CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

Why Americans Think Managing the National Budget Is Like Balancing the Family Checkbook

The Myth That Average Citizens Hold the Reins of the Economy Stems from 18th-Century Morality Tales

Americans are forever being urged to do things that supposedly will jump-start the economy, protect jobs, and raise the fortunes of Wall Street. Politicians and pundits implore consumers to “Buy American,” so as to help U.S. workers and keep the trade deficit low. Or to hit the shopping malls—even if it means taking on more debt—while still somehow finding a way to balance the family checkbook.

What’s striking about these demands is that the responsibilities and obligations of American consumers are understood to be stories about individual accountability. Whether it is …

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