Hoping that austerity will force us into solving our social problems seems incongruous with what I know of Kotkin and his work, and it’s a lousy mistake for anyone to make. A world of fewer jobs and higher prices will mean longer commutes, a frayed social contract, and tired grandparents. If we arrange our families and our living spaces poorly when affluence gives us choices, we are unlikely to suddenly flourish when those decisions are forced upon us. Hard times won’t compel Americans into becoming their better selves, and if we are heading into some bleak days, it’s best that we all understand that in advance.
LINK: As Megan McArdle helpfully reminds us, being poor is not exactly great, so maybe we should be wary of conservatives who think an economic contraction would be a moral good. See also Matt Frost, properly cynical: