The Times We Live In

This is a fascinating time to be conscious in this country.  I am not sure what the era will be called in the history books but think of everything that is happening now and compare it to the 70’s or the 80’s.   I think perhaps the combination of political sea change and the economic troubles even outstrips the 60’s in terms of upheaval and intrigue.

Start with economics and there isn’t much left to say.  But perhaps this is another ledge left to fall off of that may mean we haven’t hit the dusty, rocky bottom just yet.  Watching the economy for the past 18 months or so has been like watching a cartoon character tumbling down a series of ledge falling – oomph! – falling – aaaghh! – falling – wallop …  Credit cards could be the next bubble to burst sending us down to the next ledge.  So many of us have so much credit card debt and now there’s no work, people may be living on credit card debt and what happens when the limit is reached?  What happens to all that debt as people do what the banks and the corporations are doing, declare bankruptcy protection and simple walk away to leave the rest of us holding the empty bag?  -falling – scrruncch…large poof of billowing dust.

On to politics and there also probably isn’t much new to say about the new President and his administration.  They are smart, energetic and have a definite world view that by any measure is left leaning to say the least.  The funny thing about the politics is that the economy created over the past decade or more has given the new President more leeway to implement a Left agenda than any other circumstance I can imagine occurring.  The Right is loudly decrying all of the spending of the Government in public while kicking themselves and each other in the ass in private.  Whether or not the Right is to blame for the current economic collapse doesn’t even matter, it’s the perfect Left Spinning Storm.  The economy collapses, banks slide off the edge of insolvency, corporations need fast cash to avoid immediate bankruptcy and the government gets to run the cash printing presses 31(that’s 24-7) to save the day.  It was going to happen no matter who became President, it’s just that Obama doesn’t have to make excuses, it’s the natural course of events in a Democratic wet dream to be able to create programs and spend lots of money while holding the moral high ground all at the same moment in time.  Who can blame President Obama for smiling all the time.

Foreign relations are another problem entirely.  I don’t recall a time in my life when I’ve seen more danger in the world abroad.  To begin with we are engaged in two wars and we’re growing the one in Afghanistan.  Pakistan is looking more and more like a Taliban state than a Taliban stronghold all the time.  Oh, and don’t forget that there’s nuclear weapons in that country so what better prize for the Taliban than to get their hands on the switch?  India of course is nervously situated right next door with nukes of their own. 

So let’s think about this for a minute.  At what point does the world community say, WOW, the Taliban is about to conquer Pakistan maybe we should move in and drive them out before they have control of nuclear materials and weapons?  At what point is that even possible when neither the Pakistani government nor the Taliban would welcome the intrusion?  I look at that situation and see perhaps the flash point of a catastrophic nuclear conflict.

President Obama is moving to begin talking to world leaders that President Bush shunned.  For me this is wise and prudent and does not mean that the US loses anything in the process.  Building lines of communication can only bring positive outcomes.

Last but not least, the environment.  Now I know that many in the Right call global warming another figment of the Left’s imagination, but I seem to hear more and more people on the right saying well, if the Earth is warming, it’s not the fault of humans.  I see that as energy company double-speak.  If the issue is carbon dioxide build-up and if humans account for most of that build-up through industry and use of carbon-burning devices, then it seems to me that the whole argument against human contribution to global warming is difficult to support.  Be that as it may, human-caused or simply good old mother nature, it seems to be real and it seems to be accelerating and it seems to be having impacts already.  We’re seeing oceans getting more acidic, ice melt, increasingly severe storms, droughts, and signs of species going extinct. 

So how interesting is all of that?  We didn’t see all that coming in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s.  We were too busy in the 90’s and early 00’s making and spending money to notice.  We were out pacing by the post box waiting for the quarterly statement for our 401k’s to see how soon we could retire.  But now the money is gone and it isn’t coming back and there’s nothing to do but talk about the reality of the world we have created.

Perhaps what we need to review is whether what we have created and are creating is a good thing. 

Will the policies of the government now influencing the management of industry and natural resources leave the US in a prosperous or a depressed state?

Where are the politics of Barack Obama actually going to leave the country in four or eight years?  Will the populace be better educated, healthier, more committed to freedom?  Will we sacrifice financial freedom to gain government benefits?

Will more countries get to share in the wealth of the world through policies and practices that create opportunity for their citizens?  Will the wealthy countries lend a hand to ensure that everyone in the world has at least enough food to eat and a shelter to live in and medicine enough to stay healthy?

Will the world keep warming?  Will there be outbreaks of disease that create mass illness and death?  Will there be mass extinctions due to climate change as scientists are predicting?  Can the humans interfere with global warming and is it a good thing if we do?

Interesting times all right, lots of stuff to think about in leisure time on the couch with no money to go out.