Now that the mid-term election has (finally) come and gone, we hear talk of the American people wanting fiscal responsibility in our government spending. Of course, who's going to argue with that, right?
On a collective level I think the message (whether in thought or speech, individual or public) reflects a kind of therapy whereby we, as a culture, are preparing ourselves to live within our OWN means. There is, I believe, a deep recognition that our standard of living is, and has been steadily, declining and will continue to do so. In part this is our "just desserts" for our excesses, and, in part, it is the process of globalization and long-term trend of balancing out the long-standing extremes of rich and poor (at least relatively).
Long-term and on an essential level we are in a process of making a cultural about face from materialism to a Spirit-centered life. Now, of course, most will be somewhere in the middle even when we arrive, but the direction remains nonetheless necessary and positive overall. Paramhansa Yogananda, before his passing in 1952, predicted a traumatic period of hyperinflation and instability and stated that Americans would be "half as rich but twice as spiritual!" (A generalization, merely)
What few seem to acknowledge in the here and now of political dialogue is that balancing government budgets means massive layoffs and removal of benefits. We see this acknowledged more openly in the budget proposed for Britain. This, combined with the massive federal deficit, will bring us, in the Biblical sense, "seven" years of famine. You can take THAT to the bank!
The hope is that individuals and businesses will be relatively relieved of burdensome taxation (don't bet on it) and thus create jobs. But interest rates are incredibly low (lowest ever) and ironically government debt is, at the moment, virtually interest free (relatively, of course).
Not that I am a pessimist. Indeed Yogananda, and Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda, who has, for decades, warned audiences of this very process in a spirit of hope: hope for a better world. The one we've been living in is, in every way possible, unsustainable! A new generation of children-becoming-adults will need to, and hopefully be able to, take up the standard of a more balanced life.
Imagine some day when the nations of the world enjoy, more or less, the same or equivalent standard of living. At that point, nations or combinations of nations which form sufficiently large enough market for certain goods, will have no need to import them from afar. Say, America, or north America, as a general market or trading zone. Assuming the volume of computers needed in this market is adequate to fuel their manufacture within the trading zone, then computers will be (once again) made domestically. And so it will be for virtually every other daily necessity.
So why wait? We cannot go on forever buying from China with nothing to trade in exchange. So we either figure out what they can buy from us (rather than our debt), or we begin making our own products again. Is this protectionism? Call it what you want: how about sheer survival?
Rather than a stark and aggressive solution that would be resisted by others, why not a cooperative approach that can provide benefits to all participating nations? For example, China, faced with a slowdown in American purchases, wisely began to redirect their investments into their own country's infrastructure, consumer products, and other needs. That's a win-win, so far as I can see.
There are solutions, in other words. We just have to think bigger and more inclusively. Imagine the food, e.g., that can be grown within a 50 or 100 mile radius of your city or town? Virtually everything needed for healthy living.
For many of us as devotees and members of Ananda, this is yet another sign of the need for small communities of like-minded souls, striving for high ideals though simple living and intelligent and creative cooperation. So, why not be an optimist. Sure we need to go on a diet and that's hard, at first, but rewarding at last.