The Public Interest

Y2K America

Alvin Kernan

Spring 2000

LIKE most people, I typically discount jeremiads like David Bosworth's "The Spirit of Capitalism, 2000," which describe a deep and possibly fatal corruption in American society. After all, the people I know all seem to lead sensible, quiet lives. In business, the people I encounter seem to know what they are doing and are about as helpful as one can reasonably expect. But it is when I encounter some bureaucratic or technological snarl, like a telephone answering system that offers endless choices but never the one I need, that I feel that the world no longer makes sense. And so, something about Bosworth's indictment of Americans for a lack of "moral adulthood," for never having grown up, rings true, as does his description of a society in which "toleration gives way to decadent license, civil solicitude to venal solicitation, as everything becomes 'good' and anything 'right.'"

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