The Long Way Home 9.29.23

Maybe it’s because of advancing years, but I seem grumpier than I should be. Simmering rage sends me to my keyboard to write about things that aren’t right and rail against the establishments that keep them going. 

So it was with great hope that I subscribed to a weekly online newsletter titled “What Could Go Right?” They captured me with this: 

“Can't stop doomscrolling? Take a break with our progress newsletter.”

I indeed spend too much time “doomscrolling” on my mobile phone. It keeps me from doing more productive things on the ridge, and the habit does fuel my discontent. 

Still, I don’t like myself when I get worked up from Facebook or Threads. (I gave up on Twitter when the Musk guy took over because, well, the Musk guy is a twit.) So, the Progress Newsletter seems like an exciting and happier diversion.

The Progress Newsletter is put out by The Progress Network, which is part of an organization called New America. New America claims to be a non-partisan think tank (we have too many think tanks) “dedicated to renewing the promise of America in an era of rapid technological and social change.” It focuses on national security, technology, health, gender, energy, education, and the economy. 

New America lists the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and our State Department as significant funders. After years of doomscrolling, that’s enough to raise my skeptical hackles. Government funding of any kind of think tank deserves a rant.

The latest issue of the Newsletter, the first I’ve read, features a story about Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2010. The headline proclaims, “Gen Z is a generation of optimists.” 

Funded by a foundation started by the Walton family of Walmart fame, the Gallup organization has released a survey of the much-maligned Gen Z. 

The survey found that eight out of ten believe they will achieve their goals in the coming years. Three-quarters think they have a great future, and two-thirds feel they will nab a dream job.  

As a proud grandpa to four Gen Z people, I’m encouraged by those results and downright happy. 

I remember that despite a horrific war in Asia and a President who, despite his protestations, was a crook, I too felt I’d achieve my goals, would have a great future, and nab a dream job when I was their age. And I did. I fervently hope Gen Z will, too.

The Newsletter has links to a couple dozen articles considered “good news.” One tells of new, airless bicycle tires developed using NASA technology that ride like pneumatic, last a lifetime, and roll with minimal resistance. Others bring good news of varying merit about education, health care, and government.

Check out Progress Now for a hit of optimism.

But I’m chronically skeptical of large institutions that must continue problems rather than solve them. For sure, the money is better if issues persist. 

Think about some of the issues of our day:

  • Racial equity/civil rights
  • Government corruption
  • Inflation
  • Military spending and adventure
  • Exploding population growth.
  • Abortion.
  • Labor disputes 
  • Wealth and income disparity
  • The environment and pollution

This list of nine issues is comfortable in the 1970s. We’ve made progress, but solving these things will never be.