Further, we need discussions about what globalization, robotization, computerization, other technological advances and resource limitations mean for the long term. Will there ever be enough jobs? What standard of living is attainable, practical, and sustainable for our children and grandchildren? Is it possible and realistic (or wise) to maintain an economy that is fueled 70 percent by consumption?
The answers to those questions were coming due before the Wall Street meltdown. So, the meltdown is an emergency within an unfolding reckoning, and the debate about how best to recover from it can’t help but raise all the issues that beg for consideration within the larger, slower crisis.
It is that context that makes the paralysis in Congress so damaging. For with compromise and political skills, we could find many opportunities to remove the waste in government, reduce our military spending, increase tax revenue where it is fair and increase investments — with the private sector — to embark on endeavors that would start to craft a more sustainable economy. But this work would require politicians who won’t threaten to halt all of government itself.
Brian T. Watson of Swampscott is an architect and a Salem News columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.