Why Are So Many Young People Unhappy?

Here are some unhappy statistics:

— In America between 1946 and 2006, the suicide rate quadrupled for males ages 15 to 24 and doubled for females the same age.

— In 1950, the suicide rate per 100,000 Americans was 11.4. In 2017, it was 14.

— According to Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, in the 1980s, there were 32 mass public shootings (which he defines as incidents in which four or more people are killed publicly with guns within 24 hours). In the 1990s, there were 42. In the first decade of this century, there were 28. In all the 1950s, when there were fewer controls on guns, there was one. Fifty years before that, in the 1900s, there were none.

— Reuters Health reported in 2019, “Suicidal thinking, severe depression and rates of self-injury among U.S. college students more than doubled over less than a decade, a nationwide study suggests.” The study co-author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said, “It suggests that something is seriously wrong in the lives of young people.”

This data is not only applicable to Americans. As social commentator Kay Hymowitz wrote in City Journal in 2019: “Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. … Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians — the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report — are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness.’ … consider Japan, a country now in the throes of an epidemic of kodokushi, roughly translated as ‘lonely deaths.’ Local Japanese papers regularly publish stories about kinless elderly whose deaths go unnoticed until the telltale smell of maggot-eaten flesh alerts neighbors.”

Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they — especially young people — are unhappier than at any time since data collection began.

Why has this happened?

There are any number of reasons. Increased use of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse, and less human interaction because of constant cellphone use are two widely offered, valid explanations. Less valid explanations include competition, grades anxiety, capitalism and income inequality. And then there are young people’s fears that because of global warming, they have a bleak, and perhaps no, future.

But the biggest reason may be the almost-complete loss of values and meaning over the last half-century.

Let’s begin with values.

America — and much of the rest of the West, but I will confine my discussion to America — was founded on two sets of values: Judeo-Christian and American. This combination created the freest, most opportunity-giving, most affluent country in world history. This is not chauvinism. It is fact. And it was regarded as such throughout the world. That is why France gave America — and only America — the Statue of Liberty. That’s why people from every country on Earth so wanted to immigrate to America — and still do.

Chief among American values was keeping government as small as possible. This enabled nongovernmental institutions — Kiwanis International, Rotary International and Lions Clubs International; book clubs; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; bowling leagues; music societies; and, of course, churches — to provide Americans with friends and to provide the neediest Americans with help. But as government has gotten ever larger, many of these nongovernmental groups have dwindled in number or simply disappeared.

Another set of values is what is referred to as “middle-class” or “bourgeois” values. These include getting married before one has a child; making a family; getting a job so as to be self-sustaining and sustain one’s family; self-discipline; delayed gratification; and patriotism.

All of these have been under attack by America’s elites, with the following results:

One in 5 young Americans has no contact with his or her father (not including fathers who have died).

In 2011, 72% of black children were born to unmarried mothers. In 1965, it was 24%. In 2012, 29% of white children were born to unmarried women. In 1965, it was 3.1%.

The majority of births to millennials are to unmarried women. Yet, according to a 2018 Cigna study, single parents are generally the loneliest Americans.

Marriage and family are the single greatest sources of happiness for most people. Yet, the percentage of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. More Americans than ever will not get married, or they will marry so late they will not have children. In 1960, 9% of blacks ages 25 and older had never been married. In 2012, it was nearly 40%.

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest problem: the loss of meaning in young people’s lives. I will discuss that in part two.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.


Last Updated: Monday, Jan 20, 2020 07:21:38 -0800

Should You Hate the Media?

1975 was an exciting time to be at Boston University’s School of Public Communication. There we were, about 30 students seeking a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism.  All of us thought our quest was noble, that we would become purveyors of truth, skilled fact-finders and truth-tellers in the Watergate tradition. The lessons presented were well worth the tens of thousands of dollars I had to pay for them.

Forty-five years later, having reached the top of my profession, I generally despise my own industry, something I never could have predicted.  Here’s why.

The national TV press is presently controlled by six major corporations that use their vast power to profiteer while attempting to destroy ideological enemies. The coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency has proved that statement beyond any reasonable doubt.

The stage was set early when a New York Times columnist wrote that because Mr. Trump was so loathsome (to him and his liberal colleagues), the basic tenets of fair journalism no longer applied.  Get Trump was the new rule.

