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"The World's Gone Mad!"

National Issues, National Security, Perceptions, Society and Morals

As I sit here trying to come up with a subject to address, I'm a little like a deer transfixed in the headlights, not knowing which way to turn. How often have you been in conversation with a friend or spouse and the comment "The world's gone mad!" or something similar comes up? There is so much going on today that makes little or no sense, I think many folks just throw up their hands and read the sports pages. Even there we have madness. Ryan Braun shooting up testosterone??

Here are some examples. Environmentalists and the government are still talking carbon credits (Cap and Trade) while a recent Japanese study involving data from a satellite monitoring carbon emissions finds much more carbon emissions from third world countries than from developed nations like us. That's probably because we're constantly trying to do something about it and they don't care. And we're supposed to send them carbon credit money. ????

About electric cars, this all supposedly started in 1997 with GM's EV-1, described by some as "the worst car ever built." Actually, you can go back to the 1900's for the Baker Electric, the first all-electric car. It had a top speed of 25 mph, actually not bad for those days. I actually saw one. Wierd; completely quiet back when cars were anything but. Now we have the Chevy Volt, designed and produced with government subsidies and being sold with another large government subsidy. I don't get the impression that people are exactly beating down the doors of dealers to buy this thing. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius are selling because they're practical and affordable without government subsidy. (The Japanese government does exert control over their auto industry through their Ministry of Industry. They do pool a portion of corporate profits which is then distributed to fund new product development, but no tax money is involved.)

Why is the government trying to ram things down our throats that we don't really want, with our money yet?

Ethanol, the great white hope of emission control, is still being subsidized at about 50¢ per gallon while reducing fuel mileage and wrecking small engines. Solar panel development to try to make them efficient is heavily government subsidized with little to show for all that money over all these years. Solar is still a miniscule niche and inefficient supplier of power.

Windmills have been hyped, promoted and subsidized almost frantically it seems, for decades and wind power still is not a significant electric power source. In fact, some are being abandoned as government support dries up. If it's such a great thing, why hasn't it caught on in the marketplace? Incidentally, anyone see the irony in environmentalist objections to that proposed 385,000 volt transmission line to Minnesota as a "blight on the landscape" while the same folks promote windmill farms? To paraphrase Joyce Kilmer, "I think that I shall never see, a windmill lovely as a tree."

Then there's the defense budget. Anyone think we're living in a sane, stable world out there? Every country in the Middle East is virtually in flames, Iran is building nukes, Russia is becoming autocratic, China is building missiles to sink our aircraft carriers and shoot down satellites, North Korea rattles nuclear sabres and threatens world war every time a South Korean (or U.S.) tank drives around the block in Seoul. Meanwhile, the Administration is cutting--really cutting, not just reducing increases--the defense budget anywhere from $467- to $600 billion over ten years. Here's a snapshot of the consequences.

The Air Force: Eliminate six tactical air squadrons (10% reduction), terminate a RQ-4 Global Hawk (high-altitude remotely piloted aircraft) upgrade (Block 30), divest 38 new C-27J close support transports, retire 27 C-5A heavy lift transports (20% reduction), reduce an unspecified number of Air force, Reserve and National Guard personnel.

Army: Cut 80,000 personnel.

Marine Corps: Cut 20,000 personnel(10%).

Navy: Delay by two years development of a future ballistic missile submarine.

All Services: The F-35 Lightning II fighter project, in three versions for the Air Force, Marines and Navy, is being slowed although it is the only new fighter in the works to replace aging and overstressed assets.

Despite the winding down of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, I do not believe the world is a safer place nor that demands on our military will diminish. So long as we insist on being a global policeman and military interventionist, a policy showing no signs of fading even in the present Administration, we place our forces in greater harm's way by reducing our military capabilities. I think this is nuts as well as dangerous.

I have deliberately not touched on the Wisconsin recalls or that ludicrous display of political irresponsibility going on with the Republican presidential aspirants. Words fail me.

O.K., that's enough. Make your own list. It will probably be longer than mine.


Part II

As most of you know, I do not normally list problems without resolution or at least analysis. So, this post as originally published was not complete.

The problem with what is going on in this country and the world today that has many of us disturbed and often, regrettably, polarized, is not one of policy or legislation or even ideology but rather of character. A person's character--who he is--is determined by his (I include the fairer sex under this pronoun) values. Values determine priorities which, in turn, form the basis of actions and conduct. Thus, we are defined by our values.

Today, we are led largely by individuals motivated by self-interests: ambition, power, prestige, wealth. Politicians at all levels are obsessed with getting re-elected and, consequently, soliciting huge campaign war chests with which to buy television ads. Mitt Romney convincingly defeated Newt Gingrich in Florida largely due to a blizzard of negative ads purchased with his very substantial campaign funds. I believe Mr. Romney is so obsessed with becoming president that he will do virtually anything to win the Republican nomination. Newt would do the same if he could. Not sure about the other two non-entities but I don't think either is running solely to serve others and our country.

The Founders of this great nation were not motivated by personal gain. On the contrary, they risked and frequently lost all, including life, in a cause they believed in. We have not seen the like in a very long time with, I believe, one exception. Many will perhaps disagree, but I believe one president in modern times simply loved this country unconditionally. Among his most basic values was patriotism. His name was, as you may have guessed, Ronald Reagan. Everone else, including the present resident of the White House, was and is motivated primarily by personal gain and enhancement.

Until this changes, this country will continue to stumble along getting involved in stupid international adventures and domestic, bald-faced vote-buying without regard for its safety and benefit. We need leaders who truly care for the people, rich and poor, regardless of political gain. We need leaders who will maintain the safety and welfare of the United States above all else. This is not to advocate abusive conduct and disregard for the welfare of other peoples, for these actions also would be to the detriment of the nation. Making enemies benefits no-one.

Sorry, I have no names to present. I think some of the Tea Party folks are patriots first and foremost, but they too seem a bit myopic when it comes to larger issues of national welfare. What may help is to start small. Recognize that most of us plain citizens have the best interests of the country and its citizens at heart. Whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, we all want what's best for the nation. We must recognize that we differ largely in the means, not the ends. Then maybe we can start communicating.

For example, in economics, Republicans believe in the principle of from the top down. Benefiting entrepreneurs and business owners will benefit the workers as well, since they are the job-creators. Democrats, on the other hand, believe that helping the middle class workers and the poor will "trickle up" to benefit all. Both arguments have merit. The question is which works better. Maybe if we spent more time discussing the means instead of labels and personalities, we might find something on which to agree. And just maybe, some of that will trickle up into the halls of power.

And maybe the age of miracles is not past.

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