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May 17th, 2010
05:33 PM ET

What's behind precipitous decline in America's morality?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: THINKSTOCK)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. isn't only headed for bankruptcy when it comes to our finances... it looks like we could be going morally bankrupt too.

A new Gallup poll paints a depressing picture of the state of our moral values in the U.S.

45 percent of those surveyed describe morality in this country as "poor"... only 15 percent - fewer than one in five– say "excellent or good."

These numbers rank among the worst in this poll over the last decade.

The survey also shows 76 percent of Americans say moral values in the U.S. are getting worse... only 14 percent say they're getting better.

So what's wrong with us?

Poll respondents give many examples when it comes to how moral values are getting worse. From the disrespect of others to parents not teaching their children good values; from dishonesty among government and business leaders to rising crime, loss of religion, breakdown of the family structure; and people not being accountable for their own behavior. No one's responsible for anything anymore. Everybody's a victim.

And believe it or nor this is one thing all political parties agree on... neither Republicans, Democrats nor independents give positive ratings of moral values.

It's a crying shame that in this great, free country where anything is possible, we as a society have such a negative view of how we behave and how we treat each other. It's hard to imagine how we can come together to solve our problems... if we have such a poor opinion of the next guy.

Here’s my question to you: What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

A. writes:
The rampant narcissism, sense of entitlement and lack of consideration for your fellow human being. People feel like they should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and screw you if you don't like it. Part of it is parenting, but the other part is society and celebrities condoning that attitude. "My family thinks I'm awesome. Why don't you?"

David in Oregon writes:
What's behind the decline in morality? Simple: media. Television, internet, video games, music, and cell phones all play a role in the demoralization of this country. Cry freedom of speech all you like but when nothing is censored then everything eventually leads to the lowest common denominator.

Al writes:
So much of the problem with morals in our society can be traced to the breakdown in the family. Children are not given the guidance that leads to self-respect and if you don't respect yourself, how can you have any respect for your fellow human beings? And if the children try to look up for direction, all they see is the lure of the almighty buck, from the corporations to the government.

Sarah writes:
I don't think there is any decline in morality these days. Consider that 150 years ago we kept human beings as slaves, 100 years ago American workers worked in terrible conditions for low wages with no safety net, and 50 years ago African Americans were still being lynched. I think we've come a long way and I'd much rather live into today's society than the world of the past.

Pete writes:
Jack, This is what happens when people stop going to church. Until people hit "rock bottom" in their carefree lives, religion is not cool. But when they do melt down, I'll bet few turn to Hugh Hefner for answers.

Dee writes:
Morality started declining when we stopped wearing hats and gloves and suits and ties out to dinner and a movie.


Filed under: United States
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Greg Penn

    A flat out lack of respect for others. You don't have to look any further then these message boards to see it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  2. Gene

    I don't think this pole is very informative. I'd bet that every generation since the founding of this country has believed that succeeding generations were becoming less moral. This is a near automatic response to more progressive social orders. When your baseline for what is "right" is merely what is traditional, any change will be seen as a moral degradation, and the definition of "moral" becomes hopelessly capacious.

    That said, in a world where nearly everything is captured on film, and it is easy to broadcast some of our worst (read: most entertaining) moments instantly to the world via the internet or other mass media, our most unsavory characteristics are now much more visible than they were before. I believe this must account for at least some of perception that we are collectively becoming less moral.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  3. John Lucas

    Every generation thinks the next generation has less moral capital than the one before it. The fact is values change over time in all cultures. They always have and they always will. Stating that change in values as a decline is really a matter of opinion.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  4. Ken P, Tampa, FL

    We have been pushed onto this slippery slope by moral relativists and secular liberals. Without a Christian Worldview to center us, the question is not what, but rather, is it too late?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  5. Corey from Peoria, IL

    I don't believe the issue is that there is a decline of morals in our country so much as the definition of morality has changed. It used to be that on the whole most people would agree with what was considered moral. With the rise of the internet and growing media our perception of morality has changed. For example swearing on television, radio, or just in general was considered quite immoral until recently. We need to stop comparing today's attitudes with yesterday's idea of morality, and redefine just what is right and what is wrong as it applies to the present day.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  6. Bill

    It's hard to teach people to fail when everyone is special. If no one can accept failure, then no one can accept personal responsibility. Pretty simple, really.

    As John Milius said, " There's no shame in the world, and without shame, you cannot have honor. Our world is ruled by consensus now. There is no sense of honor."

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Neal Walters

    This is an opinion poll and, as reported here, indicates only that respondents were asked how they "feel" about moral values in the US. This is not scientifically valid research about whether America's moral values are in fact in decline, it simply shows that people think these values are in decline. This "feeling" may well not be valid.

    For example, crime rates are falling and have been for many years; by that measure our moral values are in fact improving. The reference to religion is another red herring. Many studies have shown that America is one of the few countries where people equate religious beliefs with moral behavior; in most countries people do not link the two. So, in most of the world a "decline" in religious participation would say nothing about any change in "moral" values at large.

    While there is significantly increased media reporting of misbehavior by politicians and corporate executives, there is little rigorously evaluated data to suggest that rates of malfeasance by these groups are higher than they were in the past; they are simply discussed with much greater speed and volume today. Until recently it was considered unseemly to report on or openly discuss the sexual dalliances of politicians; this does not mean that they were not occurring.

    Perhaps if Americans focused on the reality, rather than the worry, they would feel better about themselves.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  8. Tracy

    I don't know if it's art imitating life or life imitating art, but many of the shows on TV celebrate people behaving badly – reality shows especially seem to feature lying and cheating and encourage back-stabbing and sabotage. Many sitcoms portray bad behavior as amusing. I think we have come to accept immorality as "not that bad" at the same time as we have come to adopt the mindset that "everyone is out for themselves only" and "if I don't look out for myself, no one else will". Morality doesn't come from a set of rules, but from an unspoken but understood code of conduct that encourages us to respect each other (and ourselves) and work together toward a common goal.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  9. Phil Muse

    It depends on what you mean by "morality." For too long we've defined it exclusively in terms of sins of the flesh and incontinance. A morally "good" individual was someone who didn't drink, smoke, gamble, use prophanity or womanize – all traits of his opposite, the morally "bad" person. The more serious moral shortcomings, those of greed and self-righteous pride, have never gotten their proper attention as sins in America. Yet they do more to undermine the fabric of society. If you don't nelieve me, ask yourself: who are you more likely to get incensed about, an elected official who rakes in money and special favors from lobbyists, or one who cheats on his wife? As far as self-righteousness is concerned, just think back to the glow of moral indignity and outrage you experienced the last time a lurid story about a public figure made the front page of the tabloids!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  10. Tim

    Morality has improved. People have always been killing and cheating and will continue to do so, but racism and sexism have declined in the last 50 years. This shows that we as a society have become more moral, not less moral. I think we should look forward and try to find ways of improving our society one day at a time.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Charles Beaver

    Is it possible that our ever increasing reliance on impersonal forms of communication (text and email, primarily) are causing a breakdown in our avility to intimately relate to other human?. Is tech "post it notes" taking the place of talking with and listening to other people? This impersonal disconnect may be causing us to lose our tolerance of other people, because indepth, personal communication and understanding of one another's views and postions is too often never developed, hence our opinions and evaluations of others suffers.

    PS- You can include the form of this survey as part of the problem.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  12. Joe

    I think that people overestimate the lack of morality in America. When I'm walking in the streets of downtown Chicago and see a woman's shopping cart fall over and her purchases spill over the sidewalk, and immediately everyone within 5 foot radius stops and helps her pick everything up, I don't label that 'immoral'. I think that religious organizations try to encourage their congregations to see America as morally decaying and corrupt, but I really think they are overreacting. Sure, things are changing, we're in a period of great change in morals and ideas. So it might seem like we are falling apart, but I think once we learn to recognize the new sorts of ideas in the country, we will again see that America is far from morally decayed.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  13. nick

    Wealth and prosperity. We have so much money, and deal with so little adversity, that we are raising up a lazy and arrogant generation. We're like Rome. Except we have nukes. Who knows what things will look like 100 years from now?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  14. Joe B Good

    Greed, selfishness, greed, selfishness and greed.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  15. Steve Edwards

    The decline began in the early 80s when the "what's in it for me?" philosophy was spawned. Since then, greed, corruption, and unethical behavior has become more pervasive. Blame it on deregulation.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  16. Billy

    People are less likely to be moral when they see those with no morals doing so well. You see bankers and politicians living the good life by doing corrupt things while they themselves struggle because they are living on a straight path. It's enough to make people want to try doing things a bit underhanded and seeing if they can get rich doing so.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  17. Tim Clark

    San Antonio, TX
    Morality has improved. People have always been killing and cheating and will continue to do so, but racism and sexism have declined in the last 50 years. This shows that we as a society have become more moral, not less moral. I think we should look forward and try to find ways of improving our society one day at a time.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  18. Charles

    I can tell you its not loss of religion. I'm so sick of hearing that our society is going downhill because people dont pray and dont go to church. Theres a hell of a lot of examples of religious-run societies that are anything but moral.

    But to get back to the point, its obviously lack of respect and consideration for each other. If you cared about other people you wouldnt steal from them or kill them over drugs or money. If you had empathy and respect you wouldnt rape someone.

    People are more and more arrogant and self absorbed because so many things we experience convince us that we're the center of the universe. And we all really need to work harder, especially those in school. Our society is ridiculously lazy and when you're lazy if you cant earn what you want, you take it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Ken in Mt

    I suspect that it just gets more press these days as we become more connected. Basically we are the same sort of people that our grand parents were, most of us hard working trying to get haead. The difference may be that we are more spread out than we were generations ago. maybe we should blame it on the interstate highway system which makes it easier. That way we can blame it on Republicans( Eisenhower)

    May 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Rick from Pittsburgh, Pa

    I don't want to sound like a broken record but listen to this generation's music for a second. At work the other day I heard a 8 year old reciting a Gucci Mane lyric. That's disturbing. The fault here lies with the parents. When exactly did we decide kids didn't need to be supervised? Open your ears and keep a watchful eye. You should love your child enough to want to raise them right. It starts with oversight.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  21. Susan

    Jack I say its the parents. I am 32 years old and have run into a lot of young 20 somethings...and the chip on their shoulder and the world owes me attitude is shocking. No one takes responsiblity for their actions and its a me, me, me type of attitude...what can you do for me. Again I blame it on the parents...I don't know when it started to fall apart, it seems like the the children born in the late 80's early 90's are the up and comers with the attitude...but its depressing and I really don't see that there is a way of stopping it. I know I was a silly 20 something once, but I am literally shocked at the attitude of that age group...and the teenagers...forget, out of control...wait until they are the adults...I am scared to grow old in this country.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  22. Albert O. Lafreniere II, RN

    The problem is that secularism and moral relativism have brought people to the point where there is no more "right" and "wrong". We are being told through our government, schools, and some social institutions that we cannot impose our morality on others, and that as long as an act doesn't hurt anybody else it should be ok. We have weakened the definition of what it means to sin, and thus people have lost the motivation to fight the evils around us and within ourselves. Those of us who hold to traditional values of any sort are tagged as racist, hateful, and intolerant, which destroys any chance of serious dialogue between people of different faith or politics.

    The best we can do is raise our children with the knowledge that the Truth does not come from society, but from God alone. Maybe then we can get more of the next generation to stand up against this moral decline, and stick to a good set of rules for living.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  23. Larry R, Portland, Oregon

    Whose morality, Jack? Is the standard that of the Taliban or the morality of some supposed "moral majority." The real issue is values, not morals. We obscenely value those with athletic prowess and other entertainers over the ability to save lives; we underpay teachers while people who can fabricate synthetic financial instruments make billions. And let's not forget our penchant for the easy answer to complex issues. Issues like morality.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  24. Vineet

    Old people. As long as old people exist, there will be a 'dangerous decline in morality'. It's almost their job to say it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  25. Alex

    I think it comes down to lazy parenting.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  26. Carl in San Diego

    Mostly. parents not being parents. In today's world, at least in the U.S., two incomes are required to raise a family, therefore, children, at a young age are being cared for by others, like day-care centers, elderly grandparents, etc. The only time a child see's his or her parents are first thing in the morning and just before going to bed. There is no family time. Kids run wild until the parents get home from work and learn 'morality' on the streets. I also blame some religious organizations and politicians who have publicly displayed that it is acceptable to discriminate and provide injustice against a lifestyle (i.e., homosexuality) that they discribe as immoral. When I was young, we were taught to love thy neighbor and that we were all God's children.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  27. Georgia from Pennsylvania

    Plain and simple- greed. From child pornography to big business the God-almighty buck is always at the core. We live in a cesspool that all of our ancestors would turn over in their grave about. This was not supposed to be the way our "free world" was to supposed to wind up.It really makes one want to look in the classifieds under "islands"

    May 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  28. jorge

    There are a number of factors I think. Here are three:

    American "freedom" is no longer the freedom to pursue opportunity and prosperity. It is now "freedom" from consequences and responsibility under the guise of "social justice."

    Ultimately it is up to the individual to "do the right thing." But there is no "individual" any more, only the majority and the minority.

    "Right" and "wrong" are pre-packaged and delivered by the media and other groups with interest in propagating morality. Why spend time coming to a conclusion when you can just download one?

    Tucson, AZ.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  29. larry wi

    The whole country has run amuck! It's all about me, and to hel* with you. Look at how much disgust there is toward AZ from other states, we can't even get along from one state to the next. I pay a stranger a compliment now a day's and it's viewed as being a smart alec or a jerk. Everything is so arguementative, it's pathetic!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  30. Mariya

    why is this surprising to anyone? when parents let their kids run wild from toddler-age and make excuses for them instead of trying to enforce at least basic discipline.. when kids spend more time figuring out ways to cheat instead of spending that time studying.. why is it surprising that those same kids grow up to be adults without tiniest bit of scruples, accountability, responsibility or conscience?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  31. Mike Marcario

    Jack,

    Let's see...a former president first lied about, then later admitted to a sordid affair in the whitehouse, all of the once hallowed baseball records are now held by cheaters and frauds, Wall Street and bank execs took millions in bonuses for nearly destroying the world economy, our last president lied about WMDs and got us into a war that we didn't need to be in, and Tiger Woods, well you know about that....sorry, I can't think of any good reasons for our moral decline.

    Mike
    Monroe, NJ

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  32. Albert

    Oh please. There is no decline. Humans are humans; everything we see as "declining" morality has been around forever. No more, no less than there has ever been. We just know more about everything: TV, the internet, radio, newspapers....TMI: too much information.

