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  1. #1

    Is Western society becoming more coddled and infantilized?

    Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has found that our industrialized, Western concept of adolescence is pretty unique regarding most pre-colonial cultures and notes that in many cultures, the concept of a "teen phase" was not really a thing, with a direct societal transition from children to adults. Epstein notes that the concept of adolescence is relatively recent and rooted in societal changes that happened in the 1920s.

    Epstein argues that society may be effectively prolonging the childhood of people in Western(ized) societies (well into their twenties) and that certain shifts in parenting and the gradual removal of legal rights in American society caused adolescents to act even more juvenile and be less prepared to function in adult society. He advocates for increasing teen's rights in regard to employment and contractual agreements, encouraging teens to pursue employment or capitalize on their interests at a younger age, increasing freedoms and responsibilities and providing "out of the box" alternatives for teenagers other than high school (i.e. apprenticeships) as a solution.

    Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at NYU, also finds increasing infantilization by society caused by parents overly monitoring and coddling their young children and preventing them from acquiring the skills they need to function in public at a younger age. He believes that some colleges and institutions further enable this adult infantilism and notes that among Gen Z: rates of employment, dating, sex and other 'adult activities' have declined in place of increased rates of depression and anxiety. Haidt advocates "anti-fragility" training by encouraging parents to allow kids to play outside and move around with only limited parental oversight, things like allowing little kids to walk to the nearby areas on their own.

    What are your thoughts on this societal shift? Do you think it's a legitimate concern and if so, how do you think we should address it? Alternatively, what would be your counter-argument for why we should maintain an artificially-extended childhood for teens and young adults?

    @Ghostpanther @Doctor Amadeus
    Last edited by Techno-Druid; 2019-06-22 at 02:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Techno-Druid View Post
    Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has found that our industrialized, Western concept of adolescence is pretty unique regarding most pre-colonial cultures and notes that in many cultures, the concept of a "teen phase" was not really a thing, with a direct societal transition from children to adults. Epstein notes that the concept of adolescence is relatively recent and rooted in societal changes that happened in the 1920s.

    Epstein argues that society may be effectively prolonging the childhood of people in Western(ized) societies (well into their twenties) and that certain shifts in parenting and the gradual removal of legal rights in American society caused adolescents to act even more juvenile and be less prepared to function in adult society. He advocates for increasing teen's rights in regard to employment and contractual agreements, encouraging teens to pursue employment or capitalize on their interests at a younger age, increasing freedoms and responsibilities and providing "out of the box" alternatives for teenagers other than high school (i.e. apprenticeships) as a solution.

    Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at NYU, also finds increasing infantilization by society caused by parents overly monitoring and coddling their young children and preventing them from acquiring the skills they need to function in public at a younger age. He believes that some colleges and institutions further enable this adult infantilism and notes that among Gen Z: rates of employment, dating, sex and other 'adult activities' have declined in place of increased rates of depression and anxiety. Haidt advocates "anti-fragility" training by encouraging parents to allow kids to play outside and move around with only limited parental oversight, things like allowing little kids to walk to the nearby areas on their own.

    What are your thoughts on this societal shift? Do you think it's a legitimate concern and if so, how do you think we should address it? Alternatively, what would be your counter-argument for why we should maintain an artificially-extended childhood for teens and young adults?

    @Ghostpanther @Doctor Amadeus
    I think the domestication of than human animal has been ongoing for far longer than western theory.
    "It doesn't matter if you believe me or not but common sense doesn't really work here. You're mad, I'm mad. We're all MAD here."

  3. #3
    To some extent, I think some blame can go back to advertising and the emergence of "Youth Culture" which is essentially consumer culture with a certain shallow bend to it if it's possible to be even more shallow. I'd say our culture embraced the worst aspects of the adolescent mind, popularized it, and valorized the young. Mostly for marketing, but still. The development of a more hedonistic, self gratifying self was in my view the greatest triumph of the mass marketing and PR compaigns to essentially engineer culture in service to capitalism.

