Values And Dollars
Enough Foam and Fluff
Nations are basically economic dynamos. There is, admittedly, a useless class of nincompoops who sit in front of computers, devise articles, blogs, and think-pieces about every subject under the sun, then complain that they are not appreciated. But to reiterate, nations, consisting of citizens therein, basically strive to make money. If the USA were as wealthy as it could be under better guidance no one would even bring up the subject of a national debt, entitlements, and outsourcing, to name only a few controversies. But whatever the statistics that seem to drive the stock market, regardless of their trustworthiness or veracity, one can literally see with the naked eye that our wealth, compared to that of other countries, is more often the result of rhapsodic rhetoric, not actual reality.
It is nice to hear our leaders take the stage and eloquently rephrase values already much agreed upon, such as Gay parity, the humane treatment of illegals, or the freedom to pursue one's own vocational choice, but the fact is, the French Revolution is over, as is our own, and the October Revolution, too, if you will. No hot air is needed or wanted. No mugging, posing, or posturing at a podium is called for. Our feel-good back-patting has some meaning, some substance, but not much. For instance, we want a nation that does not thwart our ambitions so much as grant access to them. We do not want to spend half our lives in school, learning a trade or profession, then the next half unemployed, or scraping by as if so much expense and study had been completely useless. To hear speeches about opportunities that never materialize and encourage American dreams that burn to a crisp in Satan's oven is disconcerting. In terms of dollars and cents, just about everything that could have gone wrong, not to be too facetious, has. Banks refuse to pay interest. The various avenues toward success that were available a mere decade or two ago, have been closed, perhaps permanently. Innovative business ideas are anathema. It is getting harder and harder to keep from going under. The reason, I think, has at the very least something to do with leadership. It is, frankly, a letdown. People do not aspire to be poor, needy, unhealthy, and undesirable. But our leaders pipe a nifty tune that we generally follow -- to our own detriment.
To be specific, we badly need economic leadership. We must keep up with a global environment that has wiped out a whole, complex system many of us prepared for, worked with, and under which, thrived. It has disappeared. Now, facing an indebtedness that was unimaginable in 1776, our leaders have shifted away from responsible action to cheerleading. This is why I have set talk of values against, for lack of a better vocabulary, meat and potatoes. Speech-making, placard-holding, and various rally tactics have all but obfuscated economics. Leaders can talk patriotism till blue in the face. Napoleon was well aware that his nation loved pageantry. So do we. But John Philip Souza cannot be counted on to improve the GDP. We should not back away from a new world of competition, thinking, as did Rome, surrounded by Barbarians, that this is Rome (read America) -- rich, unconquerable, and above criticism, by definition singular, regardless of a thorny reality, without the slightest need to defend its character or position of dominance. In the meantime, no viable strategy is in place to safeguard a future that might lead to greater poverty, poorer education, and more dangerous social relations that could reach critical mass. All Americans should participate in a roiling economic engine. The workplace, to put it mildly, is not democratic enough. It turns people away while hiring and promoting only a fraction of those who have not given up.
A good case can be made for greater wealth on every level to at least help solve some of our most protracted disagreements. Only recently have I met successful people, fully normal, who distrust the Government as never before. All made their fortunes, small or large, in an America that they think no longer exists. The word making the rounds is that it is only going to get worse. How this happened, I do not have the intellectual energy to so much as inquire into. But if true, it must have happened in increments. It is not due to a single event. Since we always, logically, start at the top, not the bottom, when it comes to blame, the accusative finger can point only at a crisis in leadership. If this is wrong, then the problem gets even murkier. Are our leaders answering to the whims and desires of an unseen class of higher-ups? Could be. Leaders who cannot lead require leaders themselves. More to the point, why are we shooing away competent, invaluable citizens to foreign nations? Their arguments are hard to counter. They feel better. They live longer. They have medical care at a fraction of the American cost. They eat fresher foods. They are less stressed. They are less frustrated. They wonder why they had not left sooner. None express regrets. What gives?
