Herbert Sweet

Herbert Sweet

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Ecomic Dilemma in Historical Context

We are now, as everyone knows, in the midst of the ‘great recession’. Liberals see the solution as Keynesian stimulus and entitlements. Conservatives see the solution as debt reduction and even regulation reduction so as to stimulate the engines of the economy. In addition to this we have the new Tea Party folks who are just mad at the government and view it as some kind of oppressor. As irrational and uncivil as they may seem, the understanding of our plight lies in the understanding of this phenomenon rather than focusing on the Liberal Conservative debate.

What we are hearing from many people today, is that they have played by the rules and if they haven’t already lost their jobs, savings and homes, they are worried that they will. They see no future for them or their children. Yet CEOs and other Wall Streeters are making millions if not billions.

Two hundred and twenty one years ago in France the populace was also in dire straits. The people had also done what was expected of them but were unable to make a living which, at the time, meant no more than putting bread on the table. And as CEOs today are living the high life without contributing to the general welfare, the elite of their times, the aristocracy, were just as guilty.

What is lost to the general discussion is an appreciation of the implicit contract between any government and its citizenry. Regardless of the form of government, the level of the economy and the degree of civility of the times, there are three fundamentals that any government must deliver. A government must provide protection from invasion, it must maintain internal stability, and it must provide economic sustainability for the populace. Today, economic viability is issue number one.

Therefore we should view the Tea Party noise just as the French aristocracy should have viewed the peasants with their outstretched pitchforks. A government that fails to provide for the economic survivability of its populace will be replaced -- one way or another.

In my next entry, I will examine what kind of leadership is needed for our times.