I started writing this post in 2008, right about the time our economy took its deepest nosedive and stayed in the increasingly complicated morass we find ourselves in today.
Where do our collective morals come from? and how do we correct a set of morals that make us “entitled, lazy, and proud of it”?
Questions, questions. More questions than answers, nowadays. Morally we have a similar problem to economically (no surprise, there): we do not have the guts to correct our moral equivalence because we don’t want any pain.
People who are afraid of pain, who have no stomach for necessary pain, will never find the solution to their problems. They will chase easy answers and palliative measures, which are actually detrimental when dealing with severe problems. That is a fact. Pain comes from the response to something that is wrong, that is harmful, maybe even life-threateningly so. If we collectively value our ease above our well-being… there is no hope for the short term. As in all such matters, you wait for the eye opening moment when the threat of destruction arises sufficiently to create a will to change, even if it involves painful measures.
The very difficult problem we face in clarity is how much our physical problems of a sick economy is the result of moral decay; and further defining just what constitutes moral decay… because we have no more generally accepted standards. We have only a vague sense of moral relatives that fluctuate constantly.
Can we think ourselves out of this?
Do you find the correlation of the general moral fiber of a country matches up with it’s economic direction? Does it make sense to you that people who feel entitled, lazy, and proud of it should also be increasingly less productive?
Furthermore, is there a cosmic retribution for societies that harbor such behaviors? As Christians we call this “judgment”, but is there an accumulative action and reaction at work in such concepts? If so, then the man standing and shaking his fist at God, daring a strike of lightning just doesn’t get it. If retribution comes as a cumulative aggregation of circumstances and many acts by many people …then the result is not seen as the atmosphere is forming. Like Ezekiel said of Sodom’s sudden destruction, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy”.
Are there aspects of both consequence and judgment when a society declines and falls?
Someone brought an article to my attention which talks about the “natural” decline of a nation, speaking specifically of the USA:
From time immemorial, civilization has required a surplus to be earned from the labor and harvest of a tribe or people. If you consume the entire fruits of your collective labor, you have no surplus to trade with other peoples, no surplus to invest in roads, ships, additional fields, waterworks, armies, permanent structures (religious, communal or private), no “savings” for lean times, and certainly no surplus to pay anyone in the tribe to practice art or music.
An economy which creates no surplus cannot save any surplus to invest (“money” is nothing but a means of exchange and a store of surplus labor/energy). That economy is doomed to eating its seed corn, after which it collapses. Throughout history, ecological/environmental changes (unremitting years of poor rainfall and harvests) and/or regional conflict (unending wars which consume whatever surplus remained) have led to the downfall of great civilizations.
Now an empire has certain advantages over a tribe or city-state or even a nation. Through its power, both “hard” (military) and “soft” (financial, cultural influence, diplomacy, threats, etc.), the empire can coerce vassal states to sell their surplus goods and services at immense discounts to the empire, which then consumes the goods or re-sells them at enormous profits.
The empire can also create and sustain markets in vassal states for its goods and services, which it sells at a premium either directly or via the legerdemain of currency manipulation/control.
But when the empire consumes more than it gathers in surplus, then it too declines. -Survival Blog, predicting a coming depression
I don’t know that all is in place for either a depression or a “judgment”, but I do think we are in dire straits, even if we could get the economy to turn around in the short term.