Having said that, I left CA after 15 years, due to the dramatic economical situation, massively aggravated by the recent politics. Some may call me a culture pessimist, some will call me a brutal realist and I tell you why:
America finds herself in the middle of The Perfect Storm.
1. A Recession or correction of various markets, as they periodically occur
2. The Consequences of fundamental, structural design flaws of the American Society
3. An ideology-driven President/Administration aggravating the already catastrophic situation with policies/initiatives dooming the country
I. THE PERFECT STORM -
Structural Design Flaws of the American Society
1.1. Energy and Transportation
During the last century, America has developed a terrible addiction/dependence to/on fossil fuels.
The domestic infrastructure is based upon streets, roads and trucks, while the development of a public transportation system of note, has utterly been neglected, due to a formerly strong automotive industry with the respective lobby in Washington, combined with a seemingly endless suply of domestic fossil fuels.
The Europeans, forced by lack of such abundant resources, developed during that period a railway and public transportation system, which I can only describe as breathtaking. You can get from one village in the most remote location to yet another efficiently, without ever having to walk for more than 30 minutes, all schedules and times conveniently accessible via internet and mobile smart phones. Millions of people come to and get from work easily and efficiently, whereas in Los Angeles for instance, traffic on 12 lanes is subject to congestion, bordering complete collapses of the system at times.
More importantly, transportation of goods (distribution) makes up a significant percentage of the cost of doing business, as all business experts know. In Europe goods are being moved easy, fast and efficiently, whereas in America, the corresponding cost is directly dependant on (rising) prices for (imported) gas and oil. Transportation, as history clearly demonstrated, is one of the key engines of the economy. Moving people and goods cost-efficiently is fundamental prerequisite for growing (healthy) economies.
Logically derived, cheap energy in abundance is therefore mission -critical. In America's case, due to its one-dimensional dependance on fossil fuels, that supply chain has furthermore become a matter of National Security with all related necessary cost in terms of military presence, bases and other costly engagements in order to secure supply, stabilize volatile regions and enforce peace.
In Europe outright "Energy Portfolios" have been developed, a diversified supply of energy, generated by all available sources, spanning nuclear power plants, water, thermic, solar, tide to fossil fuels, never allowing for just one variety to become a sole source. Even, when sourcing fossil fuels, multiple vendors/regions/suppliers are selected, so no one regime or country could blackmail or paralyze the customer, or force it into any desired action. (Exception: Germany and its dangerously growing dependence on RU).
The result is self-evident. My current electricity bill in Switzerland (One of the countries with the highest cost of living after all) is 1/3 of what I used to pay for an intermittent supply in California.
America's dependence on fossil fuels is truly catastrophic, as on one hand exploration and further development of its own reserves, which would quite actually be significant, are hampered in every conceivable way by the current administration, while on the other hand the cost of aggressively expanding the public transportation network today has become pretty much cost prohibitive (consider also the current debth situation). While the systems in Europe grew organically, America's network stagnated or shrunk and investments were marginal at best. The cost of implementation of a comparable system would by now require a national effort of historical proportions, not likely possible, the current national debth considered.
Develoment of alternative sources is not being considered as mission-critical, proven by the recent lip service given by the Obama Admin (30 years for a handful of Nuclear Plants and ludicrouos little funds being allocated to this effort, even though promised by Obama, when talking about "Energy Independence").
The US still import 40% of their oil from chronically conflict-laden regions (Kuweit, Saudi Arabia etc.), thus being forced to maintain costly engagements in these regions in order to stabilize them and to prevent the supply chain from being interrupted. Therefore, cost of energy is continuously rising, further damaging the economy and prolonging an otherwise short, normal downturn or recession unnecessarily - with tragic consequences on so many levels.
On this dimension America has clearly become the victim of a vicious circle, out of which there seems to be no escape.
The energy industry, which could be one of the few remaining possible generators for jobs, is being handcuffed, even though this one sector alone could produce an outright boom, if allowed for instance to develop shale oil reserves in areas like Dakota or Wyoming. From off-shore reserves in Florida to Alaska, ample supply of oil and gas has already been explored, albeit the energy sector is not empowered to take advantage of them, whilst foreign countries are drilling off-shore America.
With a consequent, aggressive and environmentally conscious development of those resources, good for 100 years at current consumption rates after all, a painless transition to alternative fuels could be accomplished, but the Obama Admin seems to have utterly diffrent priorities.
The consequences are dire on, alas, so many levels and dimensions of the economy. The more the energy cost go up, the higher the prices for goods will rise, which in turn will again significantly impact the unemployment situation and the economy overall. Did I mention the impact on our debth and the danger of hyperinflation? Further costly longterm engagements in the chronically unstable middle east for instance will further contribute to the deficit, and with 40 % of our need imported every single year, with a logically increasing price per barrel, due to dwindling resources there as well, those 700B per year we hand over to the Saudis et al will soon become >1TR.
Not only could America eliminate that transfer of funds and at the same time reduce costly (military) engagements, but quite actually jobs on a massive scale coul dbe generated and, heck, energy could be exported and thus domestic wealth could be generated - wealth we could use to balancing the strained budget, which is at present at a surreal level of - 1.4 TR, any further planned spending increases, such as HC or the Jobs Bill not even considered.
Due to rising prices for domestically produced goods, increasingly, cheap Chinese products swamp the market, as anyone may have observed already, when shopping for instance at Walmart. Since China does not adhere to the same frame conditions in terms of labor, unions, environment, safety and quality, thus their cost of production is significantly lower than the US competition's, which is forced to produce within a stringent quality, safety andf regulatory environment, even imported consumer goods are being sold to the US consumer at a fraction of the price any domestic manufacturer can manage. Caught in the brutal mechanism of a causal chain, the resulting shift of entire industries to Asia leads to further contraction of the ecomomy, rising unemployment rates and a consumer market, forced even more to shop, considering price alone, hence more of exaxctly those goods are sold, which in turn again erode the local economy.... and the vicious circle continues.
