In his classic, "The Worldly Philosophers," Robert Heilbroner suggested that although we have many economists today, we no longer have worldly philosophers. Economists have become technicians, devoted to understanding and maintaining the current economic machinery, but few can be considered philosophers — original thinkers able to look at the system as a whole or propose alternatives to our current economy. This is unfortunate, for the system itself is in rather advanced stages of disintegration.

The form of capitalism we have embraced for about 150 years has two prominent and interrelated characteristics: it persistently widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots and it grows largely through accumulating debt — consumer, trade, corporate, and federal. The corporate system must grow continuously to be healthy. But endless growth means that we must consume resources, many of them finite, at an accelerating rate. This is, by definition, a dead-end path.

The system is now reaching certain limits, caused by inherent internal conflicts, that the technicians have no answer for. And the solutions offered by politicians are simplistic to the point of being insulting to the voting public as well as dangerous. We need real change in America, not partial fixes or partisan gamesmanship.

Roger Terry