Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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1992 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.

In 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 gold-rush.

Information 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.

On-line, 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.

The 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.

By the end of 1999, more than fourty million American households were on the internet. Many Americans began shopping on-line. 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 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.

Other successful internet companies like Yahoo led the huge 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 clients.

The 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 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

The Ritchies were part of this drama and did not escape it.

Harvey: " 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. Cowabunga! "

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…."


Cowabunga: An exclamation of excitement.
Hubby: New love interest.
Narly: An X generation _expression for being cool.


By the late Nineties American television was so fragmented that most Americans simply channel-surfed with their remote control buttons sometimes, over a hundred times, in less than a hour. Reality itself was becoming nothing, but sound and visual bites seen from hundreds of television screens.

One of the most popular television shows was about a family that was not even real from any point of view. " The Simpsons " was a cartoon family that resembled only a minority of American families. The mother and father had three children and this kind of family was now less than ten percent of the entire American population. The Simpsons rapidly became a parody of anything American. The Family was completely dysfunctional and it made many Americans laugh at their own follies. " Don't have a cow, Dude. " became a new American saying. It meant that one shouldn't get upset too quickly about anything nowadays. Then, in 1999, HBO, America's prime cable channel premiered " The Sopranos.

" A television show featuring an American mafia family that was plagued by emotional troubles that were bothering all normal American families. The mafia father went to a psychiatrist to discuss his personal problems, while his children smoked dope and looked for deeper meanings in a consumer society devoid of all meaning. Another cartoon show on MTV called " Beavis and Butt-head " also became popular especially with generation X. This cartoon featured two American teenagers who watched MTV all day, killed animals, and set fire to things while saying stupid things. This cynical program reflected a new and nasty attitude in America during the Nineties..

Science fiction was still popular on television, but its idealism was now completely gone. " The X-files " was a television show about government conspiracies in dealings with aliens from other galaxies. It reflected a basic distrust most Americans had for business, the government, and the media during the Nineties. A distrust that was mixed with a sense of an ever-growing feeling of entitlement.

Americans now, expected more and more, from their government even as they symultaneously distrusted their government more and more. Gun control, national health insurance, and environmental protection were issues a majority of Americans still supported, yet which could not become legislated into law because of an ever increasing grid-lock in the American political system.

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All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg