An historian reminds Americans this Fourth of July weekend that dynamic social and economic change, poisonous politics, bad policies and flawed leaders in an "empire of contention" were all there two centuries ago.
The many failures of economics before, during and after the recent financial crisis have left an intellectual vacuum. It seems that governments' past success in stabilizing the economy in the short run encouraged too much debt and instability in the long term.
New World Bank figures suggesting that China's GDP will overtake that of the U.S. sometime this year raise profound issues for Americans who have presumed that postwar economic affluence depends on countries becoming more like the U.S.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can enjoy political and military freedom in dealing with Ukraine without experiencing crippling economic costs from sanctions or the exit of multinational firms from Russia.
The theory that growing inequality in the 2000s caused many low- and middle-income Americans to over-borrow so that they could keep up with wealthier Americans doesn't hold up. The right debate is on why lenders relaxed credit standards.
The budget story that is largely missed by American political leaders and the public is that the welfare state is strangling government's ability to respond to other national problems, because the constituencies for welfare benefits are more powerful than their competitors for federal support.
True, the gap between the rich and the poor is enormous, wider than most Americans would wish, but this reality has made economic inequality a misleading intellectual fad, blamed for many of our problems.