Today is a Good Day for your Dreams to Die
It is hard for some people to get anywhere. That much no one would disagree with. They are too far down the unacknowledged hierarchy. But there are also those on top who realize that to stay there they will have to endure a great deal of animosity. There are those in the middle who are relatively comfortable. There are those in the middle who are uncomfortable. There are those who give up and there are those who keep fighting. But the main point is that the entire economic system, taken as a whole, appears to be fatally flawed. Elitism is the essential aspect of America. It can take several shapes and forms, not limited to either White or Black, Male or Female, Gun-Lover or Conscientious Objector, or any other group defined rather superficially. To be an individual is risky. To cling to the notion that there are laws, standards, and ethics that will maintain one's dignity and right to fair treatment, in whatever circumstance, is still a possibility, though not much more than that. Redistribution of wealth, with its attendant privileges, is more the current policy, rather than the thrust toward the greater good of the entire citizenship. Why not mint a coin with the profile of Robin Hood on the front? This is part of the perception that is the driving force behind emigration, at the same time that immigration is the chief focus. Anything the ex-pats made, so they say, the country tried or somehow managed to steal.
In other words, it does not matter how hard one tries. It does not matter how hard one works. It does not matter how innovative one is. This is a socialist country, either in fact or in the making. Not good. At some point in the future, one may well wonder what happened to the private sector. My own feeling, if it matters any, is that the new American or ex-American internationalists have found a solution to a problem that may or may not worsen to the point where decisive action is required. As much as I respect the position that espouses the point of view that all that was once good about America is virtually over, I cannot do much more in all sincerity but play along. I am also disappointed in the present. My own circumstances are not to my liking, and the disposition of the country, in general, toward domestic economics and foreign policy seems openly flawed.
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An Matter of Ideology
The U.S.A. 1776 - ?
Suppose the emigrants are right. Suppose the damage done is irreversible. I cannot say for sure that I am not jealous of Americans who can make themselves comfortable in Panama, Uruguay, Colombia, and Belize. I prefer to think that if I dislike the north, I can move south, or vice versa, or go east or west. I am not accustomed to thinking of foreign countries as havens from all that makes me, at times, a disgruntled citizen. Every time I hear that the good times are completely over, I automatically think, "Wait until 2016." But really, what kind of debate is this? We always elect Presidents. It is our channel-changing syndrome that is responsible for this kind of thinking. It might make a difference, it might not. Or, perhaps, it is all only psychological. I guess I would settle for the psychological. At least I would be happy, even if nothing substantial differed. But Escape from the United States of America is one movie imitating reality I never hoped to see. All it takes is the proper suggestion and it begins to play inside one's head. There is a time for everything, right? A time to come to America, a time to settle down, a time to leave. Or, so one might speculate. The crazy thing is that there are those who are putting in the effort and making it pay off. To me, this is mind-bending. But take a journalistic-photographic look at some of the cities and outer regions to which the transplants have gone. There is nothing cheap about sections of South and Latin America, counter to how one usually thinks. They have sky-scrapers, too, as well as fancy shops and cultural edifices. Their well-dressed citizens do not show up at our controversial border. They have no plans to climb the envisioned fence that will stem the unpopular flow. If they want to enter the United States, fly here, stay a couple of weeks, and then return, heaving sighs of relief.
Oh yes, the socialism thing. Eventually, if current trends are sustained, just about everyone will draw dollars from the same government trough. The picture above was snapped in Great Britain. There, as well as on the European continent, the concept of a more egalitarian society short of Communism was developed. It worked, to some extent, but has no place here. To experiment with it is foolish. To borrow from it for the sake of emergencies, which is how it was employed in the first place, is a different matter. There is a lot being said in current affairs about entitlements, since they are a main focus of the ruling administration. It is busily laying the groundwork for a new, more ethnically-diverse, probably bilingual, heavily-subsidized framework. Some powers-that-be plan on a less wealthy, but happier population, with wealth distributed more evenly according to an agency of some sort acting as a monetary overseer. Thus, the new America coming into being, as envisioned, will be one in which the most economic tensions possible are eliminated. Computers forge the path away from Democracy toward an Open Society, in which privacy is not tolerated. The death of the housing market speaks for immobility. It is impossible to sell. The only remedy, according to this logic, is to remain in one's place. Some say education is the problem and solution without mentioning that those who excel are resented and often ridiculed back into a dismal state of mediocrity. American civilization, henceforth, intends to legislate its own contentedness. All in all, an American Middle Ages appears on the horizon, not just dumbed down but lobotomized. Some have fled, thinking whatever. As chaotic as things have become, however, we still look forward to a restoration of reason. But how?
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