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Hiding From Reality (Bob Herbert)

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dtotire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 10:40 AM
Original message
Hiding From Reality (Bob Herbert)
Edited on Sat Nov-20-10 05:37 PM by Skinner
Hiding From Reality
Published: November 19, 2010

However you want to define the American dream, there is not much of it thats left anymore.
Wherever you choose to look at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop warfare overseas youll see a country in sad shape. Standards of living are declining, and American parents increasingly believe that their children will inherit a very bad deal.

Were in denial about the extent of the rot in the system, and the effort that would be required to turn things around. It will likely take many years, perhaps a decade or more, to get employment back to a level at which one could fairly say the economy is thriving.

Consider this startling information from the Pew Hispanic Center: in the year following the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009, foreign-born workers in the U.S. gained 656,000 jobs while native-born workers lost 1.2 million. But even as the hiring of immigrants picked up during that period, those same workers experienced a sharp decline in earnings.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 10:59 AM
Response to Original message
1. There are some new "third-rails" in American politics: defense budget and tax cuts and deregulation.
When your third-rails are the source of your problems, bad juju.
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cilla4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 11:01 AM
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2. The "fall" of the Soviet Union
Draining the national treasury by funding senseless wars led to the fall of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet bloc.

Wouldn't hurt my feelings to lose our status as a "superpower." Not fair for the mid- to low-incomers to take the brunt of the economic distress, however.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I agree with you, although there is a problem.
When empire nations lose their empire status, they do not tend react rationally and say "wow, we have some things to learn."

No, the initial phase is more like double-down on the denial -- increased nationalism, exceptionalism, etc. In fact, it appears we're more or less in that phase now. Unfortunately, this is the phase that has been known to give human history luminaries like Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Napoleon, etc.

The survivors of those eras may eventually come out saying "wow, we have some things to learn."
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cilla4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. No - I completely agree.
It can (will) get worse before it gets you say, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia (more about losing tyrannical leadership in populist overthrow..but same outcome as you describe: chaos). And I completely agree we are there now. It will be "interesting" to witness the American iteration of this phenomenon.

I'm interested in hearing what others are doing to prepare for this? I have fortunately become re-employed in a modest position in my field after a 1 year lay-off. I was really poised, after a career of increasing responsibilities and successes, to move forward. I realize now how fortunate I am merely to stay in place. Most of my hopes, dreams, and resources (energy, financial) I want to direct to my daughter, a HS senior. I want her to get into a good 4-year college right out of HS, so that she can at least tread water, while the rich continue to siphon off as much as they can for themselves, as they degrade our planet for their entertainment. I want to pay off my mortgage, preserve the health of my spouse and self (55 y.o.), buy a generator, and ardently put up my garden and fruit harvest every year! Be one among the survivors...perhaps be able to lend some historical memory as we rebuild.

My daughter is reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" for a literature class. Her dad and I read it, out of interest and curiosity. One wonders if the assignment wasn't especially timely....

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-20-10 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Not quite -- this is not the phase that produces a Hitler or Stalin
Germany was not a failed empire in the 1930's. They were a nation on the rise that felt they were being unfairly held back -- first because they were still working on their own unification in the 1870s when Britain and France were scooping up worldwide empires, and then because of being on the losing side in World War I.

Russia under Stalin was also trying to make its way out of third world status and industrialize quickly so as to compete with the West.

The decline of empire produces something more like Spain in the 1600s and 1700s -- backwards, superstitious, Inquisition-ridden. Or like China and the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s, when repeated efforts at reform and modernization just wound up in failure and corruption.

I'm no more hopeful than you are about the US making it's way past the stage of denial into something more positive -- but I don't thing that hyper-imperialism is the thing to be worrying about.

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