Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Different Take on the Economy: The Real Cause

The Eyres

Yesterday I shared part one of this topic. In that post I gave full attribution to Richard Eyre, a brilliant author well-known not only through out the LDS community, but also internationally for his work regarding families. Richard also had done a TV series with his wife Linda, and is now entering into the political arena where I can see him doing much good.

Part 2

"New York Times #1 Bestselling Author Richard Eyre takes a unique look at our crumbling economy and suggests that it's not just an economic problem.

A Bermuda Triangle of Cause

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the way we try to measure everything and explain everything in economic terms. We are in trouble, everyone tells us, because of bad loans and excessive speculation and poorly managed banks and corporations and insufficient regulation.

Well, what if all of these economic factors are just the symptoms of more basic problems? What if they are the results rather than the causes? What if our society has some flaws that are deeper and more personal than economics?

I think that today's burgeoning problems are swirling up from a kind of Bermuda triangle of causes. One of the triangle's corners certainly could be labeled “economics” and is founded in the excessive borrowing and spending and greed discussed in yesterday's article.

But there are two more corners to the causal triangle. One can be called “demographics” and the other can be called “morality.”


As hard as it is for America to pay its bills today, forecasters will tell us that our current woes are nothing compared to what we will face in a decade or so when our biggest entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—are scheduled to go broke.

And the root problem is demographics. As people live to be older and older, and as families have fewer and fewer children we end up with a huge aging population and a woefully small workforce to support them. The old model of lots of young workers at the base of the population pyramid supporting the small peak of elderly people at the top has been inverted and now stands precariously on the tiny pointed base of less children/workers and a wide top of more retired/oldsters. The whole theory of entitlements and generational responsibility goes topsy turvy.

Most advanced “western” countries, including basically all of Europe as well as this country when immigration is factored out, have declining populations and birth rates that are below replacement levels. So the younger, producing side of population is getting smaller, as the older, consuming side of population is getting larger.

Two thirds of American households have no children in them. Nearly 40% of births are to single or unwed moms. Without family responsibility, much of our new population can become a burden on economic society rather than part of the workforce solution.

Even without the current banking and housing crises, we would be heading into economic disaster by virtue of our demographics and the failure of families to bring into the world and raise enough responsible kids to keep everything afloat.


The word “morality” is often used with sexual connotations, but it is much broader than that. Besides sexual indiscretion and irresponsibility, immorality means self-centeredness, greed, dishonesty, disrespect, and lack of self-discipline.

It is these traits that undermine our society and our economy.

We live in a world where we measure those around us (and ourselves) by how much they own, how much they control, and how powerful or autonomous they seem to be. We pay lip service to service and we admire philanthropy and altruism, but our guiding motives seem to be self-survival and self-elevation in competition to those around us.

Our society emphasizes individual rights above family commitments and group responsibility.

Economics is more a system of measurement and numerical results than it is an explanation of root cause. We get into economic difficulty not so much because we don't follow the right economic formulas as because we don't follow the right moral principles.


As one who has been writing and speaking and thinking about families and parenting and child rearing for decades, I often get accused of oversimplifying everything and cramming it into the box that says “everything starts and ends with families.”

“To someone with a hammer in his hand,” the old saying goes, “everything looks like a nail.”

But I do believe that the whole Bermuda triangle of cause, and all three of its economic, demographic and moral corners rests firmly on the decline of families.

When families fail to teach correct principles and morals, that omission constitutes a cause which erupts in disastrous economic and societal effects. When families have the illness of irresponsibility, it produces wide spread economic symptoms. When families fail in their stewardships of the welfare and justice of their children, those stewardships leak out into the welfare and justice systems of the broader society where they become impossibly expensive and expensively impossible to deal with. And when couples decide not to have children at all, the resulting demographics lead to the inevitable destruction of the future of any economy.

People everywhere are fond of saying “The family is the basic unit of society.”

What we have to realize is that the family is also the basic unit of our economy, of our morality, and of our demographics.

Note: For additional information on Richard Eyre's thoughts on the deception and lack of discipline in our society and personal lives go to and to Both are now meridian books, available on line to Meridian readers. Click here to order.

flickr photos


Loida of the 2L3B's said...

Dearest Bonnie,
If America is having a hard time about its economy, what more with the developing nations like ours? What you had posted are some sort of fine tuning, I just wonder if there's a chance for things to get better. I don't feel hopeless. I just felt sad because somehow majority of people tend to change for the best and do better to keep up yet being pulled down by those who don't. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.