It doesn't take long to grow weary of politicians constantly in manipulation mode, always attempting to push some image cooked up by operatives. Honesty is never considered a viable strategy. Government is not bound by the restrictions of reality, at least in the short run, so their world of images and lies makes sense to them -- in the world of business, images have to be backed with substance, or the business doesn't succeed, unless that business has formed a partnership with government and receives subsidies and favors to avoid reality. But even in the political world, reality wins in the long run, when there's no more money to print, borrow or steal. 70 to 80 years is not a long time, historically speaking, to ruin a country, but it serves today as the long run.
Paying attention to our economic health requires the public developing a different mindset toward business people, investors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, regulations, interest rates, government policies. I believe many American citizens fell asleep and took business and production for granted -- they thought economic activity somehow happened automatically, not fully realizing that economic growth can come to a halt. This reality shock to the public has been good. It's easy for the public to fall under the spell of government magical thinking. The public begins to believe the talk about greedy business people, the fat cat rich bastards who spend all day counting the riches they steal from the poor (which is not very logical when you think about it).
The public is moving past the narrative of government saviors protecting the little people from the corporate masters, and they are realizing that a free market has a life of its own that can be made sick by government intervention and cronyism, and that it takes a certain environment for the economy to be healthy and vibrant, and that if businesses are doing good and feel confident about the future, they will expand and create jobs. Separation of State and economy is one of our biggest challenges, but it's something that has to be done if we are going to grow and prosper. Reality always wins, even if it takes awhile.
But, business itsef is also at fault, along with our education system, the media, Hollywood and parents. Those who are in business, or perhaps college students majoring in business, understand the nature of markets and importance of production, however, too many people don't understand. Society as a whole went too quickly to the higher needs as they criticized materialism in favor of spiritual and intellectual pursuits, the higher human needs on Maslow's scale. Since most people don't fully understand business, commerce, capitalism, they take it for granted. Not until there's a severe recession do people begin considering their basic needs and how these are cared for. Government has given the impression that basic needs will always be cared for by the welfare state, but what happens when we run out of money and can't borrow any more -- what happens when government is broke?
When the economy was going strong, we could afford for businesses to experience profit-guilt and perform community out-reach as pentance for their sins, but business needs to get its house in order and stand tall -- push forth the narrative of production and economic growth, prosperity and charity. But so many businesses have sought advantages from government through corporate welfare and cronyism that the system needs to be reformed before there can be a proper understanding of the virtues of a free market. If the companies themselves can't end the game of rent-seeking, then we as a society need to help end this nation-defeating game. This is one of the main reasons for a limited government -- close the government feeding trough.
Once American industry has its house in order, competing in a vibrant free market, the public can learn the virtues of free enterprise once again and rebuke the anti-free market narrative which has led the nation astray. Young people will learn that it might be good to have a headful of post-modern theory while bantering in a coffee shop, but if they don't understand the basics of a free market and the deadend of statism, they won't have a job or a paycheck to pay for their latte, and the coffee shop will soon be out of business.
Yes, materialism, in and of itself, is an empty pursuit, but to reach the higher pursuits, our basic needs have to be cared for, and government isn't a good caretaker -- there's virtue in work and production -- there's happiness in achievement -- there's always hope as long as there is freedom. Let the market be free.