Time magazine has named the first decade of the 21st century the “Worst Decade Ever.” Time Magazine labeled it the Decade From Hell, the Decade of Reckoning, the Decade of Broken Dreams, but the Worst Decade Ever began with the fallout of millennialism that couched the Y2K ridiculousness, moved into a Wall Street crash, saw the World Trade Center towers fall in a matter of minutes, saw the world’s foremost egalitarian society embrace a freedom-limiting “Patrtiot” Act, witnessed the economic collapse of some of the world’s greatest companies due to mismanagement, then saw far more economic implosions due to overextended lending practices and the subprime mortgage crisis, endured the worst natural disaster in history along the gulf coast as Hurricane Katrina came ashore, discovered that the beacon of freedom and human rights that the U. S. had supposedly become condoned “enhanced interrogation techniques” and ignored the Geneva Conventions, became involved in the Iraq fiasco and the neverending war in Afghanistan, saw two of the most bitterly contested presidential races in history, jailed the mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history (that saw the destruction of billions of dollars in associated investment institutions and retirement funds), helplessly watched as an ill-prepared government bailed out mismanaged financial institutions, and declared a world war on terrorism — and that was all just in the United States. The Worst Decade Ever not only affected the United States, but, through economic and political interrelationships, affected the entire world as the planet became a bit smaller with better communications technologies, interrelated trade practices, and interdependent geopolitical and economic considerations. And as the American economic giant swayed and went to its knees through 2007-2008, the stock market went into decline and once-powerful financial institutions went bankrupt, the world followed suit.
Twenty-one months into the decade and the world’s most prosperous and powerful country saw the single worst terrorist attack ever committed destroy a symbol of its economic greatness. And in the following years, as a feckless and reactionary political administration flailed about like a colossus felled and suddenly aware of its vulnerability, the United States postured and presented its ability to ineffectively deal with just about everything on both a domestic and international level. Not only did the U. S. find itself in some of the worst economic straits in its history, it also found itself at one of its lowest points — and possibly the lowest point — in terms of national reputation in its history.
And although there seems to be a little light appearing at the end of the dark economic tunnel and President Barack Obama seems to have elevated our reputation again in the eyes of the world, a slight economic upturn does little to calm the fears of the millions of unemployed or alleviate the stresses on an overextended military that sees the ends of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as years away. So…
Did Time magazine get it right? Was the first decade of the 21st century the Worst Decade Ever? Perhaps not for the world, which has seen decades of the Dark Ages and the Bubonic Plague, Inquisitions and genocides and wars that spanned the known world. But for the United States and for many forward thinking and hopeful Americans, the years 2000 through 2009 have been a decade of despair and hardship.
And many, including Time magazine, see the Worst Decade Ever’s end at midnight on December 31, 2009 as a very good thing…