    On the college's it's big largely because the relationship between the school and the student is essentially a business and its customers.

  4. #4
    The 1920s? It's much earlier than that but it was more of bougie thing since poorer parents couldn't really afford that. Its a good change if you ask me, overprotecting your child is obviously a bad thing but putting emphasis on the children and teenagers playing and learning is kinda necessary if you want them to develop the skills necessary to be a productive member.

    @Techno-Druid. Recommended reading tbh.

    https://www.amazon.com/Anthropology-...ds=david+lancy

    Review by the NYT:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/o...ever-need.html
    Your problem is that you’re more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.

  5. #5
    Well, we do have a child in the white house...having temper tantrums almost daily.

  6. #6
    I guess it's ironic in a way - aren't kids starting puberty earlier?

    Not sure what you can do to fight against it since it's the result of pursuing the path of least resistance / finding the easiest route through life. The solution would be the same as figuring out how you can successfully argue that we need things to be more difficult or challenging.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Rainbow Capitalist View Post
    The 1920s? It's much earlier than that but it was more of bougie thing since poorer parents couldn't really afford that. Its a good change if you ask me, overprotecting your child is obviously a bad thing but putting emphasis on the children and teenagers playing and learning is kinda necessary if you want them to develop the skills necessary to be a productive member.

    @Techno-Druid. Recommended reading tbh.

    https://www.amazon.com/Anthropology-...ds=david+lancy

    Review by the NYT:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/o...ever-need.html
    I think this is less of a discussion on primary education and more on how we treat and prepare adolescents for adulthood. Obviously there have to be some hard limits for younger children and younger adolescents, but it may not be all that beneficial for middle-late adolescents to put off emerging adult activities when they are arguably at their physical and cognitive peak to start acquiring wisdom in these areas.
    Last edited by Techno-Druid; 2019-06-22 at 12:43 AM.

  8. #8
    The Unstoppable Force Ghostpanther's Avatar
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    There are extremes to both sides. There needs to be a standard at which a person becomes a legal adult for many society functions. I do not agree however, that say the age of 18 is when the laws says you are a adult, yet, they prohibit you from buying alcoholic drinks and smokes. They will let you die on the battlefield however. It is a hypocritical stance.

    A parent can however, over cuddle their children to the extent, they will learn and become a adult slower and with less confidence. I like the story of a Amish farmer trying to teach his son how to plow. As the son was directing the plow, the father was watching over him would tell him to go right or left. After several mins. of him telling him., right!, left!, right, left! the son felt frustrated as he was struggling to do it right and he started to cry and stopped. The father then told him, I said right, not stop. Eventually he learned to do it right because of the patience of his father.

    A part of being a good parent is allowing your children to learn some things, by struggling and learning from their mistakes. Our son, shortly after he started to drive on his own at age 17, he had a job in town and was driving home in a snow fall and went around a corner too fast. He ran off the road and got stuck in the ditch. He called us and the first question I had for him is, are you alright? Later after we got him home and the truck he was driving home, I asked him. How was fast was you going when you went around the corner? he said 35. I told him that is a sharp corner and 20 mph would be too fast with snow on the road. We had a $100 deductible on the damage , which was around $1000. I told him he would have to pay that deductible and learn from the experience, but he could still drive the truck to work.

    Myself, I started working in the fields with my dad when I was 6 years old. He gave me a cotton bag and told me to pick as much cotton that bag would hold and I could still drag it along. When it got full, yell and he would bring me another bag. In my case, it was to the other extreme. I pretty much could do what I wanted, except when it was time to work the crops. The hard work was good for me, but the unbridled supervision aside form working in the fields, was not. It took myself to make a decision to join the Army at 17 to learn some discipline, responsibility and team work. I should have got that kind of supervision at home.

    Too many children today are not being taught responsibility, consequences for their actions and duty to respect others. And as Denzel Washington said in a interview, it starts in the home.
    The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” - Thomas Jefferson.

