Two Required Lessons

From time to time, most people get the blues.  Maybe the weather has been lousy, or maybe someone has not been feeling well.  What ever the cause, everything else happening takes on a dark tone.  The daily chores seem too burdensome.  Hurry sundown.

For most people, well before the chemical arsenal of anti-depressants or mood elevators are prescribed, suddenly and for unknown reasons, life becomes manageable again.  For the nation, a similar phenomena appears also to take place periodically too.

For example, there has been a run of bad news for what seems like the last several years with foreign affairs.  The Israeli-Palestinian issue is stalemated with one senseless provocation by each side after another.  Egypt in the name of democracy disappeared as a tourist destination as the Muslim Brotherhood won a narrow victory and then tried to govern as if they were a 100% majority.  Tunisia, Libya, and now Syria went through uprisings.  Syria’s troubles are headed to the record category for senseless killings.  Now there seems to be a return to the cold war behavior of Russia and a divided and seemingly indecisive Western coalition.  Nothing seems to be working as reasonable and enlightened humans would expect.

On the domestic scene, partisan politics have reached the point of dysfunction.  Both sides talk past each other and miss all opportunities to find common ground.  Personal greed has pervaded Congress (as well as most State and Local officials).  The new motto seems “not I can do for government, but what government can do for me”.  Today’s domestic scene will not be confused with Camelot.

Something, however, is feeling different.

So, maybe it is Spring.  The weather has been unusually awful this winter but now there are real signs of a break.  Baseball is around the corner.  Fishing season is almost here.  What ever the reason, the cloud of gloom seems to be lifting and although much of the world looks a mess, there is hope it can be fixed.

Lesson 1.  It could be that we are slowly realizing that democracy and capitalism may be the best institutions and all countries should adopt, but importantly, it is not going to happen.  The importance of that observation is that we can stop trying to convert the world with extraordinary means.  We may be beginning to realize these dysfunctional States will continue to be lessen economically competitive.  The up short is US will face less competition while trying to figure out how it will govern.

Managed economies and especially those run by authoritarians are generally inefficient.  With globalization, inefficient economies are on a steady downward path.  Damning with faint praise, the US, despite its weaknesses with debt, education, and high healthcare costs, can for the foreseeable future expect to remain the wealthiest and most productive economy.

Lesson 2.  History has taught that everything deteriorates, and that what is done today, becomes the basis for what have in the future.  Once we make out beds, then we must sleep in them.

Consequently, we should use this regained confidence (and time)  to sort through our social and infrastructure problems and put them in perspective with our overall economy.

Consider that nothing good can be expected if the current income distribution gap continues.  And if we simply transfer wealth from the rich and give it unconditionally to the poor, I am confident nothing good will come from that too.  Clearly we must find ways to shrink the income distribution gap magnitude while addressing the other social and infrastructure issues.

My guess is that if a path forward is found, a successful path will lie well between the extremes of conservatism and progressivism.   We need solutions that are pragmatic while being strategic, that rely upon data and analysis, and once implemented are continually tested for efficacy.

I just hope these dark clouds remain parted long enough for optimism to flourish again.  And I must remember that dark clouds form normally as well as from disappointment over failed policy.  Patience and willingness to consider all proposals which are fact based will eventually win out.

 

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