On CNN recently a commentator observed the stock market was going down because it was waiting for the government to tell it the truth about the economy. In reality the last thing the stock market wants is the truth. What is wants is confirmation of its comforting illusions. That is one thing this administration is reluctant to give. In reality many businesses already know the truth. This is why they are cutting their workforces. The stock market is simply reacting to this decrease in business activity.
We avoided Great Depression 2 for over 60 years by the following means. We encouraged consumers to buy things they didn’t really need. In order to keep profits high and wages low we encouraged consumers to go into debt for these purchases. In addition all this economic activity used material resources, especially energy, that could not be replaced. In the past year and a half we came to the point where the debt needed to be repaid. In addition energy and other resources began to run out. This lead to an increase in their price. So the system began to break down. The worst economic calamity since the 30s is the result.
This breakdown creates a difficult political problem for any American administration. Americans are individualists. Individualism is a part of what it means to be an American. In order to have a strong society based on individualism it is necessary for the economy to create enough jobs so each and every individual who wants a job can have one. In order to do this we must be able to grow the economy. If we can’t convince people to buy things they do not really need we won’t be able to produce enough jobs so everyone who wants one can have one. And if the material resources to produce and ship and use these goods doesn’t exist there is no way we can produce enough jobs to maintain our present social system.
Yes we can create sustainable economic and social systems. Yes we can create resilient economic and social systems. But in these systems the needs of the many are going to be more important than the needs of the one. This is the United States of America. We can create these systems. But we cannot make the idea the needs of the many are more important than the needs of the one politically popular. This is the truth that dare not speak its name.