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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostpanther View Post
    There are extremes to both sides. There needs to be a standard at which a person becomes a legal adult for many society functions. I do not agree however, that say the age of 18 is when the laws says you are a adult, yet, they prohibit you from buying alcoholic drinks and smokes. They will let you die on the battlefield however. It is a hypocritical stance.
    I don't think raising the age does anything but make politicians look better. Education and encouraging an environment of safe usage seems to be vastly superior than prohibition. There's a reason why we the teen pregnancy rates have dropped drastically since the 90s (lowest it's been since the 70s), it's because we largely realized that abstinence does not work and refocused our effort on harm reduction (i.e. birth control, testing for STDs).

    You aren't going to successfully stop teens from drinking alcohol or smoking weed or tobacco, but you can at least give them a controlled environment to do so and allow them to learn how to moderate themselves at an earlier age. That model seems to be objectively superior, in at least if you're trying to reduce the most harm from the substance.

    Of course research has also shown that there seems to be a portion of people who are just naturally impulsive and addiction-prone throughout their lives, but these are a minority and most teens who experiment aren't likely to become addicted (look up Dan Romer's research into this).

    A parent can however, over cuddle their children to the extent, they will learn and become a adult slower and with less confidence. I like the story of a Amish farmer trying to teach his son how to plow. As the son was directing the plow, the father was watching over him would tell him to go right or left. After several mins. of him telling him., right!, left!, right, left! the son felt frustrated as he was struggling to do it right and he started to cry and stopped. The father then told him, I said right, not stop. Eventually he learned to do it right because of the patience of his father.

    A part of being a good parent is allowing your children to learn some things, by struggling and learning from their mistakes. Our son, shortly after he started to drive on his own at age 17, he had a job in town and was driving home in a snow fall and went around a corner too fast. He ran off the road and got stuck in the ditch. He called us and the first question I had for him is, are you alright? Later after we got him home and the truck he was driving home, I asked him. How was fast was you going when you went around the corner? he said 35. I told him that is a sharp corner and 20 mph would be too fast with snow on the road. We had a $100 deductible on the damage , which was around $1000. I told him he would have to pay that deductible and learn from the experience, but he could still drive the truck to work.

    Myself, I started working in the fields with my dad when I was 6 years old. He gave me a cotton bag and told me to pick as much cotton that bag would hold and I could still drag it along. When it got full, yell and he would bring me another bag. In my case, it was to the other extreme. I pretty much could do what I wanted, except when it was time to work the crops. The hard work was good for me, but the unbridled supervision aside form working in the fields, was not. It took myself to make a decision to join the Army at 17 to learn some discipline, responsibility and team work. I should have got that kind of supervision at home.

    Too many children today are not being taught responsibility, consequences for their actions and duty to respect others. And as Denzel Washington said in a interview, it starts in the home.
    You're a great father, natural consequences will always be the most effective and the lesson that you gave him probably made him learn from it.

  10. #10
    The Unstoppable Force Ghostpanther's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Techno-Druid View Post
    I don't think raising the age does anything but make politicians look better. Education and encouraging an environment of safe usage seems to be vastly superior than prohibition. There's a reason why we the teen pregnancy rates have dropped drastically since the 90s (lowest it's been since the 70s), it's because we largely realized that abstinence does not work and refocused our effort on harm reduction (i.e. birth control, testing for STDs).

    You aren't going to successfully stop teens from drinking alcohol or smoking weed or tobacco, but you can at least give them a controlled environment to do so and allow them to learn how to moderate themselves at an earlier age. That model seems to be objectively superior, in at least if you're trying to reduce the most harm from the substance.

    Of course research has also shown that there seems to be a portion of people who are just naturally impulsive and addiction-prone throughout their lives, but these are a minority and most teens who experiment aren't likely to become addicted (look up Dan Romer's research into this).



    You're a great father, natural consequences will always be the most effective and the lesson that you gave him probably made him learn from it.
    We never had to worry about our kids doing things like getting someone pregnant, getting pregnant , drunk driving or doing anything illegal. Because we had faith in how and what we where teaching them and being a good example, was of itself a good deterrent to not doing something stupid.

