Why I Worry About Our Nation
What Happened to America?
This is not the country I remember growing up in. It wasn't like there weren't problems in the 80's, we had the cold war going on, crime was on the rise, drugs like crack and cocaine were rampant, gangs wars were spreading into all the major cities. We had the Panama Noriega conflict, the Iran Contra scandal... there was a whole mess of problems. The thing was though that even with the problems we had back then there was still a quality of life that seems to have evaporated over the last 30 years. I look back on the 80's like my parents look back on the 50's as a time of prosperity and as a time where if one worked hard they could achieve a level of middle class happiness.
I am 34 years old. By the time my father was my age he had a great job working hard for his money. He had a retirement plan, health care for all of his four children, a two story house with 5 bedrooms and an in ground pool. He owned his third home and we had all our wants and needs taken care of. He didn't make more money than I did as a custodian for the schools here in Oregon but he had more opportunity then people my age in this age do now. What has happened to that level of prosperity? What happened to the American Dream?
When I was a kid we took a trip to Baja California's Ensenada. While we were there we went to a place called the Blow Hole where the tide shoots up hundreds of feet into the air from an under-water cave. While driving along the countryside I had my first look at the age of thirteen of a third world culture. I asked my father what all those shacks were along the road side. He told me those were more than likely houses for the locals. I couldn't fathom it. I lived in this nice neighborhood where everyone had a nice house and a yard, but there in Mexico people lived in shacks made of fiber glass siding. So I asked my dad why people lived in those kinds of houses. He told me that we were in a third world country. So of course I had to ask again, "What's a third world country?" My father explained that in a country like Mexico there was no middle class like in the United States, that there were rich people, and there were poor people. That when there are more poor people than there are middle class like us in the U.S. and that is what makes a country third world.
As a child I didn't understand, I thought those people were crazy for living like they were living in those shanty houses, as a man today I worry about that memory. I worry that our country is on its way to becoming like the Mexico I witnessed as a child. I watch the news and I see tent cities propping up around the country. I've seen one of my jobs shipped over seas to China in manufacturing. I've lost two jobs to budget cuts, and one job to downsizing. This worries me, here I should be at the same level of lifestyle my father had obtained by my age and I don't have those opportunities he had. Today my father is in a house that he cannot afford, his payments to live there are more than he can afford to pay! This is ridiculous and the truth is that the American Dream has diminished. As our jobs are shipped away, companies worry about their bottom line and no longer care about their workers our economy suffers as we can no longer afford to buy the big house, own three cars, and have those wants. When we do buy them we run ourselves at a loss and we end up in debt. If you loose your job you no longer can afford the payments for those over-priced foreign made wants. So what has happened?
Greed, we are all greedy... it is in our nature to be so. But we have one saving grace, reasoning. If like I can see that there is a major problem with our country we need to turn the tide against this greed. We can change our nation, bring it back to prosperity and strengthen the people who made this nation and it's work ethic and worth strong. I worry that we've forgotten about what it means to be strong. The time for us to worry about the world must end, it is our own nation we must work on. In the words of Whitey Ford "It's time for everyone to clean up their own backyard." Let's clean up our mess, fix what is wrong and be strong again. Don't we owe that to our children? Thanks for reading this rant.