    Everybody, lighten up.

    Albert from Ulster County, New York

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  33. Larry from Canada

    The answer is easy.
    It is a complete lack of HOPE.
    Years ago when main line christianity
    such as the Catholic church held sway over
    people there was a measure of a type of hope,
    possible going to heaven or whatever.
    Now in this secular society where we are no longer
    accountable to anyone and we are faced with such a
    short life span, plus the looming enviromental crisis
    where many are predicting calamitous events just
    around the corner, our young and even the older live
    for the now and for themselves.
    They are learning it from our politicians and the big CEO's.
    They have absolutely no neighbourly love, no compassion
    just give me what I want and get out of the way.
    What are you going to do about it.
    Say hello to my little friend has become the mentality of our youth.
    And they are serious.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  34. Mike Mc

    All the reports show doom and gloom, but I don't personally buy it...although I think its healthy for all of us to think we are going to hell in a handbasket since that is a huge motivating factor in changing our own personal lives and influencing society as a whole. I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet! :)

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  35. Joe

    Jack,

    The decline in American morality is simply a sign of our times (zeitgeist), because we have come to realize that our former beliefs in an absolute being lack substance and proof; therefore, we, like the sophists, want to make the most of our current life with little or no hope for an eternal absolute. Our lives are finite and with new information we find the earth is not going to be here forever. So what do we do? We have become selfish and are only interested in our self.
    Joe, Binghamton, NY

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  36. Kevin B

    Last night I watched the TV for 45 minutes and literaly saw nothing but prisoners, murders, horror movies, corruption, politics and americans standing in judgement of other americans. (I am sure this was just a snipet of 24 hour programing).

    The problem is before our very eyes and we have the nerve to pretend we don't know what the problem is ! Shame on us all !

    May 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  37. Patricia M. McFall

    Have you read Humanae Vitae recently? It is all there!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  38. Wilson James

    Oh, C'mon Jack. What decline? There is no real difference in now an 30 years ago except that now the broadcast media makes a story out of every boob job and affair. 30 years ago we had Cronkite and real news, the paper to rely on and no cable talking heads. Now we have Fox News and Nancy Grace. Theres no moral decline, only folks using others views in a negative light.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  39. David

    Orlando, FL. I would say that the results of the poll are directly related to distribution of wealth in America. The top 10% of U.S. citizens own almost three-quarters of the U.S. assets and the bottom 40% owns less than one percent. I would say the morality poll numbers are right on. Either that or people just need to get out more. You pick.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  40. Edgar Friendly

    Sensationalist media and dirty politicians are behind the precipitous decline in America's morality. Every generation thinks the world is getting worse, we're just the first generation that has had 24/7 news networks allowing charlatans to whine continuously about it for their own personal gain.

    Products of the century that dropped an atomic bomb on Japan and gave us Vietnam, segregation, and The Great Depression should take a step back before talking about how our morality is falling apart NOW.

    Open your eyes. There was no "good ol' days". You thought life was simpler and better as a kid because, wait for it... YOU WERE A KID.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  41. pmellon

    In a word...... television. It's called "programming" for a reason.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  42. Scott

    I don't know if our morality is changing or not.

    What I do know is that wWhen someone does something good, we never hear about it on the news, but when someone does something bad, news channels (including CNN) can't repeat the story enough, no matter how minor the story may really be.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  43. Dan

    We became to politically correct as not to offend people. We took prayer and the Bible out of schools, we took the "pledge of allegiance" out of school,we took spanking and discipline out of schools, we became offended at the very sight of the Ten Commandments in goverment and public places, we became obssessed with the idea that morality and religion have no place in our lives. We thought ourselves as so enlightened but in reality we just wanted to make morals a relativistic idea so we wouldn't be accountable to anyone or anything.

    Our forefathers understood they weren't perfect but at least they had the humility to call on God. I think its something our generation should learn.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  44. Bob

    What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality? In a word, Religion.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  45. William Lozito

    Jack,

    Movies. Cable TV. Hollywood. Digital Technology. And don't forget the Politicians.

    By the way, none of these are inherently bad. But it seem like the "F" word is a requirement to get a movie made. All you have to do is watch Turner Classic Movies to see the difference today.

    Politicians and Hollywood executives are both addicts. The former to power, the latter to drugs.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  46. dan

    the haves have taken all they want and what is left is barely worth fighting over... time to try something different like makeing rich peoples kids work again!!!!!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  47. Janice

    Simple...We have a two class society where the elites get away with everything – including killng people (ala British Petroleum). Only now we have the internet and everyone knows we have a two class society.

    So the elites can't even pretend they demostrate moral values and lead anymore – they are too busy lobbying to keep their protected status as elites – and we all know that as well. It's no wonder a lot of ordinary folk now don't even bother to aspire to high moral standards – it's not rewarded or recognized and people know it. In fact – most moral leaders are punished in this society. Until we restore true business ethics to business (and not in name only) regardless of the type or level of business – it' will stay the same.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  48. Chad S

    Instead of solving real problems and providing governance, our elected leaders have instead spent the last 50 years trying to legislate responsibility called upon by special interest groups which has, as you put it.. made everyone a victim.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  49. Bart Welling

    I believe the decline in morality is attributed to the poor examples we see in politics, hollywood, and our sports figures. It is directly related to the our push for freedom of speach with pornograph included. I believe our entertainment, music, and videogames all promote a decline in morality. I was surprised to see the response from a group of very young girl dancers imating pop dancers dressed poorly and they won the competition. I believe all is an attack on the family which will be negative for our comunities and country.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  50. Marcus

    It's not a precipitous decline in morality, but rather in the perception of morality. Pundits drum up fears of some "other-ly" force pulling us towards immorality and (apparently worse) liberalism. I suppose its good for ratings.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  51. Joe

    This question has been asked so many times, but my response is simple. When were America's morals high? When we virtually exterminated an entire culture (Native Americans), or our legal enslavement of Africans, maybe when women were not able to vote, or maybe when we had segregation in the 1960s seperating blacks and whites. When were these days when America had such high morals? Being of Generation Y the constant complaint from early generations of how morals are so low astounds me and helps me realize that people who ask this question are just lost their own nostalgia of when they grew up. It is in the end all perspective and there really is no legitimacy in that question what-so-ever.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  52. Mike

    I suppose there are a 1001 reason why we see moral decline, but if I had to sum it all up, I would say that the freedoms that this country once established through work and responsibility have morphed into an ideology of freedom without responsibility. We want to say, do, and think what we want without paying for it, without being responsible for it, without caring about the broader impact of our choices on society, and without exercising the self-discipline to hold ourselves individually accountable to any ethical standard. We complain about government and politicians and big busineses–its easy to be a critic; but we too often fall short on personal integrity, civility, and taking the time to think about the impact of our own choices.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  53. Cheryl

    Corruption at the top and then it trickles down. You have a government and also business leaders that are corrupt and make the rest of Americans struggle and suffer on account of it. Then Americans do what they can to get by and take out their feelings of depression on others. Yes it all trickles down I think. Make everything transparent at the top, make our government and business leaders accountable and then maybe the effects of that will trickle down to the rest of us all. Ya think?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  54. Gabriel

    There is no decline. Just more media and more finger-pointing leading to the illusion of a different level of morality than in yesteryear.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  55. Hasan

    Please don't include loss of religion as a sign of moral decay. If anything, it is a sign of progress.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  56. Will E.

    I believe that a large portion of America's decline in morality can be attributed to the shift in family dynamics and values over the last 5 decades. The greatest shift being the saddening loss of a mother at home raising the children. I do not mean to imply that the place of a woman is solely in the home, but it is hard to argue the values and moral turpitude of our previous generations who had their mothers at home teaching them values and work ethic. There is nothing more powerful than the example and bond of a mother to her children and the things that she can teach them. Sadly over time we have come to confuse the difference between wants and needs in terms of our homes, clothing, cars, and lifestyles, thereby requiring both parents to work outside the home, leaving the responsibility for the growth and development of the future to either the children themselves or to others. If we truly want to find the moral compass with which our country was led by, for many generations, we need only to look at how things were done then.
    Idaho Falls, ID

    May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  57. Dawn Nightshade

    I think you're asking the wrong question. I think the question should be "What's behind the PERCEPTION of a precipitous decline in America's morality?"

    I'd say media fear-mongering. The survey was actually about perception, not fact. There are a great many parents (including me) who teach their children to be respectful and productive members of society. I think power corrupts, and dishonesty is nothing new amongst government and business leaders. History much? Rising crime? As compared to what? There are a great many things that are now illegal – that weren't in the past, so if we're talking arrests – then I guess so, when elementary school kids are being arrested for having nail clippers in class. Loss of religion? Hardly. I know more people who are religious now than I did 20 years ago. Do I see some issues with personal accountability? That one I might buy, and I'm blame it on the lawyers and TV talk shows.

    What's a crying shame is that the media focus is 99.9% negative. It's no wonder the perception of our morality today is so poor.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  58. Stephen Rothschild

    Its really quite simple. Our elevation of diversity as the supreme value to be placed above all others has made it impossible to be morally critical of anyone's behavior. There is no truth because everyone's behavior is morally equivalent.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  59. John Cookus

    I'm 70 years old and have been teaching Ethics for 25 years. Your question has multiple answers.

    1. movies and tv shows portray a culture that did not exist in the 1950's and 60's. It use to be that the "bad guys" were not allowed to win but that is no longer the case. Shows like the Survivor actually help glorify deceit.

    2. I also was a Boy Scout where honesty etc. was a part of the Scout's code. There were clubs around the cowboy heroes like Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger etc. that taught respect, honesty etc. Where does this happen today?

    3. Our political system glorifies lying in order to get elected.

    4. Religion, in many cases, is more interested in "life after death" then in behavior in this life.

    5. We have become focused on personality versus character.

    6. There is "no national energy" put into morality and ethical behavior.

    Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  60. Raul San Antonio, TX

    We had a two-term president that lied about an affair he had at the white house, a radio talk show host who was addicted to prescription drugs, a hand full of politicians in jail for bribes, a president that lied about the invasion of Iraq, and a govenor who is married with kiods and used state money to fly to Argentina for a fling with his mistress, need I go on? I think Americans are fed up to say the least.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  61. Infonomics

    Years ago there was an article on the front page of the WSJ, I think, where a young girl admitted, almost proudly, to cheating all through college. Maybe her syllogism is your answer:

    Everyone wants to succeed and secure happiness.
    To achieve happiness, you must have a good job.
    To get a good job, you must have an excellent GPA.
    To obtain an excellent GPA, you must cheat.

    The only thing immoral in this country is pretending that it is moral.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  62. Kenny in Va.

    This isn't technically about our moral compass but rather the negative tone you mention in your piece.

    Jack, I usually enjoy you columns but you can't deny that most of them play to the bitterness and negativity of the public. More often than not you come off sounding like a bitter, grumpy old man.

    While no-one will certainly ever accuse me of being a Pollyanna I still try to see the up-side of things, if for no other reason than to set a good example for my kids.

    I can't help but see people avoiding you at the CNN company picnic so you don't ruin their fun by telling them it's all going to hell in a hand basket. Lighten up, Jack! This may not be our finest hour but it's not the end of anything. You lack faith in our resilience...

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  63. Norman Simpson

    No one is responsible for their own actions anymore–it's always someone else's fault–so why should anyone show respect for a system of morality when there are no consequences for breaking rules?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  64. Stephen Rothschild

    Its really quite simple. Our elevation of diversity as the supreme moral value has made it impossible to be critical of anyone else. There is no truth anymore because everyone's behavior is morally equivalent.

    Stephen Rothschild
    Toledo, Ohio

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  65. Matthew

    Simply put.. corporate influence.

    With everything from our media to our politics bought and paid for by corporate influence, doing what is right has been lost to doing what is most profitable.

    Its a rat race to the top and no one seems to care anymore how low you have to go to do it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  66. josh

    this poll seems not to sample morality itself, but popular perception of morality. in the modern "not my fault" culture, of course people believe nobody acts morally. americans believe they are being betrayed, set up to fail, thwarted and otherwise maligned by anyone and everyone they can think of, thus removing any sort of personal culpability. if others are cheating me, it isn't my fault I'm a failure. if other people are colluding against me, it isn't even worth the effort to try. the moral fiber of this country isn't nearly such cause for concern as the growing passivity of her population.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  67. Anthony Gober

    I'm a teenager and times are changing. Lets just get that out of the way first cause thats just the way it is. Frankly we are tired of old white men and their Christian morals ruling this country. Especially since most Christians pick the morals they follow like different food choices in a cafeteria! Cause if all Christians followed all their beliefs we would all be bleeding liberals. For example we don't need universal health care, I don't want to pay for them, they can worry about themselves! Well according to Jesus your supposed to generous and take care of everyone not just yourself! There is no decline in morals there is a change! What we want is more personal freedoms! What we want is more voice in our schools cause lets face it our schools are pretty much fascist cause once your in there all your personal liberties are gone. We want the government to stay out of our business it's our choose to do what we want to do to our bodies, good or bad not some old man! Who thinks if we legalize marijuana or lower the drinking we will all be moral corrupt by Satan! The people in office in this country are falling us! Everyday we lose more and more personal liberties. Like in Arizona Latino immigrants have to carry I.D. on them to prove there a citizen at all times. Hmmm it kinda sounds like something HItler did during the start of WW2 by making all jews wear the star of david. And what's even more ridiculous is that most of America agrees with this. So in perspective who's morals are really corrupt? Our's based on our own opinions or based on Christian morals? People say this country's founding fathers were Christian! Which makes me laugh because people are so ignorant that they will just start to make up their own history based on they way they want it. Because in reality they weren't. Just like Ghandi said "I like your Christ but your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Our morality isn't declining it is changing! Were tired of your morals and so were changing them to our own.
    Noblesville, Indiana .

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  68. Ryan K.

