Great column by George Will reviewing a new book called The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. Essentially the book tries to explain why the increase in prosperity in America is not recognized and why Americans feel as if things are getting worse. I think the authors three most important explanations include:
To these I would add the "Myth of the Golden Age". Although the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a decline in this overarching belief that humanity's best days were in the past, it may have once again asserted itself. Basically, this belief runs throughout cultures through history, most notably in the story of the Fall of Man itself. In smaller ways I think this myth leads people to be pessimistic about the future and yearn for when things were more pure, simpler, etc.