A seventy-fifth birthday wish
Over dinner earlier in the week, a senior representative of a worldwide non-governmental organization related how the charity was cancelling student fellowships for summer work in several Latin American and South American countries and withdrawing their personnel from some… all due to the rising power of the drug cartels and the danger this presents to the inhabitants.
The major drug involved is marijuana. It is the indiscriminate War on Drugs that bars this relatively innocuous drug from regulation, taxation and control as we do for cigarettes and alcohol. The result is a criminal enterprises that dwarfs even the auto industry for size. It has also generated a criminal justice system that thrives on putting Americans – especially African-Americans – in prison or under court custody.
Seventy-five years ago to this day the Watchdog was born in the midst of the Great Depression and the rise of fascism in Germany. There were great problems but they were not largely self-inflicted. The country rose nobly to fight to free the world from Nazism, and to improve the condition of all Americans (ultimately including African-Americans) as well as much of the rest of the word. But things changed three decades ago when the benighted concluded that “Government is the problem.”
Today the country is again in great trouble, but this time almost all self-inflicted.
We are trying to end two foolhardy wars costing almost four trillion dollars, more than 50% of the national debt. The middle class income is shrinking and 0.01% of the population has gained immense wealth and, through unbridled campaign contributions, gained control over both political parties. Examples: Military- Industrial complex; Wall Street; Criminal Justic complex; Health Industry, Big Oil. (We are bombarded with ads telling us the wonderful things the subsidized petroleum companies are doing for us while we neglect funding alternate sources of energy and blithely pay $4 a gallon at the pump.)
An unwieldy and exploitive health industry costs 50% more of Gross Domestic Product than the most expensive of other advanced nations and yet ours is rated on the level of Cuba.
Thanks to unwarranted consolidations led by craven Wall Street manipulators, our economy is led by vastly overpaid financiers rather than the largely socially responsible industrialist of the past.
A Military – Industrial complex forever beats the drums of war and causes the nation to bleed both literally and figuratively, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths here and abroad and spending twice what is needed to protect our worldwide interests on the belief that running the world is out responsibility. (How the Chinese laugh at us!)
I would add an outrageously expensive educational system, rooted in methods from the Middle Ages rather than from the modern Internet.
We permit high unemployment at a time when the nation’s infrastructure is rusting away, when little investment is being made for modernization, and the government has all but abandoned partnering with private enterprise in research and new investments. (We have virtually ceded economic dominance for the balance of the 21st Century to China.)
Ignoramuses believe the way to reduce a deficit is to shrink the economy by reduction in governmental expenditures and even less taxes on the rich, who already enjoy the lowest taxes by at least half and probably two-thirds over much of the past century. One can argue that higher taxes corelate to periods of real national economic growth.
To have lived long and well is great good fortune. But to see your country decline from greatness to mediocrity, from civic virtue to crass greed, from wise industrial and social policies to stupidities… of which none is greater than the indiscriminate War on Drugs … these do detract from the joy of the occasion.
I have lived to witness the rise and the decline of America. I wish I could have accomplished more during my life to help save the nation.