From the President's Commencement Address at Rutgers University
The "good old days" weren't that great. Yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster, or when government ran more smoothly. There were moments when, immediately after World War II, for example, or the end of the Cold War, when the world bent more easily to our will. But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes. In fact, by almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago.
And by the way, I'm not -- set aside 150 years ago, pre-Civil War -- there's a whole bunch of stuff there we could talk about. Set aside life in the '50s, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life. Since I graduated, in 1983 -- which isn't that long ago -- I'm just saying. Since I graduated, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, the share of Americans living in poverty -- they're all down. The share of Americans with college educations have gone way up. Our life expectancy has, as well. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks in business and politics. More women are in the workforce. They're earning more money -- although it's long past time that we passed laws to make sure that women are getting the same pay for the same work as men.