Does America Have a Future?

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America has a future. American's have a future. In many ways, it will not look like our past. What is happening right now is a revolution, a political, economic, and cultural revolution. There is no choice about it. When Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, certain concepts and ideas were put to the test, and in 2007 and 2008, those concepts and ideas brought our economy crashing down, driving 10's of millions of voters to leave the two major political parties, and opening the door to dramatic cultural change going forward.

There is an order to the way societies collapse, partially or wholly, from within. Which means there are degrees of predictability to both the collapse, and the reconstruction. This period is no different. But, first things first.

The causes!

There are many, and they date back decades. The most clearly identifiable precursor to this current crisis was the oil embargo of the 1970's which demanded that America shift from fossil fuel dependency, especially foreign oil imports. Americans then had an opportunity to demand a future independent of polluting fossil fuels, but, passed it by. In the 1980's cultural issues became the focus, not economic issues.

This was followed by

  • unprecedented growth in consumer debt,
  • a protracted period of deregulation as mantra to be recited for amassing enormous wealth,
  • and the consolidation and in breeding of financial institution's lines of business, brought on by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which in turn permitted the creation of financial institutions so large as to threaten the entire nation's economy, should they fail.

There were many other contributing factors, and many hindsight books will be written in coming years to fix the blame and detail the time line of this perfect economic storm. It is nonetheless safe to say at this point, that everyone who shouldn't have turned a blind eye to the long term future of America, did. And they did so for reasons of greed, power, and immediate gratification, leaving little to no room for saving our economic future.

Our Future Landscape.
Government.

The government landscape is changing dramatically. We have seen it coming for more than a decade as the numbers of registered voters in the Democratic and Republican Party's declined, and the number of Independent registered voters climbed, almost in proportion to our national debt. Ironically however, the rise of the independent voters seemed intent on less government, less taxes, and less oversight and regulation, all of which will now grow dramatically, and with the public's majority approval.

There are very tough economic times ahead for the next 2 years, at least. And those retirees, 401K and pension plan participants who have just lost 4 out of every $10 of their life savings invested in the stock markets, will now insist on more government regulation, more government oversight, and more government spending to help make them whole again after such devastating losses. Part of this government spending growth will come in the form of a national health care system. A system which the public will soon support by a majority, and one premised on health care as a right of citizenship.

The incredible contradiction of rapid growth in health care costs and numbers of persons requiring access to it, during a protracted period of diminished savings and personal wealth underway, requires a solution which the private sector cannot provide. The profits of the private sector raise the total cost of health care. The nation, in order to answer the growing call for health care as a right, must dramatically reduce the cost of health care.

That reduction of health care costs will come in several ways but, the primary one will have to be the promotion of non-profit health care that lowers the costs by removing middle person shareholders and executives skimming profits off the flow of cash from tax payer and private insurance policy holder to health care deliverers like doctors, nurses, and and facility managers.

As we are already seeing, government will be getting into the Return On Investment business on behalf of tax payers. The recently passed Economic Stabilzation Act of 2008, (the financial sector rescue Bill), establishes the precedent that taxpayers are entitled to a return on investment for taking over the toxic debt of financial corporations.

In a few years, when the government is selling those 'toxic debt' properties for a tidy return to the U.S. treasury, and when stock shares owned by the U.S. Treasury in exchange for tax payer infusion of cash into these financial corporations turn a nice profit several years from now, tax payers will witness the pressure on increasing their taxes, diminish by those returns on investment.

Gone are the days when corporations could use the tax payers as a fail safe against default and bankruptcy, for free. Going forward, governments around the world will be taking shareholder positions in these corporations, in exchange for tax payer back stop services and insurance. This is going to prove to be the most significant revolution of social systems in the 21st century and beyond.

The concept of separation of government and private sector is dead, where tax payers are on the line, underwriting private sector failure. The ramifications of this simple fact, opens the door to new arrangements, as yet not even thought of. However, some are predictable and potentially very positive. Research and Development tax dollars given to private firms have never provided a direct return to the taxpayers, when extremely profitable patents are developed for new products and technologies. Going forward, all citizens will get a future tax cut when such innovations prove profitable, based on government funding of private sector research and development. The reason is the tax payers will be shareholders in those companies with the patents and marketing them.

This inevitability of greater government involvement in our nation's economic future will require greater voter information and oversight at the polls on election day. This election on Nov. 4 is very foretelling in this regard. This election will be the most expensive, most viewed, the most discussed, the most researched, and the most tumultuous transition of power since Reconstruction in the late 19th century. Voters are going to demand better education, more empirical information, and vastly more logical and rational explanations from their politicians than ever before.

Politics.

The majority of American voters know their politicians have duped them, betrayed them, and sold them out. Until the 2006 and this election, voters blamed other district's politicians for bad government, but not their own. While certainly the RNC and DNC are conducting polls on their incumbent's chances, they are not revealing them. There is evidence of the growing anti-incumbent sentiment, however.

As in 2006, the evidence of anti-incumbent sentiment appears biased toward Republicans. This is evidenced by the Evans Novak Political Report of yesterday. But, here's the thing. This economically dire situation, while blamed on Republicans with good reason, will be inherited by the Democrats in January. A Democratic president and Congress, while not being held responsible for the mess, will be held responsible for cleaning it up. And the clean up, if it occurs successfully, is going to be painful, and troubling for many voters. Many will whine and complain, longing for the 'good old days' that caused the meltdown.

