Thursday, August 4, 2011

America's Financial and Societal Foundations Rapidly Sinking

Evidence pointing to the collapse of America's financial and societal foundations is everywhere; massive government deficits, costly military actions going on in six nations at the same time, continued unemployment, and a political system so broken and corrupted that it now imperils our democracy. As our leadership in Washington recklessly drives this nation toward a national disaster, an ominous cloud of despair and desperation hangs over America and its people.
I recall hearing President Ronald Reagan, during his inaugural speech in 1981 blame government and say, "Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem." I must take issue with that statement. Government, in itself, is not the problem; the real problem lies with the inept leaders of our nation who are failing to govern this nation in a competent and ethical manner. As a result, Americans have little to no faith in their government and leaders.

The biggest failure of these leaders is that their priorities are totally out of sync with our most critical problems. We can argue about whether the biggest failure lies with the Congress or the president, or Democrats or Republicans, but that gets us nowhere. The fact of the matter is that our elected representatives have, collectively, taken this nation to the brink of financial and societal collapse.
Can this be true, could this nation that likes to refer to itself as the greatest and wealthiest nation in the world actually be heading toward a collapse of both its financial and societal foundations? That could not be more evident as our government becomes more and more dysfunctional and is unable to properly carry out its legislative functions. Dysfunctional government, coupled with the overwhelming power and influence of Corporate America and its Wall Street associates are causing immeasurable damage to this nation and society.
The process of governing would not be that difficult if the politicians, when confronted with a problem, would simply act in the best interests of the American people. But, in Washington, it doesn't work that way. When confronted with a problem, these politicians first consider what their Corporate masters would want them to do. Then they ask themselves what is in their own best interests. And then, they make their decision. But wait, aren't they forgetting about the American people? Yes, of course, they are.
These ongoing, bizarre debates on the debt ceiling and the nation's deficit of over $14 trillion are making it ever clearer that our financial situation could not be more precarious. Consider that many billions of taxpayer and corporate (yes, some corporations actually pay taxes) tax dollars flow into the nation's treasury every day. In a perfect situation incoming revenues would offset the nation's expenses and we'd have no problems. However, that's not reality.
Did the people of America ever think that they would be endangered by this potential default on the national debt? How did we ever get to the point that our total revenues are not even close to covering our expenses without continuous massive infusions of borrowed dollars? Here's how bad this situation involving our debt crisis actually is. For the month of August the outstanding bills to be paid total $306 billion and, astoundingly, the expected revenue is only $172 billion.
If we project such a typical shortfall of about $134 billion per month, how much longer do you think that this can go on before this financial house of cards collapses? This situation can be likened to a person in America who is unemployed, has a family, car and mortgage payments, maxed out credit cards but, incomprehensively, is in the process of trying to negotiate with his lenders to, once again, increase his credit card limits.
What is truly outrageous is that, in these critical times, the wealthiest Americans are being protected and not being asked to make any sacrifices to help solve our problems. The idea that these "special" Americans, who do not experience the pain and anguish of millions of their fellow citizens, are being given a free pass at the same time that cuts to entitlements remain "on the table", is a national disgrace.
Is there a way to stop the erosion of our financial and societal bases? Of course there is; it's the same solution that I and others have recommended numerous times. America must make significant reductions to its extensive military empire and wind down the current wars, the combination of which are destroying our financial stability.
Secondly, this president and the Congress absolutely must initiate and fund an aggressive job creation program to put millions of Americans back to work manufacturing products for home consumption and export. These two objectives are entirely achievable, they can pull this nation back from the brink of disaster and back on the right course -- but only if our leaders stop the nonsense and do what is right for America.
But let's say that this president and the Congress fail completely and neither end the wars nor make job creation the #1 priority. What then will happen to this nation and this society? What will happen, in my estimation, is something that we can barely imagine and that we most certainly would not like to see take place. I'm talking about a potential unraveling of this society as those many millions of distraught Americans finally give up all hope and react in violent ways.
When millions of Americans become desperate, struggling for survival and have nowhere to turn, what in the world do we think they are going to do? They are going to do whatever is necessary to survive. When these people under great personal distress watch the news and see the opulence enjoyed by the ultra-rich they are going to get even more frustrated and very, very angry.
This process of societal collapse is already underway in many parts of America. States and cities are having severe financial problems and cutbacks in jobs and essential services are having a very adverse effect on their citizens. Look at what is happening in cities like Detroit and Chicago. Detroit, no more than a shell of its former self, is seeing more and more people moving out as the city can no longer cope with its mounting problems. Half of its schools have closed; class sizes are getting far too large for teachers to handle. The prognosis for Detroit is very bad, the probability of extreme violence is very great.
Chicago is becoming a virtual shooting gallery with multiple killings in the inner city almost every day. It's not uncommon to have six or more fatal shootings in one night. The new police chief is trying to cope with the situation as best he can by transferring police from desk jobs to the streets. But he is fighting a losing battle because he is trying to deal with the symptoms of a festering situation and he has no way to deal with the source of the problem. That problem is the fact that massive unemployment breeds trouble and extreme violence. When this violence spreads to other cities, and it's already happening, things in America could turn very ugly.
Even after this vicious debate over the debt ceiling is settled, that action, in itself, will not solve our greatest problems. We can continue to raise debt ceilings and argue over tax increases on the rich versus reduced entitlements, but America will remain in a deep, possibly irreversible financial quagmire unless this government drastically changes its current misguided direction.
These problems can be solved, the solutions have been identified; we just need our leaders to implement them. However, this president and the Congress show not the slightest inclination to either end the wars or initiate an aggressive jobs program. If they continue on this path, refusing to do what is needed to bring this nation's current crisis under control, then their failure to act responsibly will lead directly to a financial collapse and a societal eruption of immense proportions.

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