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The Tough Lessons of 2011

28 September 2011 5 Comments
The White House at night

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By the end of this week, three quarters of the year 2011 will behind us, leaving only a few months left until year end.   So far, 2011 hasn’t really given Americans too much to cheer about, and certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations for a decent economic recovery.  I suppose the best thing that can be said about 2011 is that the things didn’t get a whole lot worse.   In fact, the year 2011 has taught Americans the following valuable lessons:

1.  The “Recession of 2008” has now lasted four years, and will probably continue on indefinitely.  Even the world’s fastest growing economies, such as China and India, have significantly slowed production, which will drive down world demand for goods and services to even lower levels.  Since the American economy is almost totally dependent on global demand, it is unlikely that the country will achieve a growth rate  of  better than one or two percent.  A significant reduction in the unemployment rate can not, and will not, be achieved under these conditions.  High unemployment is here to stay.

2.  The anemic growth rate in the American economy, combined with high unemployment and much greater demand for government services by aging baby-boomers will create a larger and larger budget deficit.  We all know there are only two solutions to this problem: raise taxes or cut spending. Unfortunately 2011 will probably be remembered as the year that a new “Civil War” began in the United States, not a war between individual states but a war between the different classes of Americans.   The middle class has learned that those Americans with economic power and wealth will go to almost any length to retain their status, even if it means dismantling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

3.  The political system that was carefully designed by the founding fathers and much cherished by generations of Americans has been totally corrupted by monied special interests, and it no longer works well for the good of the people. The will of the majority can be thwarted by a small group of dissident senators using the power of the filibuster to advance political agendas, rather than to advance the peoples’ business. Sadly, we have learned that a state of gridlock in Washington may be a new reality for the foreseeable  future.  Not only is the American economy simply treading water and getting nowhere, but the Congress is doing the same.

4.  The hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been used to re-build America’s aging infrastructure have been wasted on futile foreign wars  designed to fight terrorism. The year 2011 has taught us that it is almost impossible to extricate America from military engagements once the fighting begins.   Neither the President nor the Congress have the backbone to stand up to the proverbial military industrial complex. When it comes to investing in guns or butter, the government will almost always choose guns.

Although there are many lessons to be learned from the not-so-stellar year of 2011, the most important (and perhaps the most unfortunate) lesson of all is that America has little hope of  regaining its former glory days until the political infighting can be put aside, and until elected officials can work together in a bi-partisan manner for the good of all citizens.




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