In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 3, 2008 / 27 Adar II 5768

Economic crisis is of our own making

By Rod Dreher

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The central conservative truth," said the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

The economic crisis now breaking upon us will be both a political and cultural event that may well be a turning point in our nation's history as consequential as the Great Depression. Which, by the way, is the historical standard to which some smart people — like former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan — are comparing this event.

When asked recently on National Public Radio why so many financial insiders are using such drastic rhetoric, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel said the closer you are to the crisis, the more you understand just how "very frightening" it is.

The cultural roots of this crisis have to do with Americans' refusal to recognize natural limits. Americans have lost the ascetic virtue of self-discipline and have become impatient with the idea of constraints on their individual will. This is deeply rooted in American history and psychology, and both political parties base their appeals on their own particular version of liberty.

At no point, though, are the assumptions undergirding contemporary liberal and conservative notions of liberty seriously questioned. Our liberation from natural and traditional constraints can only continue in an atmosphere of steady, broad-based material progress, which, aside from the 1970s stagflation lull, we've experienced since World War II ended the Depression.

For nearly a generation, Americans have had the luxury to organize their political fights around cultural issues like abortion and gay rights because economics haven't been central to either politics or culture. And we have financed the illusion of sustainable progress through massive accumulation of debt, both personal and governmental. Prosperity masked decline; optimism occluded realism. As historian John Lukacs writes of the boom years in the current Chronicles, "The middle class habits (and virtues) of permanence, of saving, of passing their assets — and values — on to their children disappeared."

That now must change. The cost of our grand national experiment in living beyond our means is now coming due, and not just in the form of the housing crash. If the country indeed goes into a long, deep recession, forcing austerity and worse on the general public, the full social cost of casting aside traditional communal bonds and moral values — the beliefs that enabled people to thrive during hard times — will be painfully manifest. The psychological shock to the body politic will be sharp.

The credit crisis is not occurring in a vacuum. Consider:

  • The entitlements catastrophe, in which Social Security and Medicare claims by aging baby boomers will threaten to consume the entire federal budget, is only a few years away.

  • The price of oil, the natural resource upon which our entire consumer economy is based, is going to stay high and go even higher because the world faces demand from China, India and developing nations that outstrips supply.

  • Climate change and population growth are going to cause the price of water and food to rise sharply.

These three factors alone seriously complicate the likelihood that we'll be able to dig ourselves out easily from under the avalanche of debt. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz recently remarked that in the era of limits to come, all the world's people are going to have to get used to defining economic progress in ways other than production and consumption.

Yes, the political class's response to the crisis so far has been anemic. Yet we cannot blame our politicians for failing to lead us, because they are the products of a consumerist culture that does not take "no" for an answer. How many politicians of either party could hope to win office by telling voters we have a responsibility to delay short-term gratification for the long-term good of the country?

Here's the hope: Economic and related events will force a change in the culture toward sustainability and a revival in localism, personal asceticism and traditionalism. This, in turn, will produce a new, more responsible politics, one that keeps the excesses of a culture in material and social crisis from damaging the common good and public order.

Here's the fear: The cultural shift soon to occur will turn Hobbesian, producing a fearful, nationalistic, demagogic politics, and G-d knows what to follow.

We live in interesting times. And neither liberals nor conservatives are ready for what's next.

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Rod Dreher is assistant editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News and author of "Crunchy Cons" (Crown Forum).


02/14/08: What child-men need is some tradition
02/05/08: A Republican victory this year could do more long-term damage to the party than a loss
01/22/08: Putting faith in Obama: Do GOPers tempted by him know what they're supporting?
11/20/07: We can't fix the world with The Care Bear Stare
10/17/07: Every father should read this book to his son
10/03/07: Not even our parks are safe And I lay at least part of the blame on the cultural revolution and our obsession with the individual
08/22/07: The Decalogue, dangerous? Advice for a society that cringes at commandments
08/15/07: Playing the anti-science card
08/01/07: How the U.S. can avoid its own version of the fall of the Roman empire
07/24/07: Conservative author: Big business can be as dangerous a threat as big government
07/09/07: All quiet but the doleful pleas of a father who knows
06/28/07: When we let conspiracy theory masquerade as news, we fall prey to much more than deception
06/20/07: Stranded on Delta: They may love to fly, but it certainly doesn't show
06/13/07: When did conservatism start to mean never having to say you're sorry?
05/08/07: PBS darling gets abused by PC police
05/02/07: Impervious to beauty and deadened to depravity
04/20/07: What I know about being a loner
10/28/05: How the conservatives crumble

© 2007, The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.