Thursday, March 03, 2011

Are the best days of the USA gone? Maybe

This article out of Time, "Are America's Best Days Behind Us?," caught my eye because it made some pretty good points that I think people often fail to think about. They either fail to think about such points, or more likely they simply refuse to think about such things because in their eyes the good old US of A will be #1 no matter what. Those are the people who simply refuse to learn from the past because heaven forbid they learn from some other source that is not whatever jingoistic misinformation they prefer to consume.

Some of the points that made me think a bit:

"Yes, the U.S. remains the world's largest economy, and we have the largest military by far, the most dynamic technology companies and a highly entrepreneurial climate. But these are snapshots of where we are right now. The decisions that created today's growth — decisions about education, infrastructure and the like — were made decades ago. What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and '60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies."

Notice that the good things we have now are due to long term decisions that were made decades ago. Basically, the U.S. is not making those kind of decisions now. It is easy to see why. Such decisions take work, take vision, and often require sacrifice for something that will pay off down the road. Those things are not politically expedient; they will not yield votes for the politicians now. And heaven forbid we ask the current generation to make a sacrifice here and there for the sake of our children. Funny, since many folks in this generation do like to pander with the phrase "think of the children." Just as long as there is no cost involved it seems.

"But reducing funds for things like education, scientific research, air-traffic control, NASA, infrastructure and alternative energy will not produce much in savings, and it will hurt the economy's long-term growth. It would happen at the very moment that countries from Germany to South Korea to China are making large investments in education, science, technology and infrastructure."

The things we should be investing on, the things that will truly help our economy in the future, not to mention our long term viability as a nation, are the very things the U.S. is failing to invest on. These things do require funding and commitment, and deity forbid, maybe even some tax increases. But since the right wing in this country has pretty much demonized any tax increase, even when such an increase would actually be good for the nation, there will not be any serious investments in basics like education and infrastructure while the rest of the world basically moves forward and passes by the U.S. 
Hell, even the Corleones, well some of them, knew the importance of looking ahead and planning accordingly. As Tom Hagen said, "If we don't get a piece of that action we risk everything we have. Not now, but ten years from now." Why can't our politicians think in similar terms? I suggest my two readers go read the rest of the article to find out why. Some of the reasons are very much related to what I mentioned already: political expediency, but you will also find selfishness, a refusal to learn from others, a lack of reflection and honest assessment, and overall complacency. 

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