TO THE NINETIES:
was a turning point in American politics. President Bill Clinton
became the first baby boom president of America. The torch had
passed to a new generation of Americans. But America's national
debt continued to soar. From almost three trillion dollars at
the end of the Reagan presidency to almost six billion dollars
by the time President Clinton retired in 2001. The American
empire was in serious trouble.
many ways the Clinton economic boom which began in 1993 was
simply a continuation of the Reagan economic boom that ended
in 1989. Corporate, consumer, and government debt fueled the
new boom. Defense spending which slowed down initially, continued
as the Nineties progressed. A high-tech boom also triggered
the biggest stock market advance in American history. The Third
Wave boom that started in Silicon Valley in the Seventies continued
in the Nineties as the internet became commercialized and new
businesses sprang up to take advantage of the dot.com gold-rush.
overload became a serious problem during the Nineties. The internet
brought a whole new world right to people's fingertips. It was
the world of cyber-space, often called the information highway.
In an instant, anyone with access to a computer, modem, and
a telephone line could connect to huge data-bases anywhere in
the world. With a few simple mouse-clicks, powerful search engines
could retrieve all kinds of information from the World Wide
Web. Scientists and engineers worked constantly to find ways
to make information pass faster over the internet.
a person could read newspapers, magazines, and articles, encyclopedia
entries, pornography, even entire books. Information was available
on any topic at any time of day or night. Before long Americans
were drowning in information. And this was a new problem because
much of the information lacked context and finding deeper meaning
in this sea of information became a skill that was not taught
to most Americans.
internet brought a new way to communicate with people. E-mail
was easy. Often more convenient and cheaper than using the telephone.
Americans also enjoyed using chat rooms where they could have
on going discussions with all kinds of people on a multitude
of subjects. The internet was a paradox. It united people more
and more, yet an increasing isolation of the individual continued
as Americans spent endless hours staring at computer screens
alone and often in confusion.
the end of 1999, more than fourty million American households
were on the internet. Many Americans began shopping on-line.
Amazon.com quickly became the biggest on-line retailer to come
out of the Nineties. Yet, many internet companies failed to
show a profit. A few like Ebay and Priceline.com allowed people
to host on-line auctions or to bargain for better prices on
items such as airline tickets, hotel room reservations, and
groceries, but unlike these profitable businesses, few internet
companies were able to survive the big economic shake-out that
occurred at the end of the decade.
successful internet companies like Yahoo led the huge dot.com
craze as many Americans used the internet to further or start
their own businesses on the web. New careers were born almost
overnight. The career of webmaster became a popular one. Webmasters
designed, created, and maintained websites for many kinds of
dot.com boom rapidly turned into an economic bubble. American
businesses and individuals went deep into debt and many new
internet companies sold stock to eager investors. Soon, the
media was full of stories about the new dot.com millionaires.
Many of them were young generation X men and women in their
twenties. But ultimately, the internet boom ended and the American
economy rapidly began losing steam once more as a mountain of
debt brought many Americans back to reality
Ritchies were part of this drama and did not escape it.
" What do you mean Mara got pregnant. When did this happen?
Deborah: " Just recently. "
Harvey: " What's she going to do? "
Deborah: " Keep the child? "
Harvey: " Is she going to get married? "
Deborah: " I don't know. Why don't you ask her? "
Harvey: " Mara's always getting into trouble. That's her
middle name. "
Deborah: " How's your internet business? "
Harvey: " It's going great. We're hiring more and more
people. Dad's business is also doing well. "
Deborah: "Well, I've started my own internet business as
well. I'm selling clothes on-line. "
Harvey: " Wow, that's great, Mom. We're all in this now.
Deborah: "I'm also getting married again. "
Harvey: " Wow, you're kidding! "
Deborah: " No. I'm not. "
Harvey: " Wow, that is so unbelievable. "
Deborah: " When are you getting married, dear? "
Harvey: " When I find the right person, Mom. "
Deborah: " Well, have you tried looking for someone on
the internet? "
Harvey: " Is that how you found him, Mom. Your new hubby?
Deborah: " Yes, dear, that's how I found him. "
Harvey: " Wow, that's pretty narly
Deborah: " I just hope Mara can find herself. She's got
a big responsibility now. I hope she really understands this.
Harvey: " If she doesn't. She soon will