No single one of these currents prolongs the crisis. It is the product of the complex interplay between them. To put it in fancy terms, the crisis is an emergent condition — even more terrible than the sum of its parts.
Yet the ideologues who dominate the political conversation are unable to think in holistic, emergent ways. They pick out the one factor that best conforms to their preformed prejudices and, like blind men grabbing a piece of the elephant, they persuade themselves they understand the whole thing…
The Simpson-Bowles report on the deficit was an opportunity to begin a wave of institutional reform. But that proposal died because our political leaders are too ideologically rigid to take on big subjects like tax reform, which involve combining Republican and Democratic ideas. The failure to seize that moment was one of the Obama administration’s gravest errors.
The world economy has many rigidities. The worst ones are in people’s heads.