Depending on the news of the day, I sway back and forth as to whether we as a nation are going to reach that vibrant and progressive ” City on a Hill” as promised by John Winthrop or sadly become the 21st century version of England, an international afterthought despised by all those countries we pushed around for so many years.
Today, I am in one of those English moods. Here’s why.
The recovery from the Great Recession has now taken on a new wrinkle – modest economic growth with hardly any job growth. Too many companies are apparently becoming satisfied that they can squeeze out more from existing employees rather than hire new employees, leaving unemployment perhaps stuck for years at 10%. I shuttered over the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that in the last two years work-related suicides jumped 28%.
Wall Street and corporate boardrooms are filled with irresponsible bragging that if billions of dollars in bonuses are not paid to the people who brought us the financial meltdown, these patriotic American whiz kids will go somewhere else to make their unjustified Christmas gifts. Where I ask in an economy of 10% unemployment are these guys and gals going to go to rip us off again? If shareholders don’t do something about this awful excess, they deserve to see their retirement nest egg go belly up.
Dick Cheney just won’t go away. He pushed us into a senseless war in Iraq tolerating little contrary opinion and then ” dithered” for years about what to do about the real al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan. Now he has the gall to bash the President for taking his time to fashion a sane and effective strategy to save American lives and get us out of the longest war in American history. Please, Mr. Vice-President, just go to that secret hiding place where you spent so much time during the Bush years.
The recent spate of bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq are likely to be a foreshadowing of things to come once the US takes its troops out. Could spending $ 1 trillion and 5000 lives have led to nothing but another civil war? Most wars are senseless and unnecessary, but the Iraq war fits both of those observations. I am coming around to the view that too many American died for so little.
Barack Obama came into office on a magic carpet of Hope and Change, and after almost a year that magic carpet ride has started to look like a Boston street – full of potholes and detours. The polls are right – Americans have lost a good portion of their hope and change has turned into endless partisan battles. I just wish Obama would use the famous line by Peter Finch in the movie Network, ” I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Finally, the Red Sox didn’t make the World Series, in fact they barely made the playoffs. Now to some this is no example of the end of America as we know it. But the early exit of the Sox occured because the usual heroes showed signs of age, lack of spirit, and a general team malaise. If, as some say, baseball is a microcosm of what we are as a nation, then the fall of the Sox is the first real sign of America’s decline.
Fortunately, tomorrow is another day and the news may be more upbeat and inspiring. But as of today, we are in trouble.