Best Non-Political Solution: Suck It Up
Americans are not suffering from weak or negative economic growth. They have suffered a loss of wealth, a very different ailment, from two major factors. The first is high oil prices, the equivalent of a huge tax increase. The second is the housing bust, which has vaporized more than a trillion dollars worth of assets.
When you have a loss of wealth, the best way to cope is to accept it and adapt to a lower standard of living, sooner rather than later. Sending out rebates, eliminating gas taxes, bailing out homeowners and accelerating monetary growth, among the proposed remedies, do exactly the opposite. They spare us the obligation of dealing with reality by making us feel richer so we can keep on as we were before.
But they don't change the stark fact that we are poorer now and will remain that way for some time. And they ultimately backfire by wasting money, igniting inflation or both.
In the long run, we will adapt to the new realities, the economic impact will moderate, and the pain will fade. Till then, our least destructive option is to do something no politician would dare suggest: Suck it up.
~Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman