We in the United States long believed that we were the masters of organization and technology; that if anyone could make things work, we could -- and better than anyone else.
We boasted that our economy was the most productive, that our technology was the best in our own time and the best in history. We said that our military establishment was the most powerful and most effective, our democracy the best in the world.
Somewhere in the last ten years, this mastery of technique and this story of success began to come apart. Things stopped working the way we thought they would.
After years of war, our military establishment was unable to force surrender on a small, underarmed, and technologically inferior country in Asia.
It was not only the total war machine that seemed to have problems. There were problems with particular instruments of war. The TFX airplane, later renamed the F-111, was meant to be the superplane of our military; it was to solve all problems and meet all needs of the Navy and the Air Force. We found that it had only one weakness: it did not fly very well.
American automobiles, once the pride of our mass-production industry, are regularly recalled for major repairs. And the ones that run are criticized as antisocial, anti-city, and dangerous to health because of their contribution to pollution. Not to mention their conspicuous consumption of precious fuel. Abandoned cars clutter the landscape from Maine to California.
Our economy falters. The oil embargo and the energy shortage have shown the economy to be far more vulnerable to outside forces than Americans had previously realized or conceded. Unemployment is a serious problem. Millions of Americans are permanently poor. Inflation continues unabated and is now a key issue in every national
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Publication information: Book title: The Hard Years:A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions. Contributors: Eugene J. McCarthy - Author. Publisher: Viking Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1975. Page number: xix.