Monday, April 11, 2011
The Week In Review
It often seems to me that the constant flow of news diminishes our ability to take it all in and make sense of it. I was thinking about this as I read the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal last Saturday.
It was the day after the drama surrounding the potential shutdown of the federal government. At the eleventh hour, President Obama announced that an agreement had been struck to keep it going. What kind of government do we have that cannot create a budget for the year ahead and keep itself going in a rational fashion?
It wasn’t about funding, though. It was about the clash between the conservatives who want to save a government from further profligate spending and eventual doom, and the liberals who have controlled the Congress since 2006 when the general unhappiness with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other factors weakened confidence in the Bush administration..
The numbers tell the story. With Barack Obama installed in office, the debt has soared to levels that threaten the existence of the greatest republic on earth. Dick Morris, the political commentator, summed it up in October 2010. “From the moment George Washington took the oath of office until Obama did, America had borrowed $9 trillion, Under Obama, it has borrowed $3.2 trillion more, in less than two years”
Consider the advice of Cicero to the Roman Senate in 55 P.C., "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
In 2008, too conveniently just before the election, a financial crisis hit the nation. It’s been downhill ever since and there are a lot of people who have been happy to see the world’s only superpower slip into debt and be led by a fool who cannot distinguish its friends from its enemies.
The headlines of articles in the Journal’s weekend edition are worth thinking about.
• Deadline Drama Over Budget
• Farm Subsidies: Sacred Cows No More
• Obama’s Budget Aim Was to Stay Above the Fray
• Debt Ceiling Looms as Next Big Fight
• Activists Give Boehner a Nod of Approval
• Inflation Drives the Markets
In world news the headlines were:
• Egypt Rallies Swell Against Military
• Syria Kills at Least 20 Protesters
• Bahrain Divisions Grow, Fanning Fears
• Rebels Fight U.S. For Funds It Seized (Libya)
• Portugal’s Bailout to Require Deep Cuts
You can draw your own conclusions from this snapshot from last week, but for me it is a picture of a nation is serious trouble with a very unserious President in the Oval Office. Elsewhere in the world nations where Islam is the predominate religion appear to have wearied of the current crop of despots that have held all the power, but they have few other options than their military, part of the oppression, or Islam, another form of oppression.
In the Journal’s “World Watch” section with four short news items, one was about Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in Iraq for a few days to discuss the scheduled departure of U.S. troops in December. He told the Iraqi leaders, “The U.S. is willing to stay beyond 2011, if invited.”
Unmentioned is the way Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has centralized all power in his office and his cabinet. The parliament has been stripped of its participation in setting policy. Some might call that a dictatorship. Little changes in the Middle East except the players. As often as not, the choice is between the bad and the worse.
I think it is time America stop trying to solve everyone else’s problems and begin to pay some serious attention to our own. It will be painful. From 1776 when the American Revolution commenced through to June 21, 1788 when the Constitution became official there never was a year when Americans did not face painful choices.
The Civil War was painful. The hundred years of segregation that followed was painful. The Great Depression from 1929 until the beginning of our participation in World War Two in 1941 was painful. In 1945 all we wanted was peace, but the specter of communism forced us to enter upon a near half century of Cold War until the Soviet Union collapsed.
We will not be of much use to the rest of the world if we do not put our own house in order. We will have betrayed our children and grandchildren if we do not. Last week’s headlines about our domestic affairs began in the wake of the Great Depression when the nation turned to socialism. It was continued by the generation of the 1960s and by their children.
It must end before America too suffers the fate of failed empires and failed states.
© Alan Caruba, 2011