The mandate of an honest journalist is to seek the truth, even if the facts of a story go against your personal belief system.  It is wrong to simply publish accusation and allegations, you must scrutinize all charges. If you cannot find solid facts to prove a story, you then must balance it – giving both sides equal weight.

Did that happen in the Russian-collusion situation?  Of course not.  The New York Times and Washington Post printed story after story damning the Trump operation. The network news and CNN took their cues from those liberal papers, constantly deriding the President and those who supported him.

Then Special Counsel Robert Mueller blew it all up.  Federal investigators could find no evidence of collusion.

But no apology for unbalanced and fallacious coverage was heard from the corrupt national media.  Instead, it segued into the shameful impeachment hysteria.

Please understand this: the primary reason the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat members knew the national press would give them cover and blatant support. The media portrayed Adam Schiff and other anti-Trump zealots as heroes.  This despite strong evidence the Ukraine whistle-blower secretly coordinated with Schiff, a blatantly political and deceptive act.

From the very beginning, there was no balanced coverage of the impeachment story, no attempt to put forth both sides or to provide perspective.  Mr. Trump was portrayed as guilty of “high crimes” in the Times and Post, as well as on television, in Hollywood, and in the publishing industry. Any high profile person who had the temerity to disagree was mocked or worse.

The cold truth is that the men who preside over The New York Times and The Washington Post, and they are all men, believe THEY should be running the United States, not Donald Trump, who is a vulgarian in their eyes. These men well know the Democratic Party will blindly follow their editorial lead as will TV news executives at CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS.

Thus, the so called “free press” in America has become an industry that now seeks power over Americans.  The far left vision these operations usually champion cannot be realized at the ballot box, the bosses know that. So it must be imposed by destroying progressive opposition, which the media does with enthusiasm.  Just ask Brett Kavanaugh.

The key question is: how many of us realize what is actually happening with the dishonest, power mad media?

Impossible to say.  But for those who do understand the corruption, the danger to American freedom is obvious.

And that is why I have come to despise my own industry.

GAO: Trump Broke the Law on Ukraine

Back in November, I wrote a pretty extensive column on the House impeachment hearings and whether or not the Democrats had built an effective case for impeaching President Trump. I wasn’t someone who supported the decision to initiate the hearings, but I did find a lot of what we learned from depositions and credible testimony to be quite troubling.

It was pretty obvious that Trump had attempted to extort a foreign power into digging up dirt on one of his political opponents, and that he had used congressionally approved and certified U.S. security funding as his leverage.

That act was very clearly an abuse of presidential power. Whether or not that abuse rose to the level an “impeachable offense” was a matter of opinion. Here’s what I wrote about this in the November column:

The stated bar for impeachment is the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” While this term isn’t defined in the U.S. Constitution, the longtime majority view among constitutional scholars and legal precedent is that it doesn’t necessarily refer to literal crimes, but rather any serious abuse of presidential power. Ultimately, the determination is left up to the U.S. Congress.

Again, something doesn’t have to be illegal to be impeachable.

That reality didn’t sit well with some people in the comment section and elsewhere (coincidentally all Trump fans), who were insistent that impeaching a president over a legal act, no matter how troubling the act, was unjustifiable and an abuse of congressional power.

Purely on the matter of legality, I wasn’t sure if Trump had broken the law, and I made that clear. I was waiting for a credible legal judgment on the matter, rather than mere speculation.

Well, today that judgment came. As it turns out, Trump did break the law. That was the decision finding of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

GAO determined that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (at the direction of President Trump) committed an illegal act by withholding military aid to Ukraine. Specifically, the OMB violated a requirement in the 1974 Impoundment Control Act that the White House (and its agencies) disburse funding appropriated by the U.S. Congress as directed by the legislative branch.

The law “does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” GAO added. “…The President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law.”

Now, will this finding change anyone’s mind in regard to impeachment? Almost certainly not. After all, we live in an era of perpetually moving, politically partisan goalposts.

Reliable Trump defenders (at least those not inclined to blow off GAO’s decision as the latest “deep state” conspiracy) will likely insist that this was just a minor legal infraction, and thus no more worthy of impeachment than a perfectly legal act. We’ll also hear plenty of comparisons to the Obama White House, and how it broke laws too.

Regardless, as contrived as a lot of the Democrats’ efforts on impeachment have been (including that ridiculous pen-signing ceremony the other day), today’s finding is not good news for the Trump administration.

Would it Kill the Dems to Give Trump a Good Opponent?

