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It’s been 33 years since Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence address to the nation. Even then, we as Americans were warned of the consequences of our self-indulgence—but politicians lie! In America we do what we want, when we want, and blame foreigners when things go wrong. Economic strategist Clyde Prestowitz believes that America’s current role in the global economy is that of the consumer—that if we suddenly stopped being consumers, we’d stunt developing countries, halting the production of goods and collapsing the very system we created. So who are we to stop this economic Manifest Destiny? There are things out there we need to buy—and we don’t even know it yet.

In fact, if our role is to be consumers, and if we define progress as the advancement toward a higher and greater purpose, then perhaps we aren’t doing our duty. We need to increase consumption in volume and frequency, regardless of momentary side effects. If debt so happens to be a side effect of consumption, we should be in far greater debt than we actually are; so let’s fake it till we make it, spend our way into prosperity, consume the desperation of the Third World, and spit out liberty—’cause that’s how we do.

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