We're in a retrenchment mood, especially with the Tea Party Republicans.
Can't afford this, can't afford that.
The wealthy have lots of money, but most of them seem to be too uptight to invest it in much, except treasury bonds. It doesn't create a lot of jobs to manufacture a treasury bond. Treasuries just fund the government which really should be funded by collecting enough taxes. The catch with funding government through treasuries is that these instruments, supposedly, need to be paid back.
The rich are afraid and uptight about other private investments since they could loose money. There's less middle class buying power to create markets for investments in companies that sell products and services. It's a vicious cycle. A mood of retrenchment.
If society wants to go down this road, at least we could learn to better deal with less. Downsize and live with less affluence.
I don't see people adapting to this easily even though there are many notable "downshifting" movements. Most folks are still under pressure to be prosperous every time the rent is due. Costs of living are still high. Many of the products and services that people make are inexpensive, but other costs such as housing, health care, education and corporate executive salaries are still unsustainable.
As the uptight money interests; the corporations and Tea Party lead governments, want to cut back, the whole thing goes down into depression. Maybe everything will be brought down. Ruled by fear and holding onto your treasury bonds. Eventually treasuries may go belly up also.
We need to get past this uptight period and recreate the spirit of generosity. Possibly spending more, instead of less. Even if it means printing money, if we want prosperity. Scientific research is one avenue toward new wealth. I listened to a real interesting segment (around 20 minutes) on NPR Science Friday. It's about how basic research is needed for new kinds of wealth in the future. There are worries that the current mood of retrenchment may bring down the hope we've had for a long time that life keeps getting better for us and future generations.
I take a 2 pronged approach to economics. Learn to live and even thrive with less, if that's what's being thrown at us by the environment and economic conditions. At the same time, maybe we can use science, planning and other things to get to even greater, or at least greener, wealth in the future.
The whole definition of what constitutes wealth is also important. Wealth in quality of life, or wealth in better products and services. Maybe we can learn to better enjoy what we've got, but at the same time do what it takes to bring the better products and services.
A more fair distribution of wealth needs to be part of the picture also. How can there be mass markets for businesses to serve if the middle class is disappearing?
I don't think the Tea Party is going to get us to any of these goals. It's just going to make us want more while having less. As the wealthy hold onto their wealth, the feeling of generosity vanishes. Generosity being replaced by a Tea Party mantra of "we're broke."