    Thanks. I have tried to be and now that all 3 of our children are adults and have their own interests, the path they have took , I feel really good about them. But my wife also played a major role in how they were raised. She actually should get most of the credit. I was mainly the enforcer. lol! But I also made some mistakes and have told my children the ones I did.
    Last edited by Ghostpanther; 2019-06-22 at 01:25 AM.
    The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” - Thomas Jefferson.

    If I do not respond to your post directed at myself, there will be three reasons. 1. You are on my ignore list. 2. You did not make a post I felt was worthy of a response. 3. I simply never saw it, as I do not dig thru posts if I been offline for a while.

  11. #11
    The Insane PC2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Techno-Druid View Post
    encouraging teens to pursue employment or capitalize on their interests at a younger age, increasing freedoms and responsibilities and providing "out of the box" alternatives for teenagers other than high school (i.e. apprenticeships) as a solution.
    Yes! The way in which society forces conformity onto kids all the way up to age 18 is a travesty. What subject a young person is most 'curious' to learn about says something important about their experience. We want more distinguished young people and less coercion that forces them into the cookie cutter.
    Life = problem solving. *Explanation* > Prediction. (Crit)Rationalism, not empiricism. Deduction, not induction.

  12. #12
    Banned Doctor Amadeus's Avatar
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    @Techno-Druid

    First off I wouldn't take much of Psychology Today seriously, it is basically magazine run and edited by non psychologist that will print almost anything. That being said my answer is.

    No, Western society isn't becoming more coddled and infantilized, back nearly 200 years ago my great grandfathers migrated or were brought here from different parts of the world, all of them having in common that sense of family.

    Certainly times were more brutal and harsh for everyone, but hell families used cohabitation and even demanded that family lived together and work together, say on a farm, even if that meant forgoing other things like school for example. People in small towns lived in those small towns and in addition to being limited in education there were very few options in the way of courting and other kinds of relationships.

    Meaning limited relationships or even abusive relationships and for the most part people were dirt fucking poor as a result.


    Some could say things haven't changed, but when I say poor back then, I mean far far worse than we have now. People often went without medical care as well, and in-spite of this people often had children by half a dozen or more and many times with close relatives. Most of whom never made it to adulthood.

    Fast forward a little bit to the mid 20th Century, much of the industrialized world had it's own issues, death, disease, civil rights issues, and war. Due to the way previous generations existed, this lead to a lot of splitting and fracturing of families, and exposures to the kinds of abuse not realized in the generation before that.


    Which leads us to here and now, and over the last 30- 40 years those living in a much different way than the previous generations, correcting wrongs of the past, trying to keep up with an ever progressing industrialized nation, in a ever competing industrialized world.

    People now days pretty much follow the trend and we have always been on and I think with that contending with mistakes not only made way back, but even more recent as the last half decade.


    So no, the western society is just progressing, but without all the knowledge of how that is going to be shaped in the future, because, WE DON'T KNOW what to expect from the world going forward and as a result we are doing the things we know to adapt.

    TLDR: Robert Epstein is an idiot with an idiotic theory, that bares no relevance to reality. Family Structures are changing because they have always changed to adapt to the world we all live in. Our Environment.
    Last edited by Doctor Amadeus; 2019-06-22 at 02:13 AM.

  13. #13
    remember back in the day when charlie had to work in a factory so you could put bread on the table before the nanni state food stamps by socialist FDR, those were the days of personal responsibility

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Techno-Druid View Post
    Robert Epstein
    I think Epstein is wrong here and is jumping to massive conclusions ignoring both historical context and current context.

    But I see why his claim would strike a particularly favorable cord with Conservatives.

    Epstein ignores that specialization and complexity in cultures creates the "intermediate" phase between adulthood and childhood.

    One example of the top of my head is being a squire. A squire was a transition phase between a page (child) and knight (adult). Nobleman became squires around the age of 14 and remained as such until around the age of 21.

