The Great American Impasse : It’s an unsustainable edifice

Sans être tout à fait d'accord dans l'ensemble de son texte, il a certains aspects que je trouve intéressant.


Extrait : The Great American Impasse, Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia, February 19, 2012

This is another way of saying that the budget crisis is an aspect of the social crisis brought on by our dysfunctional social model.  Our current ways of organizing and managing our affairs do not work.  The American middle class isn’t making enough money to do all the things we think of as middle class essentials: it cannot afford to educate its kids without saddling them with enormous debts, and it cannot afford the health care it wants without bankrupting the country. It can’t fulfill its dream of owner-occupied housing without setting off bubbles that threaten the whole global economy, it can’t pay for the level of government services it wants without incurring mounting debts, it can’t save enough for the kind of long, secure retirement that it craves.

With the middle class unable to afford what we think a middle class ought to have, and economic changes driving many people out of the middle class mostly in a downward direction, questions about the poor get caught up in the broader political gridlock and confusion.  If we get the relationship of government to the middle class right — and if we figure out a sustainable path for middle class life in this country — the problems of the poor can be addressed reasonably well.  And if we fail to deal with middle class issues, the poor will be squeezed harder as their numbers increase.

There is no single cause for this growing complex of problems.

·         In some cases it’s globalization and the effects of automation and outsourcing on a growing number of jobs.

·         In others it’s the result of learned guilds driving up costs in universities and health care by building and defending poorly designed and low productivity organizations that are meant primarily to serve the interests of key stakeholders.

·         In some cases it’s a combination of excessively costly, overreaching and slow government structures and wave after wave of often well intentioned but also often overlapping, poorly configured and poorly administered regulations that block economic development and growth.

·         In some cases it’s a result of cultural forces—shrinking families, demographic change, mass participation of women at all levels of the labor force—that affect the way society works in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways.

For many liberals, there is plenty of money in America to fix all this and more; the problem is that the wrong people have it. If we tax the rich more, we can afford all the Medicare, all the college educations, all the long retirements we want—not to mention all the food stamps and all the low-income housing loans.  And if the price of college and health care rises some more, we just go back to the old piggy bank and shake a few more billions out of the rich.

My concern is that the costs of living the way we want to live are rising faster than our ability to pay for them. That was true even before the current bout of bad economic times and it will be true even when it is over. It’s an unsustainable edifice; the termites are eating the foundations of our house and the answer isn’t to add another story to this rickety building.

Governor Romney and the rest of the Republican field don’t, I think, have the answers, but neither do the Democrats. That’s America’s problem in 2012—just as it was in 2008, 2004 and 2000. America wants to go forward, but we keep spinning our wheels and over time we are getting a little bad tempered.