In a consumption economy, a belief in progress must necessarily be a canon of the faith. New things must be better than old. The latest innovation, reform, or technology must inevitably surpass what preceded it. A belief in progress spurs achievement (and sells the upgrade).

Being descended from pioneers and immigrants, most of us are not naturally complacent. As Americans, we tend to be optimistic by nature. The sun'll come out tomorrow, some of us sing. The NASDAQ will bounce back in the second half, some of us pray.

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