Our Nation Is In A Time Of Crisis

To the Reader’s Forum:

The dysfunction we are seeing in politics is a perfect example of ‘fiddling while Rome burns.’ Not only is our political class more interested in rewarding themselves and their friends while most people suffer, but they are failing to provide leadership in a time of crisis.

The bickering is emblematic of the dichotomy in the attitudes of what this nation represents. We are a divided nation in a time of transition, arguing among ourselves over which direction to head with all sides fearful of any direction the others want to take us. If we do not correct ourselves it will signal our collapse as a single nation as we balkanize into the coasts versus the heartlands, the progressives versus the neoliberals, immigrants versus natural-born, the Christians versus the Muslims versus the Jews, the elites versus the deplorables, the colorful versus the colorless and the kleptocrats versus the democrats. Fear, distrust, anger and greed are replacing hope, justice and the pursuit of happiness as our national ideals.

It is a time of crisis and we are ignoring several major challenges. One is that income inequality, the few acquiring a disproportionate share of the national wealth while many struggle to secure basic necessities, has throughout history always led to turmoil. Ours is approaching 1929 levels. Two, we are ignoring damage to our environment on many levels. We fail to acknowledge that a healthy economy exists within a healthy environment, not apart from it. By overpowering the natural order with technology and fossil fuels we are holding the negative effects at bay, but that will only work in the short-term. It is going to become much more expensive to build, travel, produce, insure and eat as nature rebalances the distortions we have created. Third, our position as a world leader established after WWII has been squandered over the past 50 years. We were complacent in assuming overpowering force would keep us dominant only to see it fail in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and now, Syria. The complexity of our economy and the requirement for extensive international supply chains leaves us vulnerable to disruption by non-state actors. We are suffering a death by a thousand cuts.

The current divisiveness, expressed in fear, anger and suspicion, is the inevitable result of diminished affluence brought about by our failure to resolve difficult problems and address core needs. If we don’t stop the bickering and work together our affluence will continue to erode up the income scale and tear us apart.

Tom Meara