The American Dream has become a Nightmare
John K White
Mar. 18, 2014
Many argue that our increasingly globalized economy cannot keep up with the speed at which financial systems are changing – because of differing national laws, unregulated financial practices, or the still-prevalent unequal living and labor standards throughout the world – which simply postpones asking the hard questions about whether greed and the demand for more should be at the root of economic practice. And whether it’s time to put Bubble Economics into the trash can of history.
As Ben Selwyn noted in Development By the Elites, For the Elites(March 7), “total global wealth was $241 trillion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $334 trillion by 2018. Yet the majority of people live in poverty.” That’s an almost 40 percent increase in 5 years, for a system still reeling from crisis, austerity, and unemployment. Not very human, enlightened, or even practical. While Paul Krugman noted with equal outrage in the New York Times (“Liberty, equality, efficiency,” March 9) that “Almost 40 percent of American children live in poverty or near poverty.” That’s forty as in four zero.
But why do we want a system so detached from what makes us human? In The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria wrote that “no system – capitalism, socialism, whatever – can work without a sense of ethics and values at its core.” He also likened the world economy to a race car, faster and more complex than ever – alas, one that still regularly crashes. Do we really need to live at breakneck speed with ever-increasing financial growth? Excessive speed is not good for cars, nor is excessive growth good for economies. If an economy continues growing, it must by definition reach an end – like a balloon stretched beyond limits.