Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Bankrupt Nation

It is becoming more apparent with each passing day that the American lifestyle as it currently exist is unsustainable. For more than three decades we have accepted the false narrative that we can live beyond our means and there will be no cost for the extravagance. Not only has our government accepted and promoted this falsehood, but we as a nation have accepted it as well. It has become so engrained into our national psyche that anyone who dares to point out its inherent flaws is immediately ridiculed by politicians, the media, and their fellow citizens. You see rather than looking at the real culprits of our failed domestic and foreign policies we want to create these “bogeymen” who want to destroy our sacred way of life. The truth is that it is always easier to blame others for our shortsightedness and faults.

For more than three decades we have been taught and believe that if we could just change the world into our image all of our problems would be solved. The latest and a perfect example of this strategy was our response to the 9/11 attack. After being attacked our first response and really our only response was to say if we can only change those godless and depraved Arabs and the Middle East to be more like us this would prevent anymore attacks. Now think about that response for a minute. They hate us for our freedoms so our answer is to offer them those same freedoms? Rather than sit down and analyze the situation and the causes behind the attacks, we commit ourselves to this “global war on terror”. A war in which no one seemed to have considered the cost in lives, material, and national psychology. We developed this strategy that the way you prevent war is by starting wars. No one considered the truth about military power, that it has limited effects on the outcome of international events.

You see we live in a country where following the Cold War we believed that we were invincible. We believed the hype that we were the only “Super Power” and that by being such we were entitled to exert our control (influence)over the rest of the world. That we could solve not only all of our problems, but the rest of the world’s problems by using our forces to recast the world in our image. I mean after all it worked in Germany and Japan didn’t it? This belief or thought pattern is not exclusive to Republicans or Democrats, it is deeply seated in all of us. The sooner we acknowledge this fact the sooner we will be able to address it and that in stead of demagoguery we should look in the mirror and see that we have found the enemy and it is us. It is this insane belief that we can continue to enjoy this lifestyle without paying for it that continues to fuel our downfall. Somewhere there has been this disconnect on Main street and in Washington that there is this unlimited supply of money, credit, energy, food, etc. and that if we just change them or drill more or buy more we can solve all of our problems.

The only President in recent times that had the temerity to begin the discussion of how we were on the road to bankruptcy was ridiculed and loss in a landslide to the king of false hopes. Jimmy Carter in his now infamous “malaise” speech said some very thought provoking things. He tried to tell America that we could not continue on this road of consumerism based in living on credit, foreign oil, and importing all of our products. He stated that we had switched from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers. He stated that we had begun to rely to heavily on others to do what we had once done for ourselves and that ruin lay at the end of that road.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure...The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.[1]

I would ask anyone interested in the subject of what we are facing as a nation to please read the speech in it’s entirety. I would also dare anyone to deny how so many of the issues and proposed actions given by Carter were not at least a beginning to resolving the same problems we are facing still. If we had initiated some of the solutions proposed by President Carter I doubt we would be facing the problems today to the magnitude that we are. But of course he was immediately branded a pessimist and a loser, it kills me how so many people say tell us the truth we can handle it. Well, when someone decided to try that radical strategy we see how it was received.

The truth be told we as a nation are on the verge of losing what little democracy we had. We have decided for the sake of consumerism and expediency to abdicate our rights to control our government. We no longer believe in government by the people for the people. We want to make all of the tough problems go away by outsourcing them to the poor, the mentally weak, and the uneducated. So long as we can continue to feed our vigorous appetites for more of everything. Every President since Carter has won elections by promising one thing; that we could continue to live this irresponsible lifestyle without any sacrifice. We could have our bullets and butter at the same time. We could extend American power without having to give up anything. Sacrifice and hard work which were once the bedrock of the American experience are now viewed as negatives and old fashioned.

The days of the free lunch are quickly coming to an end. We can no longer continue to live beyond our means. Most Americans have maxed out not only their credit cards, but their mortgages and retirements. Our government and business leaders have resorted to borrowing from foreign countries to finance our debt spending spree with little or no concern about the strategic repercussions of these decisions. They would have us to believe that we are safe from foreign intervention or pressure from our indebtedness. As if the borrower has the power over the lender through sheer military force. It they don’t give us what we want then we will destroy and take what we want.

We as a nation must use this crisis as a starting point to return to production and innovation. We could use this opportunity to create an alternate energy source industry and production. When Senator Obama proposed such an idea he was immediately ridiculed. It is this type of closed minded, corporate financed rhetoric that has to stop if we are ever going to overcome the problems that beset us. Thirty years after President Carter’s speech we are still no closer to finding and using alternative energy technologies. We are still locked into the mindset that we can dig more holes and destroy more of the earth to solve our problems without any sacrifice. The snake oil propaganda must stop and stop now.


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