From the 8th of June.
The wife watches the Sunday morning news commentary. George Stephanopoulos is on at the moment. We have republicans attacking the President for retrieving a soldier from the Taliban. This is presented on TV as a struggle between republicans and democrats. That's wrong. The actual struggle is much bigger and far more interesting.
The economy -- you remember, we do economics here -- the U.S. economy has been deteriorating for a long time. This deterioration is a challenge in the Toynbee sense: During the life of a "civilization" there is a series of "challenges" which are met with "responses" by a "creative minority". As long as the response provides a satisfactory solution to the challenge, the civilization advances. When the response is inadequate, civilization goes into decline. It's a remarkably simple analysis.
The U.S. economy has been in decline for a long time -- since the 1974 recession, at least. This decline is our challenge. To the rest of the world, it seems the U.S. is weak and vulnerable. That is the motivation behind attacks like the ones that took down the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon.
As Toynbee put it, a civilization that is not advancing is in decline. We need a response suited to the economic decline that is the challenge of our time. We've been responding for forty years now, without success; internal discord only grows more strident.
It's time to try a different response.