Months ago, my wife and I were so intrigued by the sheer number of Democratic presidential candidates vying for their party’s nomination that we decided, purely in the interest of entertainment, to check out the first few debates. They ended up being even bigger spectacles than we were expecting.

Perhaps it was because we had no skin in the game, but it was downright amusing to watch an overflowing stage of familiar curmudgeons and new-blood hopefuls almost trip over each other to shamelessly pander to the extreme wing of their political base. This included promising voters (and even non-citizens!) a long list of “free” stuff including health care, college educations, and even cold, hard cash. Who was going to pay for all of this (with a national debt of $23 trillion)? The rich, of course! How original.

On immigration, candidates vowed to not only abolish ICE, but decriminalize illegal border entries all together.

On abortion, the message was simple: Go for it! We don’t need no stinkin’ restrictions.

The cast of characters and unexpected soundbites only added to the circus, from Marianne Williamson’s new-age lingo, to Eric Swalwell’s hyper-feminist stances and embarrassing one-liners, to what is still my favorite exchange with a debate moderator:


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My wife and I certainly had a lot of fun with the clown show, giving it the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. But over the months, as the field thinned out, and the handful of candidates who actually ended up sounding a bit reasonable were forced to end their campaigns, the primary became much more of a drag. The debates have grown  exhausting, and the remaining candidates are even less personally appealing now than they were at the beginning of the process.

I can’t think of a better illustration of this than at last night’s debate (the final one before the Iowa Caucus), when Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders bickered for what seemed like an eternity over how long it has been since Sanders has beaten a Republican incumbent.

The Dispatch’s Jonah Goldberg captured the moment quite well on Twitter:

And that was one of the more exciting moments!

Now, I’m not expecting to see the level of dramatics we see at Trump rallies, but the truth of the matter is that the pizazz factor is crucially important to today’s electorate. I would even argue that personality and political theater have been the deciding factors in every presidential election over the past two or three decades.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing; I’m a believer in substance, myself. But that’s where we’re at as a country. And what we’re left with right now in the Democratic primary is not a basket of “deplorables,” but rather insufferables.

Bernie Sanders has become a tired parody of his wide-eyed socialist self. Elizabeth Warren is rhetorically grating to the average person, and can’t answer simple challenges to her policy ideas (or even her own bio). Tom Steyer, with his blank gaze and monotone delivery, somehow manages to fade into the background even when he’s the only person on camera. Joe Biden has his folksy charm and still speaks with some confidence, but far too often appears lost. Amy Klobuchar seems like a genuinely good person, and probably holds the sanest policy positions of the remaining candidates, but she’s chronically uncomfortable in her own skin, and tends to fall back on old talking points and tired metaphors whenever she’s rattled. Mayor Pete is a gifted speaker and usually hits some positive notes; maybe he’s the exception, but he has some significant base challenges to overcome.

Now, to be fair, this is a Democratic primary we’re talking about. As a small-government conservative, I’m not exactly the audience or type of voter these candidates are trying to impress. But one of the individuals we saw on stage last night (despite there being other remaining candidates) will very likely become the party’s nominee and Donald Trump’s general-election opponent. And that person is going to have a very rough time if he or she can’t personally inspire voters beyond just the portrayal of themselves as the anti-Trump alternative.

That’s not to say there isn’t any hope. Of course there is. Hillary Clinton was one of the most unappealing presidential nominees in American history, and she still managed to earn 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. If just 78,000 voters among three swing-states had chosen differently in 2016, Hillary would be president right now.

The problem is that it will be even harder for the Democrats in 2020. Trump is no more likeable or competent than he was four years ago, but he’s the incumbent and the economy has been strong. It would have been good for the Democratic party if their base would have accepted that reality months ago, recognized the challenge they were dealing with, and put their support behind thoughtful, personally appealing candidates who — at minimum — weren’t vowing to change the very fundamentals of our strong economy.

But that would have been too easy. They’ve instead chosen to hand the president another electoral gift. At least it sure appears that way.

Newsweek Changed Its Article About Me. But …

In my last column, “Newsweek Hits a New Low,” I wrote about Newsweek’s dishonest description of what I had said on one of my weekly PragerU “Fireside Chats.” A viewer had asked me to respond to a statement Anne Frank made in her epic Holocaust diary. Frank said, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

The Newsweek headline, “Conservative Radio Host Ridicules Anne Frank,” was simply a lie. In order for readers to appreciate the level of mendacity, I had my entire response transcribed and placed it in the column.

