Tom Harris has created a stir with a recent post on his blog, titled, "Heaven knows we’re miserable now". Comparing the optimism of the post war years with today’s society he concludes that, despite the access we have to the technological gains of recent times, the overall increase in wealth and the greater levels of security, we are miserable, cynical and pessimistic.
You could be fairly certain that speaking to people in the 1970s, especially during the economic crises synonymous with that era, most would be miserable about what the future held. The same could be said of those that lived through the recessions of the 80s and 90s. In hard times it’s difficult to be optimistic.
But I think what Mr Harris is perceiving is merely the public reflecting on the fact that belts need to be tightened as hard times are at hand. When there's money to spare, and we can spend it on luxuries, we will, of course, be optimistic of the future, believing that these times will continue in perpetuity. As the money dries up life takes on more of a grey wash with few fleeting moments of colour, and the negative feelings rise.
Mr Harris asks: "But what happened to that post-war optimism and commitment to common values? Are they gone forever and if so, why? If not, how can we bring them back?" Yes, the common values of the post war years have gone, and, yes, we are becoming more cynical.
Most of the blame, however, can be placed at the door of big government. By attempting to replace the institutions of civil society with top-down state bureaucracy, they have destroyed the things we hold in common and left nothing in their place. They are also to partly to blame for the rising prices of food and oil through their incorrectly held moral interference in the market place.
Is it any wonder we become miserable when times get tough?