The truth of America’s problem today is this. We are not caught up in a Malthusian crisis of mass shortage and starvation. We are being crushed under the riches being pumped out by a cornucopia of wealth and abundance. We don’t need to get by with less; we need to figure out how to harness the floods of abundance now inundating our landscape. And as we achieve that, we are going to live better, grow faster and, I very much suspect, dramatically improve the quality of the environment.

The discontent and dissatisfaction now sweeping the country aren’t signs of our impending dissolution. They are signs that Americans want better lives, and are ready to innovate, to work, to adjust, to do whatever it takes to make progress. These are birth pangs and growth pains, not the pains of death and decay.

That, I think, is the meaning of la rentrée, American style. We are done with our long, slow summer of lotus-eating, and we are ready to get back to work.