Democrats will have to convince a majority of voters, as a doctor must a patient, that the pain of the procedure will eventually make them healthy again. Even If Democrats fail, voters can not logically, and likely will not, return to Republicans, if they have a choice. Anti-politician and anti-major political party sentiment will leave only two choices; a third party or, a general anti-incumbent vote against both parties. Third Parties are divisive along more extreme ideological lines, so it is unlikely moderate and pragmatic independent voters will turn en masse toward a third party.

The Economy

The good news for Democrats is that hitting bottom leaves no direction but up. And in 2009, with projections now being set at negative GDP growth, it is very likely that will be the bottom for voters. By the 2010 mid term elections, Americans may well see palpable improvement in jobs, productivity, lending and credit, and even the tenor in Congress may improve as Republicans take on their traditional role as bi-partisan minority party check and balancers, as opposed to their obstructionist role of the last few years.

The good news for Americans is that this Recession will not likely become a depression throwing 30% or more workers out of jobs, as long as the Chinese, and other growing low wage economies, continue to elevate 10's of millions of their people into the Middle Class. As their middle class grows and wages increase, their demand for imported technologies and conveniences exported from the Western economies will grow.

Never in the history of civilization has such a global concerted effort been undertaken by all major economies to amend a shared economic downturn, as we have seen this last week. This is likely to have a profound effect in hastening the recovery of the global economic slow down, while companies and corporations clean their books of false assets and phoney worth.

The good news for America is that this global economy of nations recognize that if one major player goes down, we all go down. That means unprecedented cooperation on a global level to restore sound economic foundations and policies going forward. We very likely have dodged the nuclear economic meltdown, this time. America still has a future. Americans still have a future for their children to maintain a decent standard of living in America. But that future is still dependent upon many other factors.

Along with dodging the short term bullet, sustaining our economic future will require political and cultural reforms as well. Nothing less than an all out war on ignorance can keep hope for a better future alive and developing. It was after all, gross ignorance, negligence, and greed that brought America to this brink. Folks making $50,000 a year buying $210,000 homes demonstrated the height of ignorance; as did the financial institution's undertaking the trade of mortgage backed securities, sight unseen, while adhering to the blatantly ignorant view that property valuations could continue rising at a breakneck rate of speed. The root of ignorance is the act of ignoring the relevant.

Education

Education, rational, empirical, numbers oriented and critical reasoning kind of education will be needed in our future if that future is to prosper. Oversight and accountability from the voter over their politician, to the politicians over the private sector, are absolutely mandatory and dependent upon such a dramatic improvement in education in America. Education is the key to weaning individuals off of self-destructive behaviors in the investment world and in the voting world. Education is the key to improving citizen's capacity to provide more for themselves and depend less on others in the future who may or may not be inclined or able to catch them if they fall.

Educational improvement is absolutely mandated by America's future economy if we are to have anything to export of value, since an incredible premium is being placed on improved education in nearly all other major economies in the world including China and India, our chief economic competitors of the future. If America is to be competitive and get her share of the global economic pie, America shall have to make sound education job number 1, going forward. And that will have to mean returning religious education back to Sunday School. Failure to take this step, will condemn America's children to uncompetitive disadvantage with children in other nations whose educations will be superior.

Culture.

There is no escaping the fact that a nation's culture changes when education quality level improves or degrades. If, as it must, America makes education one of its first and foremost priorities, our culture will change. A great minority will fight these changes tooth and nail. But, in vain. The human race is transitioning through another major evolution and revolution in its social constructs. It is comparable to the transition from the Medieval Period of feudalism to the Renaissance Period. Or from the industrial period to the technological age.

That transition is being marked by global interdependence and the awakening to it. It is marked by the magnitude of the cost of failure of such a globally interdependent economic and national circumstance. The educated in the world have been marched, in the last few weeks, right up to the brink of the abyss and forced to gaze into the black depths that lie one step further. That abyss is now real, experienced, and terrible to contemplate ignoring. Ignoring is the root of ignorance. Our species can no longer ignore global climate change, diminishing stores of fossil fuels, or corruption becoming a standard for billions of people in the world.

The marvelous thing about faith is its permission to ignore reality. Faith can empower a Buddhist monk to set his body aflame without experiencing the agony, but instead, revel in the peace of the act. Faith can drive people to call for war and death in the name of good and justice. Faith can also move mountains, and all unrealized objectives begin as an act of faith.

There is a necessity for faith mandated by the very makeup of the human species and its relationship with its universe. But, going forward, faith cannot be allowed to continue to grow as a socially destructive, ignorant, and divisive force. In a globally interdependent world of peoples, that would constitute global suicide by degrees over decades of increasing ignorance, suffering, and privation.

Faith must be relegated to the private world, and private individual choices of faith must be accepted and protected by our social institutions. Those institutions must protect the individual's right to faith, but also, protect the society from those individuals and groups who would believe that society is evil, thus justifying divisive actions in order to increase their power, and derailing national interests for personal and minority group agendas.

America has a future. Americans have a future. The international communities of humanity have a future. If they will but seize upon it, and invest in it, as if they had faith in it.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 10, 2008 5:19 PM.

Obama - McCain Debate 2 - A Winner Emerges. was the previous entry in this blog.

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