American Economic Confusion

Over the past two months I’ve grown more acutely aware of how petty our American economy has become…and what a pernicious effect this is having on our social ethic. Not only are we divided between Wall Street and Main Street, we are profoundly divided on the basic ideas of economic well-being.

This has a number of outgrowths. Tyler Cowen recently wrote in the New York Times an interesting short essay on Mitt Romney’s now famous 47% comment. His article, That Blurry Line Between Makers and Takers, makes the point that “OF MAKING AND TAKING The correct distinction is not “makers versus takers.” The problem is that taking, rather than making wealth, appears to be growing in relative influence.” In essence, our political body is more influenced by economic behavior that ‘takes’ from the American economic whole.

Our penchant for charitable organizations to solve these social problems – and the petty economies of many of those charitable organizations – only adds to the American economic confusion. When I was young, charitable organizations where, in large part, volunteer organizations – many with religious founding. Today charitable organizations are ‘fundraising driven’ entities – many with endowments invested in a broad range of financial mechanisms that have little relationship to the charitable mission of the organization.

Add in the inability of either political party to speak meaningfully and understandably about ‘The Economy’ (How can you speak understandably about an American government that has taken responsibility for so much?) and you have a recipe for confusion.

Add in the observed condition that we are in the second generation of Americans raised under this economic confusion and you have social decline.

The good news is we have a strong undercurrent of sensible thought that both questions our institutionalized confusion – as well as begins to offer different and sound new behavior.

I’m, as you can tell, deeply involved in all of this – both intellectually and practically – and look for your advice and counsel.