    The morality in this country is down the tube. We live in a country where we are desensitized to violence via media everyday. Network dramas depict the most graphic and deplorable murders a human can think up and nobody seems to care. However the second a nipple is shown in front of a national audience for less than a second it creates a firestorm of controversy. Our culture is a culture that condones Death and violence but ostracizes our greatest asset: Love and sexuality.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  69. Stewart in OR

    Jack, our morality, empathy, judgement, and related actions all have plenty of room to improve. Take my religion Christianity as an example – if Jesus came back today as an average person – he probably could not get into the Vatican, would be shunned by half of the people claiming to follow him, and if he came back as a Mexican – he'd have very little chance of legally getting into the United States.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  70. Gigi Oregon

    It is embarrassing when our friends from overseas come and see the decline of America. The public's manners, retail workers with tattoo and body piercing, inappropriate clothing etc. Our talk show hosts abusive retoric, Language, movies, relation ships, unbelievable. Many of today's role models are deplorable. We need to take our kids and selves back to Sunday school but if we did we'd be classified as "Right Wing Nuts". Sad isn't it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  71. Steve

    when people see the kinds of things political leaders and companies do, people end up feeling if they don't "cheat the system", too thier being naive. So they do the same

    May 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  72. Eddie

    I believe the rising economic inequality and religious hypocrisy that began in the 1980s under Reagan definitely has something to do with it, but so too does the launch of the 24/7 internet echo chamber and reality TV in the 00s. For the last 30 years, Americans have been increasingly unwilling to be responsible or accountable for anything; not even their own children. Nobody from CEOs to small town rural folk knows how to behave anymore.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  73. debbie

    moralities in our country are on a decline. CNN is just figuring that out. How long have you been unaware of this! This country had no morals any more!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  74. Jason

    The baby boomer generation and the counter culture of the 60s and 70s. They were spoiled by there parents and instead of becoming responsible adults they created a culture of selfishness and irresponsible indulgence and now they are raising children and contributing to America's moral decline. I see some hope in the youth of our country but their parents did a lot of damage that we are still recovering from.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  75. Angry Rationalist

    When the politicians have no morals why would you expect the society too? We lack secular moral leadership.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  76. Smythe, Brooklyn NY

    I think some of the things you list in your article are behind the decline of morality, namely the sense of entitlement that comes with believing the USA is the greatest, most freedom-loving country in the world. Any time you have people filled with a sense of moral superiority, their values will move on a sliding scale – one set of standards for themselves, and a harsher set for everyone else. I also feel that our consumer and greed-driven culture contribute to a decline in morality. We are taught from a young age that more is better – more money, more possessions, more food and the spirit of cutthroat capitalism allows people to do what they feel will help them accumulate the most of those things that they can, with morality being set aside. Perhaps it's time for the USA to take a more global view and stop touting ourselves as the best, and instead work towards making our country to most healthy – morally and otherwise.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  77. poulose

    The decline of the morality is directly liked to the decline of family values.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  78. Nobody

    A decline in morality over time is a given in any society

    - Every civiliasation enjoys a peak when it's people are ethical and declines over time as it's people become progressively immoral –the decline continues to the point total breakdown after which the society rises again( hopefully)–

    The world's oldest civilisations that were once great also tend to be most corrupt countries today - Italy, Greece, egypt, India and China are good examples.

    In modern times, the decline is faster than in older civilisations because of the break-neck speed with which transformation is occuring.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  79. Tim Tobin

    Certainly there are many reasons for the decline but I believe that the working mother is number one. There is no one home teaching children right from wrong. And I think parents feel guilty about the situation and then defend their children when they are caught misbehaving at school or the mall or wherever. Yes, yes – I know. Many women have to work but many don't but choose to anyway. But is the McMansion and the second SUV really that important? What good is "having it all" when your children are lost?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  80. Rodney Wright

    The tea party group is evident of moral decline? or is that the structure

    May 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  81. steve in Hawaii

    Like most Americans, I looked forward to the unique commercials during the Superbowl last January. All in all, after it was over, I had this rather hallow feeling that over- shadowed the usual joy from the humor. I picked-up the phone to call a relative to see if I was the only one that noticed the level of violence, disrespect, lack of courtesy, and general negative attitude of the personalities in the commercials. My daughter noticed it too.Now even advertising agencies are selling the correctness of bad attitude. Is it any wonder that we are treaty each other with so much disdain. I am a baby boomer, and glad I don't have to hang around to see how bad it eventually gets.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  82. Les Stevens

    Personal responsibilitiy, Jack, or the lack thereof. Look at any problem we have in this country and you can trace it back to someone not taking responsibility for something they've done or for something they should have done and didn't do. I'm a school superintendent and I see it everyday in the schools I lead. But I can't lay blame on the kids. Where are the examples of people taking personal responsibilitiy? I haven't seen many lately.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  83. Paul, PE Canada

    I prefer facts over impression via polling, but to answer, I think alot of it is attributable to two things in particular (1) the loss of parenting in terms of coddling our young through lack of firm discipline and investing time with them and (2) the information age, which feeds into the need instant gratification and increasing isolation. People forget how to think of others or how to interact civilly.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  84. Jeff - Eugene, OR

    Morality is becoming more absent in society as we become more accepting of anything and everything. There are no longer standards and rules that people live by. Society now simiply accepts all forms of behavior, good and bad, and says that people will be themselves and that no one should dictate what's right and wrong. There needs to be standards and lines of what is acceptable and what is not. We have laws to govern the extremes but society must enforce its acceptable standards and stand for something or be prepared to see the end of all morality, where any action is acceptable and personal responsibility ceases to exist.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  85. G Martin

    "What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality?"
    'A' precipitous decline or 'the' precipitous decline.
    If it's 'A' precipitous decline, you should tell us which one.
    But I wonder if there is a precipitous decline at all or if the problem is that we know so much more of what's going on today than people generally did in the past. There are few secrets that can go to the grave with people anymore. The avenues for information are too wide. The species is too flawed.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  86. Debbie

    I think this stems from the parents of the past couple of decades–rearing children who can do no wrong. For example, if the principal or teacher of a school disciplines a child, the parents go after the principal or the teacher. If the coach doesn't play a child at 2nd base, as the parent wants, then the parent blames the coach. Basically, kids have done no wrong for the past 20 years, and so now these adults don't know right from wrong.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  87. Robert W, North carolina

    Let me see, tell all of the children "Come on, guys! We're all mammals!" Not a higher species than the other inhabitants of this world and see what happens. Our national religion that is taught in public schools is atheism (I know it is not really considered a religion). Most educated atheist seem to be honest law abiding citizens but I'm not sure why. I’m not sure these kids are being taught why they should do the right thing. I blame the public schools that have taken away religion as a rational choice and replaced it with nothing. Tell these kids why they should not cheat on a test. Tell them why they should not hurt others besides telling them “you might get caught”. I blame it on this teaching philosophy of “tell them we all came from goo and let the parents teach them what is wrong” isn’t working very well. Sorry, Jack, you hit a sore spot.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  88. Rob, Mililani, HI

    Jack, I believe it is because we allow the media to influence us with negative imagery and behavior (ie: so-called "reality TV") all in the name of free speech. Whatever happened to the idea of "Responsible Speech"? Just because you have a constitutional right doesn't mean you should have the right to abuse it. The Brits believe juvenile behavior has a lot to do with whether a family sits at the dinner table as a family every day. I know my family did when I was a kid.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  89. Dee

    What's behind the decline? Parental absence! Parents have let themselves be replaced by MTV, the Internet, sports role models – you get the idea. Society has become desensitized to immoral and lewd behavior. Heck, it's cool for girls to learn how to work a stripper pole now. And no doubt dear ole dad and mom will install one in the house to help show their love and compensate for being that absent parent.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  90. roz

    Morality is always in decline! It is only with rose colored glasses that we trick ourselves into thinking some other time or other people were more moral than our own.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  91. Nicole

    Morals are relative. What one person finds immoral, another may find perfectly acceptable. For example: premarital sex and cohabitation, homosexuality, and lack of religion.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  92. Bill

    The single most important factor is likely the decline in our competitive, economic, financial ethics perpetrated by a fiat monetary system run exclusively for the benefit of the private Federal Reserve and the banking system. Every American corporation, municipality, individual and government is in debt. Most are already bankrupt.

    Yes – perpetual debt is the single most critical reason for fall in morality. With its sister vice – usury, it will destroy the nation. Printing money out of thin air and issuing it as debt is precisely why we have all sorts of financial ills, and why while some people may do so, the system as a whole will never get out of debt.

    Our more and ethos is putrefied. All we care about now is money. The desire of money (aka greed) is the root of all evil. We need to go back to sound currency immediately. Everyone in this country will live stress free. Morality will get a massive shot up.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  93. Bret

    The moral decline in America began when discipline of the child (in the home, in school, in the community) became socially unacceptable and was replaced by a philosophy where the kid is in charge and responsible to no-one.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  94. Brandon in Alaska

    The problem is that people are becoming so incredibly biased and closed-minded when it comes to... well, everything. When someone claims that anothers' lack or loss of religion has any correlation to their values/ethics/patriotism, they have lost all credibility to me. Philosophical debates (political, religious, Mac/PC, etc...) have become a means to sever the connection between ones ears, mouth, and brain – and nothing more. Sarah Palin couldn't possibly listen to someone talk about the benefits of socialized medicine without immediately dismissing their beliefs as insane. Nanci Pelosi couldn't possibly listen to someone's entire view point that abortion = murder without interrupting, "No! Nope! No! Lalalala I can't hear you lalala".

    It's not that people are less patriotic as Americans... it's that we're all so ashamed of each other's view points that it's becomming taboo to speak openly about things that should never have been escalated to anything higher than water-cooler discussions.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  95. Nobody

    A decline in morality over time is a given in any society

    - Every civiliasation enjoys a peak when it's people are ethical and declines over time as it's people become progressively immoral –the decline continues to the point total breakdown after which the society rises again( hopefully)–

    The world's old civilisations that were once great also tend to be most the corrupt countries today – Italy, Greece, egypt, India and China are good examples. They started out as ethical societies but progressively became corrupt.

    In modern times, the decline is faster than in older civilisations because of the break-neck speed with which transformation is occuring.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  96. Michael Dustman

    In so many areas of morality, there used to be "absolute Truths". And if they weren't "absolute", then they were held in high regard as "the standard" by which we measured degrees of right and wrong. This no longer exists. We now push the envelope. We rationalize and we reform. We dumb-down truth so that "absolute" becomes "relative".

    Once that level of dumbing-down has broken through the barriers of acceptability, we go through the whole process again, so that the lines between right and wrong are bombarded and blurred by a array of misguided, ethically diluted opinions, philosophies and half-truths.

    "Stand for nothing and you'll believe in anything" is how the saying goes. If I could ONLY find a way to dumb THAT down a little further......

    May 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  97. Androloma

    From Denver CO.

    Hi again, Jack. Morality for America? And who do we get to look to for an ethical high ground? Politicians? Bankers? CEOs? Celebrities? Tycoons? Used car salesmen? Priests?

    Better to look in the mirror, do what feels appropriate, and not worry about what some journalist or college professor thinks what we should be thinking. With the government trying to legislate morality by enacting punitive laws for victimless crimes by turning us all into criminals, perhaps the question should be how to reform the entire government without the army being called out to destroy the revolt. Because we as a people have lost hope that the government is interested in reforming itself. So why should we listen to the government, which wants us to reform ourselves? Lead by example, not by dictate. Learn by listening, instead of talking.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  98. Jose M Garcia

    America is in moral decline. No doubt about it.
    Read the news and there's nothing encouraging to extract from.
    In a nutshell, the moral decline is due to greed, too much distraction, and the sense of entitlement. Greed: Take the Gulf of Mexico spill, for example: The oil companies have been taking in billions and billions and spent not enough on contigency plans. Too much distraction: We're electronically wired but not family wired. You see kids staring at an electronic game and not talking to their friends or family next to them! This social evil puts their conscience to sleep and isolates them from a cohesive world. Entitlement: I deserve everything in the world, and then more. Look at all those adulteries from celebrities...I bet you the adulterers began on this trend thinking that it was not a big deal. Morality sets boundaries and the world forgot where those lines are. Another good one: Vulgar vocabulary is the norm. I'm sorry to say what I don't know how decent and God fearful my grandchildren will be 10 years from now.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  99. Joe

    Of course morality is on the decline, the citizens of this fine country have been out for themselves going on 50 years. The notion of helping others has been replaced with helping yourself.

    CEOs earning 100 times the wage of the employees who are the real backbone of a company.

    Selfish disregard of one's well being as evidenced in the drug use and obesity rates seen in our country.

    Passing the blame when things can and do go wrong instead of taking your lumps.

    The illusion of perfection, and being free from fault, that politicians, governments, and corporations have so carefully tried to craft over the past 50 years is falling apart at the seams with catastrophic results should serve as a warning to everyone that morally bankrupt decisions only lead down the wrong path.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  100. Ryan, Columbus OH

    Americans' perception of moral decline in this country comes from recent events regarding American businesses, politicians, and those in a position of power. I actually disagree with the statement of moral declination in this country. I believe it's about the same when you consider how people interact with one another on a day to day basis. However, scandals regarding Countrywide and Goldman sachs; and the corruption and sex scandals involving Blagejocvich and Sanford have led American consumers/voters to be distrustful of big businesses and politicians. With the exponential growth of technology over the past 20 years, information about anything and everything is available to the American consumer. Emails from their elected Governor's office to his mistress are published for millions to read. A CEO's salary and bonus information can be found in minutes. The perception of moral decline comes solely from American consumers having access to more information and not necessarily liking what they hear. In reality, politicians and CEO's probably aren't doing anything different than they've done in the past, but more people are hearing about it.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  101. Robert

    This is a very relative and subjective question, although the lack of responsibility and accountability is quite obvious in our society.

    What's behind it?
    We are a corporate governed nation, and getting the corporate mafias and their lobbyist out of goverment would be a major first step. We can continue with moew personal responsibility next.

    Robert in San Antonio, TX

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  102. Stan

    Well, I just spoke to lots of Americans, and most believe that morality is subjective, so I wonder what anyone mean when they talk about morality? Who decides what is good and what is evil? How can anyone with a free-thinking brain suggest morality is declining? or are we talking about morality according to the Christian fundamentalist standards here, or perhaps the standards of the Muslims?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  103. David A. Hess

    It's a reflection of the 'frustration of not being heard'. Yes, it begins at home and yes ultimately a stronger family unit can allay much of the illness, and it is an illness, but when one sees the leadership of this great country of ours with their hands in the cookie and waving the cookies in our respective faces, while the rest of the county suffers, then it becomes an ' I, me, mine' philosophy and that's the first indication of a moral collapse.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  104. M.

    The fault is, actually, yours – the media.

    Crime has been falling in all areas, precipitously. Over the past two decades, the number of murders, rapes, assaults on children, etc. has been dropping across the country. Even the levels of bullying in school have been steadily dropping.

    However, the media has switched from news reporting to entertainment/shock story structure, and now overplays every crime, every suspicion, and every threat. Since people are constantly bombarded with stories of problems and crimes, they are convinced that the country has gone bad.

