I have been pretty quiet for the past several weeks thinking through many of the things happening in the world and our current situation in this country and in the world. Our globalization makes it imperative that we live our lives as members of a larger collective and less as individuals. Individualism is a right that we all have and should enjoy personally, but as is applies to the collective we need to be mindful of our impact on those around us.
As we wander through this life we impact everyone and everything we encounter. We are no longer an island adrift in a sea of self indulgence and secure in our own little world. We are like the rest of the world connected by our global political and financial decisions. We have become one world. As we consider our direction as a country and society we must be mindful of our affect on others; not just in America but in the world around us.
Politically we still act as if we are big brother to the world believing that our might makes us right and the one with the biggest stick will always win. We must acknowledge that our efforts in the Middle East are suspect at best and the effect is uncertain if not deleterious. Yes, we eliminate a despot in one country and cheer the overthrow of another, but they are not really better for our efforts. In fact we created the Al Qaeda forces to battle Russia and those very same “Freedom Fighters” are now ‘Terrorists’, our nemesis; their reach increased to our own shores. This should tell us that we are meddling in places that we should not. In fact our incursion into their fight has created new ways for our own government to garner additional control over us in the name of security. Maybe that’s the crux of our current situation.
Our government created the TSA – whose reach increases daily with impunity. They now call the tune to which we all dance. Call it what you like; the unfortunate truth is that they now control our lives in the name of national security. Do you really feel safer? Is groping a pre-boarding passenger really keeping us all from harm? Is intercepting cell phone conversations and scanning email really promoting national security? Does an examining library book request serve a real purpose? Does detailed analysis of bookstore purchase really matter or even provide a window to the buyer’s intentions? What happened to the FBI and CIA? Weren’t these organizations supposed to prevent the catastrophic events that befell our country recently? They were arguing about who knew what and whose job it was to intervene!
Our way of life, our society is right for our people. It is NOT the answer for everyone. We live this way because we of how we are socialized and understand our limits and freedoms. Forcing our social and political structure on another country and society is futile. We cannot expect anyone other than an American to understand our form of Democracy. Our efforts to indoctrinate the world to our way of thinking is absolutely wrong and certainly a waste of time. History proves this; yet we ignore this lesson. I wonder if we ever will learn that tolerance is far better than insisting that the world adopt our ways. Can’t we just accept that other countries have the same rights to sovereignty as we?
Financially we are a monkey with a machine gun. We spend like we can just print all the money we need: and we do with horrendous results. Our fiscal policies indicate a complete ignorance of how money works. We provide social programs for the less fortunate at the expense of working people. Our current policy fosters a two class system: those with and those that want it. Those with means can support some of these programs, but not all of them. If we are to ever emerge from the hole we are in we need to change the fundamental thought process of those that now expect the country to provide them a comfortable living. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation. This is where we are today.
We are facing tipping point economically. We carry a $15 trillion debt with no way to make the payments, and now we raised the debt limit to continue our spendthrift ways. The two political parties that will make the decision insist that their view and policies are correct. In 10 short years we have blown through a $215 billion surplus from the year 2000. The projections at that time showed an additional $1 trillion increase. Our national debt was paid down to $233 billion. We now face an insurmountable debt that if divided among the people of America equals almost $46,000. The median income in the US is $46,326. As you can see the debt equals the income. Basically we are bankrupt. There is no way to sustain our current spending versus our present income. 42% had incomes below $25,000 while the top 10% had incomes exceeding $82,500 a year. That means that most people in this country are below that $46,000 threshold. Scary, isn’t it?
What this means on a global scale is that as the number 1 earning country we have no concept of how our actions affect the rest of the world. Here are the top ten earning countries per capita according to the World Bank’s Gross National Income (GNI):
1. Luxemburg: $37,499.20
2. Switzerland: $36,987.60
3. Japan: $35,474.10
4. Norway: $35,053.30
5. United States: $33,070.30
6. Denmark: $30,191.50
7. Iceland: $27,437.80
8. Sweden $25,105.50
9. United Kingdom: $24,486.70
10. Austria: $23,843.10
23. Israel: $17,046. 40
Countries #35 through #104 make less than $10,000.00 per year per capita and countries #105 through #169 make less than $1000.00 per year per capita. The remaining few don’t even register.