The US has an >1TR trade deficit with China alone (over 5 years) creating an outright economical boom there, while in the US entire industries go the way of extinction, adding once again to the problem of unemployment which by now, all aspects considered ( longterm, undocumented etc.) hovers around effective 16% nationwide and 20% in states, such as Michigan or California - The highest real unemployment rate since the great depression and a desaster of catastrophic proportions, further aggravated by the fact that the Obama Admin until recently failed to acknowledge it, let alone tried to address with urgency.
And yes, the vicious circle also has dire consequences on our debth, the interest alone soon exceeding the yearly budget for national security, burdening every single citizen with 400k per individual.
1.2. Structural Design Flaws -
Education and Apprenticeship
America's education problems are not primarily based upon its admittedly imperfect school system, which is fragmented, heterogenouos and providing the children with differing levels of quality, depending on the region or town. While its elementary school system offers in fact much room for improvement, America still leads the pack in terms of its universities, producing leading academics and the single most amount of filed patents and Nobel price winners year after year.
Where however America severely lags behind, is the area of professional education, due to an inexisting apprenticeship system. The average industrial worker is provided with a few weeks of "on-the-job-training" at best. The labor force hence can objectively no longer be considered as that much more qualifed, as the one found in until recently antiquated Chinese factories and any conceivable headstart is dwindling fast. In America the quality of workmanship is utterly left to the initiative of the individual or the business in particular.
While America's society is indeed founded upon free markets and minimal interference by the government, here's an area, where indeed federal standards and regulations could positively impact the quality and output of its workforce.
Compare quality of workmanship and productivity in almost all professions with Europe, and you will be appaled by the findings. Not really that astounding, if one considers that any baker, hairdresser, mason, carpenter, welder, machinist et al in Europe has to go through a standardized 4 years of professional education, justifying a higher cost of labor due to added value in quality and superior productivity per hour, in turn allowing for lesser work week hours and more holidays and vacations.
The gap is not manifested in the sector of higher (college) education, it lays in the training of the workforce. While Obama talks about higher teacher's salaries and strengthens the corresponding unions and clamors about the public school system, the priority should lay upon the implementation of professional education, as practized for instance in Switzerland.
Aggravating this structural design flaw, fair competition, a cornerstone of the American Dream, is further compromised by stringent domestic, self-imposed legislation with regard to environment, safety, quality and health in combination with at times artificially inflated (unions) cost of labor, as seen in the automotive sector, to name one example.
In low production cost countries, such as China, India or Mexico, few such limiting frame conditions and cost increasing hurdles exist or are being adhered to, which is why entire industries out of the consumer goods sector (textile, shoes, socks, ceramics, kitchenware eg) have in the meantime gone the way of extinction in the US.
This problem has various dimensions and consequences. China's economy booms at the cost of enviromental and societal catastropies within, while the US economy contracts, joyfully financing the rise of yet another totalitary, collectivistic system to an economical powerhouse.
Instead of displaying a minimum level of self-confidence and an honest effort to insist on "fair" competition up to, and not limited to trade barriers, Kotaus and bending to the will of the new bully are the rule, who understandably acts empowered and with the corresponding arrogance. It was after all China, who single-handedly brought down the Kopenhagen Summit and keeps on preventing the already paralyzed UN from enacting any meaningful sanctions vs, IRAN's nuclear ambitions.
Clamoring defeatedly about the Chinese "holding much of our debth", American politicians neglect to see the symbiotic relationship with this country. Without our consumer market, purchasing their products, its economy would collapse like a house of cards. The Chinese after all do not export one single truly important product, such as food, energy or key resources, but only cheap consumer goods.
Ironically and sadly, it is in fact us, who finance and support a regime bent on undermining the American way of life. Even more deplorable, the current Administration bends over and bows to exactly the ones bleeding us economically dry. Almost Christian and funny, if it wasn't so tragic.
The Chinese historically think and plan in generations. While China is improving their manufacturing infrastructure and is, financed mainly by the US consumer, aggressively modernizing its industrial production, America loses further ground, as in fact the quality of its labor force becomes less and less superior in lieu of any form of an apprenticeship system of the likes of Switzerland.
This deplorable trend makes it for American manufacturers increasingly difficult to compete, using the selling argument of "added value" and "quality of production".
Have you ever asked yourself, why the Swiss can sell an Army Knife for 136$ and do so successfully?
The Swiss with its federally mandated, standardized, legislated and supervised apprenticeship system became able offer goods of consistently high quality, establishing not only the corresponding image, but confirming it year after year.
Every single individual pursuing a blue color profession, has to undergo 4 years of industry specific, professional education, resulting in (example transposed to the US) the fact, that a mason out of deep south Alabama will deliver the very same highest quality work, as a mason out of New York state. The resulting high standard of quality of workmanship, available to the same extent in every single corner of the country, justifies the higher price to the end-user. The resulting exceptional productivity per worker allows the corporations to compensate the force accordingly and still operate on sound financials.
Modern marketing has proven that for most customer's buying decisions, the price/performance relationship, meaning true added value, is as important and successful as the selling argument of price alone. In other words, customer will buy a more expensive product/service, if the value corresponds to its price.
By the way - the Swiss - this very year of worldwide crisis - posted a budget surplus and at present manifest an unemployment rate of 4.4% with a strong going industrial manufacturing/export sector, compared to the ailing US export domain, which ironically would be strongly assisted by the lowest Dollar value in history, making US exports as cheap as never before. In fact, many efforts can be monitored to make the Euro the currency of choice, which would yet again result in severe impacts to the American economy.
There is no reason, why the US export industry should at present suffer, yet it contracts nevertheless in context and in parallel to the overall economy. Why?
Since the Chinese ( and Indians) are quick learning and modernize aggressively, financed mainly by the US consumer market, America is rapidly losing the argument and market share, due to higher prices for comparable goods. As the consumer technology sector has shown, the Asians move fast with booming domestic manufacturing, while the domestic productive sector shrinks and unemplyment rates rise.
To mention another dimension and cause of this downwards trend under the current administration, Trade Unions enjoy massive protection, resulting in even more difficult competitive positions, as for instance manifested in the automotive industry.
