The Obama generation

inflation-adjusted incomeThe financial crisis is not only a cause of our national malaise, but also a symptom of the deeper wrong turn that America made decades ago, when Ronald Reagan declared that government had to get out of the way to restore the national economy.

…Reagan made government the enemy.

There was never much validity to Reagan’s viewpoint. The antigovernment view had no basis in fact—rather, it was a convenient way for the rich to say they had no responsibilities…

…a green light to the greed and corner-cutting that laid the base for reckless financial deregulation and the wheeling and dealing that has now brought the economy to its knees.

But, most important, it undermined Americans’ sense of community, both as citizens within the United States and as citizens of the world. There were no longer shared goals, only individual attainment.

We will now enter a new era, in which practical problem solving will be key, and in which we will understand our problems not mainly as individuals, but as members of a generation confronted with unique challenges.

I’m sure that in the coming years, the Obama generation will feel like the Kennedy generation of the 1960s, the one that JFK boldly addressed in his inaugural address when he said, “I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”

The Obama Generation Takes the Helm, by Jeffrey Sachs