Im not much of a history buff (I dont even remember much from my high school American history classes), but when I think back to our history, I know that in America we decided to take charge in the Industrial Revolution, and we decided to be the first to fly an airplane, and we excelled in car production, and we excelled in many markets to push us ahead to become one of the most powerful economic countries in the world.
Wow, were pretty powerful.
And I look around me now, and I consider things like our high health costs... Well, I dont know if malpractice suits drive up the cost for seeing a doctor, and I dont know if different prices for people with health insurance and people without health insurance make a difference in the price of health care, and I dont know if people who have health insurance go to the doctor more because, Hell, their health insurance pays for it, well, I dont know if any of that drives the cost of health care up. People complain that prescription drug costs are too high, and I see that drug manufactures (first of all) spend billions of dollars in research just to create the drug. But then these drug manufacturers are expected by our government to give some of their drugs away freely to third world countries who cant afford these drugs.
How will they be compensated for their billions of dollars in investment, if they cant rely on the customers in the most productive country in the world to help them cover costs?
I dont know. All I do know is that there are many sides to any issue, and there are always more victims than we claim to see with every problem. We have to see every side to come to a rational conclusion.
I know we have an insanely high poverty rate in this country (you know, for being the productive country that were supposed to be). I also know that even the poorest homes living off welfare in this country still have on average two television sets in their homes. I know that the majority of teens in America now apparently expect to have their own cell phone (hmmm... I know I grew up in the age before cell phones seemed to be glued to everyones head, but I was raised without talking on the phone all the time to everyone, probably because my parents had rules that restricted me as I grew up so I could be a rational adult).
I also know that the standard of living has risen so dramatically in this country, that everyone seems to expect everything handed to them on a silver platter.
What does this have to do with solving our problems in America?
Well, all I keep thinking is that we keep asking for more, and people arent willing to work for more.
Okay, you think Im nuts for thinking that. But let me give an example. John told me he heard that teens complain about not being able to get a job out of school. But the career counselors have told these teens that it might be easier for them to get a job if they remove all of the metal from piercings in their face, that they need to project the appropriate business image to get jobs. And the teens seem to be saying, If they cant accept me for who I am, then I dont want a job from them.
Fine, kids. At that rate, nobody will offer you a job.
And they wonder why jobs are so hard to find.
Let me give you another example: President Bush wants to protect our borders from potential terrorists, and at the same time he wants to grant temporary work visas to illegal immigrants, so they can work in our country and he can keep tabs on them. (Apparently he doesnt mind Mexicans coming to the States to work jobs and mail half of the money they make back to Mexico, all without having to pay any taxes to our government.) Maybe, if people are unwilling to get a job, we shouldnt pay them government benefits for being unemployed, and we can make those low-paying jobs available that people will be forced to take (you know, because they need the money). Maybe if young Americans stopped expecting the world to love them the way they were and pay them a lot of money, theyd be willing to really start working for a living.
I know, Im ranting. Sorry.
No, actually, Im not sorry, because Ive been trying to look at the direction our country is going, and Ive been trying to make sense our of what little history I know, and what Im learning is starting to scare me. I think over time we have become much more expectant of things we may not deserve, because we havent worked for it. I see jobs being outsourced to other countries because companies are actually getting tax benefits from our government to help third world countries by employing people there. At the same time I hear people say that they know that used American cars seems to have more problems than used foreign cars, that even the quality of American automobiles has comparatively gone downhill. And at the same time, I look at the electronics we purchase and see theyre not made by U.S. companies. Listen to your stereo with your Sony electronics, or watch videos or television with your Panasonic. Use your LaMachine to prepare your food. Hell, dont even drink water from the States, but from Evian (Im sure the French liked calling their company the word naive spelled backwards...).
Maybe we have been naive, and maybe we cant see the price of the Euro is rising against the dollar, and that Japan has taken over in the electronics market.
And we sit here and think that we can get people back to work when the economy is doing poorly after people without investing experience dropped their live savings into a dot com market that was walking on a high tight rope wire with no net when it fell in the late 1990s. But were doing things right now like getting rid of excess metals used for our building and manufacturing (which we think would cost too much to melt down to reuse), which is often shipped to China, where they melt it down so they can build high rises.
China in part is building more high rises with Americas excess materials. Because theyre willing to work with it, instead of being snotty and saying it would be too much work.
Wasnt it Americas work ethic that got us so far ahead in the first place?
Now it seems we have become the overweight uncle you see once a year at family Christmas get-togethers, who wants to lean back in the easy chair after stuffing his face with decadent food they didnt prepare (because, of course, someone else prepared it for them), and talk between commercial breaks from the football game about how they were once the high school quarterback and they led their team to victory and were so popular - back then.
We as Americans are getting to the point where were not producing all of the materials and products to keep our economy moving ahead of everyone else, but were shipping our refuse to other countries (who use it to get ahead), and were educating students from other countries here with Visas so they can take their American-educated brains back to their home country to charge us high prices for the products theyve created.
Were seeing ourselves lose jobs in the world economy, were training people from other countries so they can get ahead of us, and because we seem to expect every material possession in life, were purchasing things form outside this country, beyond our means. Were letting what money we have slowly trickle out of this country.
And then were putting ourselves in debt, to get more material possessions.
Were complaining that we want more, but we havent earned it.
In the title of this editorial, I was asking which world this country would be. I was asking, because I was wondering if we were going to be a leading country, or if we would become like the third world countries, who have been taking our refuse to get ahead. I asked, because at the rate were going, with our inability to compete in the world market and our inability to work (ah, let the illegal Mexicans do the work we dont want to do for cheaper, so we get cheaper produce in the grocery store...), with the government losing tax revenue because of illegal immigrants working in the United States, were on a slippery slope that could slide our country downhill.
How far downhill? Well, if we cant produce, it wont be long before we become a third world country.
Yes, it is possible
I know, I know, you just heard me say that poor families with a home (or a crappy government apartment) still has access to television (and probably access to all the liquor and all the smokes and all of the illegal drugs they want), but we could become a country of people who have the basics, but not much else, because we dont have jobs and cant afford it. And dont have the drive to get out of the downward cycle weve gotten ourselves into.
Yes, it is possible
But if it is an eventual possibility, how do we get off that path down the mountainside and into the canyon hole?
I dont know.
Maybe we start by not credit carding ourselves into debt so our kids can have their own cell phones that they go over their minutes with every month. Maybe we just stop credit carding ourselves into debt, to have everything that we always want and cant afford (whatever happened to people using credit cards as 30 day interest-free loans, and paying the balance in full every month?). And, maybe we start really valuing things we can produce in this country, instead of letting our hard-earned money go to businesses from other countries instead of keeping our money in our economy.
Maybe we stop expecting our government to do everything for us. As Ive said before:
You keep asking everyone to wipe your noses for you.
Well, pick up the dam tissue and do it yourself.
We have to stop asking for things and start working for things.
We didnt get to the moon first because we didnt work. The Wright brothers didnt learn to fly because they didnt work. And yeah, we wouldnt have drugs to help people with arthritis like Celebrex if drug companies didnt put up the resources - and do a lot of work (yeah, even the drug companies want to be paid for all of their hard work, if we want to continue getting all the things we could ever want...).
Nothing is accomplished without an extraordinary amount of work. We didnt excel in the world without a lot of work. And to stay ahead, we have to work - either to get better in these existing markets, or in creating new markets - so that we can still excel and stay on top.