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The most awful truth is that most Americans don’t know or fully understand how seriously their nation, economy and social tranquility have been damaged by the economic and political elite who remain in power.
Across our nation, in cities big and small — in villages and on farms — millions of American jobs have disappeared. Americans are angry at what has happened to their country and their livelihoods, but the awful truth is that Americans largely don’t know, or fully understand, how seriously their nation, economy and social tranquility have been damaged by the economic and political elite who blithely remain in power.
The problem is, you, me, all of us, were taken in by a popular but impossible belief that we no longer had to make anything people wanted to buy, or do real work, or take real risks.
As a nation, our disconnection with reality is palpable. Our insatiable thirst for entertainment masquerading as news has produced a generation of public affairs illiterates — Americans largely disinterested in what matters most in their lives. For them, the excesses of the rich and powerful surely came as a surprise. As did the loss of their jobs, their investments, their homes and their once blind faith that someone else would guarantee their right to live the American Dream.
Freedom cannot survive without engaged, informed and active citizens. Nor, in their absence, can government fully protect the interests of the peoples of this nation — for doing so demands intelligent political discourse and considered political engagement. While there is a great deal of misdirecting and fallacious political kerfuffle on our airways and Internet, there is scant intelligent discourse due to media that have been freed of any responsibility to anything beyond their own bottom line.
Today our freedoms are at risk because millions of Americans are unwilling to carry their share of the load. We refuse to pay our own way through taxation sufficient to pay our bills — all the better to live well at the expense of our progeny. We refuse to serve in the military in the belief that’s for the least of us, the poor, the uneducated and the misdirected.
We have become inbred in our culture and concealed deeply in the foundations of our institutions and value systems. All of us are infected by unreal expectations and misinformation. Some of us, those who govern or who manage our economy, are making decisions based on a failed model borne of failed education, failed governance, and failed ethics.
At the heart of our problem is a contagious urge to elevate our least significant wants to the level of vital needs. Today, some of us, largely those who govern or who manage our economy, are making decisions based on a flawed economic model borne of failed education, failed governance, a do-anything-you-like values system made to look acceptable by situational ethics.
We have come face to face with mischief of our own making. In little more than 20 years we have expanded our hubris and our appetite for wealth, power and things at the risk of our financial stability and at the expense of generations yet unborn.
Debt accumulation is not a long-term solution for any problem.
Our big cities are broke, or anticipating severe cutbacks. Nearly every state is facing a similar problem. Yet because our cities feel lawfully obligated honor commitments made before they discovered our nation’s institutional foundations were so badly flawed, some cities are faced with a reality none of them ever expected to face: They have insufficient funds to pay police, firemen and other city workers covered by contracts negotiated in good faith on the failed assumption that our economy was always going to grow.
The awful truth is that our collective disconnect with reality is a principal cause of the unraveling and collapse of our most important and powerful institutions. Even this short list of examples is damming of both perpetrators and a dangerously preoccupied citizenry.
- Congress has allowed itself to become effectively owned and controlled by special interests.
- Business has become debilitated by short-term thinking and rampant rape and pillage of assets and income by officers, directors, managers and other insiders.
- Journalism is dying from disinterest, disconnection and abandonment.
- Broadcasting has made Americans weak by pandering to our insatiable appetite for the inconsequential.
- Manufacturing has moved jobs overseas to benefit the owners without any consideration for workers or communities.
- Finance turned away from wealth conservation and toward speculation and gambling with your money.
- Trade unions served their short-term interests at the cost of their-long term survival.
- Our governance agencies abdicated their responsibility to oversee in favor of big paydays for former regulators.
And now the piper must be paid. But not by us, for another awful truth is that the political elite have decided to spare us that pain by passing it off to our grandchildren.
The debris from our excess is everywhere — strewn indiscriminately in our great cities. In many of our biggest cities people are suffering immense shock, enduring pain and emotional trauma. This we did to ourselves, as each of us sought to feather our own nest, no matter the consequences to others, is unconscionable.
We’re all guilty even as we remain in substantial denial.
Our most troubling issues are systemic, deeply rooted from decades of failed checks and balances. Nor are they transient — for the worst of our problems are the result of failed education, failed governance and failure to honor and respect one another.
Our cities are strapped for operating monies — due in part to wrong assumptions about their sources of income and profligate spending habits. Now, along with state, county and township governments, America’s big cities are facing the consequences of their bad habits and foolish decisions. Like their manufacturing counterparts, big city governments took the road of least resistance by agreeing to burdensome and largely irreversible labor agreements. Now that ordinary citizens no longer generate tax revenues sufficient to support city government spending, they’re faced with trying to cut back non-union services just to avoid bankruptcy.
It’s understandable that unions don’t want to give up their hard-won pay packages and benefits. They won their compensation and benefits through arms-length negotiations. Today, cities that locked themselves into endless pay hikes based on assumptions about escalating wages don’t have the money to support such agreements. So other government functions are shut down or cut back. While the unions, and all the rest of us believe that union contract problems will simply go away on their own, they most certainly will not.
The world we thought existed was only an illusion floating on a vast bubble of debt.
So, just what is it we learn from all of our mistakes and awful truths?
If we fail to come to the aid of our country we’re likely to lose it.