The New Rules: The Naughties Were Plenty Nice

The New Rules: The Naughties Were Plenty Nice

Political pundits across America seem committed to the notion that our just-concluded decade deserves the moniker "worst ever," with the formulations ranging from Time's demonic "decade from hell" to Paul Krugman's self-flagellating "Big Zero." But if Krugman could call it "a decade in which nothing good happened," much of the planet might find our myopic bitterness a bit much -- as if the entire world should stop spinning just because the Dow Jones Industrial Average forgot to exit the decade higher than when it entered.

Why are we so convinced that the last 10 years, the decade of the Naughts, have lived up to their name by coming to naught?

First and most obviously, there is a Western-centric tone to all this hyperbole. Globalization's new pillars in the East and South rose dramatically across the decade, triggering, in turn, all manner of new trade and investment connections with developing regions. But, of course, this is nothing in the face of the West's increasingly beleaguered middle class. What does humankind gain by lifting hundreds of millions out of chronic poverty, if tens of millions of Western middle-class-niks are condemned to a decade of wealth stagnation? Should we good people be denied our rightful retirement age simply to accommodate all these colorful types in regions far, far away?

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