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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Bearable Burden?

March 1, 2010, 6:30 AM
The US and UK can handle decades of debt, according to a Financial Times commentator who says that seeing debt as a serious problem is an “alarmist view.” “High debt is seen as a serious problem – as Adam Smith warned more than two centuries ago: ‘The practice of funding has gradually enfeebled any state which has adopted it.’ The difficulty with this alarmist view is that economics does not tell us what is a ‘high’ level of debt. Without such knowledge, it is impossible to say that debt is too high or to announce that debt reduction should be an urgent short-term priority. It is true that such huge increases in government debt reflect serious economic problems. But, given the enormous financial shock the economy has experienced, we may be better off with high debt for a long period of time. In fact, although economics is quiet on the issue of what it means for debt to be too high it does tell us that in the face of large temporary shocks the optimal response is for debt to show large and long-lasting swings. Debt should act as a buffer to help the government respond to shocks. The logic is simple. The UK and US governments have the ability to borrow long term and the option to roll over their borrowing. Rather than abruptly raising taxation and cutting government expenditure, they should adjust fiscal policy over the long term.”

Bearable Burden?

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