Margin Notes - Blog

A Prescription for What Ails Us

There’s a reason economics is called the “dismal science.” Most economists are never happier than when they’re predicting gloom and doom. Case in point – the recent book by Robert J. Gordon, a professor (of course) at Northwestern University. His title says it all: The Rise and Fall of American Growth.

Now, don’t get me wrong. As my novel A Prescription for the Soul makes clear, I’m not afraid to acknowledge America’s problems. I don’t stick my head in the sand and ignore reality. We definitely have some issues to resolve. But – as my title makes clear – there are other factors shaping a nation’s future than those that can be measured with numbers and formulae.

Stuff like spunk. Guts. Heart. They are the “goods” that shape Humanity, not the so-called “rational man” of economics.

Those “goods” aren’t important enough to be recognized in economics, and that’s precisely why economists are so wrong so often. They’ve managed to take people out of their equations. And, it’s the American people – with all of their irrationality and faults – who are my prescription for what ails us.

       January 21st, 2016    

Standing Up to the Warriors of Greed

The New York Times reports that America’s ultra-rich employ “a phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists” – a group they lovingly call the “income defense industry” – to ensure they pay far lower taxes than middle class Americans. So, let’s call this behavior what it is. The wealthiest Americans are waging a war of greed on the rest of us.

Today’s hedge funders, investment bankers and corporate chieftains are battling to secure “unconditional victory” – unmatched and untouched wealth – for themselves and their fellow 1-percenters. They enjoy the benefits of living in this country, but refuse to pay for them, forcing the rest of us to pick up the tab. And that tab is pushing an ever growing percentage of Americans out of the American Dream.

What’s behind this perverse behavior? How did one of the most generous countries in history breed a caste of such self-indulgent and unrepentant societal warriors? That’s the question A Prescription for the Soul explores.

The novel intertwines two tales – one takes place in the towns of northern Italy in 1963, the other on the gold coast of Connecticut in 2007. The first is a coming of age story involving teenaged Baby Boomers. The second is a coming of wisdom story for those same characters. Both chronicle the spread of a virulent condition – a PTSD of the Soul – that warps the moral compass of too many Americans.

This book, however, does not end with hand-wringing about the state of the nation. It doesn’t take on the fear mongering of Presidential candidates who proclaim only they can save us. No, A Prescription for the Soul issues a call to service … a challenge to Baby Boomers to do the job themselves. To take on a task that will establish their generation as one every bit as great as those that preceded it. And to leave a fitting legacy – the opportunity to be even greater than they – for their kids and grandkids.

       January 12th, 2016