What’s Wrong – and How to Fix it

There’s a lot of things wrong with America right now. Some of what is wrong is deliberately caused. Most is either unintended consequences or simply consequences of ‘solutions’.

In the case of our country, much of the problem is in defining the problem, not the solution. Most of the solutions – and even the direction – our country takes become the problems. The overall problem is not money or the right or left. It’s two, very obvious, very concrete things: 1) short term thinking by politicians and 2) no real responsibility on the part of corporate owners. Everything else – free markets, inequality, corporate pandering – all of that is solved when the other two problems are addressed.

So much of what was the American Dream has been corrupted and bastardized into the American Nightmare. Looking back – beyond 1950 – it’s easy to see that what’s been called the American Dream was never a part of the landscape. The ‘Dream’ is a recent invention, pounded home by the incessant drone of the ever-present mass media. Prior to 1950, few outside the elite expected to get rich. Most did not hear or believe that they could be President. The ‘Dream’ of the masses was two-fold: they did expect to do better than their parents and they expected and desired to own a little piece of American – a business and/or a home. Given the American history, these were reasonable things to expect.

Notice that part of the dream was not cradle-to-grave government. That followed the Great Depression when laws were enacted and institutions created to ensure that mass poverty did not again overtake our land. These type of defined-benefit programs, as is being proven not only in public America, but private America and indeed the globe over, are Ponzi schemes where rarely does anyone beyond first level participants reap the benefits. What? Ponzi schemes!? While not deliberate when conceived, the truth is that had the creators had more vision than that of their terms of leadership, any could see that the programs would become unsustainable. That involves “what’s wrong” problem number one: short term leadership.

Following the Great Depression, many Americans added the idea that government would take care of them their entire lives. So, they wanted to do better than their folks, own a piece of the American pie and, should they fail at those, still win through some sort of guaranteed government funded lottery. It worked, for awhile. The 50’s – 80’s were boom times. The problem is, with the short-sightedness of the media and the relentless recitation of phrases like American Dream, people have become accustomed to believing it was always that way. Too few alive remember what a soup line was. My mom and dad did. They are gone. My grandparents did, they are gone too.

Instead, there’s my generation. Raised in the late 50’s and 60’s, our world has, pretty much, always been ‘going up’. Postwar expansion was the world for us. New technologies that had to be adopted for our corporations to be competitive were brought out every few years – so industry boomed. Throw in a few strategic ‘wars’ and you have a recipe for growth. And growth, my friends, became the word of the world. Either you were growing or you were dying was the saying.

Without going back too far and extending thet comments that can be argued too much, it’s true to say the American Experience, since the first coming of the White man to North America, has been one, with a few starts and stops now and then, of growth. Growth from east to west. Growth of population. Growth of business and cheap or free land and labor and input products. This alone fueled the first leg of that American Dream – doing better than your parents. Very few, if any, other countries can boast that about the first three hundred years of their existence. Going back three hundred years from the founding of America puts you in the middle ages. Not exactly a time of growth.

History is one of those weird things in the human mind: always there, repeating endlessly and ever changing – all at once. So when we say America has done better than any other country in terms of growth by generation, the boast is both true and a fallacy. It’s true as we just pointed out, but false because our conditions were unique. Never before in history had people had the tools Americans had when we landed, no matter how primitive they seem to us now. If the first people to venture out of the Middle East to Europe had done so in the 1600’s, they might well say that generational growth is their heritage as well. So while history is said to repeat itself, those repetitions are either generalized or personal. Despotic leaders are created again and again. Wars break out again and again. Those things repeat. The seasons repeat. History is not cyclical and does not repeat. Something that has happened for twenty years is not the norm and has not lasted, in the larger scheme, for long at all.

Memory is another interesting thing. What you have lived in your life IS your world. So what if the generation before you stood in soup kitchen lines? It wasn’t that way when you were a kid. So as far as your concerned, the world has been about American dominance and American growth. Till now. It’s all been taken away.

The ponzi schemes of Medicare and Social Security, just like those of many city and state defined benefit plans, are crumbling. They were created by people who knew or should have known, that people would live longer, work less and want more. Look at GM, where $1500 of each car it builds goes to fund the healthcare expenses of those who have ALREADY retired. They don’t even work there anymore. And people live longer.

Now, some things were actually better in the past and not just because of circumstance. Had our government and leaders thought in the 20’s the way they do now, there would be no national power grids or highways. Those projects required long term thinking. Imagine the planning that went into distributing natural gas to our homes. Gasoline to the service stations for our cars. Would that type of project ever become reality now?

Sure!

If it serves a corporate master.

Wireless phones are the perfect example. Without the profit, the massive profit of those phones, no one would hear “it’s peanut butter jelly time” singing out from their pocket. If the government had to fund and build the wireless phone network, we wouldn’t have one. So corporations do get things done sometimes.

Back to the issue at hand. Short term thinking by leaders means no long term projects get completed. Nor started. Lack of repsonsibility by corporate entities means we are held hostage to those who only stand to profit from us – never to be held responsible for their failures. Or lies.

We’ve shown how history is not what the media says it is. We’ve shown how memory is as short as the media wants it to be.

Next, we’ll define the two problems and finally explain how to fix it all.

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~ by Mad Prophet on August 12, 2012.

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