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The Affluenza Epidemic

April 1, 2009

The always interesting Maureen Dowd has a piece in the New York Times on the fallout from the economic crisis. She opines that our troubles grew out of a particularly American cultural phenomenon,

As President Obama renegotiates the terms of American leadership this week in Europe, those of us left at home struggle to get over our affluenza. That condition, the bane of the middle class, is defined in a book of the same name as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

With the firing of Rick Wagoner at GM, Dowd thinks, the reckoning is at hand, that the administration has finally ushered in an era of consequences for bad fiscal behavior. Or, at least, we’ve finally reached the point in time where the economy has gotten so sick that we are finally obliged to change our habits in order to avoid–to extend the economy-as-body metaphor just a bit longer– dying.

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