Bryan Caplan  

The Naughts: The Second Least-Scary Decade of the Last 100 Years

Comes the Revolution...... Sumner, the Stock Market, and ...
When Michael Barone inventoried the top scares of the decade, I kept thinking, "Is that all you've got?"  I'll grant that the Naughts were scarier than the Nineties; the 1991 collapse of the USSR was like waking up from a nightmare.  But the Naughts were easily less scary than the eight other decades of the last hundred years.  The 1910s?  WWI and Bolshevism.  The Twenties?  Bolshevism and Depression.  The Thirties and Forties: Nazism, Stalinism, Depression, and WWII.  The Fifties through the Eighties: Global communism and nuclear war. 

We shouldn't be whining about how hard the last ten years were.  We should be breathing a sigh of relief that we did not live in more interesting times.

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COMMENTS (10 to date)
Wilmot of Rochester writes:


Babinich writes:


You've hit the nail on the head. Happy New Year!

Ludwik Kowalski writes:


Please share this link with those who might be interested.

P.S. The book is waiting for a reviewer

Marcus writes:

Shortly after I read this post last night I noticed the latest Economist had shown up on my Kindle. One of the first things I turn to in The Economist is KAL's cartoon. His cartoon for this week is a similar kind of 'inventory' of current events being passed on from 2009 to 2010.

Apparently, according to KAL, there's nothing but horribly negative things happening. Yes, I understand the juxtaposition, but so what?

It made me think of this post. We really do have a lot to be grateful for.

SydB writes:

Fear sells. So the hucksters push it. And people lose context.

floccina writes:

Amen Bryan. These are the good old days.

agnostic writes:

From roughly 2003 through 2007, there was no climate of fear -- that's when everyone was on the rush of their lives. If people were truly afraid and angry about the response to Katrina, consider Kanye West's provocation on live TV about "George Bush doesn't care about black people" -- it failed to incite riots of any degree.

Imagine Snoop Dogg making a similar statement about Bush I after the Rodney King arrest. Hell, there was a conflagration of riots even without a famous rapper inciting people on live TV!

It's strange how the history of the decade is quickly being re-written as 9/11 plus the recession. What happened in between? Well, Katrina, the Iraq War, the tsunami, you know...

Erased is the euphoria that everyone was in, which set the stage for the recession. In the revisionist view, the recession looks like a black swan event like the tsunami. Pointing out the back-story of the bubble and euphoria would require us to admit that we actually had a lot of fun during the 2000s, and if anything had too little fear.

Alex writes:

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Harold writes:

We have certainly set ourselves up for very interesting times. At the beginning of the Great Depression we didn't have a mountain of debt and trillions in unfunded obligations waiting for us. Government intervention through the 30s kept the economy from righting itself. Bush made the same mistakes as Hoover and Obama is playing the role of FDR.

The mistakes of the 30s led to a world at war. Where will our mistakes lead? This will get really, really interesting.

Ross writes:

So, what about the 1990s? How were they scarier than the aughts?

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