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          FACTS about this Decade

  • Population: 281,421,906 (2000 Census)
  • Unemployment: 5.8 million, or 4.2% (Sept 99)
  • National Debt: $5,413.l Million (1997)
  • Average salary: $13.37/hr (1999)
  • Minimum Wage: $5.15/hr (1997)
  • Teacher's Salary: $39,347 (1998)
  • Life Expectancy: Male 73.1 Female 79.1(1997)
  • Auto Deaths: 49,772 (1997)
  • Olympics in Atlanta (See photo on left)

 

     The 1990s was truly the electronic age.  We would not have been able to publish our electronic decades web site if it weren't for the Web.   The World Wide Web was born in 1992, changing the way we communicate (email), spend our money (online gambling, stores),  and do business (e-commerce).  By 1994, 3 million people were online.  By 1998, 100 million people were.  It is estimated that by 2001, some 1 billion people will be connected.Internet lingo like plug-ins,  BTW (by the way), GOK (God only knows), IMHO (in my humble opinion), FAQS, SPAM, FTP, ISP, and  phrases like "See you online" or  "The server's down"  or "Bill Gates" became part of our everyday vocabulary.  We signed our mail with a  :-)  smile, a   ;-)  wink, or a :-* kiss.  And - everyone has a cell phone.

     In the 1990's the United States played the role of world policeman, sometimes alone but more often in alliances. The decade began with Sadam Husein's invasion into Kuwait and the resultant Gulf War. In 1993 the war was in the African country of Somali, as the television images of starving children led to an attempt to oust the warlord, General Adid. By September, 1994, the U.S. was once again sending troops to a foreign country to overthrow a military dictatorship, this time in Haiti.  In 1996 about 20,0000 American troops were deployed to Bosnia as part of a NATO peacekeeping force. In late March 1999 the U.S. joined NATO in air strikes against Yugoslavia in an effort to halt the Yugoslavian government's policy of ethnic cleansing in its province of Kosovo. The decade was to end much as it began with U.S. forces deployed in many countries, and the U.S. playing arbitrator, enforcer, and peace keeper throughout the world.

     The 90s have been called the Merger Decade. On the domestic front some big issues were health care, social security reform, and gun control - unresolved and debated during the whole decade.   Violence and sex scandals dominated the media. This was a decade of scandals starting with the Tailgate affair in which Navy and Marine Corps fliers were accused of sexually abusing 26 women.  President Clinton kept the gossip flowing as several women accused him of sexual misconduct.  The ten years ended with this president  narrowly surviving a trial to remove him from office for his sexual behavior.  President Clinton's escapades were proving to be a hindrance to his Vice President Al Gore's campaign for the oval office and polls were reporting that 70% of the American people were saying that they were "tired of the Clintons".

     Violence seemed a part of life.  In 1992 South-Central Los Angeles rioted after four white policemen were acquitted of video-taped assault charges for beating a black motorist, Rodney King.  1993 brought terrorism to the American shores as a bomb was detonated in the garage beneath the World Trade Center.  That same month of February saw four agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms killed during an unsuccessful raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas led by David Koresh.  Americans were glued to their TV sets in 1995 as the football hero, O.J. Simpson, was tried for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her male friend, Ron Goldman.  This trial pointed out the continued racial division in the country as most blacks applauded the not guilty verdict while most whites thought an obviously guilty man had gotten away with murder. The shock of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 was compounded by the revelation that the perpetrators were not foreign terrorists but were U.S. citizens led by a U.S. Army veteran, Timothy McVeigh.  In the months between February 1996 and April 1999 there were at least fourteen incidents of school shootings with the most lethal being on April 20, 1999 when 14 students and 1 teacher were killed and  23 wounded at Littleton High School in Littleton, Colorado.

     There was good news, too.  The booming economy led to record low unemployment.  Minimum wage was increased to $5.15 an hour.  The stock market reached an all time high as individuals learned to buy and trade via the internet.  Americans enjoyed the country's affluence by  traveling more (up 40% since 1986), by reveling in sporting events such as the Atlanta Summer Olympics, and by "consuming" as never before.   America faced the new millennium with an open, diversified society, a functioning democracy, a healthy economy, and the means and will, hopefully, to face and overcome its problems.

     For youth, the fashion of the decade began with Grunge on one hand and preppie on the other. Hip Hop style was popular. Boys' jeans have grown bigger and bigger, worn low on the hips, and girls are wearing bellbottoms and poor boy tops reminiscent of the 70's.  Over $6 billion was spent by fast food places on uniforms.   Designers included Liz Claiborne, DKNY,and Tommy Hilfinger. Dress down Fridays became commonplace and  gradually developed into a more casual work dress code altogether, with 53% of companies allowing casual dress in 1998, up from 7 % in 1992.  Khaki pants and polo shirts or denim shirts were the work-place norm.  New fabrics such as microfiber and tencel competed with the ever-popular cotton and linen.  Consumer spending on clothing dropped from 4.6% in 1990 to 1% in 1995. While interest in health and nutrition has increased, obesity was at a record high.  Fads include Tae-bo, in-line skates, beanie babies, Furby, Tickle Me Elmo, WWJD, Yo-yos, tattoos and body piercing, and the ubiquitous video games.

