The World Is Waiting For Us To Lead

The U.S. factory sector contracted last month for the first time in three years. The last time new orders fell as fast America was reeling from the 9/11 attacks. To paraphrase Spirit’s 1970 classic, “It’s the market’s way of telling you something’s wrong.”

“The report is the strongest evidence yet that Europe’s troubles and slowing growth in China are hurting American factories,” the Wall Street Journal says. The market may be telling us, but is anybody listening? I seem to recall that we had something to do with Europe’s problems in the first place.

The world’s problems are as much our problems as our problems are the world’s. We sneezed and the world caught a cold. Just because the world sneezes in turn doesn’t make it the source of our ailments.

For a brief moment it looked as if Europe were going to take the initiative and treat the cold itself, rather than simply mask the symptoms. But with the first spoonful of bitter medicine they had a change of heart. A hot whiskey sling never cured anything, but for a while it sure feels good.

The problem with colds in any closed group is that in absence of a cure they get passed around forever, each member taking its turn. The cycle can be stopped in just one of two ways: either the sick are quarantined or the group commits itself to finding a lasting cure. Because isolation is no longer an option, we have no alternative but to find a cure.

Before that can happen we must of course find the cause of the symptoms. A solution to the economic crisis has been every bit elusive as a cure for the common cold, but only because we are so mired in dogma that it precludes our seeing what is obvious: there is far to little true wealth to account for that created by fiat currencies.

Any further attempt to create more wealth out of nothing can only temporarily mask the symptoms while creating even greater malaise down the road. There will be no miracle drug, no quick fix this time.

Lying in bed and taking our medicine while we regain our strength doesn’t come easily to Americans, but that is precisely what we need to do. The rest of the world may be questioning our leadership, but only because we have failed to lead.

If we accept that something’s wrong and put our energies to correcting it, we will be doing only what is expected of us – and others will follow.

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