    While they weren't exactly children anymore and nobody would call one a child after about the age of 16, they didn't not have the full set of rights and responsibilities of a knight.

    This transitionary phase was necessary as gaining the skills required to be a knight took years of training and conditioning.

    Similar roles existed from early on in nearly any society that created and trained specialists. Historically this would usually be called apprentices.

    An apprentice depending on the role he was training for could spend most of his teenage years until his early 20's being a ward of the person he was training under, and thus not really having the same rights or responsibilities as an adult. As for example a blacksmith or an accountant would have be to some extent legally liable for the actions of his apprentice (ward) even in settings that weren't professional. Beyond that squires, apprentices etc were expected to remain unmarried, thus not engaging in activities that society would define as "adult" aka forming a family, often well into their 20s.

    These systems of not children but not quite adults go way back in recorded history.

    Addmittedly the demands placed on young people in those times were harsher, but that's more of a consequence of life overall being harsher.

    It is also important to keep in mind that historically the vast majority of people didn't get these forms of education, norm being unskilled agrarian laborers, with a much more sudden transition from childhood into adulthood.

    That doesn't mean that the concept of adolescence even if not called adolescence was unknown.

    Adolescence as we understand today is just a sweeping extension of this "intermediacy" brought about by the advent of universal education.

    Suddenly everyone was in a "apprenticeship" acquiring the skills needed to function productively in a technical and industrialized society.

    As that complexity of that society is increasing we have a tendency to extend this intermediate period, as the period required to accumulate basic skills is expanding.

    A contract today is wildly more complicated and possibly consequential than an average contract drafted 500 years ago.

    Vast majority of functioning adults are woefully incapable of grasping the basics of nearly any contract they sign (which is also why today we have more lawyers running around than ever before in history).

    Considering that someone who might have been a tax paying and fully employed adult can't grasp your average employment or mortgage contract, I don't really agree with the idea of universally expanding the legal liabilities of teenagers.

    The thing about adulthood historically was that it was something people were expected to qualify for, depending on their position in society.

    For your average peasant being able to reproduce might been sufficient. But for a professional whether someone expected to lead men into battle or raise a brick wall or write a contract, adulthood was something they had to earn, making the entry point somewhat more flexible.

    You would have prodigy generals or musicians or blacksmiths and you would have people who might have had to toil into their late 20s to be accepted as an "adult".

    The point is there are kids out there who are more than ready to be counted as adults by their mid teens, and there are adults who shouldn't be allowed to use a spork without protection.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Raybourne View Post
    I guess it's ironic in a way - aren't kids starting puberty earlier?

    Not sure what you can do to fight against it since it's the result of pursuing the path of least resistance / finding the easiest route through life. The solution would be the same as figuring out how you can successfully argue that we need things to be more difficult or challenging.
    Hitting puberty earlier has exactly nothing to do with culture and has to do with improving nutrition.

    Your average person, especially in the developed world is wildly better fed than people were 150 years ago. Which means they grow and develop faster physically.

    If you want to postpone puberty... Malnourish the kids. That does the trick.
    Last edited by Mihalik; 2019-06-22 at 10:50 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Orlong View Post
    It doesnt destroy the land to bury styrofoam 25 feet below the ground
    Today Obama once again kneeled at the altar of environmental naziism and hurt this once great country. He has now banned all drilling in the Atlantic Ocean

  15. #15
    Over 9000! Grimbold21's Avatar
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    So, basically child labour?

    We removed the (forced) necessity of children having to go into the (hard) labour market, and that is one of the factors explaining infantilization?

    I mean, it depends on the country and family. In my family, whether we wanted or not, we would "work" or be taught the value of work. As young as 12 i was helping out, with my brothers, my dad at the farm, despite the fact that we hated it.

    And myself, my dad one day got mad that i was spending my days holed up in the house video gaming all day, in contrast with my previous habits of being out in the street playing around. So he said " right, enough, from now on every weekend you're gonna help out at the restaurant and whenever we need". I was also around 12.

