Question Time: What ails American culture?
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Bert Onstott asks my opinion of Brink Lindsey’s essays on his Substack. “I like him,” Bert says. “I doubt he's come up with a sufficient answer to them but he seems to have a good handle on society’s current problems.”
For those who aren’t familiar with it, here’s an excerpt from Brink’s initial post, explaining the title of his Substack:
The name for this site is “The Permanent Problem,” a line from an essay by the economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes foresaw our current predicament at a time when it couldn’t have seemed more distant. In a piece titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” published in 1930 in the depths of the Great Depression, Keynes lifted his gaze from the grim present and looked forward a hundred years —that is, to just a few years from now. He understood, correctly, that the Depression was a temporary interruption in a long-term trend of cumulative growth, and that in all likelihood the trend would continue. Which led him to this bold conclusion: “All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem.” In other words, the threat of physical privation was gradually receding and would in due course no longer be a central motivating force in society.
“[T]he economic problem, the struggle for subsistence,” Keynes wrote, “always has been hitherto the primary, most pressing problem of the human race.” But in light of the remarkable progress of modern economic growth to date, the prospect of continued progress “means that the economic problem is not — if we look into the future — the permanent problem of the human race.” If growth could just persist for another century, Keynes claimed, “for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem — how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”
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