A few days later I received a message from Nancy Cooper, global editor-in-chief of Newsweek. She emailed me her personal cellphone number and asked me to call her. I did, and we had a good conversation. She agreed that what Newsweek published mischaracterized my remarks and corrected both the headline and the article, written by deputy editor Benjamin Fearnow.

She changed the headline to “Conservative Radio Host Counters Anne Frank’s View That People Are ‘Good at Heart.'”

In addition, she deleted Fearnow’s sentence characterizing me as having mocked Anne Frank. And she deleted another Fearnow falsehood: “He also brings up Nazi comparisons frequently on his radio program, The Dennis Prager Show, to criticize modern Democrats and liberals.”

I told Cooper that in 37 years of radio, I have never compared Democrats or liberals to Nazis; Fearnow had made that up out of whole cloth.

In its place, she wrote the truth: “He also brings up Nazi comparisons on his radio program, The Dennis Prager Show, saying the left ‘cheapens’ Nazi evil by using the term to dismiss political opponents or that liberals focus on Nazism while failing to acknowledge the horrors wrought by Communism.”

The following notice now appears at the end of the article: “Update 1/8, 4:45 p.m. ET: The original headline on this story misrepresented Prager’s comments; the headline and story have been edited to reflect that Prager did not ‘ridicule’ or ‘mock’ Anne Frank but took issue with her view.”

As I wrote to Cooper, “Your attention to this says a lot about you and your hopes for Newsweek. Thank you.”

But the story doesn’t end there.

First, has Newsweek disciplined Fearnow in any way? (I never heard from Fearnow.)

Second, and more important, the original lie about me has taken on a life of its own. It was conveyed on numerous left-wing sites.

Wonkette, under the sarcastic headline “Dennis Prager Will Not Be Bullied by Anne Frank,” wrote a deceit-filled article about my comments about Anne Frank. At this writing, the column is followed by 654 reader comments — virtually every one of them repeating the lie started by Newsweek and continued by Wonkette.

There has not been a word on Wonkette about Newsweek’s correction.

The Daily Dot — “conceived as the Internet’s ‘hometown newspaper,’ focuses on topics such as streaming entertainment, geek culture, memes, gadgets and social issues, such as LGBT, gender and race,” as Wikipedia describes — reprinted the original Newsweek charge.

There has not been a word on The Daily Dot about Newsweek’s correction.

Under the headline “Dennis Prager on Anne Frank: ‘I Don’t Get My Wisdom from Teenagers,'” the Patheos website’s Friendly Atheist page wrote, “Leave it to right-wing commentator Dennis Prager, founder of a fake online ‘university’ … to dismiss Frank’s comment … because she was a child and therefore too dumb to understand anything.”

There has not been a word on Patheos about Newsweek’s correction.

Inquisitr, which claims 40 million readers a month, headlined its disparaging article “Conservative Pundit Dennis Prager Ridicules Anne Frank.”

There has not been a word on Inquistr about Newsweek’s correction.

Democratic Undergound’s headline read, “Conservative Radio Host Dennis Prager Ridicules Anne Frank.” It features a tweet from @Kokomothegreat that has 499 retweets.

There has not been a word on Democratic Underground or from Koko about Newsweek’s correction.

I note all of this to make three points.

First, as I have said for decades: While truth is a conservative value and a liberal value, it has never been a left-wing value.

Second, the left’s primary response to those with whom it differs is to smear.

Third, smears cannot be undone.

This was brilliantly brought home to me in a famous Jewish story I first heard when I was a student in yeshiva.

The tale is told of a Jew in Eastern Europe who had slandered his rabbi but soon regretted it. So, he went to his rabbi, told him what he had done, sincerely apologized and asked the rabbi’s forgiveness.

“Bring me two feather pillows,” the rabbi responded.

The man did.

“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.

“Now cut open the pillows,” the rabbi responded.

The man had no idea why the rabbi made these requests, but deeply wanting the rabbi’s forgiveness, he did as he was told.

“Am I now forgiven?” the man asked.

“Now let the feathers fly away,” the rabbi responded.

Once again, the man did as the rabbi requested.

“Am I now forgiven?” the exasperated man asked.

“Just do one more thing,” the rabbi responded. “Bring back the feathers.”

Benjamin Fearnow and the left-wing websites cannot bring back the feathers. Nor, apparently, do they want to.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.


Last Updated: Monday, Jan 13, 2020 18:45:45 -0800