"Amid all the difficulties and hardship that we are about to undergo, I see one silver lining. This crisis has—dramatically, vengefully—forced the United States to confront the bad habits it has developed over the past few decades. If we can kick those habits, today's pain will translate into gains in the long run."
This makes sense to me. Year ago my husband and I enjoyed reading "Your Money or Your Life." I particularly liked how the authors steered clear of the "frugality" mindset (which unfortunately comes across as cheap and stingy all too often) and instead presented a philosophy of "enoughness" as a saner practice for individuals, communities and nations. It's a recipe for living a sound, peaceful life based on a strong foundation.
The Newsweek article goes on to talk about how much of the United States' economic "growth" in past years has been on paper only - a house of cards that was waiting to fall. While some of the financial practices embedded in our economic structures were ethically sound and sustainable, mixed in were practices driven by rampant greed and dishonesty. It is unfortunate that when the negative practices ran their course and reached their predictable end - destruction - that the good practices have to suffer also.
However, I am a firm believer that good always triumphs over evil (and some of what occurred on Wall Street over the past decades has indeed been patently evil) and that sometimes scrubbing out the evil requires a strong disinfectant that stings the rest of us a bit. The Newsweek article concludes:
"We cannot keep preaching to the world about democracy and capitalism while our own house is so wildly out of order. It's a fundamental American belief that competition is good—in business, athletics and life. Checks and balances are James Madison's crucial mechanisms, exposing and countering abuse and arrogance and forcing discipline on people. This discipline will be painful for a country that has gotten used to having it all. But it will make us much stronger in the long run."
Here's hoping that the current economic crisis causes us all to think about what is "enoughness" in our lives - both individually and collectively - and together to resist building our nation's economy on air and image. This time, let's get it right!