Have Americans gone complacent?


America On Coffee

A job-seeker fills out an application at a job fair this month at the Denver Workforce Center in Denver. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

By Robert J. Samuelson Columnist

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

— the comic-strip character Pogo by Walt Kelly

The same may be true of the economy. So says Tyler Cowen, author of the new book “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.”

Although we’ve recovered from the Great Recession, there are widespread fears that the economy will stagnate or grow only slowly. Government won’t be able to handle the next crisis, whether a war, financial meltdown or pandemic.

Maybe, says Cowen, an economist at George Mason University. But he doesn’t blame the usual suspects: debt hangover from the 2008-09 financial crisis (consumers and firms repay loans rather than spend on goods and services); huge trade deficits; or the impotency of government policies…

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