Regulation isn't going to put an end to the economic crisis, said Amitai Etzioni in The New Republic. "What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of American life." There aren't enough regulators in the world to protect us from the bad behavior that created this mess -- we'll only be safe when we all internalize how we ought to behave.
Consumers are already cutting back on spending, said Barbara Kiviat in Time, and that's slowing down the recovery. American families, "whose overspending largely got us into this mess," are swearing off buying sprees and focusing on paying off or simply shirking the "burdensome obligations -- from mortgages to car loans to credit-card debt." Until consumers get their finances in order and start spending again, "the economy can't fully bounce back."
Thrifty consumers aren't the only factor slowing the economic recovery, said Douglas McIntyre in AOL's Daily Finance. Interest rates are rising, and so are oil prices, which could cause businesses with big transportation costs to lay off more workers, and force already cash-strapped households to choose between paying the mortgage or heating the house. "The economy may be able to absorb one blow as it begins to turn around. Two blows is another matter altogether."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
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- The European Union was supposed to end nationalism. It gave it new life instead.
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