Oy vey – What a way to end the year.
Continued bad news from the economic and political fronts. A new scandal from the depths of Wall Street and another from the halls of Illinois government; unemployment numbers appear to have been under-reported for November and look worse for the next few months; John McCain blasted his own party and its leadership and; a reporter “voiced” his opinion of President Bush with the sole of his shoes. Then I take a whack at the religion of retail in last week’s column.
Locally, it appears that our city government wants to use its power of “Eminent Domain” to displace businesses in an already fragile economic environment to expand a museum. Financial problems plague the Columbia school district, foreseeing new taxes to remedy the problems. The police department’s activities are being questioned by a new review board and by citizen groups. And the lackluster economy has trickled down in the form of reduced projected 2009 sales and property tax revenue for the county and city.
It is unfortunate that years of prosperity are followed by years of financial and moral poverty. There will always be a corrupt politicians and business big wigs seeking to make an easy buck at others’ expense. Government bodies, local or national, continue to flex their muscles, threatening the livelihood of honest and hard working citizens. These, among many others, are facts of the American economic and political systems.
At least Matt Lauer is talking with Tom Cruise after a three-year separation.
We also elected a new president, and the United States will have a change of government for the 44th time without armed conflict. Following the leads of the Clinton and Bush presidencies, the Obama White House will continue expanding the roles of all Americans regardless of gender or race. There are signs that the United States will be “out” of Iraq within two years if not sooner. That the economy may soon turn around, bringing the United States out of debt.
In fact, we all have a lot to be thankful for, and I will not let a few bumps in the road deter me from my pursuit of happiness. After all Thomas Jefferson told us that happiness, along with life and liberty, are our unalienable rights. Benjamin Franklin wanted “Life, liberty and the pursuit of business."
Yes, life continued after the Fall of Rome and will continue for us despite economic and moral failures crossing the Rubicon.
For the readers of the Op-Ed pages around the globe, a request to become politically active is not necessary. You voted in the last election. In fact, the 2008 U.S. General Election saw a record number of eligible voters cast their ballots. Even in the classroom, politics has become a staple of discussion. The American citizen is once again becoming aware of the power of the individual voice in our representative democracy.
We also know the number of “crooks” out there is relatively small. That there are good people in business and government who need our support and encouragement. That voices from our recent and distant past need to be heard so we understand where we have been and where we are going.
Americans have come a long way since 1775. In 1776 and again in 1789, our founders put aside questions that would later haunt generations of Americans. Today our collective morals have changed our view of our stewardship of the planet and each other. We, as a people, have become better, and we have done this on our own. We have given our hands and backs to the poor and the rich, in the South and in the North, in times of need.
Maybe we are entering a new age of knowledge and acceptance. Maybe we are entering a new age of understanding ourselves and the universe we live in. Maybe it is time to step out of that darkness of fear into the light of hopes and dreams. Maybe it is time to seek life, liberty and happiness for all on this planet.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.