Given that Barack Obama is such a brilliant orator, it might seem a bit presumptuous to offer any suggestions for his inaugural address next month. But these lines from another presidential inaugural seem uncannily relevant for someone taking office at a time of economic crisis:
“These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions… It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.
“Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity … For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.
“You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we're not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.
“The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away…
The speaker was Ronald Reagan at his inauguration on 20th January 1981. More than two and a half decades later, the depressing thing is that nothing much seems to have changed – including the optimism/hope of the newly elected president.