Sunday, January 13, 2013

The National Death Wish

It is very difficult if you have been following developments in the United States for the past thirty plus years not to conclude that we have developed what appears to be(however unconsciously) a national death wish. I doubt that most U.S. citizens would acknowledge this and I suspect most are probably not even aware of it, but it is, alas, true, or so it seems to me. I do not know precisely when this began but I suspect it began in earnest during the Reagan administration. There is no indication I am aware of that either Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter, whatever their shortcomings might have been, were anti-government or did not have the national interest at heart. It was Reagan, the “Great Communicator,” who first told us that “Government is the problem,” and things seem to have gone downhill ever since. It is obvious there are those in government today that still cling to this rather ridiculous belief, the result of which has been extremely unhealthy for our well-being. As a nation and a culture we are slowly dying while doing little or nothing to prevent our demise. Consider where we are with respect to the most important problems we face:
Global warming, for example, is almost certainly the greatest potential threat to our continued existence on planet earth. What actions have we taken to attempt to deal with this terrible threat? The answer, I fear, is virtually none in any truly meaningful way.
What have we done to combat the serious problem we have with unemployment? Again, virtually nothing of substance, the rate appears to have stabilized at roughly eight percent.
Our infrastructure is widely known to be badly neglected and getting worse year after year. We have done nothing to deal with this trillion dollar problem.
Our environment, too, has been damaged and continues to suffer increasing damage as a result of unregulated or illegal business practices, especially from resource extraction and the demands of energy.
Our educational system, from the primary grades to the highest levels, is little more than a shambles, and, from a national interest standpoint is dysfunctional almost beyond belief. Our universities and colleges that should be geared to turning out intelligent well-rounded individuals, have become little more than trade schools, so expensive as to actually punish, with massive debt, those wishing to improve their lives and contribute to our betterment.
Our health care is a disgrace when compared to the rest of the developed world, far more expensive than health care in other industrialized nations, and demonstrably not always any better in spite of the greater expense.
 The U.S. political/economic situation has become so dysfunctional as to be almost useless when it comes to dealing with the abovementioned problems. Public service has been replaced with naked greed and the distribution of wealth, if not curtailed, will lead to even further disaster.
It seems obvious to me that all of these problems, if continued to be neglected and unsolved, are going to lead to the end of our nation as a viable socio-cultural entity. The most unfortunate part of this is that all of these problems could be solved, perhaps not easily, but almost certainly. If we fail to deal with global warming, unemployment , infrastructure, environmental degradation, education and health care how can we possibly survive for long in the modern world?
One final problem, perhaps the most serious of all, and inextricably related to all of them, is what seems to be the growing distrust of science. When 98% of the world’s scientists agree on the problem of global warming, and a few individuals in positions of power and influence can override them, you should know you are on the road to national suicide. Some of these individuals are known bible-thumpers and might actually believe in biblical nonsense, but others are in the pockets of greedy corporations who simply do not want regulations on their destructive behavior no matter what the long-term effects may be, short-term profits take precedence over the human condition.
I have no idea where Saint Ronnie came by his absurd belief that “Government is the Problem,” perhaps from Nancy’s Astrologer. In any case, insofar as this belief has informed our “Leaders,” and encouraged them to refuse to fund vital governmental programs such as education, health care, environmental protection, and so forth, it has done irreparable damage to our lives and threatens our very existence as a nation. It’s too bad science will not be allowed to clone dinosaurs so we could all ride them happily off to the West and ultimate oblivion.    

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