Rich irony: Money equals problems

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:26 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Citizenship in what is billed as “the richest country in the world” means vastly different things to different people. For some it means Americans can afford to be open, generous and share their vast resources with the world to the point where our borders are beginning to burst at the seams. For some, it means charity should begin at home by providing our citizens with job opportunities where people can earn an affordable wage to take care of their families and have adequate health care and a decent quality of life. For others, it means those at the top of the barrel should be entitled to amass huge fortunes and dictate to foreigners how to run their countries so they can be kings of the world.

Although the majority of people seems content to let the ensuing struggle prevail, some try to use what powers they possess to tilt the windmill so that the breeze blows in their direction. Many years ago, a friend observed this trend and remarked, “We’re all moving toward some ugly center.” Over the years, I have seen no reason to disagree. If anything, the date when we arrive at such a point seems to be escalating.

Without exaggeration, I think, most reasonable people would agree that things are falling apart. Although killing among families has been a part of human history since the beginning of time as we know it, it is safe to say most of us have not been aware of its rampancy within our purview until the past few decades. Some are suggesting the cases of parents killing their children are the natural consequence of the relaxation of parental discipline to the point where some parents feel so powerless to make their kids behave that it drives them to the extreme. And in other areas, standards of behavior have become so lax that almost anything can be expected at any time.

Customer service, of course, is an area that we most often notice because it’s one in which most have to deal with sooner or later. There is a recent trend where family and friends either must share time with employees on their job or be in constant contact with them by cell phone. This means that the customer usually has to wait to be served until the employee takes care of his or her personal needs.

I suppose this is how some people have come to define “family values.” Frankly, those of us who have lives apart from those we share with our children and grandchildren, consider “family values” a private matter best observed among one’s family within one’s private household. I believe that the blurring of the dividing line between children and adults is largely at the root of much social chaos. Because children often lack the maturity to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, it is up to parents to establish boundaries. Because so many parents allow children to make these decisions and the public tends to look the other way, in some circles social upheaval is the normal environment. I wish that it weren’t so many of the children of stay-at-home-moms who are guilty of ugly behavior. That way, we could at least get on the same page and begin to work toward solutions. The truth is, most working mothers have to do double-time in disciplining their children because they have to depend on strangers to care for the kids while they work.

The Internet is, of course, probably the greatest technological advance of our age. But, it is doubtful that there is anyone who deals with that service that has not been overwhelmed with attempts to extort money from him or her. The scams have become as intrusive and invasive as telemarketing calls were before no-call lists were put into effect. There is no end to efforts to defraud people.

Now it serves the purpose of some more affluent among us to ignore the reality and pretend that every thing is under control. The number of prescription medicines that escaped through the loopholes of the Federal Drug Administration that has harmed individuals should alert responsible people that things are not in hand. You need to look at the mind-set of people who believe that limiting malpractice lawsuits rather than malpractice itself is to solve the problem.

When you live in the richest country in the world, it is easy to forget that what you share with citizens of the poorest country in the world is a finite existence. Looking at your position from that perspective can provide you with a lot of food for thought.

The first and last reality is, that no matter how rich, powerful and influential you are, you can’t take it with you when you go and you can’t come back and get it. Whatever you leave behind will belong to someone else.

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

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