Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Standing Still

Digging through my stuff I came across a book: "The Next Century," by David Halberstam. I had forgotten it, and flipped through it to remind myself of its contents. In 126 pages, the author showed us the likely outcome of the collapse of the Soviet Union, then the rise of Japan because of that nation's focus on practical education, and finally on us. He was not kind about us, but uncertain. Could we compete in the modern world with our service-oriented economy? Was the rest of the world catching up with us and surpassing us on the global market? Would our standard of living be sustainable into the next century?

Halberstam's book came out in 1991, twenty years ago and ten years before "9-11" pushed us into a collision course with national bankruptcy (fueled by all that unchecked spending on two wars and everything else as if we had the money to spend, plus sponsoring that very attitude among our people). The housing bubble was a symptom pf our economic malaise, not its cause. The cause was a combination of corporate greed and political myopia.

Niel Degrasse Dyson recently asked (paraphrasing) how we would create jobs unless we actually manufactured something. But he's just a scientist; what does he know? Still, I look around at the lack of industry or industriousness across the nation as we sit back and are spoon fed reality TV and fat-laden cheeseburgers with sugar coated french fries. And I see others streaking ahead of us. I am reminded of an exchange in the play, "Inherit the Wind" (by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee -- being an author myself, I can't pass up an opportunity to mention their names).

Matthew Harrison Brady asks his former friend Henry Drummond, "Why have you moved so far away from me?"

Drummond replies, "Perhaps it is you who have moved away by standing still."

America is standing still. Perhaps our politicians should be thinking about THAT.

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