GM labor, unionized, costs still around $70/hour, while domestically at Hyundai or Toyota non-unionized workers earn about half the wage. An "impossible" competitive situation for GM is the logical consequence, as these manufacturers are - due to sheer market pressure - forced to offer the same price levels for comparable cars, while at the same time incurring significantly higher cost of production, due to double the labor cost. While liberals and Democrats pointed fingers at "bad management", the root cause for the downwards spirale of this industry must predominatly be attributed to inflated cost of labor.
60B of our tax Dollars later, the issue has not been addressed by the current administration and GM is as bancrupt as before.
You might as well have thrown all this money out the window, Mr. Obama, since symptom fighting and buying of time seems to be more important to you, than addressing the root cause of the problem. God help us, once, the Chinese and Indians, as foreseeable and planned, will enter the US market with their own automobiles....
the demise of yet another US key industry will be an unavoidable consequence, accompanied by yet another explosion of the unemployed rate, to name just one painful aspect.
America will thus lose yet another engine of innovation, technology and job creation - another historical pillar of our economy will have gone for good.
In conclusion to this chapter, the lack of any federally mandated and regulated apprenticeship system and professional education will undoubtedly further undermine the domestic economy's ability to successfully compete with low labor cost markets.
Industrial manufacturing has historically been one of the motors of America's prosperity, albeit, the country, assisted by current political ideology and policy, is rapidly transforming itself (or is being forcefully transformed by an interventionistic domestic policy) into a third sector country (services, entertainment, tourism, banking, insurances etc.), but, as opposed to mentioned Switzerland, America is not designed on any dimension of its society to successfully migrate to such a system.
America is not Europe, but socio-demographically built and founded to be a hotbed for innovation, ingenuity, technology, competitition, free markets, and free spirit. The eroding outlet of a manufacturing sector will prove to be fatal.
1.3. Structural Design Flaws - Immigration and Assimilation
Why invent the wheel from scratch, if there are templates of successful immigration and assimilation models available?
Look again at Switzerland:
This country, modelled in many ways according to the principles of the American Constitution and the same societal system our Founding Fathers envisioned, can serve as a great example of successful nation building in spite of exceptionally high percentages of immigrants and foreigners.
Switzerland has per capita the highest percentage of aliens and minorities exceeding 25% of the population overall.
Albeit, there are no ghettos in the cities, whole city blocks of Chinese, Vietnamese, or Hispanics, to name some examples, where oftentimes the national language is neither spoken, nor understood anymore.
There is no excessive catering to minorities, like for instance shooling children in elementary school in their native language, then at College levels suddenly demanding the national language to be the standard and thus creating consequently a 2 class society by literally preventing minorities from achieving a higher education. There are no whole city blocks with street signs in different languages, in effect entire enclaves of foreign cultures and societies, at any given time and cause ready to erupt in racial riots and conflict.
25% foreigners and aliens live peacefully and highly integrated in this country, as opposed to the fractured society in America, where oftentimes entire subcultures have lost any sense of an American national identity.
In Switzerland all aliens will initially for a short period of time be given assistance to learn one of the declared national languages, but after that, one speaks and teaches in that one language all the way to university.
There is a clear legal obligation to assimilate and observe the local rules, traditions and conduct. No exceptions. You come to Switzerland, you must adapt. There are no Muslim or Jewish Holidays, but only the ones, in place for centuries, based upon the prevalent tradition of its judeo-christian history.
If you come to America, you can remain a "foreigner" and live in your own little enclave, never to be forced to learn a word of English. Once any minority passes the treshold of sufficient numbers, yet another enclave can be formed.
A visitor to New York from Boise, Idaho, may very well feel as foreign there, as if he visited China itself. You visit Koreatown in LA, you'll be hard pressed to find a person speaking English.
Does this lend itself to forming a national identity and a homogenous society?
In Switzerland an undocumented alien would never be eligible to obtain a driver's license or a soc sec number. Bad behavior, such as entering the country illegally, is not rewarded with amnesties and appeasement, but is prosecuted as a criminal offense with subsequent deportation, unless proven harmful for the individual.
In America, rewarding bad behavior seems to have become the norm with a society more and more dominated by Moral Relativism.
Breaking immigration laws is nowadays a commonly accepted minor offense. If you just wait long enough, you will surely get an amnesty, driven home by liberal organisations like the ACLU and special interest groups, increasingly dominating the efforts to implement and enforce much of existing and planned leglislation.
In conclusion to this chapter, why invent the wheel anew? Why not follow feasible and proven templates in terms of immigration and structure of the society, resulting in much less fragmentation and a much higher level of homogenity and be enabled to focus on other critical issues instead?
If the American People want to institute Spanish as second US national language, by all means, but let it be done legally by way of a constitutional amendment, not beneath the radar of the law and simply due to sheer pressure or facts of demography.
The design flaw is manifested in the fact, that there are existing laws, procedures and legal processes for immigration, yet the government's will to enforce them seems to be absent, politicians bowing to interest groups and minorities.
In the US we reward bad behaviour and then act astonished, when more of it is happening.
As an immigrant who went through the entire legal process of naturalization, lasting 12 years and costing a lot of money, time and paperwork, one can not help, but feel stupid, cheated and disenfranchised. Is it therefore really that surprising to see moral relativism on the rise throughout the fabric of society?
Evidently, in once noble America, it has become acceptable to ignore all the traditional rules of conduct in terms of ethics, honesty, respect, patriotism and morality.
1.4 Structural design flaws - The decay of fundamental principles of the constitution - The 1st Amendment
While the Founding Fathers clearly intended to secure all minorities, sects and cults the right to exercise their religion freely without ever being persecuted, especially , since the majority of the 19th century immigrants escaped various degrees of oppression in Europe, it was - a very little known fact - their intention to base the American Society upon a fundament of the lowest common denominator of the Judeo-Christian belief system.
Enlightened, as they were, they were acutely aware of the fact, that the American Vision could only come true, if basic principles of morale and conduct, like for instance the Ten Commandments, which are in one way or another part of all Christian denominations, became the moral compass for life in America. It also explains a much higher importance of religion in America up to this day compared to Europe.
