Saturday, October 1, 2011

America Has Arrived at One of the Lowest, Most Dangerous Points in its History

by Michael Payne

You probably can recall the evening of the last day of the year 1999 as the clock struck midnight and America entered the 21st century. What a euphoric feeling for all Americans as we witnessed the beginning of the third millennium. What a momentous occasion and what a brilliant opportunity to set the stage for a transformation that could restore this nation's sense of direction and purpose.

Now 11 years later we Americans are trying to figure out what happened or, better yet, all the things that didn't happen. How did this nation that appeared to have the wind at its back, seemingly on a course of great achievement, abruptly turn in a completely unexpected direction that has now taken it into a national crisis? In a little more than a decade America went from the beginning of an exciting new era and a brilliant future to one of the lowest points in its history.

To try to determine what happened and how things went so badly, let's review the sequence of events that took place, some of them a part of normal evolution and some created by shallow, illogical and irrational thinking.

The first and most damaging mistake was made by the American people when they elected G.W. Bush as president in the year 2000. History may record this bizarre election, in which the U.S. Supreme Court blatantly awarded the presidency to Bush, as the beginning point of this nation's current downward spiral. I still can't believe that the people of America actually put a person with such limited qualifications and level of competence into the White House; but we can't turn back history, can we?

It didn't take long for Bush to turn America into the wrong direction. After the tragedy of 9/11, when logical and rational thinking could have used intelligence and U.S. Special Forces to find and eliminate those who committed that foul act, Mr. Bush unleashed the full fury of the U.S. military in the attack, invasion and occupation of Afghanistan; and there we are, to this day, stuck in a giant quagmire.

After that disastrous decision, Bush followed up with yet another even greater one when he again unleashed the fury of the military in the attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that has now been totally been proven to have been completely unnecessary and unjustified. The U.S. and the people of Iraq have paid a tremendous price in lives and precious resources because of that debacle.

After these two horrendous decisions and misguided military actions, what did the American people do? Well they, once again, elected Bush to a second term in 2004, guaranteeing more and more wars and military actions costing the nation hundreds of billions and trillions of taxpayer dollars. I can't even begin to try to understand how the American electorate made such a horrendous mistake, but it did and this time without the help of the Supreme Court.

Then in 2008, we finally ridded ourselves of Bush and elected a man who truly inspired the nation and gave it great hope as he promised to bring real change to America. After eight years of misery, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and, again, that euphoric feeling that we, as a nation and a society, were on the way to really turning this nation in a completely different direction.

So what happened? Did President Obama restart the engine of America by initiating real changes in the government and our collapsing economy? Did he initiate actions to wind down both of these wars in an expeditious manner? The answer is NO! He wasted precious time on health care reform and settled for a watered down version that no one really felt good about. He is a president who continues to talk the talk of peace but, in reality, walks the walk of war. Between his less than stellar performance and the corrupted Congress this nation is stuck in a rut.

But let's leave those issues and look at the period when, in my estimation, America really took a huge turn into a disastrous direction. The Republican Party, that was using filibusters and extreme obstructionism in the Senate, got a shot in the arm when a great many Tea Party members were elected to Congress in the elections of 2010 -- again put into office by an American electorate that, apparently, is a glutton for punishment.

This Congress, as bad as it was, suddenly was put under siege by this group of mostly demented politicians who hate and want to destroy every element of government but have no clue on how then to actually govern the nation. And they and the regular Republicans, a highly negative force, succeeded in bringing the business of creating meaningful legislation to a halt and threw the Congress into total gridlock.

The question after more than a decade into this 21st century is: are we that make up the American electorate somehow going to be able to bring an end to this madness that has taken over this nation? The damage that has been done to American is monumental, it has brought his nation to the brink of financial insolvency and nothing of substance is being done to turn the situation around.

How in the world did we ever reach this low point in our history? And the biggest question of all is; how are we going to dig ourselves out of this massive hole and turn America into a new, positive direction? Right now, America is like a rudderless ship, one that has lost its compass and is headed on a course to nowhere. Picture a ship that is taking on water and in great danger of going down while the captain and crew, instead of guiding the passengers into the lifeboats and safety, are engaged in a violent battle over who is in charge of the ship.

America currently has a myriad of problems that it is not addressing but there is one problem that has damaged this nation immeasurably; and that is the loss of our manufacturing sector and workforce. As I've said before, no major, developed nation can maintain a stable economy and society unless it has a strong manufacturing base. The mass of the people of a nation must be doing productive work that involves the creation of products for home consumption and export. Without it, a nation will undergo a continuous decline and, eventually, financial collapse.

There is a very effective way, it may be the only way, by which America can restore its stability and rebuild its manufacturing base and I'm going to continue to lobby in its behalf. I'm talking about the development of alternate sources of energy that would eventually replace petroleum as the fuel that drives the American economy and this entire society. There is nothing that I can imagine that holds this great potential to restart the engine of America and take us from our current state of national paralysis to one of creation and growth.

Of course, to take on such an ambitious and complex government/business energy development initiative would take a lot of funding and the most logical area from which to get it would be by winding down our two main military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama can do this by escalating the process of troop withdrawal with the same fervor that he exhibited when he escalated our involvement in Afghanistan. It can be done and it must be done as quickly as is feasible.

While this development of alternate sources of energy should include electric autos, wind power, geothermal, hydrogen and others, the main emphasis should be on solar power. There is no power in our part of the universe that can match the power of the sun. And, not only that but, this power is absolutely free for the taking, it is infinite in capacity and there is no costly extraction processes involved. In short, solar power offers the ultimate energy source that America and this world need going into the future. The development of solar energy should replace war as this nation's number one objective, above anything else.

America must not let such a great opportunity pass it by.   We can use it to do several things at the same time; we can rebuild our manufacturing industry, we can largely solve our unemployment problems and we can save hundreds of billions of dollars if we replace petroleum as our prime energy source. We cannot allow this government, the political panderers and their profit-crazy corporate masters to continue to stonewall this critical need; that is a recipe for national self-destruction.

Those who say that government cannot create jobs or that government and business cannot or should not team up to create new industries and new sources of energy are deluding themselves. This nation possesses tremendous creative and innovative power that currently lies dormant and unused. This government and the business sector better wake up to the facts and clearly understand that if they do not find a way to work together then they will go down together.

When you think small your return will be small. America better start thinking big about solving our greatest problems before we get to the point that they become irreversible. And that time is now.

Michael Payne

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