    This is fueling a lot of rage and extreme responses, consequences of which are hard to foretell, but are unlikely to be good. If you want do to something, return to reporting news, and stop playing up to the lowest common denominator with shock and sob stories.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  105. Michael

    The work is too hard, and the pay is lousy.

    You have to be a fool to believe that morality and ethics benefit anyone other than those who have the power to impose THEIR ethics and morality on others.

    Too many businessmen caught stealing, too many religious leaders caught screwin the help and too many cops who disrespect the law and the citizens.

    I'm takin all I can get, and so are my neighbors.

    Morality is for suckers.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  106. Ken

    Jack, my take on this is that the level of morality is no worse or better than it's ever been but our PERCEPTION of it is that it's worse. Where does that perception come from? Well, one only has to think about how news outlets have come to rely more and more on sensationalism to sell stories to recognize that that is one big source of it. The degree to which politics has polarized this country is another big factor. After all, it helps your cause if you can demonize your opponent. The overall onslaught of information is the third leg of this issue since too many shades of gray make it difficult to compare an issue to being strictly wrong or right. It's true that most issues have many shades of gray but for some, they simply can't deal with anything but black and white.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  107. CATom

    The answer is easy. Liberalism is the decline of morality. Thanks again baby boomers.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  108. Juan

    Decline? Hardly. Evolution, maybe. It's the same thing all generations complain about when they get older. The younger ones are never moral enough for the older ones. And so it goes.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  109. Joseph Pugliese

    The solution to increasing America's morality lies in parents. This generation will most likely be extremely corrupt and immoral, but all we need is a few good, moral people to continue teaching children about morality.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  110. Frank, Naples

    The fall of The Illuminatti, Jack.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  111. Vince

    There is no moral truth, nothing to base morality on if it's "whats good for me as long as I am not bothering you".

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  112. Johnny

    Decline in America's morality I believe is control over others and money! Big business along with politicans have pushed out what is right and has taken a corporate approch to Americans lives. There is no free country! When you push people out and praise money like it is god what morals do you even have? The idea is to keep Americans fighting while the money and power move for better control over peoples lives. A new form of slavery!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  113. Maura DeYong, Palm City, FL

    Jack,
    The Golden Rule has been forgotten. Our society has no use for God. There is no such thing as "personal responsibility" for anything. Children are taught at a very young age that everyone is a winner, and no one loses. They are not taught the differences between right and wrong. The family unit has dissolved. We are a demanding, self-serving, "what about me" society. Politeness is a thing of the past. We are a sick twisted society in a downward spiral. God help us all.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  114. Michael in Phoenix

    One word: Hollywood.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  115. Lou Manus

    The decline is partly due to the fact that the people who are supposed to be moral leaders, preachers and leaders of large and small religious groups have such depressing morals and lack of ethics. Our political and business leaders seem to have no morals and parents are not setting the standard for their children. Until we quit thinking short term and thinking selfishly for our own gain our morals will continue to decline. Unfortunately with the hate in this country I do not see an improvement in morals and ethics for a long time.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  116. sylvester

    Decline? It's more like a free-fall. Just turn on the t.v. or popular radio to sample our morality (if we can even call it that).

    May 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  117. Nick

    What you describe is not a "precipitous decline in America's morality," as you bill it. It is merely an indication that a certain percentage of Americans PERCEIVE that our collective morality is declining. To equate the two is an outrageously irresponsible conclusion to draw as a journalist, if not an outright mispreresentation. And now that we've pinpointed the ACTUAL problem, what solution should we consider? How about refraining from idiotic, kindergarten-logic articles like this, that continue to feed the imaginary flame of "moral decline." Whatever that means.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  118. Meg from Troy

    Jack–
    I feel everyone is so self-focused–what I want and need is more important than anything or anyone else. It is an overwhelming attitude everywhere that I look. There is a lack of compassion in our society–just turn on the television news or pick up a newspaper–or go online to see evidence of it everywhere.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  119. Robert Collins

    When I was born, black Americans could not go to white schools, live in white neighborhoods, eat in white restaurants or even ride in the front of the bus. Women were blatantaly discriminated against in the worlplace. Millions of poor people were effectively disenfranchised by poll taxes. Women lacked basic rights over their own bodies, and old people simply died every day because they could not afford health insurance. All of those injustices have been corrected, at least legally if not in the minds and hearts of a few hyper-cons. So I don't see where the US is getting more "immoral" at all. What is happening, though, is that it is getting less religious and following fewer religious taboos. So, except for paragons of virtue like Ted Haggard and pedophile priests, I don't think that you can argue that the US is becoming less moral.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  120. Craig

    Political correctness, laziness and self-entitlement has destroyed our moral values.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  121. Dan from Harrisburg, Pa

    Reality shows, like Jersey Shore, the Real Housewife’s from wherever and other shows like this contribute too the decay of moral values. If people get rewarded for this depraved behavior why wouldn’t others emulate.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  122. Chitown Jason

    The decline in the emphasis placed on self-responsibility. If it's never your fault, why bother doing the right thing?

    May 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  123. Linda Johnson

    Lawyers! Too many damn lawyers and too many lawsuits! Why is there no discipline in the school systems? Mommy and Daddy will sue! Why does the media say "alleged" killer when eye witnesses to a murder have first hand knowledge? Granted, we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty but here we go again...a possible lawsuit. And, what about personal responsibility? How many times have we heard news reports of a car accident where the reporter states, "the weather contributed to the accident". Most times, it's no accident, it's a CRASH caused by the driver going to fast, being distracted, etc. Let's not blame the driver...might get sued! And finally, I'm sick and tired of the big boys (and girls) paying the big bucks to their lawyers to avoid taxes, jail time and so on!

    Let's go people...personal responsibility...have some guts!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  124. Frank

    Well Jack morality is subjective and fluid. Your morality might not be my morality. Some might think it's immoral to gamble, other love to go to the casino's every once in a while. It's all relative Jack. The morality of the 50's is not the morality of the 90's and will not be the morality of the coming decades.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  125. John Foote

    Today's children have what to role model?
    When will being responsible and taking care of each other become vogue?

    When teachers began dressing like students that's when the bottom fell out.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  126. boo boo 2

    The government takes our money to save the banks while we lose our homes maybe that has something to do with it.
    Maybe gays not having the same rights as straights has something to do with it.
    Maybe immigration laws being twisted so you are considered racist if you don't think we should have open borders.
    Maybe the fact that the Palestinians have been taken over by Israel in the same way nazi germany took over Europe has something to do with it.
    Maybe it's news not reporting the truth and only reporting on stories that get "hits" so they can make advertsing dollars has something to do with it.
    Maybe people see that religion is really full of pedophiles .
    Maybe people are waking up and maybe it's a good thing to see the truth.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  127. paul

    Morality is the item that goes top down. So if parentes loose their morality, children definitely will follow them. Morality start at home. Morality start from top. If the leaders of the county does not respect the law and morality, if the top management does the same the same culture will follow people below him. Todays America no body wants to take the responsibility for his misdeed, every one wants to point finger to others. People in higher position and power does things by directly or indirectly by their influence giving middle finger to law of the land.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  128. Tyler Caruso

    Jack,

    Nixon and Watergate. Just think about where we were as a society before that period in history and where we are now. I'm fairly certain the decline in morality started right there.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  129. ralebol

    How about confusion?
    We go to war over WMD that don't exist. We have bankers that cheat us. We have a healthcare system that's beyond our means. We have an educational system that has no means. We give our kids iphones, ipod, and ipads and we are surprised that they are out of touch with (what we call) reality. We charge $200,000 for a college education. We watch politicians switching parties to keep their jobs. We drool over boob jobs but frown upon sex education. American morality is an oxymoron.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  130. Andrew in Flagstaff

    Heroes, hearts and minds, that's how our morality has declined. Our heroes used to be good men that stood for honor and doing right (John Wayne) but now our heroes tend to be seriously flawed or possess "conditional morality". Our hearts used to care for those who were in need, whether they were like us or not. Now we spend more time bickering about our differences (gay marriage). And our minds used to be filled with real, live conversations with real, live people who lived with us. Now we spend our minds (and serious time) on Facebook and Farmville and our I-Pads. I know this because I've been "electronically widowed" from my spouse and though I object, I have no power to change it. I just pray that all the networks go down so that I can have my spouse back, but realizing still that it is her choice to wander down that electronic pathway to nowhere. I stand alone as one of the last, true human beings that value conversation, unfortunately most of that is only with myself.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  131. Al

    Religion isn't the answer–look around the world, from the extremists to the pedophiles to the greedy televangelists. Less emphasis on religion and more on basic human decency would be a good start.

    Stricter regulations to prevent politicians and corporations from raping the lower and middle class would be a good place to start. Government can stop regulating morality and start setting an example of it, that would be a novel approach as well. Telling citizens what they can and can't do with their time and money–this used to be a free country.

    Quit regulating the citizens and start regulating the areas where the real problems lie...religion, business, government. Get the institutions cleaned up before there's any more preaching to the masses.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  132. Christian

    Great question!!!
    Many complicated scenarios can be formulated.
    One more complex than the previous one. But I do believe that there is one fundamental reason at work here.
    Individual people and all the organizations that people create are NOT honest.
    As has been said many times before, the US could be 10 times what it is now as it has been in the past.
    There is no going back to the "old" ways, we need a completely new way, a new philosophy of human happiness, new economic structures, updated religious beliefs, transparent democratic system with one man/women one "real" vote etc.
    Much to do and little to defend from the past.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  133. Rob H

    I think this reflects the toxic partisan environment more than it reflects reality. After all, some of these same poll respondents are the same people who are convinced that letting tax cuts expire on schedule is a dangerous move towards socialism. Where would they get such an idea? The answer, from those who hope to gain politically from making people dissatisfied.

    Need more proof? The poll cited "rising crime rates" when in fact crime rates are near historic lows.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  134. Eric (Austin)

    I'm 51 and I don't know that we're less moral than we were say 40 yrs ago. We are certainly more skeptical of cherished institutions than we used to be but I don't think that equates to an overall decline of morality. Skepticism of corporations, politicians, churches and military involvements is something that INCREASES overall wellness and morality. Religious intolerance towards gay people was never moral and to question that and reverse it IS moral. Corporate rape of the environment and our financial institutions has been happening forever and to shine the spotlight of discovery and contempt on such is not evidence of new levels of immorality but rather it's a reversal of longstanding rot. Questioning our repetitive cycles of foreign wars in the interest of that old saw "freedom" is not evidence of a weaker more immoral America. It's evidence of a thinking America that's more willing to ask hard questions about the morality and necessity of what our politicians have been feeding us.

    I see skepticism and even rejection of many of the old pillars that were beyond questioning as a sign of health. A wish for a more moral society that drives us to expose the hypocrisy and venality hidden within business, church and state. It's always been there folks. Finding out this is so doesn't make us less moral.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  135. Vicky Taheri

    The decline in morality in America is due to the total breakdown of the family, the complete disregard for moral convention, the chase for the almighty dollar and the immaturity of those who seek instant gratification at all costs. Children do not learn values at home. The teachers are overworked and oftentimes, underqualified to take on the tasks that belong to parents. Oh, and, by the way, let's not forget about the value of religious teachings!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  136. Manny Valle

    Jack, the answer lies in the breakdown of the family. We have sacrificed family for income and status. Wrong values and wrong lessons to our children. We transformed the structure of the family and expected there would be no impact. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics says, "you don't get somethig for nothing". You always pay a price for everything you do in life. My mother stayed home and raised me. My father made enough for us to get by. He did not try to catch up to the Joneses next door. We used to eat dinner together and pray together. Your father said, "be home by dinner time or else" and by golly, we were there. instead, we have put other values in front. I suppose it is inevitable. It is the general decline of everything in life. Hate to admit it but, it's true. It's called Entropy.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  137. Andre

    Jack the story is not to point out where we are failing as a society, but it should be about how to fix it. Its not about referring to the bible, putting more trust in the government or focusing on rising crime, instead we should be actively working as a SOCIETY to fix these problems in a peaceful, organized way. Instead we emphasize on how one group of people is morally wrong, or how another is destroying our America, before we know it it becomes into a vicious circle of fear, paranoia and double standards. I want back my America, and I don't mean it in an empty political cry, I want back my CIVIL America.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  138. Bryan

    Our leaders are the reason, they are guilty of this and we think its ok.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  139. Mike

    Young people see in the news that it does not pay to be honest and moral. We had a President in this generation who denied having sex with a woman...although he was given oral sex in the Oval Office. The rich steal and live high...so what is the point of being honest... If you are honest, you get to pay for the sins of the politicians and the companies that bought these politicians, when the elites do not make as much money as they want. Politicians must think it is the 19th C and people cannot see and hear what they are doing...or the hypocrisy that they speak.
    People see that sophisticated lying is profitable...and if you do it well enough, getting caught gets you a slap on the wrist...perhaps a fine, maybe jail time, but most of the time nothing... It is that plausible denial thing...or no governing legal authority (Thank you Al).
    Also, the 'religious' leaders are as corrupt and dishonest as the business and political leaders.
    So young people recognize that it is a suckers game to be honest. The problem is that when too many people see this...when there are not enough sheep to fleece...well, the system breaks down. You need millions of 'suckers' to support a small number of elites...when the suckers 'die off' and you only have sharks, well, then people ask what happened to the morals and attempt to find ways to beat the little guy back down into his 'place' of serving the rich and powerful.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  140. Mike Cunningham

    Jack... it's hypocrisy from our so-called leaders.

    It seems most all of our leaders, be they in our churches, our government, our law enforcement or our financial sector, have shown themselves to be morally bankrupt in every way possible. Predator priests, bought-and-paid-for politicians, rogue police and greedy Wall St. brokers all seem to be reciting the same mantra:

    "Do as I say, don't do as I do."

    All it takes is a few bad (and powerful) apples to make everyone else think that doing bad things is OK until truth and honesty are cheapened and deemed "quaint" but not necessarily essential to the survival of our society.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  141. Mike S in Louisville, KY

    It is political correctness and rationalization of everything, even our own selfish, poor choices. Personal accountability is no longer expected of Americans. We have gone from a Nation of Winners to a Nation of Whiners. And the media glorifies the acceptance of people's poor choices over calling for people to make correct ones.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  142. Brandon

    Not exactly breaking news here. Over 2,000 years ago, Cicero was crying, "O tempora! O mores!" Every age throughout human history has believed that morals had hit an all-time low and, guess what!, it's 2010 and we're still here and still doing alright! Try this story again in another 2,000 years.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  143. Stephen

    I don't believe there is a decline in morality, so much as a change in morality– we're shifting from one set of rules to another. With the decline in religiosity in America (stunted briefly by the resurgence of extremist Christianity in the '70s, '80s, and '90s), Judeo-Christian values regarding family, opposition to homosexuality and abortion, and perceived ideas of "self-responsibility" (when oft times they have no idea what it means to be responsible), are fading and being replaced with more libertarian views and a laissez-faire morality, which trumpets individual liberty and choice rather than community, and a focus on human problems rather than those of the supernatural.

