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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The “Crying Indian” Ad That Fooled the Environmental Movement

Behind the '70s Anti-Pollution Icon Was an Italian-American Actor—and the Beverage Industry

It’s probably the most famous tear in American history: Iron Eyes Cody, an actor in Native American garb, paddles a birch bark canoe on water that seems, at first, tranquil …

America Is More of a Club Than a Family

Our Ability to Opt in—or Out—Defines Our National Character

Over the course of the last 15 years or so, there’s been an explosion in the number of charter schools around the country. According to the latest figures (from 2012), …