Editor's note: This is an essay I wrote for the Jan. 8th edition of the Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest magazine (it's one of the last metropolitan newspapers to carry its own magazine):
I overhear many conversations about the economy, but the topper came recently in downtown Seattle. As two well-dressed men discussed the eurozone crisis and high unemployment at home, one said, "I'll tell you what I think it is: It's the beginning of the end of the world."
The severe recession and its staggering aftermath do represent the end of a world, if not the world. We live in the new hard times.
People sense it. A Rasmussen Poll last October found that only 37 percent of likely voters believed that America's best days were ahead. In a Gallup survey, 55 percent of respondents said it was very or somewhat unlikely that today's youth would enjoy a better life than their parents'.