    Personally, I'd say things are getting better, morally– but that's just me.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  144. dee

    Television, internet, and the reduction in family time.

    How many of our children are in front of a television, computer, or on the phone texting during the day – every day? Are parents even at the dinner table having daily discussions anymore?

    I get the fact that parents work and need to bring the bacon home to survive in this economy, but something is missing. I don't know if its the bond between the parent and child or if its the whole environment in what we see in society. Is society being portrayed on t.v. and internet with shows that are creating somewhat of a reality to those who watch and need to copy or bring it over into their own lives? Maybe, that this is why no one cares and just wants to get ahead the quick way without caring.

    Or morality is going down because the majority is selfish –me me me.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  145. Mary Holzhauer

    I think the slide started from the mid 80's when company worth was valued at only their current stock price and the days of the loyal lifetime employee was over. It became every man for himself. This has been worsened by the amount of outsourcing being done, inside and outside this country.

    At the same time newspapers and tv news became corporate entities and out went "real" or hard news. Now both sides are heard regardless of obvious lies or distortions on one side or the other, the loudest voice wins.

    People know this but finding out the truth is hard and our bias wins out.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  146. David Riklan

    This is so closely tied to our unwillingness to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. We've turned into a society of blame. Instead of taking responsiblity for fixing our problems, we try to find somebody to blame.

    I don't think our country will get back on track until more people take responsiblity for their actions and their lives.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  147. Scottsdale Hokie

    Thank the liberals and their cradle to grave, nanny-state policies. The era of personal responsibilty is long gone.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  148. Libby Farrow

    I believe much of it has to do with growing technology that serves to isolate us from each other. With out the constant cause and effect that comes with interacting with each other, our community and society at large, we become more selfish, rude, demanding and have a grossly inflated sense of entitlement. Essentially, without exeriencing the immediate effects of our behavior on others at all times, by default, we are left to immerse ourselves in blind self-worship.

    Libby Farrow
    Austin, TX

    May 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  149. NM in TX

    Jack,
    We have developed a gi"me', gi'me culture. We all want ours: to hell with you. Pull your self up by your self.
    Our legal system is designed to make the truth false and the false true.
    Our lawyers highest moral ethic is get the client what every they want, legal or not. When the legal system has lost its moral compass we are on the way down.
    Circa 1955 The Wall Street Journal ran a front page story – right col. that any business that was not breaking the law was not serving its stock holders. They reported that fines are tiny compared to profits.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  150. Robert Bauer

    Jack: Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of U.S. history knows that moral bankruptcy is nothing new to our country. Just ask the Native & Black Americans. The difference is that in the past we did a much better job of being hypocritical about it. We have spent 3 centuries thumping our chests and claiming the right to the moral high ground while we trample over the rights of the rest of the world. And, we've gotten away with it because we've had the power to stifle any objections to that claim. The change that you observe, is that our moral decrepitude has sunk so low, we're no longer embarrassed by our lies and our self-dilusional attitudes about our so-called "values."

    May 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  151. Tim in Minnesota writes:

    It certainly isn't from loss of religion. If the U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the world, couldn't one say that religion may very well be a cause in itself.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  152. Ree S.

    The mass media, which includes music, video games, billboards, magazines & the internet. All of these avenues influence the minds of people in one way or the other; be it positive or negative. When morals aren't taught morals aren't seen. So, what's behind the precipitious decline in America's morality? A better question would be WHO is? (that's for another day)
    -Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    May 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  153. Matt

    Jack,

    I blame the internet and the news media. With information instantly on tap, the old morality that America is used to is dying. Not because people are bad, but because every idiot in the world can blog, spread bad information, and news giants can publish whatever divisive topic they want, all to get ratings. Also, money is tight, and people are doing 'What they have to' to get ahead. Its a matter of media overload coupled with tough economic times. I'm frankly surprised the US hasnt turned into the Wild Wild West at this point. Really, Americans are pretty well behaved given the current circumstances.

    -Matt, San Diego CA

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  154. Travis Peterman

    It's simple Jack, the government is morally and monetarily bankrupt and thus a reflection of society and vice versa.

    Atlanta, Georgia

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  155. Brian

    Television and money.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  156. Spencer

    America's morals have declined because of the decline in stable family life and the rampant hypocrisy in American society. Disgraced politicians end up on reality TV, cheating athletes retain awards and accolades, churches fail to live up to their principles, and corporations exploit, defraud and pollute with impunity. Only the strongest love for God and neighbor can motivate someone to live an honest, principled life in this degenerate climate.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  157. Larry

    Jack, it seems we have a strange dichotomy when it comes to assessing morality/immorality. On the one hand, we do seem to be less moral when it comes to our PERSONAL behavior, especially our growing lack of business and political ethics. On the other hand, we no longer have public hangings or public humiliation as a form of punishment, much less promoting congregations of spectators to witness such 'entertainment'. And we no longer have lynchings nor institutionalized racism and bigotry as practiced back in Jim Crow days. We seem to be much more tolerant of diversity ethnically, racially, religiously and sexually; it could be argued that this is a more moral development. Come to think of it, seems the ones most likely to pronounce us less moral are those who tend to be more fundamentalist and conservative in their thinking, especially their religious thinking.

    Plano, TX

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  158. Dee

    Jack, I'm not 100% sure, but i think you could find a reasonable answer to your question if you look at the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Wasn't Nero supposed to be fiddling while Rome burned?

    Or watch any of the SciFi movies about the end of the world.

    To anyone who doubts this I say, been to the Walmart lately? Or to a school? Or to some concert, not only rock or rap but ANY concert? Or any mall. Or the social web sites? Or watch that show on TV about the "Super Nanny". We as a nation are totally out of control.

    We are going to Hell in a handbasket, rushing toward destruction like Lemmings.

    I strongly believe this trend began when it became incorrect for parents to spank their kids, and when it became mandatory for both parents to work (or a single parent work two jobs) just to pay for the basics.

    Oh yeah, the EARTH is on a downhill slide too, largely our fault.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  159. Sandy Ruffin

    Same ol', same ol' : plain ol' Greed.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  160. Robert Mercy

    Its been a long time in the making, produced by a groundswell of native and imported malcontents who find willing political support in the senate and congress for their envisioned entitlements as victims; and the total misconception and distortion of the word "Freedom." We have allowed and applauded the arrogant destruction of our culture, language and mores. Should anyone be surprised?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  161. Carol

    Jack,
    The reasons given about the reasons from the decline in morality in this country are all part of the problem. Good parenting takes time, commitment and teaching your children to do the right thing...even when it is a hard decision. Personnal responsibility is a concept that is known by very few. I think parents need to step up, become the #1 educator of their children and follow through on doing the right thing. Our business and government leaders need to set an example also, with integrity being a key ingredient in their daily dealings. And we need the media to quit glamorizing the unwed parents, from sports figures to others. Our society sees the results of not having two committed parents in childrens lives–this should be be the exception rather than the rule,.
    Carol
    Placentia, California

    P.S. Without religion in this country, there is no moral compass.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  162. RDW

    1. Total removal of corporal punishment; 2. touchy feely, narcissistic, everyone is a winner garbage; aka No child left behind; That's a good start. Kids being kids and breaking things (which i did) but then parents pointing a finger and sending them to their room, my old man would've tanned my rear. (by the way it was throwing rocks through a vacant house's windows). 2. When everyone wins at everything K-12 you end up with college students that have a totally misplaced sense of entitlement.
    Another idea, wean your kids off of the PS3/xbox/internet/cable and MAKE THEM GO OUTSIDE and play. Oh, "make them play...right" you may say, but children are imaginative and creative. cops&robbers, cowboys&indians castles of dirt in your yard...the fun doesn't stop for kids, but when all parents want to do is relax and let media be their babysitter, they should never have had kids. Media doesn't MAKE your kids do things, parents ALLOW it with minimal to no correction.
    Another thing, just to clarify, I'm not just talking about kids, but where it starts. There's a whole generation of 14 to 35 yr olds who are ambivalent, lazy, overweight, inattentive and just plain dumb (socially and scholastically).
    Thanks to mom and dad for telling me when I was doing wrong, knocking sense into me when I needed it and not letting me get fat, lazy and become a useless human being.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  163. Jason M.

    I think the primary reason has to be a side effect of the empowerment of women. While equality in the workforce was absolutely necessary, we unfortunately have loss the morale stability of the American woman. As she has rightfully surpassed the American male in the workplace (in some areas at least), she's picked up our incredible lack of morality.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  164. Carolyn

    Jack,
    People in our country are becoming the product of the 'ME' generation. We have to go back to caring for our neighbors, which means not only the people next door, but also for people who are less fortunate. If we care about the less fortunate, we can come together to solve our problems

    May 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  165. Frank

    It does not take a genius to understand the reasons for decline. How are these for starters:

    1) A growing number who express no belief in God,and a drop in attendance at church. A tranformation from religious to the secular/liberal agenda.
    2) Failure to hold life sacred, the pro-death agenda (notice i didn't use the politically correct phrase "pro-choice" which is only intended to appear like it's democratic in nature instead of muder.
    3) The absurd gay agenda and anything that supports it.
    4) No support for the rule of law (see illegal immigration, rampant crime, concern for criminals but not for victims)

    May 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  166. Gary Almstrom

    I think the lowering of morals and values is directly related to losing God and religion in our schools. Too many of us, especially our politicians and other leaders, are evasive when asked simple questions, and it is common knowledge that there is no such thing as an honest politician. Why, then, when these politicians are campaigning for office, do we believe them? I think we put too much value on being silver tongued than we do on their past histories of how they have voted on particular issues and on telling the truth. We need our leaders to be subject to the same laws as the rest of the population just to gain credibility with creating our laws. Our movie stars and sports figures also need to lead moral lives, as they have great influence over childrens lives. When we have a president of the United States lie to the highest court in the land, what kind of example is that not only to our youth, but also to ALL politicians and the general public?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  167. Gregory Dittman

    People have been claiming that there has been a decline in moral values for a very long time in the United States.

    One of the reasons why there was prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s was that drunk husbands were beating their wives.

    There were also domestic wars on crime, poverty, gambiling, prostitution, illiteracy, out of wedlock births, domestic violence, and even cussing since the beginning of the founding of this country.

    What has been different is the sense of entitlement and the desire to use other people's money to fund their own goals. That's a moral problem that is projected to create a federal deficit equal to 90% of the U.S.'s GNP by 2020, 200% of the U.S.'s GNP by 2040 and 600% of the U.S.'s GNP by 2080. If one cuts services somebody raises some moral issue on why something shouldn't be cut. If one wants to raise taxes, somebody raises a moral issue on why taxes shouldn't be raised. If one just let's the defict and debt grow, somebody raises a moral issue on why those two things should be lowered. As the problem gets worse, the three sides are getting more angry and maybe that's what the observers are recently noticing.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  168. T Sacco

    I sincerely believe that today's American society has had their "humanity" stolen with every e-mail text, "you-tube", "twitter", e-blog and "facebook" pressed submit button. The common and inheirant respect that comes with a "face-to-face" has now been deluded and bleached to near invisibilty. This has emboldened the disinfranchised and illterate to publish and horribly practice their frustrations. It makes all the rest of us, simultaneuosly watching the the theatre's movie and the "brainless" TEXTER, to contemplate politically incorrect actions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  169. Bill

    Jack,

    Morality is part of the values and beliefs that we learn as children. They come from the social institutions that play a role in a childs life: family, friends, education, religion and, these days, the messages a child picks up from the Internet and television. If our morality is low, look to further than at these institutions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  170. Scott H.

    Jack,
    This article doesn't take into account one significant change in the past 10 years from a technological point of view. Today's media information, social networks and data capturing capabilities and dissemination (cell phones, digital cameras/camcorders) have changed the way all of us realize what is going on around us and the ability to spread this information everywhere to everyone without hearsay, but actual proof – independent of media organization filters or blackouts on stories.

    Compare that with 20, 30 or even up to 40 years ago (most of your viewers were probably alive then so they can relate) and stories that were about political corruptness, rapes, murder, etc... were for the most part local issues, unless it was a really big deal to all in the nation. Now it's not just nationwide immediate dissemination of bad things going on but global issues too – think Iran protests and how fast everyone in America found this out.

    So I take the opposite view of your article's very leading wording. I think the world and our societies are actually getting more MORALLY correct, because we are catching more and more atrocities. The perception is the world is getting worse because everyone knows about almost everything going on, but in reality, I think that is cleaning up the bad guys who used to get a way with it without the constant media pressure and attention we have now.

    It's getting better, not worse – but, that doesn't make a good story does it?

    Best of luck,
    Scott

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  171. tyler davis

    I have to say that I disagree that morals in the US are on a decline. Sure maybe traditional things that are associated with morality are on the decline, religious ideals and the like, but what about the things that are definitely moral issues but not often associated. while we aren't there yet obviously, the slow decline of institutional racism, greater awareness of sexism, esp. in the area of spousal abuse, and a general overall societal tolerance for "the other" are definably moral issues not often considered when talking about the current state of morality.
    But hey bring on all the people talking about how in the 50's (usually pointed at as being the most moral time period in history) we "respected our elders". (as long as they weren't black gay or women)

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  172. Don (Belleville, Ontario)

    America at some point in the 1990's allowed corporate morality to take over from individual ethics.
    Suddenly "maximizing shareholder value" became the sole goal of companies. To hell with the communities or the employees. Goodbye to safety. Safety costs too much.
    The new version of American corporate philosophy is ruinous to life as we know it.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  173. Maynard

    Parent's laissez-faire raising of their kids is one part. Kids these days seem to spoiled to no end or, on the other side of the spectrum, neglected leading to adults with poor social skills.

    I think the internet, and on a wider level the "me-centric" media, is another huge part. The internet is designed to feed into people's narcissism like nothing else and the anonymity it gives us allows people to snipe and be downright evil with no level of accountability. Combine this with reality TV (the other part of the "me-centric" media) where people who are the biggest A-holes get the most viewership and fame.

