Better-Off: Messed Up Psyches?

Why have we spent the time to explore the idea of Economics of the Interior?Because everything ultimately boils down to the individual and what makes him or her tick. What ultimately guides and drives the heart and head of the individual eventually influences the family. Ultimately, the family determines the traditions of a given culture. Institutions are built to guarantee that the traditions will be carried forward in the future. 

The economic and cultural model approved and adopted by the individual is absolutely and entirely important because it eventually becomes the model that determines the behaviors, values, and attitudes of the nation. 

The Interior model adopted by the individual participants of the 1776 experiment became the guiding cultural and economic model of the new American nation. Goodness went into the model, and multiplied goodness came out of the model as a result. 

The American people have been blessed because they believed in, and staked their lives on, the principles of goodness, personal integrity, responsibility, and generosity, both at home and abroad. Many observers throughout the world do not understand this fact, and have mistakenly believed that America just happened to land in a geographical area where all good fortune just happens to come naturally together. It was all just luck, and the Americans happened to be at the right place in history. 

I want to share with you one more story. In 2008, I was nominated and appointed by the U.S Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Department of State to represent our country in a week-long international strategic planning conference regarding the continent of Africa. There were ten international leaders at the desks, and we were flanked by another thirteen experts available to us with specialties in African culture, politics, and health issues. 

Over the course of the week I had become pretty well acquainted with the other conference participants. One gentleman lived in Zurich, Switzerland, and was married to a French lady. He was the head of a very well known international foundation, primarily funded by American money (even though some of it was directed through the U.N. or World Bank). He was a very bright and articulate fellow, and I had enjoyed immensely getting to know him. 

On the fourth day of meetings, we were discussing the role that America has played over the years in aid and assistance to individual countries of Africa. My Swiss friend was responding to the discussion with a mini-speech that made my jaw drop to my tie.

“America is just going to have to learn to adjust to living with ten dollar a gallon gasoline prices and higher and higher prices for everything. They all have it too good! 

“America ended up with all the wealth, and the rest of the world ended up in poverty. They must now divide their wealth with the rest of the world, or the disparity and inequality will get worse. 

“We must realize that those of us involved in humanitarian work have a product to sell. We come up with programs and projects to sell to the American people. They are so rich and so spoiled and so guilty of opulence that it is absolutely mandatory that they have ways of purging that guilt in order to make them feel better. Their psyches are so screwed up that they will pay a high price to get rid of the guilt for their opulence by championing causes of humanitarian relief in other places like Africa. We have been given the job to help the Americans feel better about themselves and their greed.”

As I listened to my new friend, I experienced mixed emotions. He made me angry. By the time he finished, I was sad. Next week I will tell you why I was angry and sad. 

Next Week: Dividends of Freedom

(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   

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