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ROSE NOLEN: America's pursuit of happiness now is mortagaging our futures

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:16 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I think it's sad that so many people seem to take their way of life in America for granted. It's not so surprising that young people do this, but it's bad that people who are old enough to know better should be guilty of this also. I realize that I still think, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that Americans are well-informed. But despite our public library system, our free public education system, television and an overabundance of electronic communication systems, many of us are apparently uninformed about what is really going on in the world.

So many citizens still believe that America is on top of the heap in the field of education, for example. This, in spite of the fact that our schools are failing and plagued with problems stemming from unqualified teachers, poorly achieving students and uninterested parents. Economically, we have to borrow money to pay our national bills. Our system of justice is appalling. Our jails are full and in most cases rehabilitation is a joke. Drugs continue to be a leading problem and there's no plan in sight to control illegal drug usage. Corporate greed rages while the working class struggles to make ends meet on low wages. Unemployment is strangling many communities.

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The question that bothers me the most is, when do we get serious about fixing any of these problems and getting our situation straightened out? As time marches on, how long will it take us to get it into our heads that the two-party system is a hindrance rather than a help in solving our problems. Their primary interest is in getting their candidates re-elected and spending the rest of the time bickering with the other party. Who has a plan to deal with illegal drugs? How are we going to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons? Who is designing and creating new industries for the 21st century?

Until we as a people get serious, the politicians don't feel they have to. They are willing to ride the gravy train as far as it will go. As long as we continue to make the pursuit of entertainment our major priority, television will continue to supply it to the exclusion of anything worthwhile. And unless we can find a method to make education more entertaining, more kids will refuse to pay attention. And though I don't see how public schools could become more fun and games than they already are, they seem to be programmed for failure. I really don't think the country's founders had in mind that we should let the country go to the dogs while we concentrate on having a happy life.

Some of us continue to be hopeful, though, that the country will get away from business as usual and realize that if we keep adding to our ills, other countries will cease to take us seriously. The future doesn't look promising as long as the majority seems to feel that they have no need to hurry. To be honest, sometimes it's easy to believe that some think we are the only country on this planet and the rest of the world doesn't exist.

I suppose the powers-that-be assume future generations will be content to work at service jobsbecause no one seems to be concerned about job creation and all the other work is steadily moving overseas. While we sit and watch "American Idol," foreign entities will be building better mousetraps to employ their citizens. While we chat with strangers on our favorite social network, I can only hope that foreign scientists will be busy finding cures for diseases.

At least when we had more money than the oil companies, the investment banks and the contractors we hire to work in war zones, we could command a little respect before we signed the checks to lend to other nations. Now that we have no money, it won't be long before we'll be ignored altogether. Of course, we will still have the big bombs, except they don't do much good in the guerrilla warfare zones where most of our finest seem to find themselves.

It's fair to say that while history will probably remember us as those who had so much and did so little, the rich guys can at least feel proud that they made sure to get as much as they could every chance they could, and even if they couldn't take it with them they kept it out of the hands of the working class. That's capitalism, not socialism.

No matter how you figure the score, I think "we the people" lost the game.

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

 


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