Tuesday, September 29, 2009

David Brooks: "The Next Culture War"

David Brooks penned an op-ed piece (nyt Tuesday September 29, 2009 A 39) entitled “The Next Culture War.” The burden of his remarks is the projection that “(b)y 2019, the federal debt will amount to an amazing 83 percent of G.D.P. (before counting the costs of health reform and everything else). By that year, interest payments alone on the federal debt will cost $803 billion.” In the light of this, he argues that “the goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self restraint, large and small.

“It will have to take on what you might call the lobbyist ethos – the righteous conviction held by everybody from AARP to the agribusinesses that their groups are entitled to every possible appropriation, regardless of the larger public cost. It will have to take on the self-indulgent popular demand for low taxes and high spending.”

I would suggest that, once again, virtue as economic restraint is not enough. The dynamic explosion of productivity in this country came from the search for God in ordinary life. Supply that need, and you will have restored enterprise to the common weal. Pace appearances, enlightened self interest by the unencumbered self has not been the engine of creativity in this country.

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