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The Darwin Economy by Robert H. H. Frank

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ONE

Paralysis

PEOPLE OFTEN REMEMBER THE PAST with exaggerated fondness. Sometimes, however, important aspects of life really were better in the old days. During the three decades following World War II, for example, incomes were rising rapidly and at about the same rate—almost 3 percent a year—for people at all income levels. We had an economically vibrant middle class. Existing roads and bridges were well maintained, and impressive new infrastructure was being added each year. We cheered when President John F. Kennedy urged, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We were sure we could win the race to put a man on the moon. We were optimistic.

No longer. The economy has grown much more slowly during ...

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