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In 1906, Werner Sombart, the German economist, explained America’s resistance to socialism in five words, “roast beef and apple pie,” his shorthand for affluence. In 2020, however, semisocialism has come to a United States that is stunningly wealthier — real per-capita income six times larger than in 1906; today’s superiority of purchasable products, from antibiotics to smartphones — than 114 years ago.

This year is drenched with politics, yet the nation seems oblivious that coming decades of American governance have been irrevocably shaped by what Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute calls “the largest single ‘state surge’ in American history,” a “tidal wave of public resources”: debt.

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