Culture Society and the 1960's Essay

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United States is a large nation that is presently facing a multitude of problems. For many Americans the most important of these problems is the plight of the workforce and the unemployment rate among that workforce. The importance of this problem is reflected through the result of opinion polls conducted by a number of the country's leading pollsters. Displacing concerns with the economy as the nation's number one problem, the fact that unemployment now ranks as the primary concern highlights how serious unemployment has become in the United States. It indicates that the American workforce is eager to get back to work.

The unfortunate thing about the present unemployment figures is that they do not reflect the seriousness of the present situation. The figures do not reflect those who have ceased seeking employment, those working in positions below their capabilities, and those working two or three part-time jobs in order to make ends meet. In a nation as prosperous as the United States unemployment at such levels is inexcusable and it is imperative that the problem be addressed.

2. The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 marked a violent moment in what would ultimately unfold as a violent decade. The murder of the President and the subsequent murder of his suspected assassin ushered in a decade that witnessed more violence than the nation had ever seen (Smith, 2001). In the years following Kennedy's assassination, the nation would witness the violence of Vietnam, riots in the streets, students gunned down on a college campus, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and the President's brother, Robert F. Kennedy. In the process, America lost its innocence. Suddenly, problems that Americans had always viewed as belonging to other nations and cultures were thrust onto American society and it took several decades before the confidence and security that were so much a part of American society prior to the Kennedy assassination began to re-emerge. During this time, America began to question itself. In the years that followed, America was restructured and developed into the more diverse but more cynical society that exists today. Looking back the Kennedy assassination serves as the line of demarcation when America changed from a nation of idealists into a nation of realists.

3. The young men and women who returned from Vietnam in the early 70s were met with extreme ridicule. They were the symbol of what many in the country viewed as the United States' big mistake. The returning veterans were an embarrassment to American society and, as a result, they were largely ostracized and ignored when they returned from service. Unlike the ticket tape parades that took place when the troops returned from Europe and the Pacific following the end of the Second World War, the veterans returning from Vietnam found themselves disembarking in empty airports and seaports without any fanfare of any kind.

Recently, the United States ended its presence in Iraq. Fortunately, American society has progressed to the point where these forces are not made to suffer the same fate as those who returned from Vietnam several decades earlier. Although these returning veterans were not afforded the benefit of the celebrations that met those returning home after the Second World War, the Iraqi War veterans were not made to suffer the indignities that the Vietnam veterans were made to endure. Instead, the Iraqi veterans were met with mini-celebrations and a generalized attitude among American society that the efforts of the veterans were appreciated. In just over thirty years, America and its citizenry had matured to the point that it had learned to appreciate the efforts of its veterans regardless of the outcome of those efforts.

4. Although the 1960s are popularly viewed as marking a major step forward for the feminist movement, it should also be characterized as a major step forward for the gender movement (Meyer, 1994). During the 60s' decade, the issue of sexual orientation and what it means to be a "man" and a "women" were transformed. The 60s witnessed people tending to think of matters regarding gender as being separate from the issue of sex. Sex began to be viewed as something biological and gender differences began to be viewed within the larger social construct. From this process, issues such as homosexuality began to be look differently. The gender movement began to change society's attitudes toward traditional gender roles. The traditional role of women began to venture away from the submissive and men's away from the strong, dominate one. Women began to move into positions and occupations formerly dominated by men and men did the same as to former women's positions and occupations. It was the feminist movement that received the headlines but the 60s meant far more to both genders.

5. The emergence of the internet as a teaching tool offers an opportunity for equalization to occur in the education field (Perraton, 2000). Developing countries are at a distinct disadvantage in the globalization process and without a highly functioning higher education system such countries are unable to successfully compete in the world markets. Through the internet, students without access to certain educational opportunities are now able to avail themselves of these opportunities. There are certainly problems relative to the use of distance learning due to the fact that such learning is presently unregulated and there are a number of questionable distance teaching providers that are not qualified in the areas that they claim to be. Further, there is the additional problem that students in developing countries are receiving educations that surpass what is needed and face the likelihood that they are becoming overqualified. Despite these problems, the advantages of distance learning outweigh the disadvantages and are contributing to a more equalized world.

6. There is a segment of the intellectual community that believes that technology can be the means of achieving a perfect society where hunger, disease, poverty and unemployment will be thing of the past. This viewpoint, which was extremely popular during the late 50s and early 60s, has come under considerable criticism as some have come to question the ability of technology to answer the ills of society (Schot, 2003). Instead of addressing the ills of society, technology has arguably acerbated many of the existing problems and, moreover, created new problems. Pollution, problems with the ozone layer, and population overcrowding are only a few of the complications that are either directly or indirectly attributable to technological advances. Contrary to those who argue that technological and medical advances might eventually obviate hunger, disease and other worldly problems the reality is that such problems still must be addressed.

7. Explaining why there are still poor in America in the face of the extensive efforts that have been made to eradicate it is difficult to assess but there is no doubt that the problem is only marginally better today than it was when the nation first began addressing it (Rector, 2007). Why such problem still exists depends largely on how one views the causes of such condition. For many the problem lies in the fact that the programs that have been initiated fail to address the underlying problem and only serve to reward people for not attempting to improve themselves. Others view the problem as being a natural result of the capitalistic system which depends heavily upon a certain segment of society remaining wanting. Still others attribute the continuation of poverty in America to the fact that there remains an undercurrent of racism. Nearly fifty years after the signing of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964, the disparity between the percentage of Blacks and Hispanics living in poverty remains three times the percentage of Whites. It would be hard to argue that this is merely a coincidence.

8. The future of Social Security and its companion program, Medicare, is uncertain. Both programs have become acrimonious issues in the U.S. Congress and the object of political debate throughout the country. Although the conflict between the differing political sides is complicated, it essentially boils down to two points-of-view. The one side advocates increasing the revenues that fund the system while the other side advocates reducing benefits. Regardless of which position one might adopt as to this issue the simple fact is that Americans have learned to depend far more heavily on the benefits provided by Social Security than it was ever imagined and the social fabric of the nations is dependent on its continued operation. As a result of the fact that Social Security has reached such an important status in American society the likelihood of its failure is highly remote (Autor, 2006). Naysayers may argue to the contrary but the country cannot afford to allow the system to fail. A popular refrain in America today that is used to talk about the banking industry is that "it is too big to fail." Similarly, the Social Security system is "too big to fail" and eventually the U.S. Congress and American people will be forced to adjust in order to preserve the…

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