Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Future is Not What it Used To Be



I'm not optimistic about America's future.

That's not really news. I haven't been optimistic about America's future since Ronnie Reagan was elected in 1980. That is when the 'systemic wreckage' of America's infrastructure began. There was a fundamental change in political philosophy with Reagan: instead of trying to build a 'better future', the focus became 'how much can we make now?'.

Jimmy Carter was our last President who was a visionary trying to build a better future. While you can disagree about the quality of his vision, he was truly focused on building for the long term (think about his energy policies and how much better off this country would be if we had followed his plan).

Both Bill Clinton and Obama have a much more moderate vision. In the face of systemic wreckage, both have taken the approach of "what can we salvage?" Which is better than the Republican greedhead response of "what can we loot from the wreck", but far from building a better future.

Our government now thinks like a corporation, with polls being the equivalent of the stock market, where quarterly profits outweigh long term growth. "Now" trumps the "future" in our politics more than ever before. Given that the corporations now buy the government they want, the decline will only continue.

Tonight we'll get to hear the annual "State of the Union" address, and I fully expect Obama to use the word "investment" a lot to talk about our "future". But the reality is much more grim. There really is no political will to build a better infrastructure for a better future. The only real question is what can be salvaged from the looters.

In short, the "state of the union" sucks, unless you're a rich greedhead. And it's not getting better anytime soon.