enough to cushion the fifteen foot fall. Thus ended our episode of environmental vandalism.