    Basically, our innate narcissism, nurtured by the internet, sloppy parenting, and "me-centric" media has created a nation full of socially awkward and nasty babies.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  174. DON IN WESTPORT, MASS.

    Bad system. (How many kids saw OJ get away with murder on TV)
    Bad parents. (not my Johnny, he's not a bully.)
    Poor education. (child neglect or gov't neglect)
    Violence (no more playing in the yard, just video game blood and guts)
    Parents and grandparents get sued by child for slapping them.
    Children without chores (today condidered child labor)
    Children having babies and grandma raises him/her. (no accountability)
    They are our future.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  175. Clark1b

    Where do you want to start?
    1. Liberals say we can't teach/impose morals on others.
    2. People want license to do as they please .... not simply freedom to live within a moral framework.
    3. Churches moving away from God's Word and teaching other gospels that false teachers offer (read the book of Jude).
    4. People believe it is ok to cheat on tests, school work, etc .... but then say it is bad for our leaders to cheat or for business leaders to be greedy.
    5. the 60's revolution that that lead to a rebellion against morals.
    6. school systems filled with teachers that teach situational ethics rather than absolutes
    7. Presidents nominating justices that believe that it morally wrong to call a sin evil. (eg: Kagan says that the sin of homosexuality is not evil but that those that say it is a sin or morally wrong)
    8. Men and women and children love themselves .... rather than others and the Living God.
    9. The "me generation"
    10. Coveting is ok with most of the U.S. population ....
    11. The "heart" is the root of all evil .....
    12. But most important of all .... and the reason for all the above evidences of moral decline ... is that the American people have turned away from God and obeying His Commands .... and worship the "god" that they have invented in their own minds.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  176. Mark

    I' not going to say it is or is not. However, you would have gotten the same poll results 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 years ago.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  177. TONY MASSARO

    Just watch many children's program.All characters just degrade each other. All you see is screaming and yelling. Hardly anyone speaks well of each other or try to show compassion for each other. Many characters use bad remarks and inappropriate language. Everyone is trying to get the most out of each situation for themselves.
    Children growing up the last few years have this ingrained in them and as a result talk and act the same way now that they are in their teen years.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  178. Pat

    There are too many people in the world. We just seem less unique.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  179. ben stockton, calif

    all you have to do is look at what the politicians from both parties are doing, having mistresses, trolling for gays in toilets,having gay sex, man, i could go on and on. the gop professed to be the party of morality and look where that went.the liberals are no better. kids coming from broken homes that have no clue who their father is. cheating welfare queens, it has to be taught in the home from early childhood. i dont see it getting better any time soon. im glad im an old man because i see a new generation of fat lazy kids who dont have respect for their elders

    May 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  180. Don in Nevada

    Once you get Americanized you are more likely to steal and cheat. I don't care where you are from.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  181. Robert W, North carolina

    The decline is a natural progression and then the fall.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  182. Jose Bonet

    It's television of course. What with all the crime shows and How To's on everything from raping to murdering to getting rid of the evidence, movies that depict horrors to humanity of every description. We should hold the networks accountable every time someone mimics something they've seen on TV. And the news, I hate it. There's never anything good that happens around us. There's carnage and bloodshed and car wrecks with people being maimed and killed. I've all but stopped watching.
    Where are the good wholesome shows and movies of yesterday. Of course now you wouldn't be able to show boring stuff like that since they've all gotten us accustomed to the gore. It's all about the money. Horror sells.
    JAB

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  183. Hannah

    I don't think we are any less moral. I just think we haven't gotten any better. We are certainly more aware of how we treat others especially other races and cultures, whereas in the past in the South they killed blacks and persecuted them every day and that has changed. We certainly worship the almighty dollar more than we used to and there is more greed with corporations paying lower wages and CEO's taking the majority of the money and running. And people seem to lie a lot and the wealthy do it and get by with it. It is true there are two Americas now, the very wealthy and the rest of us.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  184. TK

    Complete and utter self-absorption. The 60's component of the baby boomers has poisoned our country's culture with it's collosal narcissim. Sex,drugs, materialism....it's all about me, myself and I. Forget community, forget service, forget God, forget country. Don't tell me what to do because I am my own God.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  185. katy Heys

    We just don't feel good about ourselves. After WWII we felt marvelous! We were the leaders of the free world! We had saved the world! Everything was wonderful! And the world loved us and we acted the part of the great and gracious saviors! Then came the Korean war to be followed by Viet Nam to be followed by 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq and now Afghanistan. We are not seen as the good guys throughout the world anymore. And we're acting that part.

    I'm depressing myself just writing this. I think I'll go and lie down.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  186. steve

    In short, we are Rome.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  187. Ryan

    I see these shared views, now, as one of those most basic arguments for what is definitely a worth while reason for collaboration and finding a common cause between all spectrum's of government, political affiliation and religion.
    It's somewhat leveling to see that this is something that people agree on all over the board.

    As for your question, I believe that there is something as 'perceived morality', in which, one may report their morality as being low when compared to that of what was taught to them as morally good. Our morals have evolved as we have evolved, and some have changed. Our society is ditching religion, experimenting in new ways of being, and to do so means to drop or modify previously held views of good morality. (I.E. – Dropping religion, gay rights, divorce rates, monogamy beliefs, earth issues).
    Only once our "social experiments", if you will, end and we adjust to our new level of comfort will we be able to accurately adjust, also, our feelings on how moral we are.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  188. Tyler

    How is the loss of religion a lowering of our morals? Statements like that are ridiculous.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  189. joe richards

    Ther are many factors, but it all must start at home. People aren't born moral, morals come from learned values and this doesn't appear to be taking place. The decline is accelerated because of the constant exposure on cable networks, movies etc. to violent and sexually explicit themes. The exposure to this prurient media shatters the moral structure of those that have no solid values with which to assess the world.

    Another problem area is sports, where the win at all costs mentality is leading to all manner of deranged behavior from adults that are supposed to be role models for children and other adults

    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  190. Kedren Reade Sitton

    The first step to "recovery" is "admission" as they say in the AA meetings. So I'm ENCOURAGED by this poll! For too many years since the days when neighbor helped neighbor slaughter the pig, we've looked after #1 with less and less concern with "the other". The Depression Era seems to have practically demanded such cooperation of and from my Grandparents who lived through it. Maybe our "Western" Market System is to blame? My bias says so, but we U.S. citizens can drag morality kicking and screaming back into our borders WHATEVER the "rules of the game". And this poll, again VERY encouraging to me, tells me we're getting ever closer to doing so.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  191. Tony

    To much Government is suffocating society and i feel that it dictates to much on how we should live our lives as free people. I'm old school and much of my values, morals and religios beliefs is because my accountability started as child with my parents. The new school generation will have a social worker at your doorstep if you attempt to account for a kids wrong doings! how then can we give the support to our teachers, pastors, community program mentors, school counselors, and in some cases police officers if we have our hands tide in the name of the law? the Constitution was adopted by our founding fathers to preserve our freedoms and our way of life... and we have legislated our country with so many politacaly correct laws that we cant even live the way it was intended to be... so the next time you cant act on the moral right thing to do for fear of getting sued or arrested dont get mad....! take it to the voting poles and make a change cuase if you dont then who are the people...?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  192. Elizabeth, NYC

    I don't think that we have a problem with morality.
    It is disgraceful that so many people think that someone is "evil" just because they are of a different religion or skin color, or because they are no longer religious. Go over to the blog in response to the newly crowned Miss USA – so much hatred just because she is an Arab-American. To so many ignorant people, Muslim = evil, despite the fact that their own religion (ie christian) has garnered plenty of extremists (ie the KKK). To so many people, moving away from religion means a fall in morality, but I have moved away from religion because so many people use religion as an excuse to be hateful (homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semetic, etc etc etc).

    May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  193. Tom C

    The decline of America Morality can be contributed to several "issues" but I feel that the main one can come back to taking responsibility.

    No one is responsible for their own actions anymore. It's something that is being instilled on our youth from parents who are more than happy to sue someone when they, for example, burn themselves with coffee. Or when a child fails to apply himself in school, it is everyone's fault except the parent or the child.

    Taking responsibility for your actions and what you can do to change things helps bring the choice of right or wrong back into the conversation. When everyone gives up and assumes its someone else's fault, then they stop caring about their own actions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  194. James

    Let's face it, our society has become very detached. The only thing that makes a community anymore is proximity and property values. And everyone in a community is looking out for number one.

    A student whose parents and teacher are friends is probably less likely to be disruptive or disrespectful of that teacher. A patron in a restaurant is less likely to be offended by someone talking on a cellphone if they know the person, or that person might choose not to talk on the cellphone if they knew the owner or manager.

    So my point is that the more detached we are from each other the less sociable we become, and we operate individualistically on a moral compass that has no true north.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  195. Kevin J

    When money ranks #1 on what Americans value the most, it is any wonder why we have poor morals?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  196. chris

    Morality is a a relative term. Who sets the standard?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  197. Charly in Del Mar

    I don't think our morality has declined. I just think we're more arrogant.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  198. Big Al

    So much of the problem with morals in our society can be traced to the breakdown in the family. Children are not given the guidance that leads to self-respect and if you don't respect yourself, how can you have any respect for your fellow human beings. And if the children try to look up for direction, all they see is the lure of the almighty buck, from the corporations to the government.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  199. Duane

    America foundation was orginally based on the word of God, when government starts to remove God from society morality declines, and if you look at the great nations of history, for example the romans, when national morality declines it eventually leads to the collapse of that nation, a look into our future

    May 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  200. Craig Avery

    Part of it is the nature of the American society.

    You said it in your own piece: "In this land where everything is possible..."

    In past decades, everything was not possible. Today technology and the exposure that it brings has leveraged our capabilities to act both responsibly and irresponsibly, and so has made our actions permissible and even encouraged by some group or other.

    When it's clear to everyone that every possible action (whether right or wrong or all shades in between) becomes an option that is rewarded by someone, people respond by creating art or making mayhem.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  201. Gail Stiles Brown

    I don't think that morality is on the decline. I think that the way in which we are taking the moral temperature is at fault. We take our assumptions from the media that we listen to 24/7. Hour after hour of concentration on the few horrible events that mark each day has convinced us that we are all "going to hell in a handbasket". I would like to ask our fellow citizens to take a step back and a few deep breaths. Start evaluating life by looking at the good people that live in our neighborhoods, volunteers that give endless hours to community groups, individuals who service on unpaid or underpaid boards and communities of our schools, cities and counties. The list of good people
    that we rub shoulders with everyday is endless.

    If we as a nation will start taking stock of all the good around us and stop listening to the paid prophets of doom, we will once again believe
    in the goodness of the American people.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  202. Robert Olmedo

    It's the "yeah, but" syndrome. We create laws and then don't hold people accountable to them – so we say "yeah, but". We have too much grey and people keep on creating more shades.

    It's just an excuse.

    What's even worse is that we go pushing our way of life to other countries and say that "you are not civilized, you have to be like us".

    Whatever happened to accountability and responsibility?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  203. Tom Davis

    Leadership # 1

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  204. Bob

    Who's morality? Christian? Muslim? Buddhist? Atheist? Morality is not a universal concept.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  205. teresa, kent, oh

    What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality.... hmmmm... Dare I say cable television? think about it. : ) We want what we see.

    Jack, re: "we as a society have such a negative view of how we behave and how we treat each other. " ... its not a VIEW.... It's how we
    really ARE.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  206. Michael J. Olah

    That's easy. Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh – they have each made it acceptable to be a selfish extremist and have rationalized greed as an American value.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  207. steve- virginia beach

    I noticed this decades ago as a manager in various job sectors. The days of a full-time parent gave way to two-income "familys" and an increase in single-parent households, effectively delegating the raising of our children by daycare and educational strangers with a larger adult-to-child ratio. At the same time parents were taught to be their child's friend rather than parent and that they can go to jail for corporal punishment. And lastly, parents are no longer held accountable and responsible for their child's welfare and behavior. The decline in morals, values, and health status was incredibly predictable but not predicted, likely due to a decline in critical thinking and intellectual honesty.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  208. Elizabeth

    GREED! It's ALL about GREED, one way or the other!!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  209. Brielle in NJ

    Jack, nothing you've said proves that morality has *actually* declined. People merely *perceive* that it has. And perceptions are frequently quite divorced from reality. Once you have some serious data, get back to us with the question again.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  210. Steven Dudley

    In general people tend to view the past with rose tinted glasses. I constantly hear people long for this wonderful past that never really existed in the first place. If anything people are just more honest about humanity and sugar coat it less than they used to.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  211. May

    When TV and radio turn to trash talk what do we expect? It used to be that commentators spoke with respect, then came all types and kinds of slang. The bar came down, it was no longer raised.
    Further, who do we have to look to as a hero? All our temporary so called heros end up being drug addicts, alcholics, adulterers.
    Prayer was taken out of our schools, what did we expect?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  212. Larry L, Torrance, CA

    In one word: GREED.

    Juveniles who steal but don't kill can be sentenced to life.

    Elites like BP pay chump change for their crimes.

    The elites get richer, the poor go to prison.

    And the transfer of income and wealth continues unabated.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  213. Tristan -CA

    The free market system rewards greed above all else. If you want a different outcome you need a different reward system.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  214. margaret

    You hit the nail on the head, Jack. No one takes responsibility...even parents for their own authority. Anything goes...mind your own business. We indeed are in moral decline. Clothing-wise. I predict that in a few years women will wear nothing above the waist line.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  215. J.R.

    Los Angeles, California

    I don't think morality is really on the decline. It's just the reality the world coming into view. When you have small populations people tend to know each other more personally, thus tend to act more civil around each other. As the population rises, not knowing your neigbors becomes more common. Also, with large populations, people can get away with more without anyone noticing who they are. This breeds distrust of strangers. Thus, the problem with your neighbor being a stranger. Also, we have encountered the breakdown of the class system in modern life. Though we view this as a good thing it is a double edge sword of consequences. In the past, each class had a set of rules on how you behaved and acted. To belong you had to adhere to these practices or manners. Though this doesn't mean people had a higher attitude towards morality it just meant it looked like it on the surface. Another is the mixing of cultures in the U.S.. Again, a good thing over all, but each culture has their own view of morality. Young and new generations start to pick and choose which rules they want to follow from each culture. This creates a set of rules that both cultures might think is morally wrong. Then coupled with people who just decide not to follow any of the rules because they don't see the point in pleasing everyone. So, in all there are multiple factors effecting this outlook. There are many other things that probably come into play here, but these examples jump out. There is a quote that simplifies all this. "The good guy is stressed out and never can sleep well because he worried about the world and everyone around him. The bad guy enjoys life and sleeps soundly because he doesn't care what the next guy thinks."