Many of these countries live well below our poverty level and would love to have our income. They would relish the opportunity to live as we do and have our lifestyle. Our problem is our convenient memory and our ungrateful attitude toward what we have. We take all of this for granted and so does our government. They forget that we make more than enough to care for the less fortunate, but not so much that they can squander our money on programs that benefit their own greedy interests. We can no longer provide comfortable lifestyles for non-contributors and slackers. We can no longer afford to be the dumping ground for the indigent refuse of the world. Our pride is gone as is our national identity.
Partisan Politics is crippling this country. It is more important for our leaders to cling to the party planks than to act in the interest of the country. They abandon the people and serve major financial contributors and special interest groups that prove them power and recognition. We suffer because the interests of these few outweigh the good of the many. They should all be fired and replaced with more realistic and honest leaders. They freely enact laws that segregate us from them and live above the laws made for the rabble. It is our fault that these people lead us into oblivion and treat their responsibilities cavalierly. We allow the self serving power brokers throughout this country to placing these people in office. Please note that I did not say elected to office. There is no electorate. The election recount in Florida proved that those with the most to gain control who is placed in office. The Shrub (Little Bush) is a perfect example of power run amok.
Multiculturalism destroyed our identity and fractured our society into ethnic camps with demands for recognition. American’s no longer exist. Everyone has a hyphenated identity; Chinese-American; African-American; Italian-American; Asian-American; Gay-American; Straight-American; etc ad nauseum. Soon we will be subdividing these groups into subgroups that further define us by gender and age. It will take no time at all before we take an entire conversation to define who we are; all the time losing sight of the reason this country exists. We are here because America offered us an opportunity to join a collective that didn’t require more definition than being an American. We were satisfied living and knowing that we were the greatest country on earth: a place where everyone was quite proud to live and being part of this once great and now failing experiment.
I call for a return to common sense and a spirit of unity and solidarity for this country. We need to look deeply into our recent history and face the facts that we have allowed a few to dictate our future and destiny. We are totally to blame for the events leading to our current situation. Our ambivalent attitude and self interests killed this once great nation. Corporate greed and pandering to investors for quick return and instant gratification destroyed our manufacturing strength. Our desire for more, sent jobs overseas and our myopic view of education necessitated the importation of skills that were once secured our leadership. We now rely on the skills of foreigners that are better educated, better equipped, and better suited to highly technical jobs than we are.
To regain our leadership position in the world we must change our focus toward stronger education. We must consider the implications and impact of our financial decisions. We must resolve to unify our society into one cohesive proud people. We need to stand by each other not a safe distance from each other.
We are facing the end of the greatest country on earth, all because we wanted more and more and more and more for me with total abandon for each other.
Common sense tells us that unity is better than individuality, but something keeps us from moving in that direction. History teaches us that the only way to prosperity for all is to sacrifice a bit of self for the common good. History also teaches us that unless we learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it… A cursory look at the present European situation should show us all we need to know.
Common sense also tells us that we ALL need to take personal actions to avert inevitable demise. Our leaders will not do it, they can’t even agree on a balanced budget or how to reduce the deficit. They won’t support it unless we demand it. They work for us, remember? We DO NOT work for them.
Common sense tells us that the only way to change group behavior is at the personal level first: lead by example. If you need a powerful cause to rally the country… Try Bankruptcy. That’s right! That’s where we’re headed unless we all decided to change our direction and insist that our public officials begin doing their jobs, and not just keeping them.
Wake up America! It’s time to get off you collective ass and do something for your country.
September 19, 2011
~ The Author ~
Charles R. Dickens was born in 1951, is a veteran of the Vietnam, for which he volunteered, and the great-great grandson of the noted author, whose name he shares.
He is a fiercely proud American, who still believes this is the greatest country on the planet, with which we’ve lost control and certainly our direction. He grew up in moderate financial surrounding; were not rich by any stretch, but didn’t go hungry – his incredibly hard working father saw to that. As most from that era, he learned about life from his father, whose story would take too long to tell, other than to say that, he is also a fiercely proud American; a WWII and Korean war, veteran Marine.
Charlie was educated in the parochial system which, demanded that you actually learn something, and have capability to retain it before you advance. He attended several universities in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, and chased the goose further to a master’s, and has retained some very definite ideas about education in this country.
In addition, Charlie is a professional (struggling) blues guitar and vocalist – a musician. This is his therapy career. Nothing brings him as much joy as playing music, and he wishes that he could make a living at it… maybe some day!
That’s Charlie… a proud, opinionated, and passionate American.
Mr. Dickens can be reached for comment at email@example.com