There is often a notion of deteriorating cultural values in the western society, and in particular in the American society. This is reflected through violent and pointless Hollywood movies, high crime rates, endless school shootings, cultural ignorance and an overall nonsensical debate in politics and media.
Patriotism, religious faith and raising a family are key priorities that helped define the American character for generations. These values seem to be receding in importance according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, conducted in cooperation with the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey also shows an increasingly divided country. Some 38% of respondents said patriotism was very important to them, and 39% said religion was very important. That was down sharply from when the Journal first asked the question in 1998, when 70% deemed patriotism to be very important, and 62% said so about religion.
A number of events have shaken, transformed, and, in some ways, fractured the nation since the 1998 survey, among them 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis and the politically divisive presidencies of Obama and Trump. The only priority that has grown in importance according to the survey in the past quarter-century is money, which was cited as very important by 43% in the new survey, up from 31% in 1998.
The trend in the United States seems to be growing individualism, less patriotism, less religion, more money focus, and deep political divisiveness. It is increasingly difficult to find anything that unites the country, but easier to find areas of division and disagreements. The survey also asked if society had gone too far when it comes to businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethic diversity. Just over half of Republicans said society had gone too far, compared to 7% of Democrats. 75% of Republicans said society had gone too far in accepting people who are transgender, while 56% of Democrats said society had not done enough. The younger the surveyed people are, the less patriotic, the less religion and the more radical ideas.
One survey can certainly not have all the answers to the development of America, but there is still an overall sense of a country’s transformation and path. The U.S. seems to be heading in the wrong direction. There are frequent acts of violence that are more or less accepted by society, one of the highest incarnation rates in the world, a sense of poor education levels across the board and a constant focus on money.
Other areas of concerns are where strong lobbyists and so-called money machines are involved such as big technology firms, the insurance business, the gun and defense industry and the pharmaceutical companies to mention a few. More or less criminal, but untouchable. One of the most systematically bizarre arrangements is the American tax system. There are so many opportunities for deductions that if you have a business or have assets, you can virtually write off so many items that the tax burden will be very low or nothing. After all, with the current tax system, only about 50% of income earner and 50% of businesses pay any tax at all. More or less criminal, but untouchable.
We are witnessing a country in moral and cultural decline and increasingly a country for the rich. A country where many are searching for money to survive at the same time as a large part of the population is overwhelmingly wealthy. It all makes no sense.