It can be summed up in one word: excess. Most people I know live with mountains of debt. Many people bought houses that were way beyond their reach in price, only to find several years later that their house is worth less than what they owe on their mortgage. How did things get so bad?
Have you ever been at a performance where the audience begins clapping in unison to encourage an encore? Sometimes, the pace of the clapping becomes faster and faster until it eventually disintegrates, because it reaches a point where it is just too fast to maintain uniformity. The chaos currently running through our economy is the metaphorical equivalent of the clapping at the point where it loses its order and becomes random before petering out. (I’m sure that there are other examples of this phenomenon in nature, and if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.) Too many people have been in a race to catch the sun, which would be analogous to the race to acquire more STUFF. You can run as fast as you can, and you may outrun a lot of people, but the truth is, no one can catch the sun. It will inevitably set and come up behind you. In a race to attain unattainable levels of wealth, people will increase the amount of risk they are willing to take. Combine that with the decreasing value of the US dollar, and you have one big, tragic MESS.
Another symptom of excess in our society is the size of food portions served in many of the nation’s most popular restaurant chains. Portion sizes served have increased several times in size over the past 30 or so years. The largest companies have conspired with meat and poultry farms to produce obscene quantities of meat at very low cost to our ever more greedy society. These farms are rife with animal abuse, filth, and pollution, and produce huge quantities of greenhouse gases. And now, a lot of poor countries want the same access to cheap, plentiful meat and are destroying their countries’ ecosystems to achieve this goal. The American obesity epidemic is analogous to the economic excesses which have caused our current “economic diabetes” crisis.