We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Is life more competitive these days? I have no idea how to measure that, but there is no doubt that we live in a nation - and a world - full of strivers.
My guess is that it's because opportunity is more widely spread around than in the past. The world has more hopers and dreamers than it ever did, and that is the true gift - or curse - of American civilization to the world.
Akst's Strive We Must in the Wilson Quarterly discusses the current state of competition in education, sports, business, and everything else. A quote:
Competition has also been rescued to some extent from the class-based doghouse in which it dwelt for so long. In the bad old days, after all, trying too hard was considered poor form; success was supposed to come easily, like one’s wealth and position, and not require any of the sweaty striving associated with the lower orders. Those days are blessedly past—we are all sweaty strivers now—yet we remain ambivalent about this state of affairs. We feel nostalgia for the ethos of good form, and for the freedom from class anxiety we might have felt in a more static society. Who among us has not referred, at some point, to competitive modern life as a rat race? Which of us has not vowed, sooner or later, to foreswear it, presumably in favor of a return to our natural state of romping in the meadows with the butterflies? We want our kids to do well, yet competition is something we want to shelter them from. That’s why, in northern California, some high schools with large numbers of Asian-American students are experiencing white flight among families who find the academic environment a mite too...hectic.
Interesting. But I take some exception with this claim...
"In the public realm such one-time monopolies as the Postal Service, the local public school, and the regional electric utility, now have to compete against (respectively) UPS and FedEx, charter and magnet schools, and alternative providers of electricity, with whom consumers can contract."
To the best of my knowledge most of us do not have alternate providers of electricity that we can contract with. Cannot help but ask, to whom is the author referring? Where are there alternate electricity providers?