The Founding Fathers envisioned a free society, based upon the fundamental basic principles of Judeo-Christianity - simple rules of conduct, common sense, ethics, law and behaviour, all Christian denominations could easily agree upon.
As much, as the ACLU for instance may protest, The Founding Fathers did not intend to create a secular society with the absence of any such standards and rules of conduct, but instead believed strongly in a deep penetration of those moral principles of Christianity throughout the fabric of the American society as a backbone of expansion and prosperity, while guaranteeing any other religion, such as Islam, the right to exist without fear of oppression.
Having said that, it was never the intention of the authors of our consitution to see Freedom of Religion being perverted by organizatons, such as the ACLU, which with its fanatical, almost sectarian atheistic ideology, strives to eliminate all references to basic common sense principles out of any manifestation, which could remotely be attributed to the government (Dollar Bill, Pledge of Allegiance, Crosses in the landscape, 10 Commandments in Court Houses etc.)
In fact, the Founding Fathers promoted the teachings of the principles of basic Judeo-Christian morality in elementary school, and for some time, during the longest periods of prosperity and expansion, it became common rule of raising children with the noble intention to equip them from childhood on with a moral compass of decency, morality and fairness.
Nowadays, due to (ludicrous and frivolous) lawsuits, brought about by minorities, sects and "liberal"organizations like the ACLU, successfully mis-interpreting the intents of our constitution and using the First Amendment as a "legal weapon", the resulting deficit of any such education has eroded the very fabric, this once so noble country was founded upon.
The aforementioned moral relativism has thus taken hold throughout almost all aspects of public life (Government, Politics, Media down to the behaviour of the common man.)
Egotism, cheating, backstabbing, slandering, smearing, lying, corruption on every level has become the accepted, tolerated behaviour. The surrealism of this trend has gone so far, that for instance Dr. Dobson's "Character Counts" initiatives are being depicted and slandered as right wing conservative, and lawsuits are being filed to prevent adverts and commercials, promoting those very basic principles, claiming them to be "discriminatory" or undermining the constitution and separation of church and state with a religious undertone.
reading Paul Johnson's History of the American People, Freedom of Religion was meant to be Freedom from persecution and oppression, not a secular society and the right to force it to adapt to and adopting of the habits, culture or religion of any exotic sect or ideology.
Here again, using Switzerland as an example, the Swiss recently, "politically incorrectly" rose up, used their tools of direct democracy (People's Referendum) and voted any such effort down (Minarette Initiative) - something the American People are not empowered or used to do.
While the texst of the initiative (proposition) was redundant and irrelevant, ridiculed by the intelligentsia domestic and foreign, the Swiss stood their ground against a cultural and societal foreign minority (Muslims), which was indeed trying to change the country from within, which is, by the way, an openly declared strategy of all islamists.
1.5. Structural design flaws - leading by example or
teaching bad behaviour
Yet another structural design flaw of the American Society is its immediate gratification, consumer mentality, nurtured by governments and administrations leading the charge.
If it is acceptable for the government to incur unsustainable debths and behave irresponsibly, why should the populus believe and act differently?
Common sense evidently left the building, when companies go broke, then will be bailed out, individuals buy property they can never afford, then deflect responsibility, when being indebthed is no longer a stigma, but becomes the norm, when market forces are no longer enabled to balance out the swings, and the gov will interfere on every level and dimension, thus aggravating an already disastrous situation.
One only needs to study the comparably short American History to ascertain, that big government, big spending, government intervensionism a la Keynes, social engineering and redistribution of wealth have always proven to be disastrous for the American Way of Life.
Whenever markets were allowed to operate freely, regulate themselves, and administrations pursued a course of fiscal responsibility and frugality with minimum interference, exactly as our Founding Fathers envisioned, America experienced the longest periods of prosperity and domestic stability.
The duration of The Great Depression, sorry Mr. Roosevelt, was a result of such policies, which prolonged an otherwise bearable downturn of the economy and caused it to develop into the aforementioned 10 year depression.
But, instead of learning from failed experiments of the past, the very experiments, which have proven in America, as in most European countries to be contra-productive, are being repeated.
Sadly the definition of "dumb", where one tries the same thing again and again and expects a different outcome every time, comes to mind.
America has become a society of moral relativists, where news reporting is slandering and spinning, where 70% of the population is obese, where 50% carry a credit card debth of several thousand Dollars at any given month, and where 70% of students freely admit to cheat.
Have you ever watched reality TV of the likes of Big Brother, Survivor and The Apprentice? Have you paid attention to the fact, that winners of the game in the vast majority were never honest, ethical and true to their word? As yet another symptom of the illness of our society, Reality TV with millions of viewers teaches the next generation obviously, that only by cheating, backstabbing, lying, the breaking of words of honor and promises the "game can be won". The most dishonest, unethical backstabbing individuals - the ugly American - is being shamelessly celebrated and rewarded. What a contrast to Australian shows, where nice guys do not finish last and traditional anglo-saxon principles of fairness, respect and politeness still govern. Few people and personalities seem to grasp how America thus raises a generation of morally corrupt individuals.
America has also become a country of lawyers and ludicrous law suits, where a company can be frivolously sued for too hot coffee, where Doctors have to carry a 200k/year liability insurance, where money is wasted in lawsuits to eliminate "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, where the rich get off, when committing capital crimes, where nowadays reverse discrimination (African Americans demanding to be treated differently from other workers) is the norm, where murderers get off due to "technicalities", where terrorists are being granted show trials, where a generation of weak politicians without any vision for the future has risen to power.
Has America become a country, deeply bancrupt morally, as well as financially?
Who ever watched Olbermann rant and throw expletives at former Presidents on primetime MSNBC, may well come to this conclusion. Governors admitting to drugs and hookers, are still in office. Role models deeply entangled in corruption and etics standards violations, the selling of senate seats, pork barrel spending and special interests seemingly dominating the political process, Voter law violations commited by "community organizers" like ACORN, Comedians in the Senate like Franken, fanatic neo-fashist priests ranting on TV, calling for class warfare, a society where one has to use a different language for blacks than for whites to avoid allegations of racial discrimination and scandal after scandal within a seemingly utterly disconnected political elite in Washington.
