This WaPo article points to a political problem that complicates immensely our efforts to deal with our economic problems: people don’t trust our political institutions to deal competently with these issues.
Part of that is simply emblematic of the gap between our political (and business) elites and those folks who live in flyover country. Part of it is also an unwillingness to look in the mirror and recognize how our unrealistic expectations (of the appreciation of our houses, the size of our houses relative to our incomes, the returns we can expect on our investments) left us open to the, er, creativity of various sorts of financiers.
So we face at least a threefold challenge. The first is putting together a package that has enough votes to pass Congress. I’m confident that after Rosh Hoshonnah, our "leaders" will look at the markets and the polls and find the will to do something that restores a modicum of confidence to our financial industry. That’s the easy part. Yes, you read that right.
Second, we have to come to grips with the fact that in our fabled competitive global marketplace, hard work and even harder savings are going to be rewarded with more modest returns than we were accustomed to. Those who want to get rich quick (most of us) will have to learn that that often also means getting poor quick and that the royal road to "commodious self-preservation" doesn’t get us there quickly and effortlessly. We’ll have to learn that cleverness is not a virtue, and that self-restraint and patience are. That’s hard, but there are plenty of places where we can learn it, if only we turn off our televisions and talk to our grandparents or go to churches (with the noteworthy exception of those that preach the gospel of prospertity).
Third, our political and economic elites are going to have to rebuild public trust in our institutions. I don’t have a magic prescription here, but a little less clever talk, a little less pandering, and some genuinely sober action are surely good places to begin. If there is a human nature, courage will be recognized and admired, even by people who don’t see much of it.