How Fixing The Economy Is Like Dieting

Every couple of years I decide that it’s time to lose a few pounds and get back in fighting shape.  The first step is to choose a weight loss program.  Invariably I find myself reading countless books and articles on the newest and most effective ways to shed pounds.  I am always surprised by the number of “gurus” who have the figured out the secret to quick and easy weight loss.  These experts dispense advice ranging from no carbohydrates to limited food intake at night.  If I decide that cutting out carbohydrates or limiting fat intake is too much of a hassle, that’s no problem – there are plenty of pills that can help me lose weight without diet or exercise.  Check it out for yourself.

I have noticed recently that a similar pattern exists within politics.  If you turn on the TV and start listening to the pundits, you’ll hear an endless stream of quick and easy ways to solve our economic woes.  The right suggests tax cuts for the “top earners” and a return to trickle-down economics while the left wants the rich to pay their fair share in order to extend entitlements and inject more cash into the economy.  There are innumerable other similar solutions being touted by experts, each of which promises to drag the economy out of the gutter and return the United States to its pre-2008 debt-fueled glory.

Herein lies the problem.  In politics, as in weight loss, we are constantly searching for a magic bullet.  Everyone wants to find the next quick and easy solution to our problems.  Thanks to our need for instant gratification and our short attention span, we rally around any well-funded (read: well-advertised) politician who promises quick and effective change.  The problem with these quick fixes is that they ignore the serious, fundamental problems that led us into trouble in the first place.  Our current economic situation was not created overnight.  The bubble grew for over 25 years before it finally burst.  We must come to terms with the fact that it cannot be fixed overnight.  We are in for at least one or two decades of reparation, assuming we start right away.

The purpose of this article is not to present yet another way to fix our economy.  Rather, it is to suggest that we adjust our focus and address the systemic issues that allowed us to rack up debt for over two decades.  It is to suggest that we stop blaming China, Bush, Obama, and “corporate greed” for the problems that grew on our watch.

I would like to hear your thoughts.  What changes can we make to the system itself that will allow us to begin fixing our broken economy?

Until next time.


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