This is not, what the founding fathers envisioned. This is corruption of all their values, ethics and principles. A deep seated form of decay, which may well prove to contribute to the end of the American Dream.
DC has become a swamp of special interests, corruption and pork. Votes are being "bought" and, as the current Healh Care debate demonstrates, the voice of the people is no longer being represented by its representatives. It is okay to bend the law or interprete the constitution according to any policial viewpoint. Since the government leads the charge of bad examples, how can one expect the American People to apply basic comon sense? If DC tries to spend itself out of debth, how can one expect the normal citizen to behave responsibly? If politicians, heck our current President, bearer of so much hope, lie outright (transparency, bipartisanship, taxes, energy, to name just a few areas) why should it not be opportun for Joe Blow to behave in the same manner?
The mainstream media is a heavy contributor to the deplorable Moral Relativism, prevalent in todays American Society.
Hard news reporting has morphed into opinion making. News anchors get "tingely feelings up the leg" (Mathews MSNBC), slam former Presidents without a slither of class and respect (Olbermann MSNBC, Hannity, Fox), basic politeness has become a foreign notion, and the media nowadays makes news, spins news and promotes ideology, abandoned even the impression and intent of informing people of the news in a fair, unbiased and objective manner.
Formerly reputable Newsorgs like CNN have become blatantly biased towards one party agenda, and even comedians like Letterman, Steward or Colbert seem to promote a specific ideology and agenda.
The anglo-saxon principle of fairness and balance, once so prevalent in this country, is completely out the window.
Having watched the "Daily Show" over a period of 10 weeks, 90% of the jokes were at the expense of conservatives, Republicans or Palin. This can no longer be considered as humor, comedy, satyre or entertainment.... but must objectively be qualified as indoctrination in its most subtle and heinous form, as it sneaks up on you from behind a mantle of harmless laughter.
Heck, I myself consider Mrs. Palin as a political and intellectual lightweight, never in a million years suited to perform the duties of our Commander In Chief. But the degree of ridicule, slander and smearing, this woman had to endure from the media in utter disrespect of her factual achievements, is appaling, if not disgusting.
Is it really so surprising that more and more people are asking for a "Fairness Doctrine"? Apart from the fact that this would raise the Freedom Of Press and Speech Defenders, hence be a dead issue from the get go, it constitutes a sad testimony to the low levels of class, America has lowered itself.
Does this political, cultural and medial environment lend itself to forming an educated, morally sound next generation, or are people being taught to follow bad behaviour?
You be the judge.
1.6. Structural Design Flaws - The Financial Market Crash
While we in general promote a philosophy of free markets, de-regulation, minimal government interference and competition, all of which have proven to improve products, services and prices for the consumer, and provided for the longest periods of prosperity and a stable, healthy domestic economy, abforementioned decay of morale and lack of "intelligent", common sense guided regulation and oversight over the financial markets, such as for instance instituted successfully in Switzerland, have led to the current crisis and initiated the present recession.
Here again, the US only needed to look back at their own history to realize, how overheated speculation, corporate greed and inflated projections, combined with the mentioned immediate gratification, irresponsible consumer mentality, always ended up in stock exchange panics, recessions and at times brutal market corrections and contractions.
In Switzerland credit is based upon lack of debth and a carefully examined ability to repay any loan within a reasonable period, while in the US, the more debth one carries, the better the credit rating gets, as long as minimum payments are made.
That's a fundamental system flaw, defying any common sense. In the private sector, e.g the housing market, it led to the surreal situation, where the commoner became by banks and lending firms empowered and aggressively assisted (marketing) to overburden the individual private household with real estate and credit card debth. Not uncommon, mortgage payments at ideal prime rate/interest conditions could easily amount to 80% of the household income.
Not surpsingly a 1/2 point prime rate increase would immediately result in bancruptcies on a scale unheard of in American history.
Once again using Switzerland, as a template for intelligent lending regulation, a private household cannot incur a real estate burden of over 30% of the household income and must be able to make on average a 25% downpayment on the overall loan. Thus any unforeseeable change, such as an energy crisis or interest increase will not immediately result in a collapse of the housing market.
In America the combination of ignoring basic financial system regulation with the irresponsible behavior of the commoner, incurring huge amounts of private debth - then the aggravation of this situation by the almost logical correction of an over-heated market, combined with a recession, as they periodically occur, the bubble simply had to burst, resulting in a massive contraction/correction of the finance sector with a catastrophic impact on the overall economy.
Both the Republicans as well as Democrats would have to share the responsibility for the implosion. It would be too simplistic to just point fingers at the traditional conservative position of de-regulating markets, as for instance in 2006 republican efforts to implement tighter oversight, was voted down by a democrat dominated congress. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were (failed) liberal social engineering initiatives, while conservative platforms over decades most definitely must be held accountable too for corporate greed and irresponsibility in this backbone sector for the domestic economy.
Examining campaign contributions by banks and financial institutions, amongst the top ten recipients of these funds, several high ranking democrats would be found (Obama, Clinton, Reid, Dodd, Kerry and heck - even Kennedy). The outrage by exactly those politicians about "corporate greed", boni for executives and the making of corporate profit, seems hyppocritical at best.
De-regulation in the vast majority of sectors and industries has led to competition, decreasing prices and better service. That's a fact.
Whereas I used to pay 380$ per month in telephone bills, I nowadays call worldwide for $30 per month, car insurance, formerly at $1000/6months, can be procured nowadays for 200$ - in most sectors, where competition and free markets were allowed to function, prices came down or remained at a low level, while service levels improved. And - these corporations still made profit.
