I am compelled to create this blog because of the direction politics is heading in our country. It is indisputable that the United States is looked upon as a great bastion of freedom and democracy amidst a world of strife and conflict. In this light, it seems we can continue to be looked upon for inspiration, or, we can become stuck in traditional ways of thinking and behaving. The latter could lead us to isolation and stagnation. The former will help us join with folks all around the globe who see the things we must address in order to adapt to a more crowded, interconnected, and ever more turbulent world. To do anything less is to bury our heads in the sand.
There is no doubt that the global economy has leveled the playing field worldwide. The ramifications on the U.S. economy have been significant. The fallout has created widespread discontent among the many who have been left behind by globalization.This is what this current election cycle has brought to light in a big way. People are angry, and feeling shut out of The American Dream.
The impact this has had on our society is very grave. From the coal mines of Appalachia, to the steel mills of Pittsburgh and Birmingham, and, yes, the car manufacturing plants of Detroit; the world economy has moved on. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, families who made up the backbone of these industries became accustomed to living a middle class lifestyle, or, at least, a blue collar lifestyle. The substitute? A job at the world’s largest retailer, or perhaps some other low-paying service industry job. This is a dilemma that has left many scrambling to pay rent; bills; and cover their basic expenses while working two or even three jobs.
Meanwhile, the old adage: “The rich get richer” is even more apropos in a world where the elite 2% control 90% of the world’s wealth.Most of us are aware of the statement: “Too big to fail.” At the same time, many might ask where their ‘golden parachute’ was during the financial melt-down in 2008. Just what is being done to address the needs of Main Street America? This is the crux of the problem.
How do we address this serious imbalance in our society? This has become the major issue in this campaign. It is the source of the insurgency candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The latter claims we need a socialist revolution to improve access to education, adequate healthcare, and create more equitable income. Moderates advocate for increasing tax rates on the wealthy and closing tax loop-holes, but these tax breaks are considered “business incentives.” If they are removed, there will be more motivation for multi-national corporations to run away from our shores. Can we take such strategies to be genuine, or just more false political promises? This is the dilemma we are faced with…who to take seriously.
While these issues are legitimate concerns to be addressed in our society, there is another voice that seems to be drowning out all other debate. This is the voice of Donald Trump. He claims to know how to fix our problems, but, all we know so far, is that he is bombastic; crude; and aggressive. If this is where are political dialogue is heading in earnest, this country, and the world, quite frankly, is in serious trouble. Do we really care about how to fix are economy, and re-create The American Dream, or are we becoming spectators of another ‘reality’ T.V. show? If that makes you uncomfortable, so be it. It is a question that needs to be asked because the tone of the debate seems to be controlled by he who shouts loudest.
Unfortunately, there are many people who still cling to the idea that this is a dog-eat-dog world where everybody is responsible for their life’s outcome. It is an ingrained belief that fuels the fires of greed and avarice among us. To have or have not are the stark alternatives of this approach to life. If this way of thinking continues to predominate, where does that leave us “losers?” Are we at the mercy of some ‘savior’ to come and wave a magic wand to make everything right? It appears many are putting their faith in just such a savior during this election cycle. I also realize this is probably not going to change anybody’s mind because the people who buy into saviors are not going to read this.
Gaining an advantage over others by winning the game of life will not help our world become a better place. For every enterprising entrepreneur who takes advantage of free enterprise to get ahead, there are hundreds pushed aside. This works as long as there is plenty of room on the playing field. However, our economic system is now reaching the saturation point. We will all lose out in the long-run unless civility and compassion are re-introduced into our political dialogue. Suspicion of government based on the rugged individualism of the 19th Century frontier spirit went a long way in developing our modern society. It has been emulated across the globe since the post W.W. II Era. I also agree that bureaucratic inefficiency, waste, and corruption are endemic in our government. Super Pacs call the shots in the halls of Congress.
That does not mean it has to be this way. We need both free enterprise, and a responsive government that works for the benefit of our entire society. Government is not just a necessary evil. It created the most efficient interstate highway system in history under the Eisenhower administration. The Social Security tax created during F.D.R.s Administration supposedly created a safety net for ‘Average Joes’ like me by involuntarily putting something away for retirement. However, the Social Security system is under assault by those that claim it is no longer viable because of the National Debt. “I will never see any benefits from the Social Security system,” has become a mantra of the younger generations. If it is broken, I suspect ‘something’, ot ‘somebody’, is responsible for mismanaging the Fund. Money paid into the system should be available to all those who have their paychecks gleaned by the government. With interest, I might add. Anyone with half a brain can get my drift. There is a need to get government under control so it works for ALL Americans.
A democracy is only as responsible as the people populating it. We must learn to work together to create the world we want to see. Self-reliance made America great, but, it could also be our downfall.The “I-me-mine” mentality we have tried to impose on the world is obsolete. If we are going to make tomorrow brighter than today, we must learn to work with the global community; not against it. Tough talk and name-calling won’t get it done for me.