“America is on the right path.”
“America is headed in the wrong direction.”
“America needs to turn things around.”
“America is stronger than ever before.”
Can someone, anyone, please tell me what all of this gobbledygook means? What path are we on that is so right? If we’re headed in the wrong direction, what is the right direction and how do we get wherever the hell it is we’re supposed to get to. Obviously, if we’re headed in the wrong direction, we, as a nation, need to turn things around, but what things and what direction? If America is on the right path and stronger than ever before, does that mean we’re going in the right direction and don’t have to turn things around?
And people wonder why I dislike politicians or, as is the case with the current slate of Republican nominee hopefuls, those who do not consider themselves politicians but sure as hell sound like them. It seems to me that if you ask a conservative how the country is doing, they’ll tell you that things are terrible and must be changed. Pose the same question to one of those “leftie, commie, pinko liberal Democrats, and they’ll say that we’re doing great. Funny thing is, they both have valid points to make. They are both right and they are both wrong.
Let me give you a few examples of where the country is in trouble and where it’s not doing all that badly. I freely admit that these are either of my own making or have been gleaned from some newspaper and Internet articles. Because of these, you must remember both my prejudices and those of the sources that I may be quoting. To begin, we have an aging population, and we’re not doing all that well in taking care of them. Social Security is in a state of flux, with some people wanting to cut it and others wanting to see it replaced by something else. I don’t really know – nor do I care – about how the elderly are cared for, only that they are cared for in some way, shape, or form. This crop of ‘Baby Boomers’ saw this country through the end of WWII, through Korea and Vietnam, and this nation owes them a debt. First, it’s a debt that can never be fully repaid, and second, the boomers are not looking for a handout but more of a hand in ensuring that they won’t be on the street the minute they retire. So, we have elder care as a problem that the government has not thought through thoroughly, and this is not a good direction. The problem is only going to get worse for a while because we have a workforce that is largely aged and who will do the jobs they are currently doing? Are those jobs still applicable in the 21st Century or can they be replaced or integrated with something else? There certainly are many questions regarding the elderly, and, it would appear, very few people interested in proposing intelligent methods of answering them.
Health care is a huge question mark in the United States. The incumbent President managed to get a health care package through Congress, but Congress, the incumbent President, and probably anyone else who has been able to read the tome agree that the plan is flawed. Without question, some type of health care plan is required for the lower income groups in the United States. While the current program appears to be working, it isn’t going to continue to work until and unless action is taken to strengthen it. The current Congress has tried 40 times to repeal it and has not succeeded. Perhaps what Congress should be doing is looking for ways to rewrite the parts that are offensive and come up with a plan that will satisfy a consensus. Heaven only knows, when it comes to health care, the legislative branch of government will never succeed in creating the perfect plan…plus 40 tries is more than enough to make someone with common sense say, “Well, that isn’t going to work; let us try a different approach.” In addition, any universal health care plan must be sufficiently flexible to account for advances in medicine. For example, it wasn’t that many decades ago that any type of surgery requiring general anesthesia meant a hospital stay of one to ‘x’ number of days. Today, “In by 9; out by 5” does not refer to dry cleaning but, instead, to any number of what-used-to-be-consider-complicated surgeries. Who can say what the future will hold for coverage of surgical procedures? Another concern will be how the pharmaceutical industry will change as life expectancy and other factors change. This is an area in which we appear to be heading in the right direction; it’s merely a matter of smoothing out a few bumps in the health care road.
Immigration reform is a subject about which I am damn near totally ignorant. Yes, I’m aware that we have close to 13 million people living in this country who are considered “illegal” because they don’t pay taxes and yet take advantage of all of the rights and privileges accorded to tax paying citizens. I’m also aware that there are 2,000 miles of our southern border which is impossible to protect against illegal infiltration, either by people seeking employment in the United States or by drug dealers who are attempting to get their product into this country to destroy a large part of our population. This is, perhaps, one of the most perplexing problems facing this nation and one for which there is no simple answer. Can we prevent the importation of drugs? Yes, if we wish to go to an all-out war south of the border. That, in return, brings its own share of problems, not the least of which is that America does not wish to start a war with a country with which we are allied. While it might be objectionable, one solution might be to create a dead zone of 3 – 5 miles along our southern border, killing border towns and moving people elsewhere…that’s one of those crazy, impractical suggestions that only a northerner would propose. Good luck to the U.S. government in solving that one.
To me, education is one of the most serious issues facing this country as we move along in the 21st Century. Children are exposed to far more knowledge from far more mediums than ever before. They learn from different sources and in different ways. If some don’t keep up, we stratify them, causing social stigmas that will follow them throughout their lives. Is it any wonder that we have disciplinary problems in our schools? Teachers are, for the most part, being paid an annual salary that borders on the poverty level and how can any single teacher possibly present all of the information that is required to live in today’s society? Classroom buildings are outmoded and becoming more so every day; yet, where is the money going to come from to create new facilities. Perhaps children going to school is passé, and computer learning from home will become the education of the future. Then, we wind up with a problem of socialization of our population. What a bitch; how will Texas survive without Friday night football? Don’t laugh. It may be football in some states, but the opportunity to come together and learn to get along with others is a major part of the educational experience.
I was interested to read that a major problem in the future may very well be the divorce rate. This is particularly true for those with only a high-school education or less. This is the group that already ranks as the “working poor” in this country. Young kids, poorly educated and unqualified for good-paying jobs, get married, have a couple of children of their own, and then get divorced because they fight over money and low income. It’s a truly vicious cycle and one that shows no sign of slowing down. Let me quote from one source, and to be truthful, I don’t even remember which it was:
“There are three points I will make today about this retreat from marriage in the United States:
- “First, in recent years, the retreat from marriage is concentrated among Americans who do not have college degrees. This means fewer lower-income Americans are living in stable, married homes.
- “This retreat from marriage makes poverty more common and income inequality more extreme than they would otherwise be, and it limits economic opportunity. Men, women, and children from lower-income communities are most affected by the social and economic consequences of this retreat.
- “The retreat from marriage is rooted in economic, policy, and cultural changes. Thus, public and private efforts to renew marriage and family life should be broadly gauged, seeking to strengthen the economic, policy, and cultural foundations of family life for the twenty-first century. Such efforts should focus on the families most affected by the retreat from marriage, namely, lower-income families.”
If that doesn’t scare the crap out of our political and social leaders, I’m not certain anything will. When I talk about the direction in which the country is headed, this one makes us appear to be on a merry-go-round!
Finally, the number one problem facing the United States and every other country in the world today is the economy. Supposedly, we have come out of the recession and are well on the way to economic recovery. The economy, however, is a fickle lady, and the slightest misstep by our banks, by our government, by manufacturing, or by agribusiness could send us right back up said creek without said paddle. In addition, many working families in this country will tell you that while the government may tout the recession as being over, they’re having a hard time putting food on the table or buying another pair of jeans in which to send the kids to school. We have more working poor in this country than at any other time in our history. We don’t expect that the government will come along and bail those people out; in fact, most of those people would get pretty pissed if the government offered to do such a thing. You see, Americans are a proud people. I’ve already said it, but most Americans don’t favor handouts. We like to sweat for what we get; always have and always will.
So, are we on the right path or not? Are we going in the right direction? Seems to me that it’s a question that’s impossible to answer, but let me add this…quibbling over who is right and who is wrong gets absolutely nothing productive done for America. Maybe it’s time that everyone begins to pull in a direction that will move us forward rather than having a tug of war that will only result in additional chaos.