Another thought provoking Op-Ed article from Thomas Friedman.
My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.
That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.
It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure – without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.
I would like to insert a critical question into this critical crisis. HOW? How did we get here in the first place? And I’m not just talking about the mechanics of the economy. I’m not talking about the numbers that an analyst could surmise. I’m wondering about the behaviors, the decisions, the ethics, the philosophies, the values of our culture that have brought us here. I think Friedman’s analysis and continued prophetic voice is deeply important to our present-future. However, if we’re not willing to look deep into the, shall I say, “soul” of America, and the frequently unconscious values that drive our decision making, our behaviors, and ultimately our urgings, then I’m afraid we may be back in the same place again, just with different laws on the books, and different CEO’s in office.
In addition to “spending wisely” as Friedman suggests, one of the other hopes that I have for Obama’s Presidency is to help revolutionize our desires.