It was five minutes to midnight in America. I was having a glum drink with my buddy Willie.

              “Midnight in America,” he said. “In more ways than one.”

              “Lots of ways,” I said.

              “I wonder if the US will see another New Year’s Eve.” He took a sip. “Everything’s gone to hell and looks like it’s no way up.”

              “Things look bad,” I said. “We have a loser for a President running for reelection, next year’s the vote and the leading GOP candidate is an old lunatic everyone’s written off. The economy’s in the dumper.”

              “Inflation!” Willie finished his beer and opened another one. “The dollar is crashing. Nobody respects us.”

              “Our biggest enemy looks readier and readier to jump and start The Big War. They don’t really fear us anymore. Heck, they look invincible. Our military is weakened and exhausted. Drained from endless wars and that awful bug-out. We’ve got no credibility.”

              “And at home! Everything’s in chaos. This new computer technology, it’s going to change everything. All our industries, tens of thousands of jobs are going to disappear. Huge sectors of the economy will just blow away, people will be thrown out of work. There’s vast disruption, dislocation coming fast. And where will all those people find jobs?”

              “Nobody trusts anybody any more. The government has lied to us. The media covered for them. They’ve tied the economy up, with regulation, recession’s looking more and more certain. And the crime in our cities! New York looks more and more like a bad movie. The subways aren’t safe.”

              Willie finished his beer. “I swear, there is absolutely no hope that I can see. It’s going to get worse before it can get better. I’m afraid our best days are behind us.”

              “Well,” I said. “Midnight in America. Happy damn New Year, I guess.”

              “Yeah,” he said. “Morning in America? Not in my lifetime. So Happy welcome to 1980.”

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