Frum: Conservatives, don’t despair
Compare the United States of 2012 to the United States of 1962. Leave aside the obvious points about segregation and discrimination, and look only at the economy.
In 1962, the government regulated the price and route of every airplane, every freight train, every truck and every merchant ship in the United States. The government regulated the price of natural gas. It regulated the interest on every checking account and the commission on every purchase or sale of stock. Owning a gold bar was a serious crime that could be prosecuted under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The top rate of income tax was 91%.
Opinion: How progress is possible in second term
It was illegal to own a telephone. Phones had to be rented from the giant government-regulated monopoly that controlled all telecommunications in the United States. All young men were subject to the military draft and could escape only if they entered a government-approved graduate course of study. The great concern of students of American society — of liberals such as David Riesman, of conservatives such as Russell Kirk, and of radicals such as Dwight Macdonald — was the country’s stultifying, crushing conformity.
Even if you look only at the experiences of white heterosexual men, the United States of 2012 is a freer country in almost every way than the United States of 1962.