I suppose it depends on how one is measuring peaks. It's very cyclical. The roaring 20s were thought to be a great time until the stock market crashed and we went through the great depression.
During and after World War II there was a major uptick in manufacturing jobs which increased the numbers of those who felt they were in the "middle class". We blindly trusted our government. This held on through the 1950s.
The 1960s were turbulent times filled with uncertainty and people started to "question their government" develop multiple conspiracy theories after The Bay of Pigs Invasion, the assassination of JFK, MLK, and RFK. There was the Vietnam War protests, the rise of The Black Panthers, Battles over segregation and civil rights, riots, the sexual revolution, hippie drug counter culture, Charles Manson murders, The Cuban missile crisis.
The things most people look back fondly on about the 1960s is the music; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Motown sound, and so on as well as putting a man on the moon.
The 70s continued with the Vietnam War, The Feminist Movement, and we saw president Nixon forced to resign due to the Watergate scandal, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the SLA, drug wars in the inner city brought increased crime and higher murder rates, we finally withdrew from Vietnam leaving many MIA soldiers, President Ford pardoned Nixon, President Carter pardoned those who avoided the draft, Disco took over the airwaves, and the decade ended with The Iran hostage crisis.
It's human nature to "romanticize" the past.
Perception is reality. The "good times" all depends on what was happening in (our) own lives and the people we knew at the time.
One could argue the 80s were great during the Reagan years until the stock crash or Iran Contra, Another could say the 90s Dot.com boom under Clinton was great or the real estate and oil boom under George W were great until the bubble burst, stocks crashed, and we engaged in two long-term wars after 9-11.
Even now millionaires and billionaires are becoming younger with social media inventions and the stock market has been at all time highs. However none of that matters if we're not benefiting or (believe) things are good for ourselves. Perception is reality.
The 70s also saw "oil shortages". We had (odd and even) days to buy gas based upon the last digit of our license plate. Highway speeds were dropped in most places to 55 MPH. 1972 also had the meat crisis and we worried about a population boom.
You make a really good point, that it depends upon the viewpoint of the person you are asking. Thank you for providing such an in depth answer. I do feel however that America's best times are behind it.
Perception is reality. For the children running around on the playground today (these are the good ole days) for them. Every generation feels a known past is better than an uncertain future. It's human nature to "romanticize" the past.
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