Hence, the current admin's efforts to villifying making profit and being successful is not only fundamentally unamerican, they are unjustified and driven by a socialist ideology. The liberals in the white house and in congress cynically created a new 'enemy", called corporate greed and "big business" in utter negligence of the fact , how overall the policies of minimal interference, de-regulation and free markets have clearly proven to be the right recipe for the American society and economy. Under-regulating one admittedly important industry with subsequent catastrophic consequences, does not warrant hammering the entire productive private sector into the ground.
Have we all forgotten, that this country was propelled to become the 20th century super power by leaders, such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegy, Thompson, its inventors, such as Morse, Edison, Franklyn and finally the free, unhampered spirit and ingenuity of its citizens?
Because visionary admins and political leaders refrained from interfering on a massive scale into the dealings and businesses of the American people, but provided for a government as intended by our Founding Fathers, channeling the immens energy of the "melting pot" of pioneers, rather than preventing it from leaping forward freely, this exceptional nation prospered on every dimension, culturally, economically, philosophically and politically.
America came to be after all because of a deep-rooted aversion against central government, monarchies, rigid structures, oppression and classes. Escaping European style systems and societies, why in the Name of God would the 21th century generation want to abandon the principles of meritocracy and adopt ideas from failed experiments from Germany to Russia?
Why, Mr. Obama is it so hard for you to acknowledge the American Exceptionalism?
In its truest sense of the expression, it does not mean that we are better than others or should display arrogance. It means that we are unique in terms of our making of the society and the values the nation was built upon.
There is no shame in the expression, but we ought to be proud of it and build upon it.
II. The Perfect Storm -
The current Administration - The great Depression II
2.1 President Obama
Our president does not seem to accept and acknowledge factual public opinion, but in all due respect seems to consider his people as dumb. The current HC Reform debate examplifies the above tragic statement and is evidenced by his openly communicated conclusion - typical for ideologues - that it is not the message being wrong, but that his explanation of it to the people was insufficient.
How many more explanations and speeches will it take for him to understand, that The American People very much understood the message?
In a way genuine, albeit misguided, he truly believes that he hasn't lectured enough instead of considering, that maybe, just maybe, the sovereign may not share his views. As the most revealing example shows, 17% in the majority the people disagree with him on Health Care, and he still is convinced, its the packaging of the message and not the message itself. Please, Mr. Obama, give your sovereign some credit and respect to listen and act according to the people's will.
The result of the above is utter disenfranchisment of the people with the political process. Where once the people were engaged, uplifted, motivated to partake in the political process to a way higher extent, than usually found in old Europe, they nowadays walk away from it in masses and in disgust.
Can anyone blame them?
During a radio talk show, the listeners were asked, what they considered as being key to being a great communicator, why Reagan was considered as such and , if Obama should be qualified the same way.
Well, communication skills are in the business world considered as integral part of leadership skills. As elementary part of every job interview for executives, these abilities are usually thoroughly examined. Common conclusion shows, that communication skills are not only comprised of the ability to framing ideas and speaking eloquently to them, but must be qualified as a two-way process with listening as at least as important as talking.
Reagan hence, all things considered, was undoubtedly a great communicator. Excellent rethorical abilities, combined with obvious listening skills, talking to, and not down to people, using a straight forward language, as opposed to sophisticated lawyer terminology with disclaimers at the end of every statement, Reagan never appeared to be lecturing from a pedestal, but, utilizing a fair amount of self-depreciating humor, came across as humble and "one of us" in almost every response to critical questions of the American People at the time.
Having said that, he would never shy away to make himself very clear, when needed, even, if that meant an outcry of protest from the opposition (e.g. evil empire) at times. The American People appreciated him calling a spade a spade and being a so called "straight shooter". We understood the man, and he seemed to understand us.
Obama in comparison undoubtedly must be qualified as a gifted speaker in the tradition of the many great black tele evangelists. He is possibly the greatest campaigner of all times and a lecturer of professorial stature.
But, as opposed to Reagan, he oftentimes talks much without saying anything of substance and consequence. He is an attorney and it shows in his speaking style and vocabulary. Since lawyers rarely use absolute statements, which is why the language of contracts and legal documents is so difficult to understand, Obama finds himself often having difficulties communicating with the commoner.
Haven't we all experienced after one of those beautifully crafted , perfectly delivered long sentences, that one has to take a minute to ponder what the man actually said and meant?
Vis-a-vis the people he thus comes across as somewhat elitist, if not outright arrogant. Typical for attorneys, his comments and speeches are usually accompanied by the ever present disclaimer. Thus, the message is oftentimes perceived as unclear, hesitative and professorial in its "consideration" of any possible angle and viewpoint, is therefore difficult to understand and literally overwhelms the average listener.
Whilst the liberals and mainstram media spin his manner of communicating as moderate, considerate, sophisticated and even-handed, it could well be interpreted as a manifestation of lack of will and courage to take a clear stand. The perception of "mixed signals and messages" also irritates and infuriates political allies and foes alike, ever allowing for interpretation (Iran, China, RU, NK etc.) whereas a clear message would lead to an image of strength and conviction as basis for any successful foreign policy and diplomacy.
In other words, if one can extrapolate and foresee, how the US President will react to any given circumstances, no regime or tyrant will continuously try to "push the envelope", as demonstrated by IRAN during the recent past. Where consequences are clearly communicated, experiments and dangerous developments are usually avoided. With people like Reagan in power, friends and foes alike knew at all times, what to expect.
History has proven, that, if rogue regimes are not being given clear messages and signals, they historically pushed forward with often tragic consequences, as the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich demonstrated. Appeasement and mixed signals, nobly intended to avoid conflicts and war, in the end usually resulted in much bigger catastrophies, confirming the foreign policy rule of "unintended consequences".
The art of diplomacy is not to promise everyone everything and sending out mixed signals, but to offer clear stands, vision and causal chains of consequences to be expected with any given route of action - it is called Predicability.
Lack of predictability leads to confusion, chaos and conflict. Lack of predictability leads to adventures, war and suffering. Lack of predictability leads to a perception of weakness and indecisiveness and lack of predictability oftentimes resulted in unintended consequences.
Fact : Lack of predictability led to WWII and 50 Mio deaths.
