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What Are Some Important Questions?

Updated on April 21, 2020
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Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. As of 2/2020, Jack has over 100,000 views.

Introduction

This subject matter came about by accident. In my many email conversations and debate with some of my colleagues, I noticed a pattern emerging. Some basic questions that I posed were ignored on purpose. The answers are either too disturbing or revealing. In either case, I will publish them here for your consideration.

- April 2020

Background

In my debates with my progressive counterparts, it became clear that we don't communicate on the same level or plain. We both write in English but that is insufficient. We come from different world views. Some words are loaded or my friend would refer to them as "code" words. He seems to think there are hidden meanings to the use of some words. Another problem area is perception. We have very different perception about our country, our past, our people and our culture. The final part is our own bias. We all have them. They tend to shade or color our understanding of current events and political happenings.

Questions...Why Do We Ask Them?

In order to understand each other, in our personal lives, we ask questions and look for clues to reveal what people think. This forms the foundation for a relationship based on understanding and mutual respect.

In our dealings with friends and colleagues, the same applies. Part of this process is asking the critical questions. Knowing what to ask is as important as the answers.

Don't make assumptions. That is a common mistake of many including myself. In some of my articles, I make the mistake of assuming the average reader would know about something and make references to them without explaining it. This is a major error in written communications.

When in doubt, always ask and get an answer before assuming it is common knowledge.

The following are some basic questions...

What defines a country or a nation?

It is one of those nebulous concepts. Obviously, we have over 200 countries that make up the United Nations. They each have a flag, and a song, and a leader, and a population of citizens. They have a form of government body and natural resources and an economic system that is adopted by their government. They have a military to defend themselves from their neighbors. Those are all common traits.

The question I posed is what defines a nation? What makes one country different from the next?

What is the common bond that hold its citizens together?

What is the secret sauce that say we are Americans or the French say we are Frenchmen or any other countries...

Answer:

The answer is three things. Borders, Language and Culture. A well defined physical border, as drawn on a map of the world. A common language that all citizens of that country are proficient. That is how they conduct their business and communicate with each other on a day to day basis. A common culture, shared history, shared celebrations, shared values...

For example, the USA is a country of 330 million people. We have 50 States. Each with a well defined border. We mark the borders with signs. We have a federal agency that patrols our borders with our neighboring countries of Mexico and Canada. Our schools teach English as the common language. All our businesses and government functions are conducted in one language. Our laws and legal documents are all in English. Our culture is based on our Constitution established over 200 years ago. A believe in freedom, liberty and democracy. A believe that we the people are the government, and elected officials work for us, and govern with our consent.

Is America a Christian Nation or a Secular One?

The answer is complicated. We are not a religious state like Iran. We are a Republic with a democratically elected government body. However, our founding was influenced by a Judeo-Christian philosophy. Most of our population are Christians. We celebrate major holidays of a religious nation such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Our motto is In God We Trust and it is on our currency. The Ten Commandments appears on the front facade of the Supreme Court building.

Our leaders before gathering for meetings start out with a prayer. They also end speeches with God Bless the United States.

Answer:

Our country is both a secular one and a Christian based one. We elect leaders who pass laws that govern all of us. They are fashioned after God's laws but not exclusively. Over time, we have evolved as a nation and have passed new laws that may be contrary to Go's law as in the area of abortion and gay marriage.

It is important to note, that our Founding Fathers thought that our experiment in Democracy and rule by the people could not exist without a religious foundation. They also believe our country was founded by divine guidance. We have the blessings and protection of God on our side.

What Is the Thanksgiving Holiday All About?

I am always surprised when I ask kids what is Thanksgiving? You get the typical answer of the pilgrims and the Indians sharing a meal after a good harvest. Another response is about eating turkey and all the trimmings with the family.

When I ask them who are we thanking on this special occasion? I get a blank stare.

You see, they don't teach our history in the schools.

Answer:

The answer is we are thanking Almighty God for the blessings he bestowed on our nation. It was started by George Washington in a proclamation in 1789.

Who Or What is Most Responsible For Our Well Being?

This is a basic question for all people. Who do you think is responsible for your well being? Most people would answer - me. It makes sense that we should take care our selves by eating right, exercise and work hard to make a good living.

Yet, some people have been conditioned to think otherwise. They would answer - the government. In some respect, they are correct. If our country is attacked, our military will be there to defend us. There are somethings we expect our country to do and there are other things we expect to do for ourselves.

Answer:

Self reliance is a goal for all Americans. When we lack the ability to help ourselves, our government is the last safety net.

Who Is Paying for Our Huge National Debt?

Right now, we are on track to close 2020 with a $4 trillion deficit, adding it to our past debt would total $27 trillion. The question is who is paying for this?

The national deficit each fiscal year is the amount of money raised by the IRS subtracted by all the expenses our government spent. For many years, we have been running on average a deficit of $1 trillion per year. This happened under the Obama administration and now under the Trump administration. The new wrinkle is this coronavirus which by all estimate will add $3 trillion additional to this year's deficits.

Who will be paying for this?

Answer:

There are two main sources going forward. The bulk of the burden will be paid for by future generations of Americans. It is exactly like a long term mortgage. We borrowed this money and it will be paid back in installments with interest over the next 50 years or more. That would include your kids and grandkids.

The second source is more insidious. It has to do with interest rate and inflation. When the interest rate is kept low, as we have done for the past 12 years, the net effect is a transfer of wealth from the savers to the borrowers. For example, if you have money saved in a bank savings account, and the interest rate is 0.1% and the inflation rate is 2%, you are loosing purchase power by 2% per year. The beneficiary is anyone who borrow. In this case, the US government is the borrower. They are benefitting from the low rates. They are essentially getting an interest free loan from the American public.

Which Economic Model Works Best? And By What Metrics?

TBD

What More Can Be Done to Improve Race Relations in America?

TBD

Summary

This article is a work in progress. I shall be adding to the content with more probing questions. Please submit comments if you agree or disagree or with your questions or your answers that may be different than my.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jack Lee

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