September 29th, 2009 :: Permalink
Aloha "Capitol -ist" ~
You asked, "Please share your thoughts on why these times are getting scarier & scarier."
Are they REALLY getting scarier or is this simply a perception we are accepting (or selling ourselves)? How scared were Americans in 1941 when Hawai'i was attacked, war was going on globally and the world was in the great depression?
I'm not happy with the direction of our nation over the past 30 years and believe we have become lazy and self-absorbed. We seem to have forgotten how hard our parents and grandparents worked to give us so much. Yet we have so much today and we are very spoiled!
Who is our major military threat? Gone is the USSR and a combative China. Both are now critical trading partners. While there will always be small disenfranchised groups such as al Qaeda, we've (hopefully) learned that special forces and intelligence will do more against these threats than tank brigades.
Our economy should be top on your list of concerns - and Americans are in for a wake up call. If we believe in capitalism, then we must allow market forces to move to "equilibrium." American labor should be horrified!
Our of app. 300 million Americans, about half of us (155 million) are employed. We would like to make at least $40K per year. Yet there are SIX billion+ people outside the U.S. and most of these workers work for around a dollar a day. Equilibrium means these two positions will more toward each other - which means your salary is coming down to meet the lower priced (although greater number) world labor. Excellent Indian programmers work happily for US $10K per year. Can you live on that?
This phenomenon has been going on since the '70s. As a nation, we have lied to ourselves about these forces. Leaders from the left and right have distorted this economic truth and used easy credit as a means to delay what may be inevitable - American standard of living is collapsing.
Today most Americans feel squeezed. Their take home pay sucks - thus they rally for lower taxation. Yet the problem isn't government. Worker productivity has risen over 60 percent since the '70s - although compensation, adjusted for inflation, has gone up only ONE percent.
Where is this profit going? The most wealthy are getting more wealthy each day. This group has increased its total wealth while the middle class has diminished and greater numbers of people have fallen below poverty lines.
As government has done less collectively, more user fees have been forced upon us. We shoulder full costs for many things today that a vibrant middle class sponsored decades ago.
This has created tremendous frustration in our society. As Tracy Morgan of SNL characterized recently, citizens simply want government and leaders to "FIX IT"! They assume there are "silver bullets" available that will repay our underfunded SS and pensions; support our Medicare and other social nets; and provide a robust economy where there once again is a "chicken in every pot."
The media thrives in this chaotic environment. The adage, "if it bleeds it leads" allows corporate news to profit from every battle and drop of blood. Our 24/7 news coverage overreports most drama and makes us believe that "birthers" and "tea-baggers" are more significant than they truly are. The media drummed up the recent controversy regarding Obama talking to children by quoting and replaying some of the most radical of citizens. Yet few remember that GW Bush was talking to children on 9/11 when our nation was attacked. Why are these wild few given an audience when more moderate voices on this page could never get airtime? Media wants and seeks drama/blood for their headline news.
Is it all hopeless? Is American going down the drain? No, to both, in part due to our greater democracy. I'm not talking about formal institutions, but blogs such as these where educated people bypass corporate media and simply discuss using KULEANA with each other - rather than screaming at one an other.
Second, Americans have always been their best when facing the greatest hardships. I believe our recent generations have been soft because there have been no demands made on them. Those leaving college will face the task of supporting millions of baby boomers - who will ALL vote religiously. Nobody will take away their benefits and this will be a huge burden on these grandchildren.
Third, as America diminishes in overall or perceived power, I believe we will see a new world order where cooperation triumphs over fear and confrontation. War simply wastes resources. Violence leads nowhere. Shooting at an enemy likely takes away a customer or interrupts a supply line. Our new global village will require consensual politics rather than Pax Americana.
Yet it comes down to what lives in your heart. Do we have the individual courage to do what it takes to be a great nation again? I am reminded of John Kennedy:
Ask not what this country can do for you. Ask what you can do for this country.
It seems 300 million Americans are feeding at the public trough. We are raping and pillaging Lady Liberty. Will we have the fortitude, as did our fore fathers and mothers, to stand together and rebuild this nation to the power she once was? Or will we continue to whine and wait for someone else to do the hard work for us?