If Protestant ethics actually held more popular influence today, would the importance of counter-cyclical economic policy captivate public imagination as effectively as the perverse metaphor of government resembling a family that needs to buckle down when constrained? In their personal lives, people don’t actually tend to think it’s worth sacrificing when they’re doing best, but that’s kind of a protestant attitude, and it’s precisely the sort of thinking central bankers need to institute to keep a massive economy chugging along.

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