Dr. Richard Cirulli delves further into his growing body of work societal evolution known as the “Boomerang Series” in his most recent article, “From Romper Room, to Economic Boom, to Social Doom?
By Dr. RICHARD CIRULLI, Ph.D.”, on Friday, June 22, 2017th at 10am DST on the Westchester On the Level radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink … http://tobtr.com/s/10058601 to listen to and participate in the discussion. Share your perspective or ask a question. Call the broadcast at 347-295-9201.
The Boomerang Series
This column would be remiss for not making reference to one of the shows that contributed to nurturing the ethos of the baby boomer generation. Romper Room debuted in 1953 and ran until 1994; true the show did outlive the baby boomers’ adolescence, it was an extension of their childhood being, as integral as selfies and Instagram are to today’s adolescents. Contemporary society may view this show as too hokey and “unsophisticated” for today’s adolescents, though it may be fitting to at present take a refresher course in Romper Room 101 for the sake of reminding us what we have lost since its demise. The show opened with a pledge of allegiance, followed for the next 30 or 60 minutes with games, exercises, songs, and most importantly lessons in morality and manners. The show went so far as, by today’s standards, to the most politically incorrect act of offering up a prayer of thanks. In essence, the show facilitated in inculcating the minds of children on how to be polite, teach deportment, and offer praise to something greater than ourselves. Those values and virtues were reinforced with and by the “Mr. Do Bee” and “Mr. Don’t Bee” characters. The show would be derided as dated and too simple for today’s adolescents. A second look may refute this claim in light of the decline in America’s civility and moral standards. The takeaway is that politeness, deportment, and civility are not like apps. They cannot be downloaded as readily into our hearts and souls.
The Sixties, viewed in retrospect as the revolutionary force of youths confronted what they believed was a repressive and intolerant society. In hindsight, though, it was quite paradoxical. To some degree baby boomers perpetuated a myth, especially in light of our present, intolerant and politically incorrect world of zero tolerance. Today’s world is far less intolerant and repressive to those who offer a dissenting opinion or view. For example, recently a female college student of un-reproachable background was denied her place at her graduation on the basis of having a snooping security guard find a steak knife in her car. The knife had fallen from a box when she assisted a friend in a recent move. Yet, even with her plausible explanation she was denied her day under the college’s “zero tolerance” program. Her request for open justice was denied, and no students or the media came to her aid.
In today’s world we no longer have the wisdom and courage to judge and be judged on what is true verses what is false, and what is right verses what is wrong. Instead judgment submits to what is on the politically correct menu of the day? Today, political correctness too often eclipse facts and reason, seeking solutions via agenda, insinuating fiat in fear of political discourse. For the most part our media and academics are now the present unbiased, objective and agenda free “Mr. Don’t Bee”, rather that the politically correct and close minded “Mr. Do Bee”. We now approach moral arguments like tainted sophists who seek decisions based over who best presents the best manipulated argument, not on the facts of what is right versus what is wrong or incorrect.
It may be prudent to ask ourselves how we arrived at this juncture. The following observation may hold some food for thought. During the 1950’s economic boom, Romper Room was competing with the following social transformations.
By the 1950’s illiteracy reached a new low of 3.2%. By 1956, for the first time in history, America had more white collar employees than blue collar employees. By 1957 the service sector took over manufacturing as the lead component of the economy. Median family income doubled from1950 to 1960. Our population grew from 132 million in 1940 to 172 million by 1960. Our nation’s GNP grew from $285 billion in 1950 to $500 billion in 1960. Furthermore, by the mid 1950’s teenager’s allowance averaged $10-$15 dollars a week, more than an adult’s weekly income in the 1930’s. This generous allowance along with the income of their part time job made them an economic force that Wall Street was more than eager to exploit. By the decade’s end, America accelerated demand to build bomb shelters.
By the end of the 1950’s into the early 1960’s more Americans graduated high school, and for the first time college graduates outpaced farmers. In essence, America’s youth were spending less time with adults, and were now guided by their adolescent peers, not adults with worldly experience and wisdom. This was outsourced to Romper Room, and the likes of Father Knows Best, and the like.
By the Sixties the counterculture went underground in the hope of rising like a phoenix from the ashes and remains of a fallen humanity in distress. The counterculture consisted of self-proclaimed freaks, hippies, and artists in conflict with the rat-race, and opposed to having middle class values imposed on them. Today, America’s super rich, still living with the anxiety of nuclear fear, have also gone underground to build multimillion dollar underground security bunkers, many built in former missile silos. The late Roger Ailes is known to have built, and its rumored that Bill Gates may have built their own security shelters. Why the paranoia? Will America be the victim of a foreign nuclear attack? According to Robert H. Dugger, an Alexandria, VA–based venture capitalist, quoted in “The New Yorker” said, “Anyone who’s in this community knows people who are worried that America is heading toward something like the Russian Revolution.”
Let us hope and pray they have also taken the DVD’s from the days of “Romper Room” shows to watch before they finally exit their bunkers. The hope is that this time they can spread wisdom and civility, and not just money?
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired professor and business consultant, writer, columnist, and Innocent Bystander at large. He looks forward to your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.