Middle-class Americans fell into this predicament because they started acting like people who are richer than they are. They had built extravagant lifestyles with borrowed money. And they ignored the many warnings that the growth of China and India would push energy prices skyward.
Now is a time to recognize reality and adjust to it in an adult fashion...Did I whine about the cost? More than I care to admit.
But then one reads about the food lines in the Great Depression. You look at the destitute norm in the Third World. And you focus on any war, including Iraq, and try to fathom the tragedy of an 18-year-old dying in a foreign desert.
Let's keep some perspective here. We're not all going to be able to retire at 50, drive BMWs at 25 and enjoy a life without tradeoffs, but that's a far different world than the one we sometimes talk about when you start hearing about this economy being in the tank. Some are throwing around the phrase "Great Depression" without much perspective. Or they are talking about how we've "changed capitalism."
Cooler heads, however, note that we're debating whether we're even in a recession, let alone what this country went through in the 1930s and 1940s (and numerous times in the 19th century).
If we forget that, we can all too easily start looking to quick fixes that will hurt us more in the long run that help us in the short.
Having the right perspective is the starting point to enacting the right policies.