COLUMN: If the country is a mess, it's our fault

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:51 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'd like to get the year started off on the right foot. So, first of all, I’m asking all my readers to join with me in accepting the fact that it took many years for our country to get in the mess that it’s in and it’s going to take many years for us to get out of it. If we need somebody to blame for letting it happen, then we can point the finger at ourselves, because the Founding Fathers created this nation to be governed by “we the people.”

We the people allowed the capitalists to run unrestricted under the doctrine of free enterprise, without demanding they be responsible for the well-being of our economic system. We the people gave them enough rope not only to hang themselves but to put the rope around our necks as well. Did they put a gun to our heads? No. We the people elected those who wore the right political label to watch the rich guys and those politicians assisted them in stripping the country down and selling it for a penny on the dollar. (Now we can lie to ourselves about what happened, but don’t you think we ought to tell the children the truth about who really sold off their future?)

All of our problems have a genesis and a history. They didn’t just appear out of nowhere, take root in our energy policy, our health care system, our social system, our justice system, our immigration policy or any other place in our country’s system of governance.

Crimes of violence didn’t suddenly crop up. Illegal drugs have been an issue for years. Instead of disappearing with the Mafia, the problem has simply grown. If several generations of parents had dealt with doing away with these drugs, then children today would not need to say "no" to the drug dealers. There is just no way of getting around it; we are the culprits. We let it happen.

Of course, there will always be those who reason that we created our system of justice and delegated that responsibility so that we would not have to do that job personally. Well, have we held them accountable and demanded that they show us the proof of their efforts to solve this problem? Or do we just go whining about one branch of government or the other about all they didn’t do?

Whose job was that to make them accountable? Where does that buck really stop?

So what about the overflowing population of children in foster care? We moved in immediately to tell government to stay out of our personal lives, and in this case they were accountable and placed no responsibility on parents for raising the children they brought into the world. So, many of these parents simply neglected or abandoned their children and ushered in a generation of “throw-away kids.” Who must care for them? Why, the same government we told not to interfere in the private lives of these parents. And who is this government? We the people, of course. Remember the truant officers whose responsibility it was to see that parents sent their children to school? Well, that was before we the people lost our sense of collective responsibility and understood that seeing to the welfare of the children was one of the elements of running a civilized democracy.

I suspect, as we run all over the world bragging about our freedoms, some other countries who have a lot more restrictions on the behavior of their citizenry, probably slyly smirk behind our backs as they look at our violent crime rate. Freedom to do what, they might ask? Kill each other?

Americans, by and large, are reasonable people. They know this democratic republic is not working the way it should be. By every measure we should be first to demonstrate to the world the working model of a true democracy. Instead we come limping behind so many countries in the area of literacy, health care and regard for the sanctity of human life.

As we commence the second decade of this new century, could we begin as neighbors to confront each other with the truth of our failure to keep the basic tenets of our democracy and promise each other as we move forward to seek out opportunities where we can work together to clean up our mess?

I sincerely hope this will be the best year of our lives.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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marvin saunders January 5, 2010 | 6:53 a.m.

Everything that lady said is true.Now how many people are willing to admit to this.Not very many iam afraid.It is too easy to put the blame else where.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 5, 2010 | 7:35 a.m.

@marvin saunders:
Is it about blame or taking responsibility and moving forward?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 5, 2010 | 9:09 a.m.

Well said.
Nothing more to add.
Just...well said.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman January 5, 2010 | 9:43 a.m.

Well written, Rose.

To Mr. Saunders and Mr. Shapiro ~ It is not just "blame or taking responsibility and moving forward," it is about fixing the problem. It is like the Saturday Night Live routine "Fix it."

"There was a light (at the end of the tunnel), but it is broken," said Oscar Rogers, played by SNL great Kenan Thompson, "and someone needs to crawl down to the end of that tunnel to fix it." (

In stead of placing blame, instead of pointing fingers, we really need to fix it. And if you ask, fix what, the answer is "IT!"

(Report Comment)
Jennifer Holdren January 5, 2010 | 10:38 a.m.

I agree with all you've said.. Another big problem is the spoiled generation who think they need a brand new cars or a new house and with all these bills they can't afford and thinking others should help them pay for what they can't afford.. I know of a married couple who is on unemployment so his grandparents gave him 10,000 to pay off his car payment and 10,000 to his wife also to pay off her car payment so they did and they both did trade ins for two new cars while they still are unemployed can you say What where you thinking.. My husband and I have never went past what we couldn't afford and to see this couple complaining about being poor and they hate not being able to get ahead in life. There home was given to them by his father there whole lives things where given to them and they still complain.. Another person I know is homeless and he dates a woman I know she's a good friend too, well he will only date women who have there own place for one so he can live there while talking down to people who pay there bills, he has two children with another woman and because he has no home his ex has the girls well this Christmas my husband and I didn't have a lot of money to get our own daughter a lot of things she just got a couple of things mostly clothes. Well he got his daughters a lot of gifts and was talking down about a friend who had to pay her house payment and who was unable to get her children a lot of gifts.. I was upset because I'm sure his children would have loved to have a home instead of gifts this Christmas.. I have never looked down to anyone who was poor or homeless and for once in my life I see this homeless man a little different. I'm a little confused about his views in his life... I live in my old family house we pay rent to my parents we have a car it's old and used. We don't bum off of our friends. My parents raised me to believe your parents don't have to get you a car or send you to college that is your job to do in life and in that you will respect it all the more.. I used to complain too don't get me wrong I was young, but now I see I should not think things should be given to you for free and when or if it is then see it as a blessing and use what they give you in the right way pay your bills, there was a time when you here in the U.S. would starve or freeze to death even if you where a child.. It may happen again we are a poor country again.. If people would live more to there means I think things would be a little easier for everyone..

(Report Comment)
Andrew Del-Colle January 5, 2010 | 12:01 p.m.

I think poor communication skills could be added to the list.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 5, 2010 | 1:10 p.m.

Mr. Rosman:
You work on the fix it part and I'll do my best with the
GIT-R-DONE part.
We can compare notes in 2012.

(Report Comment)

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