Communication means listening. Nowadays, with all those opinion polls available, one would think that the politicians were aware of the mood of the people at any given time. One would assume that this would facilitate them representing their constituency. Alas, As HC reform demonstrates yet again, where a significant majority of the people do not want the government to take over/overregulate yet another so far healthy, job creating industry, current consideration of ramming this huge, huge package down the people's throats by means of reconciliation and single majority, proves the disconnect and arrogance of our leaders.
It is behavior, dictated by the purest definition of Fanaticism and Ideology. When leaders patronize us, tell us, what we want, instead of asking us, what we want, society steps upon a slippery slope.
Those increasingly precise polls allow the 21th century politician to know exactly, how we feel, albeit it seems they decide to ignore the souvereign's will blatantly nevertheless. In fact, most of us want a common sense reform, consisting of a combination of ideas from both the democratic and republican side.
First, as within the private sector provenly successful, when trying to turn around a marode enterprise, we want to streamline and optimize the current system and first take advantage of all cost reduction opportunities, of which there are many. Then, and only then should we consider any kind of expansion and cost increases. What makes sense with any standard business turn -around strategy, seems to be ignored by the current administration, which intends to instituting "reform" and propping up spending on top of an already fundamentally flawed system.
There would be ample room for savings and improvement with ideas from both the Democrats, as well as Republicans. We would support competition across state lines, but we wanted an end to these ridiculous lawsuits too, which add every year Billions of Dollars to the cost of HC. Eliminating fraud, implementing a strong Tort reform, competition, streamlining FDA, thus reducing the cost of medication - all of these measures would improve the overall system massively, reduce significant cost and eliminate the "need" for a government managed HC, which after all is an experiment, which has been tried by several European countries in the past - all with apalling results.
First, cut the cost by taking advantage of all aforementioned areas of improvement, then let's talk about expanded services... not the other way around. Show me one single government managed sector, and I show you inefficiency, bureaucracy, sky-rocketing cost and crappy service. Why then repeat the mistakes from the past?
Obama is still campaigning and has forgotten, that at some point one must lead. One year after his election victory based upon change and hope, not one substantial achievement has been accomplished. During the first year of a hyped presidency with a super majority at his disposal, nothing, absolutely nothing got done. His free fall popularity ratings prove that the American People just about had enough of empty promises and speeches, but want to see some action and results.
History has shown, how Kenyesian interventionism and social engineering has severly impacted the health and prosperity of the country negatively, for instance resulting in prolonging of the great depression to almost 10 years.
Whenever Presidents abandoned the principles of free market forces, competition, innovation and ingenuity, expanded government, over-regulated and abandoned fiscal responsibility, the American economy contracted. Why these lessons are now being ignored yet again, can only baffle the objective observer. The Mandchurian Candidate conspiracy theory comes to mind with Obama being an enemy of the state, placed as sleeper agent by a foreign country.
A true enemy of America, placed in the White House could not have done more damage to the nation than what is already in process. In many ways his actions and intentions would then at least follow some sort of logic.
During the first year of the Obama Admin the vast majority of the "Stimulus" money has been alllocated to the unproductive sector of the nation's economy. Companies like GM, by now having received 60B in Tax money, are as broke as ever, since the underlying root cause (labor cost) has not been addressed in any way. That money is lost and the American automotive industry is going to collapse, once Toyota recovered from their stumble, and the Chinese and Indians enter the market with 10k Cars.
With regard to Energy, all we got so far, is lip service and a few preliminary plans for additional nuclear power with impact on a dismal situation in 30 years at best... In every sense conceivable, energy companies have been villified and handcuffed by this administration, as if profit would be something to be ashamed about.
Urgently needed exploration and development of existing resources seem to be impossible under this administration. While industrial manufacturing is contracting or shifting to China, aggravated by terrible ideas , such as Cap n' Trade, the energy industry could absorb some of the many unemployed, if allowed to expand and invest and prosper.
By now, with 16% unemployed (offical statistics of the ones applying for or receiving benefits plus estimates of longterm and undocumented aliens), Obama focused most of his first year on HC reform, a doomed social engineering initiative, which will further explode an already unsustainable debth situation.
Bloomberg reported this week that the debth has risen to 1.4TR. Never before has a nation burdened itself to this extent, albeit further spending is currently promoted. This is no longer just a catastrophy- it is suicide on a nationwide scale with misery of proportions to follow, the great depression will pale in comparison.
In conclusion to this chapter, Obama evidently has a different set of priorities than the American people.
Instead of focusing his efforts on the economy, basis for all progress after all, he engaged in social engineering initiatives, expanding the government and strengthening the unproductive sector of the society. The national debth is at an outrageous level (HC not considered) , which generations of Americans will not be able to balance. Instead of a national effort instituting a true strategy towards energy independence as promised after all, only fractions of the "stimulus" have actually been allocated towards it. With Kotau after Kotau vs. the Chinese for instance, while until very recently considering unemployment as side issue, he would have to create during 8 years of tenure 400k jobs per month, to balance out the current unemployment. Burdening US businesses to the brink of collapse with a variety of (hidden) taxes, hence furthering the contraction of one sector after another, where can these masses of unemployed possibly be absorbed?
The unemployment will according to the vicious circle consequently lead to further tax increases, in order to finance the outrageous spending initiatives - heck to keep the country afloat, and still a majority of the media sits tightly and snugly in the Obama tank, clamoring about the Republicans, the party of NO, while neglecting to mention the tiny fact, that the President has a waterproof majority in Congress and nevertheless was unable to accomplish anything of note.
Other than massive debth increases with a foreseeable high inflation rate, we have not seen anything substantive so far. Even though the people seem to slowly grasp the level of incompetence of this inexperienced man and his fanatical ideological plutocracy of Pelosis, Reids, Boxers and Dodds, we have lost precious time already - time the Chinese and Russians are using efficiently to strengthen their positions in terms of economy as well as politically.
All in all, this administration and its unamerican policies have already thrown the country back - potentially irreversibly.
Instead of an aggressive Strategic National Energy Initiative, focus on the economy and unemployment, the nation and its administration lost precious time, palavering about Health Care, the treatment of enemy combattants and further spending.
