September 7, 2011

Oh what a mess

think. Job creation is on the front of the tongues of our nation's leaders and media with new lackluster statistics and both a Republican Presidential debate and a primetime speech from President Obama, in which he is expected to roll out his plan for job growth.

We all talk about how we wish Washington would come up with a long-term solution, rather than a quick fix. But our attention spans are that of fruit flies, so how can we expect our leaders to implement long-lasting policies when we're demanding that our economy is back in order for next year's Christmas season? 

In tonight's debate, I heard too much from the candidates describing the economic troubles as a direct fault of President Obama, when really the problems started years and years ago, spanning both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Thomas Friedman, a brilliant man who makes statistics and societal trends digestible to those of us who have a tough time scrounging giant stacks of data (i.e. me and most likely you as well), has a new book out in which he explains how and why the US went from being the golden superhero of the planet to a tarnished statue of its former self. 

This story from NPR's All Things Considered summarizes Friedman's theory. Each generation, prior to the post-Cold War era, made tangible sacrifices in order to move our country forward. (Friedman also wrote this fantastic column for the NY Times).

But since 1989, for the most part any middle-class white kid (like me) doesn't know what real, legitimate sacrifice really is. Sure there are plenty of things my family can't afford and there are lots of things I want but don't have, but I have never had to miss a meal because of empty cupboards. I've never gone a winter without a warm coat. And if I'm sick, I've been able to go to the doctor when necessary. 

However, I'm willing to sacrifice things if it means it will make my country stronger. I'll happily pay higher taxes to ensure those people who can't afford the doctor or can't put food on the table, have the chance to pay for what they need. I’d willingly pay more at the pump if I knew the added tax was going to sustainable energy investment.

There was a lot of talk tonight about climate change and whether it’s manmade or some silly scientific theory. Gov. Rick Perry (Tex.) made remarks in the past few weeks that showed blatant skepticism to the validity of whether we trash-mongering humans have begun to influence the climate.

Mr. Perry said tonight that he doesn't want our nation to suffer "monstrous economic effects," from being limited on our usage of fossil fuels. 

Ok. Well that's one way of looking at it.

Or one could look at environmental regulation as incentive for innovation, which is something Americans have always held near and dear.

Throwing aside all things scientific, as a God-fearing, Jesus-believing, good-hearted human being, one would think that Mr. Perry (and his fellow friends) would want to be environmental stewards because it’s a good thing to do.

Instead, we have a gaggle of Presidential hopefuls vying for super cheap gas ($2 a gallon in Bachman’s world), egregious spending cuts (which would eliminate jobs) and extensive deregulation (possibly to balance out the jobs lost from funding cuts with new ones created from less corporate rules?)

Well friends, deregulation alone doesn’t create jobs. Neither does government investment. Here’s to hoping tomorrow our President spells out a plan that may not be super popular, but will be a big first step in the right direction. As a post-cold war kid, I’m ready to sacrifice, are you? Tune in tomorrow night.

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