    But now i live in Denmark and i see their work culture is different. Kids are taught and possibly expect to get a part time job at a young age, like delivery newspapers and whatnot. There's also the expection that by the time you're 18 you're well enough to move out of your parents place.

    That doesn't really happen in Portugal, but it's more becaude Denmark has the economic structure to allow teenagers to become adults sooner

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Mihalik View Post
    Hitting puberty earlier has exactly nothing to do with culture and has to do with improving nutrition.

    Your average person, especially in the developed world is wildly better fed than people were 150 years ago. Which means they grow and develop faster physically.

    If you want to postpone puberty... Malnourish the kids. That does the trick.
    This is interesting - do you have research on all this? Specifically the effects of puberty and evidence that they have no secondary effects on culture due to their individual personal changes. As to being better fed, I can find this:
    Our results suggest that lower SES at 7 years and reductions in SES in early childhood are both associated with an earlier age at menarche.
    Mayo clinic seems to indicate several factors other than ses predicting early puberty as well. I'd argue the fact that so many kids are overweight is why you might think "people are so well fed these days", while being overweight is what predicts precocious puberty. That along with exposure to sex hormones.

    Additionally, to say puberty has 0% to do with culture would be extremely unlikely.
    Last edited by Raybourne; 2019-06-22 at 01:54 PM.

  17. #17
    The Undying freefolk's Avatar
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    I wonder if it's just that we haven't had a huge struggle like WWII or the Great Depression. Such things would mature you quickly.

    Like Don Corleone said: BE A MAN!
    .

    "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can."

    -- Capt. Copeland

  18. #18
    We have a block function and ignore in so many sites outthere, we have the ability to talk and find common grounds, yet you have some that desires to Deplatform or demortise another because you do not agree with them


    The core idea of "Sticks and stones" is dead and we have literal babies on Social media crying all of the time, someone doesn't agree with you? "NAZI" or "FASCIST" or just plain old "IDIOT!" We have users that considers it a waste of time to debate with someone they disagree with, such people are not worth the time because they're more likely to be harmed by words than sticks and stones.





    Still, you should always try.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by dunhildas View Post
    We have a block function and ignore in so many sites outthere, we have the ability to talk and find common grounds, yet you have some that desires to Deplatform or demortise another because you do not agree with them


    The core idea of "Sticks and stones" is dead and we have literal babies on Social media crying all of the time, someone doesn't agree with you? "NAZI" or "FASCIST" or just plain old "IDIOT!" We have users that considers it a waste of time to debate with someone they disagree with, such people are not worth the time because they're more likely to be harmed by words than sticks and stones.





    Still, you should always try.
    I think this is in the wrong thread.
    "It doesn't matter if you believe me or not but common sense doesn't really work here. You're mad, I'm mad. We're all MAD here."

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Raybourne View Post
    This is interesting - do you have research on all this? Specifically the effects of puberty and evidence that they have no secondary effects on culture due to their individual personal changes. As to being better fed, I can find this:


    Mayo clinic seems to indicate several factors other than ses predicting early puberty as well. I'd argue the fact that so many kids are overweight is why you might think "people are so well fed these days", while being overweight is what predicts precocious puberty. That along with exposure to sex hormones.

    Additionally, to say puberty has 0% to do with culture would be extremely unlikely.
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...nmental-roots/

    They can't exclude other factors, as it's almost impossible to have controls for this, but it's observed wherever nutrition improves.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4450001/

    Also the consensus is that the primary factor that determines puberty onset is nutrition.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266867/

    We also know for a fact that poor nutrition delays puberty. It can even halt menstruation altogether and trigger menopause. Poor nutrition can also cause infertility in men as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Orlong View Post
    It doesnt destroy the land to bury styrofoam 25 feet below the ground
    Today Obama once again kneeled at the altar of environmental naziism and hurt this once great country. He has now banned all drilling in the Atlantic Ocean

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