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Has America been technologically stagnant for a half-century? That’s apparently one of the main arguments found in New York Times columnist and AEI visiting fellow Ross Douthat’s upcoming book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success.
Now, I haven’t read this book. But it was just reviewed by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who quotes the following passage, I assume accurately: “Over the last two generations,” Douthat writes, “the only truly radical change has taken place in the devices we use for communication and entertainment, so that a single one of the nineteenth century’s great inventions [running water] still looms larger in our everyday existence than most of what we think of as technological breakthroughs nowadays.”
So the Robert Gordon thesis, as well as Thiel’s Twitter vs. Flying Cars argument. And this stagnation is a result of, well, “decadence,” I suppose. Now since I have not read the book, I will keep my analysis general.