Due to the lack of any vision and perspective in terms of our dire energy situation, America will be forced to remain in force at a high cost in the already volatile Middle East.
Dilettantic policy vs IRAN will further destabilize the Middle East, and, if Israel will, as foreseeable, be forced to unleish a preventive strike, more and more the seemingly last resort to avoid national suicide, America will subsequently be drawn into an even more costly engagement, if only in order to protect its life line of fossil fuels and corresponding supply chain.
Or does anyone even remotely doubt by now, that Achmadinejaad would not proliferate a nuke to Hamas or Hezbollah, who in turn without hesitation will use it?
Neither domestically, nor in terms of foreign policy had the current administration anything to offer so far, but words, promises and speeches. No substance, only form. That in itself is unamerican. Being currently in Europe, allow me to state, that there still is as much anti-americanism as before. Nobody takes Obama seriously, but many appreciate his rockstar image. Can you blame them? Compared to Putin, a politician of brutal macchiavellism, smarts and intelligence, Obama is perceived as a political lightweight.
As the recent rhetoric out of China proves, the very same sentiment is shared there too.
All things considered - we find ourselves in the middle of The Perfect Storm - will the ship survive?
The results and symptoms are obvious and scary.
With a friend in the White House, who takes this great country this close to the abyss, who needs enemies. Extrapolating from the very first year in office, I dread the balance of 4 entire years. Even a Republican landslide in November may not be enough to mitigate the damage this president has already done to our economy and our never before so polarized society.
III - How to survive The Perfect Storm - some rough ideas
What we would need is a visonary of the caliber of Churchill, willing to do the right thing, even when nobody looks, an inspiring individual, willing and courageous enough to tell us the truth and demand from us all severe sacrifice.
A Man who takes a stand and sticks to his guns. A man who talks less and does more. We do not need a lecturer, but a listener, as the people are much more educated, than we are being given credit for.
We need a fundamental reversal of the current trend toward socialism, interventionism, big government and social engineering. And we would need it yesterday.
We must immediately turn back towards fiscal responsibilty, entrepreneurship, self-responsibility and accountability and allow the markets to recover freely, as done so successfully in the past. We do need to find another Reagan, able to inspire us , move us and identify with him and his goals and vision for a once proud nation. We need a partner in the White House, not a teacher. Most of all, it is time to find a leader, who has the background, experience, professional competency and resume to speak to key issues clearly and with profound knowledge of vital issues.
As for myself, I'd rather have a not so good looking, not so good speaking, grumpy old guy like Gingrich there, than a fluffy tele-evangelist.
Give me substance - I just about had enough of style.
Like during the 60s, we, as Americans, need to be given a vision again, behind which we can unite. As the country united behind a president and a race to the moon, now a Strategic Energy Initiative, a true effort towards real independence from foreign sources, could become the common goal and mission.
We must incentivize and stimulate the private sector, instrad of hammering it into the ground, instituting tax decreases, which can be felt by all businesses thence stimulate job growth.
Instead of importing 700B/year of foreign oil, requiring the country to maintain expensive military presences in volatile regions, we should aggressively develop our own resources, while pushing alternative sources in any way shape or form possible. In this area alone we could save Billions on one end and make Billions on the other. It would be a win-win situation. Expanding the resources for electricity gneration aggressively (Nuklear Power e.g), we would be enabled within a foreseeable future to shift further fossile fuel consumption from manufacturing to transport, until a parallel effort to bring the public transportation system into the 21th century takes hold.
All the above would enable the productive sector to recover and generate jobs.
The above would also allow for additional revenue streams and balancing the budget. Thus rebooting the engines of the American economy, the foundation for renewed prosperity could be laid.
We must stop the government to take over entire industries, or support ailing sectors without prior addressing of the root causes.
We must as soon as possible implement a federally mandated and regulated apprenticeship system, enabling us to compete successfully with low labor cost countries.
We must find again a sense of self-confidence in our relations with countries, such as China. Up to and not limited to trade barriers, this country particularily must be "motivated" to cooperate in reducing a ludicrous trade deficit and estabilshing of Free but fair trade, which is the only basis for prosperity of both trade partners.
On the domestic side, a visionary leadership could again work towards a national identity by adopting smart immigration policies and supporting strong assimilation and integration efforts.
The very same leadership, leading again by example by instituting and enforcing stringent ethics standards, implementing full transparency in terms of proposed legislation, spending & budgets, special interests, lobby activities and pork barrel spending, implementing a fairness doctrine for the media and promoting the in the constitution envisioned moral values of Judeo-Christianity, abandoning the bowing to secular fanatics, could further stop the vicious circle of moral relativism and further decay of the fabric this noble - and yes, exceptional - society was attributed with.
All we needed to to in order to survive the perfect storm is to look back at our own history and its great leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs and thinkers.
We would not need to repeat the mistakes of other countries. By objectively accepting across party lines, what worked in the past so beautifully, acknowledging our history, written by a bunch of oppressed immigrants, adventurers and free spirits with a Christian background and prospering on basic principles of these belief systems, we would without a doubt come to the realization that America is neither Russia, nor Europe, not a society, where socialism and social engineering works, but a nation, where prosperity is based upon its individuals, not its government.
All we needed to do, is to revert back to the principles of our constitution and the vision of our Founding Fathers, be frugal, reasonable, guided by morale and common sense and most of all, be free to pursue happiness with the minimum amount of central government. I will admit, Ron Paul makes many strong arguments.
With the right leadership, initiating a "Third Enlightment", uniting the people behind a common goal and vision, The American People would surely buy into an upcoming very painful period of sacrifice, tightening the belt and righting this ship, as we could believe that our best days lay still ahead.
Without such a vision personified and carried by gifted and inspiring leaders in Washington, able to get the best out of us, this great, exceptional, noble society, which was built by its Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Morgans and Rockefellers, not by Presidents of the likes of Cleveland, Buchanans or Roosevelt, will implode in itself and fade into history as yet another failed experiment.
Am I a culture pessimist or a realist?