In today’s world economists are trained to work with mathematical formulas. They think habitually in terms of textbook standards and customary assumptions. Generally in their view, economic order is based on the objectives of a corporate society. Few economists give attention to civil order or societal well-being—except within the context of this consciousness.
However, there is actually an economy of the United States that is grounded in the lives of real people. This is and will always be a living reality, inherent in the entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and productivity of ordinary Americans.
It will survive despite being damaged, and we ignore it at our peril.
This real and essential economy has been subverted and submerged by the single-minded profit-making zeal of large-scale corporate enterprise. And it is with no little irony that we have seen the corporate world itself subjugated by the wizards of high finance.
It is important that we distinguish the principles of free enterprise, which are essential to a productive economy, from the predatory forces that have corrupted economic order in the interests of power and greed.
It is also necessary to recognize the complexity of our predicament, which is more than simply economic. A broad range of disruptive forces are contributing to the disintegration of social and economic order.
It is on this storm-tossed sea that Americans must learn to navigate—to regain our balance and sustain our integrity.
Despite the near total destruction of the real economy, the financial elite have managed to stay afloat by co-opting the political order and misrepresenting their motives to everyone else.
It is not realistic to expect this to continue. Without the vibrant consumer economy, which they have themselves demolished, the financial elite has no firm foundation upon which to operate.
The mirage of economic strength is nothing more than an empire of debt. And, without productive jobs there will be no consumer economy of any significance.
Ultimately, the world of high finance requires a productive economy to fuel its activities. One can commandeer a vehicle, but it cannot operate without fuel. Or, to put it another way, when a parasite kills its’ host it must find another. And there is no other.
With all its myopic delusions and pompous posturing, the financial class is self-destructing. And the consequences will impact all of us. Whether the transition is short and violent or takes a long time, we cannot wait to organize safe communities and to build self-sufficient lives.
Working people, including the small business owners we will increasingly depend upon, need to start thinking in new ways. Ordinary Americans have been pushed into a corner. But, in the long run the deepening crisis has a silver lining. It will engender valuable lessons, creative opportunities, new ways of thinking.
Big business may or may not survive, or it might go away and then come back. Either way we need to find ways to take control of our lives. And, it will be in local communities and networks of communities that we can assert our economic independence and survive.
This will necessarily depend on a willingness to work together despite our differences, and an ability to respond constructively to the unexpected.
As long-time readers know, we have been discussing the importance of agreeing on shared values and commitment to trustworthiness, if we are to navigate successfully through new and unexpected difficulties.
Whether or not the titans of high finance and big business crash or implode, we must take control of our lives and forge a genuinely American future. No one is going to do it for us.
Safety, dependability, and self-respect are to be found in local communities—when we make it so. To reach out to our neighbors, friend and stranger alike, is to affirm the most essential of American principles.
It is time to rebuild the foundations.
You may watch for the next post on or about August 30.