Things aren’t going so well for America. Our government is more than $12 trillion in debt, and with a $1.6 trillion deficit, Uncle Sam’s fiscal outlook is not likely to get any better anytime soon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.7 percent of America’s workforce is unemployed. Underemployment—which includes the unemployed plus those who work part-time or have stopped looking for work—is at 16.9 percent.
Recently, 1.6 million gallons of oil spilled into Gulf Coast, devastating the ecosystem while killing 11 people. Our anti-terrorism efforts have once again proven to work only when the terrorists are so inept they can’t deploy their own bombs. Our people are highly divided on partisan, ideological and racial and ethnic lines, the recent immigration law in Arizona highlighting this division.
Our troops are still fighting abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight to the latter. Iran supposedly wants a nuclear weapon, and our allies in Israel won’t listen to us and continue to isolate themselves in the Middle East, ipso facto making us alienated in the region.
That’s a pretty bleak picture.
It’s not often we hear about all of our troubles—our news channels would rather focus on politics and fluff pieces rather than bringing the truth about the day of reckoning the United States is driving toward.
The reason for this is that we are an inherently optimistic nation. Pessimism does not win elections in this country. We always believe things will be fine, that things will get better. In this way, all Americans are progressives—in the sense that we believe in Progress, that America is the greatest country on earth and if we do have problems, we will pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make it right.
There is certainly nothing wrong with this. Sometimes optimism does, in a way, make things better. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan ran perhaps the most optimistic administration of the last 50 years, and tax rates fell, the economy improved and the Cold War ended.
However, this is not always the case.
The problems now are starker. There is no longer a sense that things will inevitably get better. In fact, it seems inevitable that things will get worse.
Between our entitlements system and our empire abroad, it’s looking more and more like the United States will go the way of Argentina and Weimar Germany.
Just once I’d like to see a politician tell it how it is. Tell us that if we continue down our current course, the result is economic collapse. Tell us that there are no quick fixes to our problems. Tell us we can’t continue to pander to each constituency and remain a great country. But don’t expect it.
Pessimism can be a healthy thing. When people are too optimistic, they may get content. Complacency is not usually a big problem for people when things aren’t going great.
And the solutions are simple; they just aren’t easy. There are many problems in America today. They can be fixed. But it won’t be fun. And it remains to be seen if our government has the will to do the fixing.