Is our lack of urgency about growth going to sink us?

by Ryan Streeter on November 28, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

A whole cohort of youngsters has come of age in the last four years who have no memory of how dynamic our economy has been and can be.  And, their older fathers and mothers are beginning to believe that the “new normal,” as some economists like to call it, is chronic low growth.  We are at that unimaginable moment when the next generation of Americans will not be as well off as earlier ones!

Perhaps one outcome of American/European Disease is that instead of focusing on how we get the economy growing, the vocabulary of the upcoming sideshow of negotiations over the Fiscal Cliff is how to stop things from getting worse!  Another few years of near-recession and the new normal will seem acceptable because we won’t really know any better.  This is not how the American story, based on its love for making the future brighter and richer, is supposed to end.

That is Carl Schramm wondering why we don’t attach the same level of urgency to pro-growth policies as we do the fiscal cliff. It’s a good question.

He raises a point you don’t hear much about but which I think is a big deal. Young adults are entering the prime of their lives with little to no memory of what a growing economy is like. When I was younger, growth was normal. Now, as Carl says, stagnation is normal.

That, I fear, is going to have a long-term effect on the aspirations of an entire generation unless we figure out how to create a new environment of opportunity and excitement, rooted in the possibility of realizing dreams and ambitions. To do that, as Carl notes in his article, we should be worrying more about the perpetually expanding hand of the regulatory state more than taxes.