America’s mistaken priorities

Writing today, in 2008, it is a shame how we as a people have chosen to selfishly live in the here and now, with little regard for the future or future generations. We have become so tainted with the hedonistic and self-centered philosophy of the “me generation” that at times it seems as if we’ve taken leave of all common sense. This limited and selfish mindset has led to many of our current problems and is certain to cause even worse ones down the line. Take transportation, for example. We consider the ability to own our own cars and travel anywhere, anytime, for any reason, as an absolute entitlement. 99% of our rush hour traffic consists of cars occupied by only ONE occupant. Our obsession with this individual freedom of movement is not only wasteful, but harmful overall as well. We needlessly and excessively pollute the air. A huge amount of our money flows out of this country every day to pay for the petroleum we need to maintain this lifestyle, with little of it returning in reciprocal trade. This is lowering our standard of living bit by bit, and enriching the petroleum exporting countries—at our expense! And what type of lasting benefit have we obtained by pursuing this lifestyle non-stop? NONE. The only benefit has been the convenience of movement at the time of our choosing, and once that tankful of gas is gone, we’re at it all over again. We MUST come to our senses and raise vehicle consumption and emission standards as well as create and use far more methods of mass transit instead of selfishly jumping into the car any old time we feel like it!

Our trade policy has likewise been disastrously short-sighted. We engage in ridiculously one-sided “free trade” deals with much of the rest of the world and this, too, hurts our economic well-being overall. As a result of these policies, millions of good-paying American jobs have been shipped overseas to cheap (and sometimes even slave) labor markets. Those having lost their job here must nearly universally settle for lower-paying jobs or take on a second or even third job. The tradeoff for this is a flood of slightly cheaper foreign-made goods becoming available here. But many would correctly argue that the savings on these goods have not yet justified their real cost, nor will they. Overall, American income has become frozen or has even dropped for most people over the past 10 years in terms of actual buying power. We have lost the ability to manufacture our own products, and billions and billions of our dollars have left this country for good, with only a small percentage of them coming back reciprocally. We are, in effect, lowering our standard of living rapidly to raise that standard in China, India, and many other countries. Foreign trade is good and necessary to promote good relations and prevent wars and famine. But such trade must be mutually beneficial, and the faith-based economic policy we have followed in recent years has instead been notoriously one-sided. In the case of China, for example, there has been a huge and growing trade imnbalance for many years. For every $6 of goods we imported from them last year, they imported only $1 of ours. We’ve got to start using our heads, folks. This imbalance cannot continue. If you opened your purse or wallet and gave your neighbor $6 for every $1 they gave you, how long do you think it would take for your pocketbook to empty and theirs to fill to the bursting point? Get my point? We have similar huge deficits ongoing with all the oil-exporting countries. We have got to wake up and take strong and very real steps to drastically alter this trend! Unregulated free trade policies must be replaced with common sense FAIR TRADE ones!

Regarding the subject of deficit spending, our government has failed us miserably in this area. Their foolish actions are not only bankrupting the country today, but are also dooming future generations to overwhelming debt and a terribly lower standard of living than we enjoy today. Republican tax cuts since 1981 have been reckless and have overwhelmingly favored the wealthy who don’t need it. They have NOT led to the creation of millions of high-paying jobs here at home as their advocates have repeatedly promised would occur. Instead, millions of jobs have been sent overseas, our infrastructure has been (and is still is) deteriorating, and our leverage in the world market has been severely eroded. Have the majority of our citizens benefitted and had their standards of living lifted as a result? Absolutely not. The major beneficiaries of these policies have been our wealthy, importers, multinational corporations, and foreign governments and plant owners. This is morally and fundamentally unfair and wrong. Worse yet, it threatens our security as a strong and free nation. As a direct result of decades of massive trade imbalance with China, that nation, for the first time in its history, is rapidly expanding its OFFENSIVE military capabilities. That does not bode well for our long term prosperity or security. THINK ABOUT IT, PEOPLE, AND WAKE UP!!!

We cannot make the disastrously one-sided Bush tax cuts permanent. We cannot continue to fund corporate welfare projects in Iraq and wasteful pork-barrel spending by Democrats and Republicans alike here at home. We must become more responsible and community-minded regarding our resources if we are to maintain an acceptable standard of living in this country. The needs of the many MUST come before the wants of the selfish and short-sighted few if we are to thrive as a nation. Our priorities must be tremendously realigned if we are to preserve and build on what we have today. Remember that as you vote for President and Congress in November! Thank you, fellow citizens! 


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