David, I’m inclined to agree with you. If you’ll forgive a quick plugette, the thesis of my book is that the mountain of debt is a symptom rather than the disease. The same is true throughout most of the Western world: I’m sure Angela Merkel, for example, understands every time Athens comes a-knocking that the real problem is not the Greek finances but the Greek people. For what it’s worth, Congressman Ryan seems to concur:
Moral relativism has done so much damage to the bottom end of this country, the bottom fifth has been damaged by the culture of moral relativism more than by anything else, I would argue. If you ask me what the biggest problem in America is, I’m not going to tell you debt, deficits, statistics, economics — I’ll tell you it’s moral relativism. Now is it my job to fix that as a congressman? No, but I can do damage to it. But it’s the job of parents to raise their kids … But let’s not ignore it. These things go beyond statistics, they go into the culture. As a policymaker, I simply make that as an observation, not that I have an answer and a bill I can pass in Congress and to fix that.
A nation can survive debauching its finances. Debauching its human capital is a trickier fix.