What’s the most important challenge facing the U.S. right now? Terrorism? The trade gap with China? Jobs and the economy? No. The financial press and its attending pundits talk about a U.S. budget crisis a la Greece—but much worse. Size matters.
Set political partisanship and generational blamestorming aside. Bottom line: The budget will only be balanced through higher tax revenues and cost cutting. There. I said it. Yes, everyone will get screwed. It’s going to be an equal opportunity screwing. No one will go unscrewed. Go ahead. Cry it out so we can get on with it.
So, aside from paying higher taxes, and having lower expectations of the government, what can a patriotic American do?
Well, here’s the thing. People like you and me—our society of individuals—are a major and seldom talked about threat to America’s greatness. No one wants to hear this (luckily, no one reads this blog, so there’s little danger of that happening). People will say that our society of individuals is what makes America great and that I’m unpatriotic for saying otherwise. But many problems facing America can be fixed by how we as everyday people live our everyday lives…every day.
- We have a financial crisis in healthcare, but we eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t exercise.
- We have a financial crisis in unemployment benefits and other entitlement programs as jobs move overseas, but only 75% of our kids graduated high school last year—and that was an improvement.
- We have a financial crisis in social security, but people aren’t saving enough to retire. (Maybe not fixing problem #1 will fix problem #3.)
The problem is that, for the most part, we are a nation of grasshoppers who need to become ants.
The New New Patriotism: Take some responsibility for yourself.
Winston Churchill famously said, “You can count on the Americans to do the right thing after trying everything else first.” We’ve kicked the can to the end of the road. It’s time to fix the problems of our society. We need a new patriotism in America—the 21st century version of “buy bonds” and enlisting in the armed services. We still need the old patriotism, but we really need this new one too.
Here’s the good news: In this new patriotism, you benefit from all the ways you do your patriotic duty. You are healthier. You are better prepared for the workforce. You can retire comfortably. You can send me $50.
Thought I’d try slipping that in. Didn’t think it would work.