"Most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor." - John Dickinson, 1776
Earlier this month Robert Samuelson wrote in Newsweek about a condition he calls affluence deprivation. To Samuelson this is the differences between competition and cooperation -- between half-empty and half-full. It's this -- is the economic pie expanding or is it fixed? If it's static the responsorial backlash to we're all in this together might conjure up an I-got-dragged-down-by-you rejoinder -- READ: spreading the wealth around.
If however pie expansion is dependent on a shared vision you have something resembling an as-yet-unnamed spirit of national sacrifice. For now we'll call it "tough love gratification." I know, I know, needs more work. Anyhow the credo might go something like this:
If you really want to do more than ridicule the last eight years then don't spite the terrorists by going out to shop. Carry yourself as if future generations you'll never meet were counting on your lifestyle choices. We would not be the first generation to perform this sacrifice. But it certainly would be a marked departure from the current hangover of surplus binging boomers.
This is not about expandable pies so much as growing our notion that the American dream is more than a placeholder for slot machines and lottery tickets. And if it should hold less than a fabulously wealthy future, would it be such a nightmare to hold onto our homes, meet our payments, and leave those petty material pastimes to the spendaholics?
And do we really need their indulgence to keep our shared fortunes afloat?