Our Awesome Country: ‘A Richness of Embarrassments to Select From’

The best things Financial Times columnist Edward Luce had to say to Foreign Policy CEO and editor-at-large David Rothkopf on the occasion of the release of
Luce’s newest book Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent (a feel-good read about the American condition, on par with a Nicholas Sparks novel).

“… we’re going to have a 2012 election where on both sides, both candidates will start on a false premise: that relative economic decline is simply to be ignored or dismissed. And I’d describe that as a kind of intellectual ostrich position.”

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“But when you ask ‘What’s the most broken?’ there’s a richness of embarrassments to select from.”

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“It’s a triple cocktail. As America’s inequality is growing to Latin American levels, social mobility has fallen to sub-European levels. And of course, median wage stagnation and the whole skills globalization problem is deeply entrenched.”

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“… America has so many examples to draw upon of being in a tough spot and pulling out of it, so it’s understandable that it has been the slowest to adapt intellectually to the challenges posed by the changing global economy. America is adapting even slower than Britain, in some respects, which might be doing the wrong thing but is at least in a panic and knows it’s got to find new answers.”

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“Sacramento is barely capable of functioning. I think Washington is taking on those features and that makes governing really difficult. If you believe that America is a story of essentially the government being out of the way and then the nation flourished, then this might all look fine. But if you have a proper understanding of American history and you know what role government played in American development and in American capitalism, then this isn’t fine at all.”

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“… assuming the child is a fragile little eggshell that can be broken at any moment, is something quite un-immigrant and therefore quite un-American, and also a great disservice to the child. … education is perhaps the most fertile way of answering your question about what is wrong with Americans …”

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“Britain, which is the least socially mobile portion of Europe, has the same level of social mobility as the
United States. Some countries like Germany have more than twice America’s social mobility.”

And in closing:

“But I’m totally inspired by the gusto of the American people and the level-headedness of the American lawmakers, and I think we’re going to get through this thing and be stronger, wealthier, more equal, and happier than ever.”

Ha, syke, he didn’t say that. He said this:

“I wish I could see more cause for hope.”

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Photo Credit: flickr/lostintexas

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