Is recession the new normal? Brad Hirschfield's ethical take

Aug 30, 2011

Join Brad Hirschfield as he talks about the ethical and moral issues raised by the week's biggest stories.

Welcome to our weekly video chat about the ethicals and moral issues in the news. Today, we'll talk about:


- The concept of recession as "the new normal."


- Michele Bachmann's comments about last week's earthquake and hurricane


- Anything else you might want to discuss.


Let's get started.

If everyone was the kind of consumer I am, our economy (ot to mention China's) would have gone into recession two decades ago.  Did we ever need that many stores to buy clothes from? Can our cars and computers last a couple of years longer? Our people don't need to buy as much "stuff" as we were three years ago, and hence our economy doesn't have jobs for our population. Welcome to the new normal -- Baby Boomers please retire, already.

I volunteer at a food pantry where growing lines predicted and reflected the recession. Is there any realistic chance that we can reverse the trend of putting the safety net in private hands, and rebuild an ethic of sharing the burden fairly? If so, how?

We should not surrender to "recession as the new normal." It is precisely now that we need to mobilize American ingenuity and creativity to recreate a platform for a sustainable economy.  We need a strong leader who is willing to step outside the box a little, or a lot, like FDR.  President Obama seems too intent on securing the next election to propose longer term strategies for this country. Do you think that we are in a desperate enough collective frame of mind to go for an FDR-type of leader?

Isn't "change" the new normal, the old normal and the everpresent normal?

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI said Europe would not emeerge from its economic problems unless it realized policy cannot be driven solely by the profit motive. Ethical considerations must  be a factor, too he said. What do you think?

Is it fair enough to assume that Michele Bachmann was simply speaking metaphorically about Washington causing Hurricane Irene, as long as her nominee to head the National Weather Service doesn't repeat it at his confirmation hearing?

I don't doubt for a minute that she was being serious. We have a large segment of the population that no longer believes in science and would rather let "faith" drive policy deicisions. When did science, data, and facts lose credibility with such a large segment of the U.S. population? Have other countries followed this trend?

Abbas's bid to the UN to recognize a Palestinian state is a complicated issue. Jews ought to recognize that this is precisely the route that we took to found the State of Israel. Abbas's words to the Arab street as well as to the Western world are open to interpretation -- by design -- to try to appease all constituencies involved, with the ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian State. The big questions are:


1) Does he have the power and following to establish a Western style democracy that would be subject to law and order and palatable to Israel and the West?


2) Can we trust him to establish a state that is not dedicated to eliminating Israel?

That's all for this week. Thanks for the questions.

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Brad Hirschfield is the president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He writes the For God's Sake blog for The Washington Post. A regular on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network. he appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and CNN, and is routinely listed as one of America?s "most influential rabbis." His most recent book is You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism.
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