Why aren’t more TV talking heads debating the likelihood of a global economic meltdown?
Of course, this is an election year and the media are preoccupied with the cat fighting and backbiting of the campaigns.
And I suspect another reason for the pundits’ silence is that doomsayers have been screaming that the sky is falling for years, yet the sky has not fallen.
But it looks as if there’s real trouble ahead this time.
China, which recently became the world’s largest economy, is struggling. Third World economies are mired in debt they have little hope of paying. And efforts to combat the climate change crisis are sure to put the brakes on the kind of industrial expansion emerging countries need to accommodate their exploding populations.
Things are not much rosier in the developed world.
Greece has faded from the headlines but its economic problems remain unsolved. Spain is drifting toward another crisis. Throughout Europe, social and economic problems persist, endangering the very existence of the EEU.
In our hemisphere, Brazil is in serious trouble with a contracting economy and fast-rising inflation. Its currency has collapsed. Argentina is on the brink of the worst financial collapse in its history. Plunging oil prices have hobbled once-thriving countries like Venezuela and Canada.
America may seem to have recovered from the Great Recession. But with weak foreign demand, tight government budgets and high income inequality, the recovery is fragile. While consumer spending keeps growing, wages have remained stagnant. And the result is a dangerous bubble of debt.
What’s going on?
Pope Francis recently cited the twin scourges of income inequality and youth unemployment and warned that an economic collapse is imminent.
He blamed a global economy based on constant war.
According to the pontiff:
We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done.
The Pope is right, of course. The world spends billions on arms while widespread poverty persists. And as President Eisenhower said:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
We should remember Ike’s words when we hear presidential candidates advocating more war. The gravest threat Americans face might not be from terrorists or malevolent despots but from the economic system this nation – and the world – has come to depend on.