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  216. Mike

    Pessimism and lack of prosperity are the two key factors. When the population is poor, and doing poorly, their attitudes become poor as well and we believe it absolves us.

    Mike
    Asheville, NC

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  217. Anne

    Until we again hold people responsible for their own actions and words, we will continue to see this moral decline. It seems any and every careless act we commit can somehow be laid at the feet of someone else. The examples are endless and rediculous. Forget your coat in the airport? Sue the airport and the city! You get shot in the commission of a crime? Sue the police and the city! And if you are killed, your family gets to sue. Develop lung cancer because you smoked for 30 years? Sue the cigarette company. Lose your job because you did not abide by written, agreed to company policy? Sue for discrimination of some sort or another. At the very least, you'll probably pick up 6-8 months of unemployment. The sad fact is, our moral "values" are decaying because we no longer place any "value" on 1) doing the right thing and 2) taking our lumps when we don't.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  218. Kayla O

    Morality?
    I'm 16 years old, and I have three letters for you.
    MTV.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  219. Gregory, Melbourne

    Jack, I would attribute this largely to the cult of fame and the rise of reality television. The scripted reality of life for celebrities, the worship of appearance and commonplace plastic surgery distract us from what is real and important. Fake, vein and abhorrent. People are more and more willing to cut corners and focus on themselves in a me-first society. The sense of community is painfully absent in this new hollywood world.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  220. Jacob

    As a country, we glorify corrupt and immoral behavior. We allow the politicians, banks and closer to home celebrities get away with anything. Allowing people and our children to believe with money and power, everything is allowed.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  221. Derrick

    The perception that we are somehow losing our morality is just the religious right's concern that they no longer have a monopoly on american life. There is a new generation that no longer bases morality on a book written by 3000 year old camel herders. We can think for ourselves and can form an understanding of morality with something they rarely allow themselves to use, our mind.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  222. Dennis

    All goverments, business and families are a direct reflection of the leader of said house.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  223. Hunter Rose

    I challenge the question – if moral standards have actually declined, then most people wouldn't CARE enough to comment on them. There's plenty to be offended about the conduct of those in authority (including the media), but the average person's sense of morality probably hasn't changed much.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  224. Chalupa

    Unfortunately (and it distresses me) there are few penalties for immoral actions and we no longer have good role models. As a matter of fact, in many cases, good role models are ridiculed. We have confused with doing things right rater than doing the right thing. Often the one doing the right think is in the minority and can be made the victim of the others. Media also has to play a role. Everything is hyperbole so exaggerating or only giving one side of a story has become the norm. When someone is given an opportunity by acting in an abnormal fashion to receive renumeration for the rights to their story, it promotes such behavior (i.e. Rachel Urchitel).

    In short, in the name of political correctness and tolerance, individuals that may have been severely punished, now become wealthy.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  225. George W

    First, it is not the decline of religion which is at fault, since religion does not equate to morality. If that were the case, wouldn't we be much further along after 2,000 years of our particular brand of it? The simplistic answer is that we allow people to slip and slip and slip. We no longer hold people to the standards of the past. Once a man who was caught in an adulterous affair was done in public life. The same for a CROOK. Now, he can get rehabbed and climb right back into the saddle. That is permissiveness.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  226. Marlon

    Jack, we take God out of the classroom, out of the culture and you haven't made the connection behind this action and the overall general decay of our society.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  227. Josh from OHIO

    Ask anyone under 18 to finish the phrase "If you can't something nice..."
    They usually finish the phrase with "... say something smart."

    We have not taught our children to be treated how they wish to be treated.
    Or maybe we have and they just don't care. Just like reality TV stars and contestants don't care about the critics, because "they don't know me," but we do. They pour themselves out on national television with their embraced flaws and instead of fixing them they call it character.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  228. Roxanne

    Two simple words are responsible for our sorry moral decline: "Me" and "Gimme."

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  229. kurtb

    the internet. it makes it so easy to be sneaky and underhanded. you can almost do what you want,or get what you want without suffering any consequences.kinda of sad to see people turning in to robots before our very eyes.no morals , no personality!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  230. Brad in Austin

    Jack, we're not less moral. We just don't care to hide our baser proclivity's. Religion is not the source of morality. nor can it replace true morality.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  231. Yohann Johnson

    Greed Jack ....... um....... Greed

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  232. Dick from Joliet, Illinois

    Simple answer – Television (Over many many years).

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  233. Matt

    This article is ridiculous. Every stuffy old geezer whines about "moral decline." Every sanctimonious old biddy does the same. Read a book someday. Every age likes to condemn it's youth. Every age puts on blinders so the past looks like a golden age. Doesn't this columnist, who looks like a boomer, remember when HIS generation was vilified? When hippies were the sign of doom? Or was it the greasers in the 50's? Or gin and jazz in the 20's? Or Socrates in 500 BC? Some people don't grow older and wiser. They just grow old and bitter.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  234. Joe Koechler

    What;s behind our decline in morality? We are! If three out of four of us think there is a problem here, then if the same 75% of us did something about the way we act and treat others we should reverse the perception. Or is there something wrong with my math.

    Joe – Florida

    May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  235. williamsholar

    It's about the Constitution that was signed in 1776. It got this hold thing started. When certain people were first considered property, this was not a good thing. It kind of went down hill from there.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  236. Erin

    Jack

    Moral bankruptcy is the product of rapacious stupidity and unmitigated arrogance.
    Our- everything, all the time- mentality that companies like Wal-Mart exploit is nauseating. You can have anything you want- so easy... or at least just fake it! Your 99 cent burger with fake meat, fake nails, fake boobs, fake jeans, fake jewelry, fake intelligence and fake morals. GHEEZE it looks real.
    Well folks- it's not.
    Everyone should be socially and economically equal? Really? Never mind I worked my ass off an studied for 10 extra years and you sat on your couch. We're the same. Deserve the same paycheck and healthcare- Really?
    We ALL deserve everything- all the time. We're ALL entitled. That's the fuel that's killing this Country. Grow up America.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  237. Jim Harper

    It eventually reverts back to the individual, but much of the blame for moral decline rests on the shoulders of the media. Little by little, bit by bit, the media has allowed more and more sexual innuendo, gratuitous violence and out-and-out filth to filter through our TV screens and radio speakers, until now "lack of morals" is the norm. It is a sad scene that can only be overcome when people realize that they are going down the very same path as ancient Rome, and vow to change. -Jim, Cleveland, OH

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  238. Dan Diodati from Poughkeepsie

    I don't think loss of religion necessarily has anything to do with morality. As for your question, people will be less moral in bad times, i.e. this recession. Politicians getting more partisan in trying to retain their jobs aren't helping.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  239. Bill Boudreau

    Another G Word has replaced God and it's Greed, and very few people trust big business or our Government unfortunately , most want all incubments replaced come next November, that's my opinion

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  240. T. W.

    America's morality decline is due to lack of discipline from the parents.
    Parents let their children get away with too much and don't punish them for it. I'm not saying beat your kids but kids do need a good spanking and time out when there out of line.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  241. Stephen (Knoxville TN)

    The premise of this question is absurd, because American morality has never been better. Whenever I here a pundit griping that our morality is "in decline," I want to ask: relative to what time period? Back before women could work in important fields? Back when black people were being segregated, lynched or enslaved in the South? Get some historical perspective, Mr. Cafferty.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  242. jpersall@comcast.net

    We're exhaling deeply. We mistakenly thought we were the only ones who thought so. Thank you, Jack!
    Jerry and Mary
    Castle Rock, Colorado

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  243. MARY Pinkerton

    I disagree with the whole assumption you are presenting..We have taken many moral stances.
    Growing up in pre-Cuvil Rights era I see how we have made progress in this area of race relations. Declining church attendance. should not be seen as a lack of moral fiber as Churches have a long history of loose morals in their back yards.Sin was not invented in this generation. We no longer hand people in public and sell snacks to enjoy the "show."
    We have a one of the highest worker production rates in the world. We are hard working.
    We do suffer from an inferiority complex that the rest the world might enjoy.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  244. Paul (Miami, FL)

    The expansion of government is behind the precipitous decline in morality. As government encroaches more and more on individual liberty it increasingly destroys individual choice. And with the destruction of choice comes the loss of personal responsibility. Unfortunately for all of us, the rise of paternalistic government over the last century has eviscerated most of our individual liberties and has necessarily eroded personal responsibility.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  245. Monica Smith

    That's an easy question to answer: Hypocritcal religious leaders are responsible for the perceived decline in our moral standards: once they no longer behave as their religions decree, then it's a free for all for the rest of society. Poor standards set by those in powerful positions lead to poorer standards in the rest of society. Shame on them all.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  246. Andrig Miller

    Society is so caught up in "self-love", that the natural course of events brings down morality. If your focus is on loving yourself, it doesn't leave much room for loving others.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  247. Fernando

    Music. Music artists have always moved the masses and steers the young people of this planet in the direction the artist wills them. Add the racy and demoralizing music videos to the lyrics and you'll get your answer.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  248. Bob Merrill

    Jack:

    Largely one word: Television. too many stupid shows like: Desperate Housewives, Survivor, etc. The coverage of celebrities for their stupid/dumb activities, drugs, etc. News that is short on detail and little or no analysis. Politicians that represent corporate interests and their re-election over needs of the country. And this is just a short list.

    Bob
    Fresno, CA

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  249. Rick

    The core issue is responsibility. Too many look outside themselves for rationalization of their weaknesses or failings. You said it Jack, everyone wants to be a victim, not responsible for themselves.
    We need to get back to first being responsible for yourself, your family, your community. Excuses are for children, adults need to be responsible.
    Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Not a bad idea.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  250. Kim

    the commercialization of our society and celebrity adoration of actors, sports figures, musicians and the wealthy instead of thinkers, writers and REAL contributors to society

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  251. Elaine

    The problem a I see it is both parents today work. There is no disipline at home. When I ask parents why they spoil their children there answer is "well I didnt have it as a child and I want my children to have more than I did". Children are not born bad or with raceist in their heart, it is learned right at home.
    We need to put disipline back in to our homes, schools etc. Right now the children run everything the parents need to start being responsible for their childrens actions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  252. Alex, Escondido, Ca

    Morality starts with taking responsibility for your own actions. We no longer take responsibility for our actions. If you are in a traffic accident the first thing your insurance company will tell you is not to admit guilt or apologize even you are at fault. This attitude has spilled over into the rest of life. The one good thing about the whole Toyota mess was Mr Toyoda's willingness to go before congress and apologize for Toyota's safety problems. Of course the US legal system will make him pay for that apology.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  253. Nancy M., Tennessee

    Good morales are passed down from generation to generation. Somewhere in the last 40 decades we have failed as parents to make sure that our children have a good foundation to build on. Our schools do not help – teachers having sex with students, teachers beating kids for no cause, and teachers behaving badly contribute to the children's lack of respect for their elders. On all fronts all our youth gets is the wrong message.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  254. Joan

    Too much, too fast, too easy. The last decade was a decade of the fast track – huge salaries, huge houses, and no responsibility for one's actions. We've forgotten what it means to be a family in the true sense of the term, loyalties no longer account for much. We do not hold our government accountable, nor our businesses, and unfortunately, we do not hold our selves or our children accountable. It is no longer fashionable. How sad.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  255. Brian G.

    Extreme Capitalism. I think someone said that money is the root of all evil.? When most citizens in society that are trying to capitalize on others for their own interest for the all mighty dollar I think ethics takes a back seat unfortunately. Every institution is either corrupted by their own greed and self-interest.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  256. George W. Robertson

    Doesn't it seem a bit preposterous to say the least, when in this once greatest country in the world, our elected officials, our "leaders", must actually have an ethics committee to tell them what any six year old kid knows. "What is right and what is wrong?".
    Gimmee a break! Assign a six year old to every congressman to guide them.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  257. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Once, we marketed and modeled honor, dignity, virtue and values, now we just elude to them. Now, REAL marketing is to fiscal success at the expense of everything else. Until HOW we get what we want is more important than WHAT we get (again) we will continue down this destructive path.

    Who we are and what we do has little or no value today. Being able to do something well is no longer a source of pride, how much we can get paid for it IS.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  258. Dominic P.

    How can we be so sure that morality is declining? The country is in an especially dire state right now, and the overall feeling is gloomy. So in times like these it is natural that people feel this way.But what has really changed over time? People have done terrible things for a long time and what is right to one group of people may be okay to another, even between different generations. But I guarantee there are still a lot of good people out there trying to live out their best idea of morality. People should stop thinking their way is the best way and maybe we will believe our country is a better place than we do.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  259. Pam

    Gee...sounds like everyone thinks everyone else's morals have hit the skids; nobody said their personal ethics have declined. Hmmmmm.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  260. Andy Fogiel

    Greed. We celebrate it, reinforce that $ is the ultimate goal of the American dream, and put extreme efforts to protect excessive possessions even ahead of human life itself (definition of the Tea Party). We have Christian conservatives fighting more for protecting $ than the human condition of the least of our kind, which Jesus warned was how we would be judged, condemning concepts such as social justice, so it's not like we have any decent moral leadership even in religion. Fortunately it looks like we finally have a President who has a moral level unlike any president in recent history, especially the last one, but look what that is getting him as far as unprecedented anger, which is in large part a result of our growing void of morality.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  261. Thomas Franks

    Its not surprising about America's lack of morality when we as a nation murder millions of children in their mother's wombs for the sake of convenience. If this nation will saction the killing of the most helpless then stealing from my neighbor is not so wrong. Time is not so far away that this nation will suffer the consequences of its action and indeed may already be. Speaking of genocide, what is this?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  262. Charlie

    Jack, I disagree. I do think we are a country with good morals, but one focused on the media and their portrayal of this country as one without. It's funny to read here that everyone assumes they have good morals and ethics, it's someone else who lacks them. I do believe the majority of people in this country, and certainly the vast majority of people that I've met and worked with, have good morals and are ethical in their behavior. Are there people who believe that if they don't get caught they haven't done anything wrong? Of course there are, but there will always be some people like that. I certainly don't think it's the majority of the country.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  263. Josiah, Rochester, NY

    The great German-born psychologist Erich Fromm who emigrated to the USA around World War II said in one of his books that the Statue of Liberty on the east coast should be complimented by the Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. It is a tendency of some to think of freedom as a free-for-all, just as young children think of adult as one's ability to do what ever one wants. The rub is that we realize all of the responsibility that comes along with adulthood is real and serious. The USA is in a wild west of the financial, political and media world and we are reaping the consequences. The short answer: it is anomie from secularization, capitalism run amuck and our completely and unnecessarily distracted lives.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  264. Brian from Fort Wayne, IN

    I believe that our moral decline starts with the pervasive attitude that we have to be politically correct and accept everything as being acceptable. If you believe in absolutes, that some things are wrong, even if it means that you hurt other people's feelings when standing up for what you believe in, that you are the one that is narrow minded. If you buy a $300k house when you make $50k, have six kids when you are single and can't afford six kids, or aghast, try to make your family's life better by entering our country illegally and then need free health care or education, and then expect other people to pay for it when it is your own personal responsibility that caused the situation. Yes there are deeper issues for each, but you personally made a choice. I guess this is why I am considered a "conservative" and not a "progressive". I believe that being moral is hard work, but it starts by knowing that there are ramifications for your personal decisions, and sometimes it is hard. We have created a society that knows there are too many safety nets so they find it simpler to find an easy way out. You can make any choice you want, society tells you it is ok if it isn't a moral one and will make an excuse for you, and bale you out if it turns out poorly. This doesn't seem to be a recipe for the long-term survival of our society, at least a moral one. Now, to stave off the political nuts, yes I want to help those that are less fortunate in their start to life, but only if they show they are willing to make the moral, sometimes hard decisions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  265. Reggie in Norfolk Virginia

    America's morals have declined because of "GREED" no one ever has enough of anything and we are willing to steal and take from anyone we can. We don't see each other as other as people anymore, only as potenial money transactions.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  266. Ira B.

