Monday, October 4, 2010

STATE OF THE NATION




     Taxes are up, people’s confidence down. Health insurance is ever more costly despite  “overhaul,” the rich are richer, and they don’t share opportunity. Manufacturing, once the bedrock of our economy, is silent, its machines now spinning in China. The American middle class, created by the Industrial Age, Progressivism, immigration, two world wars, suburbia and manifest destiny, is disappearing. A third world-like underclass is forming, one that permanently will be out of work.

     At stake is much more than loss of buying power, a stalled economy and the threat of entrenched recession. No democracy long sustains without a healthy middle class and the hopes therein. Cities and suburbs will decay, and crime and social problems will increase. Education will not progress in such limited optimism. Children’s dreams will be lost as opportunities dwindle.  

The squeeze of the common man is on for the short-term, almighty dollar to enrich the already wealthy, with scant evidence that the largess ever trickles down to reinvigorate consumers who buy most of the products and who want to climb the ladder of success that is the foundation of the middle class.

     Our longest war continues without clear strategy. There is no end in sight. It is killing our young and draining not only the borrowed treasury but the nation's future as it will be our children’s children’s children who will have to repay the borrowed debt, if they can.

Special interests – some of polarized political bent, many others industry-driven (health insurance companies, military suppliers, financial houses) – determine our legislatures, our executive branch, too. If “Mr. Smith” went to Washington to tell us this in what was once plain, simple, direct – and honest – language, he probably could not get through Homeland Security.

Politics in 2010 is polarized talk, not service to the people, now delivered in quick sound bites and e-bits meant to inflame, not inform, playing off slogans, playing off fear, based not a whit on facts. The downsizing and less-profitable media devotes too little in investigative reporting and explanatory writing to structure the debate and thus forge the choices that a democracy must make. Instead, we have sloganeering, innuendo, deliberate distorting of facts, pushed rumors – all meant to push a simplistic agenda, such as “take government back” or “change.”

If only it were that simple.

Government investment – deficit spending – was supposed to gas up the stalling economy, but it has not. Bureaucracy, special interests and deliberate distortion of aims have largely wasted borrowed money. It seems the system we have simply shoots itself in the foot, yet the ordinary American feels the pain, not government.

The handwriting is on the wall, and it is one word: “greed.” What the nation requires is a teacher who will erase that from the blackboard and write “investment.” Investment in jobs, in what must become a new industrial/scientific age in America that creates innovative work, the seeking of a new frontier that can guarantee a vibrant middle class, and with it, since it is America’s historical bent, the wealth of the upper and the sustenance and dreams of the lower. 

All good will follow – money for schools, for health care, for infrastructure, for defense, for debt.

One last thing: Teacher should send special interest to the principal, recommending permanent suspension. Can’t teach with a bully in the classroom.

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