The Price of Civilization

Jeffrey Sachs writes: “During most of my forty years in economics I have assumed that America, with its great wealth, depth of learning, advanced technologies, and democratic institutions, would reliably find its way to social betterment. I decided early on in my career to devote my energies to the economic challenges abroad, where I felt the economic problems were more acute and in need of attention. Now I am worried about my own country. The economic crisis of recent years reflects a deep, threatening, and ongoing deterioration of our national politics and culture of power.

We need to reconceive the idea of a good society in the early 21st century, and to find a creative path towards it. Most importantly, we need to be ready to pay the price of civilization, through multiple acts of good citizenship: bearing our fair share of taxes, educating ourselves deeply about society’s needs, acting as vigilant stewards for future generations, and remembering that compassion is the glue that holds society together.