Why Obama is Right as to How to Address the National Debt
On Sunday, July 20, 1969, I was just a kid at grandma’s house when I watched with intent interest Astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon. A splendid achievement, wasn’t it? The culmination of years of trial and error, effort consistent with a pledge made by the late President Kennedy about reaching this goal before the 1960’s ended. It is all the more remarkable that he made this pledge while we still struggling with rockets exploding on the pad, yet to have launched a successful orbital mission. He had such confidence in the American people and American know-how that he asked us to reach for the stars and we did not disappoint. What happened to that America? When I saw this landing while in my early teens, I envisioned the possibility that in my lifetime shuttles to and from the moon would be as common as jet air transportation was at that time. I saw a future where men and women would be routinely working in space; I saw the film 2001, a Space Odyssey, as a prophetic vision of the very near future from the eyes of one who lived during the late 1960’s. From my perspective, NASA could do no wrong. This was to be a world full of opportunity and promise. The failure of this vision to come to fruition has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the ‘boomer generation”.
Grovel in the Mud?
Now, instead of reaching for the stars, we grovel in the mud. One of the few ennobling characteristics of human nature is man’s curiosity. We have always reached for the new frontier, whether it was the seafarers exploring new continents in the 16th and 17th centuries to expansion and development of the North American continent in the 19th century. I never thought that I would live and see a frontier now technologically within our reach from which we now shirk. What are the frontiers of science that are within our reach within this century outside of space exploration? What about controlled nuclear fusion as the ultimate clean energy source. I am sure that most of you have read about nanotechnology and technological wonders this line of research will make possible. It could very well be to the 21st century what electronics was to the 20th (the vacuum tube was invented in 1906). I was reading an article in Time Magazine addressing the ‘singularity’, the point where computers will have the processing power and reach of the human brain. This is supposed to take place in the year 2045, which is truly astounding. Even more astounding is that this isn’t some inconceivable date; many of us will be alive and viable then, are we prepared? Who knows what direction these new technologies will take us, but one thing that is certain is that the wealth of nations is no longer dependent upon who can knit the greatest amount of t-shirts or rest upon the ability to attach one widget onto another. The Ralph Kramden world of the past is gone, are we training our youth to prepare for this future? We are living in a post industrial society, known as the information age.
So who is holding us back?
While Conservatives blame the lack of productivity on budget deficits, I beg to differ. Everybody knows that record corporate profits and good times have returned to Wall Street. The question remains what happens to those on Main Street, the American middle class, the foundation of this society. The man in the street is not interested in budget deficits, but jobs, jobs that pay well and provide a future. Ronald Reagan and GW Bush seemed to have no problems with budget deficits, dismissing them as inconsequential to performance of the economy. Preferring, instead, tax cuts that created the deficits in the first place. This last melt down, September, 2008, was like no other. It was a warning that we could not continue on the path of business as usual. The President is acknowledging the need to reduce spending and he is to be applauded for that effort. But in my opinion, investing in new technologies, education, etc, is far more important. Because if we do not address the causes of why so many are displaced and out of work then we can expect a steady economic decline, with more and more of the wealth concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The America that I have known and love will become unrecognizable. Our standard of living cannot be maintained unless a massive education and retraining program is put in place. These students are trained to learn 21st century occupations that will require greater education and skills focusing on higher technologies where America can take the lead and which cannot be reproduced easily by others. I know that this in itself is a daunting task, but we had better get started soon.
Thurston Howell and the Conservatives are interested only in milking ‘ole and dying Bessie’ for its last drop. They are the ones that try to prop up dying industries, like petroleum drilling. Give the good old boys the incentives to continue to pollute and do things the way they have always done, subscribe to the ‘scorched earth theory’. They do what they do best, take all the money leaving us ‘holding the bag’ as the result. Their basic disdain of Government is the force behind their wanting to use a meat ax, instead of a scalpel. But to make these cuts properly requires a studied effort, not merely dancing to the tune of political expediency. I cannot trust anyone who cannot see the value of Government as a part of American life. Yes, the debt is dangerous and must be dealt with, but I never trust them to deal with it properly. The American corporate model is short term thinking, with immediate profits as the goal. But as we have seen from other nations like Japan and China, the race is not always won by the swiftest, but by those with the most endurance reflected by planning and preparation applied to all of the component parts to produce the desired outcome at the right time with a minimum of ill effects as a by product.
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