What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and '60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies.
One of the things that has been very difficult in Libya is the sense of uncertainty - the sense that they haven't actually finished the revolution, that there was still a great deal of uncertainty. That uncertainty has made Libya harder for business in terms of oil and other things as well.
France placed the state above society , democracy above constitutionalism, and equality above liberty. As a result, for much of the nineteenth century it was democratic, with broad suffrage and elections, but hardly liberal. it was certainly a less secure home for individual freedom than was England or America.
Media reporters have pointed out that the paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore's essay in the April 22nd issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers.
Intriguingly, in poll after poll, when Americans are asked what public institutions they most respect, three bodies are always at the top of their list: the Supreme Court, the armed forces, and the Federal Reserve System. All three have one thing in common: they are insulated from the public pressures and operate undemocratically. It would seem that Americans admire these institutions, precisely because they lead rather than follow.
As the United States continues its slow but steady recovery from the depths of the financial crisis, nobody actually wants a massive austerity package to shock the economy back into recession, and so the odds have always been high that the game of budgetary chicken will stop short of disaster. Looming past the cliff, however, is a deep chasm that poses a much greater challenge -- the retooling of the country's economy, society, and government necessary for the United States to perform effectively in the twenty-first century.