“I have always believed that there was some divine plan

that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed

of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage.”

California Governor Ronald Reagan, 1974

ficient Japanese carmakers . By 1980 Japanese companies already manu- factured a fifth of the vehicles sold in the United States . American manufacturers struggled with some success to match the cost efficien- cies and engineering standards of their Japanese rivals, but their for- mer dominance of the domestic car market was gone forever . The gi- ant old-line steel companies shrank to relative insignificance as foreign steel makers adopted new technolo- gies more readily .

Consumers were the beneficiaries of this ferocious competition in the manufacturing industries, but the painful struggle to cut costs meant the permanent loss of hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs . Those who could made the switch to the service sector; others became unfor- tunate statistics .

Population patterns shifted as well . After the end of the postwar “baby boom” (1946 to 1964), the overall rate of population growth declined and the population grew older . Household composition also changed . In 1980 the percentage of family households dropped; a quar- ter of all groups were now classi- fied as “nonfamily households,” in which two or more unrelated per- sons lived together .

New immigrants changed the character of American society in other ways . The 1965 reform in im- migration policy shifted the focus away from Western Europe, facilitat- ing a dramatic increase in new arriv- als from Asia and Latin America . In

1980, 808,000 immigrants arrived, the highest number in 60 years, as the country once more became a haven for people from around the world .

Additional groups became active participants in the struggle for equal opportunity . Homosexuals, using the tactics and rhetoric of the civil rights movement, depicted them- selves as an oppressed group seeking recognition of basic rights . In 1975, the U .S . Civil Service Commission lifted its ban on employment of ho- mosexuals . Many states enacted an- ti-discrimination laws .

Then, in 1981, came the discov- ery of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) . Transmitted sexually or through blood transfu- sions, it struck homosexual men and intravenous drug users with par- ticular virulence, although the gen- eral population proved vulnerable as well . By 1992, over 220,000 Ameri- cans had died of AIDS . The AIDS ep- idemic has by no means been limited to the United States, and the effort to treat the disease now encompasses physicians and medical researchers throughout the world .

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