Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The State of America......

So where is America today? I don't know, but it doesn't look good. Our currency is down 40% since 2002 against the Euro, yet Europeans have as much as six (6) weeks of vacation a year with solid economic growth. The next US President faces a huge budgetary deficit and it doesn't include military spending for both Iraq & Afghanistan. Our transportation infrastructure is crumbling. The education system is average at best, with significant problems for certain segments of the population. And America’s financial system appears on the brink. The middle class is being squeezed out of existence.

American companies used to rule the World, but are being cut down to size by firms that are better equipped for the global economy. GM was the largest car company in the World, but now is posting billion dollar losses every quarter. They make cars that no one wants. Microsoft ruled the computer World but now they are just another US firm trying to keep itself relevant in a digital economy where desktop operating systems and fat client software like Office prove irrelevant. And McDonalds', that quintessential American fast food restaurant, is battling an image problem and health advocates because its food is fatty, ordinary tasting, and unhealthy. Speaking of health, America is still the only industrialized nation in the World without Universal Health Care. We have immigration problems, energy problems, and environmental problems. California has problems with its budget and wild fires. The Southeastern US has suffered thru a severe drought for several years now. School must have bake sales to help pay for operating expenses while art & music programs are cut because there is no money. People are genuinely worried about how they will make it to retirement age and live a decent life. Will Social Security even exist within the next 15 to 20 years? And Washington is gridlocked with Democrats vs. Republicans, Liberals vs. Conservatives, Blue vs. Red. Our elected officials are more interested in protecting their jobs and trashing the other side than finding solutions or even attempting to work together. And in the most ironic of twists, the politicians have their own private medical and retirement plans separate from what the common folks in America get access to. Politicians don't care if Social Security is around in 20 years because they have a retirement system that is completely separate. That is like a chef not eating the food at his or her restaurant - its do as I say, not as I do.
On all fronts, it appears that America is on the ropes. Why? I believe it has to do with timing. Maybe our time has come? What makes a person, or nation, successful can also be part of its downfall. Instead of changing with the times, America has become an island until itself. President Bush's attitude of, "You are either with us or against us" isn't a sound foreign policy platform. We are entrenched in conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost billions of dollars, killed thousands of our military men & women, and cost us credibility with the rest of the World. We are still in the mindset of telling every other country on the planet what to do. What happens when the rest of the World stops listening to what we have to say? America will be that cranky old man, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of our old, dilapidated house telling everyone that walks by about how great we used to be.

So is there a solution? I don't know. During America's expansion into the Western part of the continent, the politicians called it Manifest Destiny and used that to justify what happened to the Native Americans. I think it ironic that Manifest Destiny is what might push America to the sidelines on the World stage. There is nothing sadder than a once powerful nation that can't admit that its importance has diminished. Maybe we must accept the fact that our currency, our education system, even our standard of living, are all on the decline.

And I don't want to hear from any arch-conservative neo-fascists that say I'm un-American and un-patriotic. You can't sugar coat what is going on in this country, not any more.

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