Jim, in your Way Out.. post I sense tremendous angst. They have medication for problems like that. As an alternative I would prescribe that you read these 3 books and call me in the morning. (see books below) If you do this, you'll be right as rain.
Nothing is cast in stone! There is a lot of uncertainty, especially about the future. Sometimes in trying to avoid that which we fear, we cause it to happen. I'm afraid that some of your policy prescriptions would fit this category. Your own strategy has the seeds of the solution.
...accumulate enough wealth in the short-term to mitigate the impact of any future calamity.
The recommended books will give you new insights into the wealth accumulation process on a societal scale.
They will also make it easier for you to seperate the relevant from the largely irrelevant when trying to formulate an economic judgement.
note on The Economist: I read it for more than 15 years. The first 10 years they probably new more economics than I did, after that I pulled ahead. They simply refused to learn from their mistaken notions - no learning or adjustments in their thinking. The mercantilist beliefs they hold were probably reasonable 100 years ago, today they are nonsense.
The Way the World Works by Jude Wanniski
Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder
Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker