Essential reading to understand our current and future fiscal crisises, and those plaguing Europe, is Michael Lewis’s Boomerang. The underlying crisis of democracy in the current time is well documented if one takes that wider view of the various crisis elements and the inability of numerous countries to deal with them
Lewis visits Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany looking to explain the current fiscal woes of all. While the details are best pursued in the book, the gist of the reading is that so many fail to see that current financial arrangements pushed to crisis by their democratic support, are understood by ffew and created by the many. Each crisis has its groups exploiting the democratic system to benefit themselves, fantastic and unsupportable claims by the many to wealth without work, and oddly, a walrus (aka the Beatles I am the Walrus, who see the crises looming and is totally ignored as a rogue of the crazy variety: until things collapse.
He lays a solid basis for the woes of each country, yet through it all he is really looking at the inability of democratic systems to face up to their costs. His goal is easily to compare these places to the United States. The United States is usually pointed out as being different from these Europeans, but the problem is that the United States is not a model of any particular trouble set, it is a model of a combination of them all.
While the fiscal crisis of 2012 has the focus, the long term solutions are all politicall unacceptable to the sides. SO the nation plunges forward over the big class ahead in the future. A nation unable to set priorities achieves none of them. It fails.