     Eighty-two percent of the population in 1997 was completing four years of high school as opposed to only forty-one percent in 1960, (see Statistical Abstract of the United States, 119th ed., chart 263).  Education subject guides sprang up on the web.   The Elementary and Secondary Education Act,  provided assistance to disadvantaged students or pupils with limited proficiency in English and was intended to improve instruction in areas like drug use prevention, math, and science.  ERIC (Educational Resources database) went online.   Ritalin becqme the drug of choice for schools and parents alike as more students were labeled ADD or ADHD. The BIG change was that students could complete their education without coming on campus, through Distance Education ProgramsIn the classroom, many schools required uniforms..

     The Americans With Disabilities Act, effective in July, 1990, began the decade on a positive note by protecting the rights of all Americans with physical or mental disabilities.   Introduced first as a policy for the military, a law passed by Congress in September, 1993, was written to protect the rights of gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces.  Called " don't ask, don't tell,"  it directed people to keep their sexuality hidden if they intended to stay in military careers. An important gun control bill aimed at protecting all Americans became law in 1994.  The Brady Bill provides a five day waiting period when purchasing a gun.  In January, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement was intended to eliminate barriers to trade between neighboring countries, particularly Mexico and Canada.

     In 1994, Republicans won a majority in Congress for the first time in forty years.  Part of the reason for the party's success was a ten point plan called the Contract with America which outlined  a promise to reshape government by decentralizing federal authority, giving states and local government more control over taxes, and social programs, and by improving the way government did business.  Welfare reform, began in 1988 with the federal Family Support Act which initiated changes such as directing all states to phase in comprehensive welfare-to-work programs by 1990, and giving states more control over welfare expenses.  This program continued in 1996, when the controversial Aid to Families with Dependent Children Act was abolished as part of the new block grant called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families  (TANF).  An outgrowth of state control over welfare spending, TANF converts state funding to a fixed level. A prominent part of the 1996 law directs that minor parents of dependent children can only receive TANF funds if they were living at home or in another adult supervised setting.  A limit of five years of federal aid in a lifetime was set for families receiving welfare.

     In March, 1996, a bill was passed giving the president line item veto authority.  This bill allowed the president to veto specific parts of a spending bill while approving the rest, thus giving more power to the office of the president.  The bill was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June 1998.

     On December 31, 1999, at noon, the United State returned  management and control of the  Panama Canal and the Canal Zone to Panama.  This ends a remarkable period of 85 years in which the United States' control over the waterway served as a powerful reminder of the strength of the U.S. in the Western Hemisphere.  The turnover has not been without controversy.

     A development in the nineties which made politics more interesting to the average person was the cross over from the business world and the entertainment world to politics.  Beginning with President Ronald Reagan, the stage was set for performers like  Jesse Ventura, Warren Beatty and Jane Alexander to become more publicly involved in government.   Businessmen Ross Perot and Donald Trump felt they had abilities which made them natural leaders and viable candidates for public office.  Politicians have always had an audience, but during the nineties colorful personalities like  Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rush Limbaugh have made politics a "born again" entertainment forum for the average American.

     Prominent in other government positions were  Justice Clarence Thomas, of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, also on the Supreme Court. Dr. Jocelyn Elders, a plain spoken and somewhat controversial Surgeon General, made headlines with her position on sex education for teens.   Attorney General Janet Reno represented the government position on many hotly debated legal issues.  Secretary of State, Madeline Albright provided an American presence abroad.  Military leader,  Colin Powell was popular enough that he was considered a strong candidate for the presidency, though he chose not to run for office.

     Women achieved firsts.   Sally Ride and Shannon Lucid explored space.  Multiple births  gave Bobbi McCaughey the title of mom to the  first set of surviving septuplets, and Nkem Chukwu a close second when she gave birth to octuplets in Houston, of whom seven babies survived.

     Prominate in the world of technology were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  Successful women included  Oprah Winfrey and Martha StewartMichael Jordon  and Tiger Wood were heroes for all young athletes.Two important losses were Jackie Kennedy to cancer and later her son, John F. Kennedy in a plane crash.

     Radio stations tended to find a niche and stick to it rather than playing a mix.  With the advent of MP3 and writable CD's people could copy music to a CD and have a professional quality disk. Copyright problems abounded.  In 1993, Gordon Shaw published a study on the Mozart Effect, a correlation between classical music and mathematical aptitude discovering that college students and rats  improve test scores by as much as 30% after listening to the music.   We have attempted to give you (thanks to Lori Whitley and Maggie Whitley) the more important music of the '90s and a sampling of musicians that define the decade.  You may have your favorites who are not listed.  There is no wrong answer.

     Television  graced 99% of the households in the U.S., the average viewer spending seven hours a day watching 'the tube'.  In 1996. the television industry announced a  TV Parental Guideline rating system. News or news magazine shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20, and Dateline NBC were popular.  As cable expanded to include 74% of U.S. households, it gave rise to networks dedicated to a particular theme such as sports, nature, golf, cooking, romance, history, and science fiction. CNN had live coverage of the Gulf War in 1991.  And, did you, too, stay up to hear Dave Letterman's List?     The industry continued to push the envelop with hot topics.


For more info about the nineties decade go to More About the '90s

IF YOU ARE AN ALUMNI OF THIS DECADE AND HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED YOUR INFO YET PLEASE CONSIDER DOING SO TODAY.  THERE ARE SO MANY OF YOUR CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS WHO WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU               ~~ COYOTE UPDATE ~~