    As the saying goes "the apple doesn't fall to far from tree" if parents don't hold there kids responsible for there actions then you get what we have today.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  267. John from Bay Shore

    Some say its parenting, some say its environmental conditions, some say peer pressure. Perhaps we can blame it on cultural conditions like the attention the media gives to sexual misconduct and violence. I, however, believe that it's all signs we're living in the last days! Immorality is a problem that can't be solved by human reason (contrary to enlightenment thinking)! It also can't be solved by forms of religion. It can only be solved by a revival of true godliness. Thus, lets put the 10 Commandments back in the court house and see what happens. Everything else sure hasn't been working!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  268. helen

    the usa is not alone. it used to be that a person was reponsible for themselves and respectful of others not so anymore take a look at our lives, buy something and then throw it away, no money required for anything only plastic if you do something wrong, that's okay, we understand no justice required our neighbours have problems tough beans you see something bad happen of course no one wants to get envolved blame someone else .... and this will certainly annoy lots of people the pill 50 years it was wonderful at the time but now it is used for party time once again no responsibility this from a canadian who still sees good in our two countries, however, they were once great!!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  269. Jacquie in NJ

    Jack,

    What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality?

    Once upon a time we decided to tell our kids to never be afraid and that they could do anything they set their mind to. We decided children had been "oppressed" with too many rules and regulations.

    Unfortunately, we neglected to tell them that they should remember what it felt like to be embarrassed, that they couldn't get what they want at the expense of others and that they needed to be responsible for their actions... seemingly minor caveats but key to what has shaped our society of late.

    Jack, maybe it seemed like a small thing, but dressing up to just go to the store kept us aware that we had social responsibilities that could not be ignored.... Next time you're shopping, take a look at the people in line with you.

    Jacquie in NJ

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  270. Al Lopez

    Jack, I believe that the abuse of those liberties you mention in your blog are partly responsible. We are constantly being bombarded through the media with negative and destructive rhetoric and images.Not many americans care about positive and healthy information.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  271. james roberts

    Greed, corruption, lies by America's most powerful and influential have gone mainstream.

    If an American President lies to further his/her cause (with huge debt, risks, implications for country), or corporate president for wages, then it only stands to reason the ordinary citizen will follow.

    Until white collar criminals are prosecuted, sentenced and sent to a County/City/State prison (not some plush federal prison, Allentown PA comes to mind for Watergate criminals), a decline and more widespread is inevitable.

    Some people are above the law; look no further than Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  272. Brian G.

    Extreme Capitalism. I think someone said that money is the root of all evil.? When most citizens in society that are trying to capitalize on others for their own interest for the all mighty dollar I think ethics takes a back seat unfortunately. Every institution is corrupted by their own greed and self-interest.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  273. Steve

    Two parent families – both parents work and therefore do not have time to perform proper parenting for their 2 children. They are working very hard so that the single parent families with 3 kids by 3 different fathers, each of which is in jail do not even intend to participate in society as we know it.

    Everyone wants "rights" but ignore the "responsibilities" that go along with the rights.

    Stop having illegitimate kids, take advantage of free education, free food, and free housing and feel free to join the rest of us who work hard and try to do the right thing.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  274. Frank Lock

    Jack,
    I recently retired from teaching secondary science after 35 years in the classroom. I coached athletics for most of my career as well. In the last twelve years or so I observed a rapid decline on parenting skills. many folks wanted to be their childs' friend instead of their parent.
    The idea that discipline is something you do FOR someone, not to someone, has been lost.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  275. Douglas Janes

    Dear Mr Cafferty,
    The answer is very simple. This is what happens when you teach every child from the time they start school until they graduate college, that there is no God and we all evolved from apes or some other piece of slime by chance that decided it wanted to be a man someday, and what ever you choose to do in your life no matter how immoral or sexually sick it may be it is ok and your choice., you cant help it because your born that way. There is no right or wrong because the morals that God set for us do not matter because there is no God, so therefore no one follows them and the moral decay keeps getting worse and worse with every generation of immoral parents raising even more moral lacking kids. Great job public school system!!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  276. Monroe

    Population Jack, population.

    Values are based on individuals and community. Back in the days, moral guidance was directed by family and neighbors. Nowadays, families do not get together, neighbors don't want to know you, and our children are left with learning pieces of their values through media, friends, and what they observe in the community. The U.S. Census grew from 3.9 million in 1790, to 63 million in 1890, to 249 million in 1990. Imagine where we will be in 2090. Better yet, where our moral values.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  277. Fred Lanni

    LOL – nice try. It isn't obvious that "America's morality" has declined. It may be more the case that we are advertising our moral deficiencies much more effectively. That would include personal, national, and international behavior. At home, we're loading up on guns, and allowing small numbers of political extremists (including religious extremists) to have a disproportionate voice in national debates. Abroad, we're the people who field large armies and make life miserable for large numbers of people for long periods of time. It doesn't take more than one bomb (paid for by American taxpayers) dropped on civilians to make our "morality" look a bit weak.

    Pittsburgh PA

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  278. Eric

    Jack,
    Unfortunately, we have a lack of "Free Masonry" in Washington, as were so many of our founding fathers.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  279. Brad

    The decline comes from the gradual normalization of behavior that is contrary to what is right and wrong. Much of morality is based on a spiritual or religious belief. As substandard behavior is accepted that level of behavior is normalized and then the moral standard is lowered. Over time, previously unacceptible behavior becomes accepted...

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  280. Arthur

    What's behind our decline in morality?

    For some people in this country to stop thinking that the arrogant pursuit of money, fame, power is always a moral act – these aspects do not automatically make you a better person – there are only things you accumulation and/or use !

    Arthur – Chicago

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  281. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    When a generation or two ago it became important what we are, not who we are.

    We all lost a spirituality, not religious spirituality, but the awakening that there is something that we are all connected to and that is connected to us. It is now, almost exclusively, us and them. An ideology that is absolute and denies all of us the chance to come together and to hope. Hope is seeing new possibility, and as long as their is absolute ideology, there cannot be human hope, and there cannot be individual virtue.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  282. NYC REPUB

    I'm from NYC where crime is down, and hardworking americans are the norm.........

    May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  283. mark IN CALIFORNIA-

    like one friend said at a funeral–we have no heroes left–the media now uncovers the behavior of our so called leaders as to what they really are–so why should younger people listen to those leaders preach what they don't practice

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  284. Emmett Earl Worick

    The problem begins in Hollywood with the filth they inject in movies and much of the problem is in America in general where we have far too much freedom for those who cannot handle it.

    Emmett

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  285. Max Welsbach

    Well Jack morality has been on the decline since people in the “Hollywood” entertainment business will do anything for a good story; now don’t get me wrong humans have been gossiping about each other since 40,000 B.C. But it seems to me in the late 80s early 90s the media we had a balance in astute classiness and degenerate tackiness on TV, but now in the late 00s early 10s people just use morally ignorant arbitrary statements just for their 15 nanoseconds of so-called fame.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  286. http://twitter.com/whybs

    Not sure if polls & surveys could be accurate. Human nature has been rather consistent - sexual abuses have been with religious institutions for hundreds, if not thousands, of years; Strom Thurmond//Jim/Tammy Baker/Gingrich/John Edwards/Bill Clinton/etc. cheat; police abuses have been around; people (I included) speed.

    It's today's technology that helps 'better' expose human hypocrisy!

    If there is something that would help police our morality, it's technology. Religions are simply the subjugation of self AND others. It has nothing to do with morality, but our imagination.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  287. Jeff

    It really depends on whose morals you are basing things on. There are certain things that I believe most people can agree on as good morals like honesty, truthfulness, courtesy, etc. I agree that in these areas we are becoming less and less moral (as a whole civilization). I think this is due to the lack of parenting and/or parents trying to protect their children (so the children never really learn about consequences).

    But then if you start including the morals that christian religions have; like anti-gay, porn, etc. Then thats where people will start to differ. Isnt the United States of America based on a land of freedom? A bunch of our morals are based on the christian morals which I do not believe should be forced upon everyone. Who is to say a particular religion's moral is correct over another religion? I mean how would you feel if Islam's morals were forced upon you like no consumption of alcohol?

    Jeff from Phoenix, Arizona.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  288. Jim

    Jack,

    There has been a decline in personal responsibility. We no longer feel obliged to accept responsibility for our own actions. Then again, was it really better decades ago when racial and gender prejudice were accepted as normal?

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    May 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  289. Mark from Voorhees, NJ

    We have become aware of such things as infidelity, child molestation spousal abuse, but there is no more of it than there ever was, and as a result of the openess of our society, probably less.

    We have become aware of the hypocrisy of religious fundamentalists, be they Christians or Muslims and we are beginning to see that self-proclaimed piety and the morals of those that proclaim them often hide the worst kind of immorality.

    Our society has probably become more moral because of our openess rather than less.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  290. Earl Wallace

    A number of factors including: Decline in our public education, parents working to long and to hard to have time for their children, failure of government and public officials to enforce our laws, and flow of drugs into the country.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  291. Neale Dobkin

    Hollywood is the main culprit behind the decline in American values. Simply compare the programming of the 60's with that of today. We have pickled our population in the worst kind of moral fare. And we have become as people what we see on the screen

    If we want to recover our plunging living standard, we need to create new images for the population to desire. Hollywood needs to reprise WWII-type films which glorified America's values and personal success stories.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  292. George Cohen

    Jack,

    The root cause of all the hatred in this country can be traced back to Newt Gingrich. His "Contract with America" started putting a wedge between the States. He created a religious wedge with the abortion issue and now, as a result, no one can get together to make a bipartisan decision.

    It's all Newts fault...

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  293. James

    Lack of morality? I'm not surprised. Look at what United Airlines did. Cancelled its employee pensions, and now the corporate officers stand to gain millions more in the pending merger with Continental. Goldman Sachs handled the financial info that allowed the banruptcy to go forward and the head lawyer for the United bankruptcy now works for Goldman Sachs and the taxpayers have to pay for the failed pensions. Where is the SEC and Justice Dept. to investigate and protect the middle class. The former head of the SEC admitted that the SEC did not investigate properly but the SEC won't persue the case. How high up does this go?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  294. lynnej from nc

    What's behind it is that we're a bunch of selfish and meddling people. If some of us aren't greedy after another's money or not helping those who need help, they're meddling trying to tell folk whom to marry or what to do with their bodies.

    At the same time, they're whining about lack of privacy. Morality goes both ways. Why don't you all try to help folk, stop being greedy and mind your own business.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  295. Steve Ciciotti

    The problem is too much federal government intervention in everyone's lives.

    More specifically, too much nanny state and welfare policies, along with government favoritism towards those who are highly connected and part of the 'good ol' boys club', corporate bailouts and re-election of corrupt politicians. This should naturally breed resentment, hopelessness, dependency, and irresponsibility of the public. Should we expect to see anything different from the public when those who are unproductive, corrupt or have deferred responsibility are rewarded?

    This is true regardless of age, creed, or race. Christian, muslim, black, white, 19 years of age or 42.

    It's really, truly very simple. When you incentivize irresponsibility, you get more of it.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  296. Darren Johnson

    The seven deadly sins have been with us from the start. With the rise of obesity one must conclude gluttony has increased. With the scandalous love affairs it might be thought that lust is on the rise, etc. But could it be that these bad behaviors are being celebrated, whether in the news, the tabloids, or the so-called reality shows? Man has always battled with immorality, but now the reporters are embedded with the warriors, at least on one side of the fight.

    Darren Johnson
    Fairbanks, Alaska

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  297. Joe Hawkins

    It is a decline of trust . A dog eat dog world. It's hard to have morals when you can not trust anyone because they do not trust you. Too much emphasis is placed on the moment not the long haul.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  298. Mary

    Since everything now revolves around the individual. If no one is willing to make decisions based on what's best not just for them, but also for those around them, then everyone is left fending for themselves, especially children. I think children are the ones who fare worst these days. People would rather have a larger home and a newer car than spend time at home with their children. If their husband or wife gets older, less attractive, or their spouse or 'partner' is bored with them, they just end it and go for someone twenty years younger. It's depressing!

    May 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  299. DEBORAH BALLWEG

    Everyone we look up to as role models are not of good character. Our athletes are involved in drugs and cheating on their spouse. One of our former presidents had sex in the white house and they said as he understood it, it wasn't actually sex. Everybody seems to cheat on each other or on their taxes. Religion is ridiculed by high profile people. Our current president says we are no longer a christian nation. No one takes responsibility for what happens, It's always someone else's fault. Everyone in our government lies, cheats and steals. What do you expect?

    May 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  300. Vincent Buyck

    People have forgotten how to take responsibility for anything. They cowardly take the easy way out and blame others people and/or things. This country has been infected with the sin of Sloth; people have become really lazy. This is a far cry from what our founding fathers would have wanted.

    May 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm |