Ken Connor

And Alan Greenspan said, "Let there be recession," and there was recession.

Despite the fact that it has been more than a year since he left his job as the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan's words still have the power to move markets. Earlier this week, Greenspan said, "When you get this far away from a recession, invariably forces build up for the next recession, and indeed we are beginning to see that sign." In response to this prediction, nervous investors sold stocks, causing the biggest stock market drop since September 11, 2001. After six years of economic success, could America be entering a recession?

I certainly hope not. Like Millions of Americans, I have money invested in the stock market, and I hope our economy remains strong. I hope that we avoid an economic recession, and that our nation never again experiences a serious depression. Nevertheless, from time to time it is good to remember that no one is immune from economic loss. As individuals, and as a country, unforeseen circumstances could lead to financial hardship. How would we fare under such circumstances?

Wealth: An American Birthright?

Most Americans have become accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle, and in fact, many people think material wealth is their birthright. According to a recent study, in 1966 only 42% of college freshmen thought it was important to be "very well-off financially." By 1980, the percentage of freshmen who thought financial success was very important had grown to 62.5%. Today, it is 75%. Wealth is becoming a requirement for more and more students.

When it comes to desiring wealth, many Christians have jumped on the bandwagon, believing that earthly riches are their spiritual birthright. The "health and wealth" gospel is well known to those who have listened to the preaching of America's most famous televangelists. Across the nation, some pastors are promising that if you are a good Christian, and if you have faith, you will undoubtedly become rich.

Similarly, for some conservatives, the most important criteria when considering public policy is its affect on the economy: will this policy make people wealthier? For such men and women, other considerations are secondary.

The New Consumerist Mindset

Without a doubt, the most popular ideology in America is "consumerism." According to this philosophy, you are what you buy. People with the means to buy things that are desired—"new and improved," "bigger and better," "latest and greatest"—are considered the most admired, successful, and happy.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.