Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memorializing September 11, 2001 By Stating Some Truths About America and Americans and Politics and Economics

Reflections on the American Past, Present and Future

Much will made of the 10 anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  One meaning of the attacks was that America was now vulnerable to a new kind of war, and the truth of this message was received by everyone. 

With respect to other truths, America is a country in denial.  Its citizens refuse to recognize many realities, in part because many of the realities are unpleasant or challenge established beliefs and thought patterns.  In part denial is because  political leaders of all sides pander to the citizenry, being far more interested in obtaining office than in leading or educating.  But Americans need to face the reality about its economic and political systems. 

The Dismal Political Economist knows that truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  He feels that a good way to remember September 11 is to present truths as he beholds them, in the hope that if he is right, others will see these truths and that if he is wrong, he can correct the false ideas.

The following is what The Dismal Political Economist sees on September 11, 2011.

  1. America will not have as strong an economic future as it has had in the past.  The main for this is the aging of the population.  A population with a high percentage of older, retired persons simply cannot produce the goods and service that the same population of younger people can produce.  This is not a criticism of America or Americans, it is simply a fact.

  1. Voters need to get over their hatred of government.  Government in a democracy is us.  It is as good or as bad as we make it be and as good or as bad as the persons we elect to office.

  1. The Democratic Party faces a crisis of existence.  If it does not re-invigorate itself, in five years or less it will cease to be a national force and will be relegated to a regional player.

  1. Public employee unions need to understand that just like in the private sector, when the employer is having economic difficulties workers' wages and benefits suffer.  They need to adopt the attitude that they will work through the problem and recognize that they cannot maintain the level of compensation and benefits they have had in the past.

  1. Growth in inequality of income is maybe the greatest danger to U. S. economic prosperity and the political system.  Without increases in real income to middle class families, the U. S. economy cannot grow to the maximum extent possible.  The introduction of unlimited funding into the political process combined with the growth in inequality means a political process more and more dominated by ideological and special interests and very wealthy individuals.
  2. For future retirees the government has made promises of income and health care it will not keep.  Future retirees need to recognize this and plan accordingly.

  1. With areas like education it is wrong to say that the nation cannot afford more money for better schools.  Texas, for example, has the income and wealth to devote more funds to education, but the voters have chosen not to do so.  In areas like education where funding is declining or not keeping up with needs, the reality is “we can afford to pay more, we just choose not to”.

  1. The threat to the United States in not now nor has it been for almost 200 years the threat of invasion by an outside army.  The current threat is individual or small groups of terrorists.  The U. S. must adopt its national defense policy accordingly.  New fighter jets or aircraft carriers will not stop a car bomb.

  1. In reforming the tax system no matter how revenue neutral or fair the changes, some people will end up paying more taxes.  No one in America has ever been financially devastated by taxes, and higher taxes will not financially devastate anyone unless they are imposed on the very lowest income groups.

  1. Regulation occurs in the U. S. only after abuses that are so great that the public demands something be done.  The financial industry has repeatedly refused to engage in self regulation and so government regulation is necessary.  If Conservatives remove regulation on the financial sector there will be short burst of prosperity, followed in the long term by an unstable economy, because when the financial sector implodes the economy implodes.

  1. Leaving our children and grandchildren a huge national debt is not the worse thing we can do to them.  Leaving them a devastated environment for them to clean up and a world wracked by the storms of climate change is far worse.

  1. The rate of cost increases in the health care system is unsustainable.  Health care providers in general and physicians in particular have to recognize that the rate of increases in their compensation and wealth cannot continue into the future.

  1. The estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U. S. are going to stay.  A policy must be developed which will make them lawful contributors to society.

  1. A high priority of the major colleges and universities has been to provide the public with entertainment in the form of college athletics, and the mission of education has suffered.  Unless this changes, in the long run American higher education will become inferior to higher education in other countries.

The very idea of America as a strong united country with a strong effective central government may be ready to be replaced by a political system that is closer to that of Canada.  The pure size of the federal government may render it impossible to operate in an efficient manner. The growing diversity in political and economic philosophy of various groups within the country may make effective central government impossible.

 Individual states or regional alliances of states may replace the federal government in almost every area except national defense, national treasury function and a national judicial system as the main provider of government services.  If this transition does take place, how it is managed and how it evolves will determine the quality of life for ourselves, our chidren and all future generations.  Planning a radically restructured America is something to think about.

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