Trying to heal…

Michelle recently shared with me some Facebook posts and comments from former students and friends that reinforced my instincts to stay away from social media. I am saddened by the closed mindedness and lack of ability to objectively assess information from various sources and seek truth.  A recent poll suggests that there is at least one thing upon which a majority of US citizens agree. Unfortunately, it is not something about which we can be proud:

Republicans and Democrats agree — the country is falling apart.

Worse yet, we are beginning to see what I have long foreseen: The 20th century was the age of the USA as a major power in the world, but as we go further into the 21st century the rest of the world has both caught up to our vision of democracy and become weary of the American penchant for chaos. Countries – both democratic and non-democratic – have filled the power vacuum left by our infighting:

The world is watching in shock and anticipation.

I am not certain of how to proceed, feeling as if I am watching a train wreck occur in slow motion. I do not even know who sees these posts and, if they do, how much it means to them. I recall speaking to a student (a leader of the young Republicans in South Dakota) about climate change and she dismissed the possibility based on the theology of the GOP. My comment to her was, “I hope for your sake that you are right, because I’ll be dead before the really bad stuff happens.”  I worry about these things for my children and yours:

  1. The USA has a record budget deficit created NOT when democrat presidents and congress were in charge but by GOP actions (wars and tax cuts). That bill will come due eventually. Who will pay for it? Not the uber-rich, but you or your children.
  2. The USA is no longer considered a trustworthy ally by any other country because of our penchant to have 180 degree course changes every 4-8 years. That makes us increasingly isolated on the global stage. Just as moderates in our domestic scene are distrusted by both sides, so is the USA now seen by all other countries.
  3. Climate change will create ever-increasing pressures on the rich nations. I won’t even debate the fact that climate change is real. If you don’t believe it, you are living in a confirmation bias world. California will turn into a desert. Coastlines will go underwater. OK, that doesn’t affect South Dakota or Ohio, right?  Wrong! Unless we decide to dissolve the United States, we’re all in this together.
  4. And while we’re on that topic, what responsibility do we – regardless of what your monthly bills are – the richest people on this planet, have to those in, say, Africa, whose countries are turning into wastelands because of OUR carbon emissions?

What a downer of a post!

I have a great life, a great life partner, no reason to be depressed.  I am living my dream life and can simply ignore all of the above, because it is likely none of it will affect me. But to ignore it is to behave like those who embrace the status quo because it it comfortable. Are we OK with comfortable?

6 thoughts on “Trying to heal…

  1. Spot on Jim. Time to heal and do our part best we can and improve with new perspectives. The last couple of months, culminating in the last week, are a watershed for metanoia by me and many. I’ve tried to live by an admonition my dad left me: “give 10%, save 10%, spend the remainder joyfully with integrity” and “live simply so others may simply live”. I am hopeful because I see our children and grandchildren on those paths of “before me, thee”. Keep on keeping on as the inspired teacher you are. T

  2. I read a very interesting book last year: “The Deficit Myth” by economist Stephanie Kelton, which argues that the national debt is pretty much an illusion, that the federal government doesn’t really have to issue bonds to cover its deficits — that’s just a tradition we’ve adopted — and that the only risk of deficit spending is inflation. For example, during the last recession the Fed engaged in “quantitative easing,” which is a fancy way of saying they made a lot of debt go away by just (figuratively) printing dollars. It’s hardly a consensus view among macroeconomists, and there are some serious critiques of her work, but reading it sure made me feel better about the whole debt thing. And there are plenty of other economists, such as Paul Krugman, who routinely argue that the deficit is not really much of a problem.

    I’d recommend the book. It’s written for a lay audience, so it’s very readable.

  3. I’m glad that Allen already brought up Stephanie Kelton. We’re no longer tied to the gold standard and haven’t been so for a very long time. I think it’s time to let go of the “if the US government spends X amount, it must eventually raise that money in taxes” because that’s just not true. Look up “Modern Monetary Theory,” Jim and consider giving up fiscal conservatism!

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