An Open Letter to America

8 11 2011

What are you doing?  It doesn’t take a genius to see that you’ve lost your way.  But instead of fixing the obvious problems, you’re standing around pointing fingers in all directions trying to assign blame and sidestep the reality that the problem might, in fact, be something that no one likes to face.  Now is not the time to play party politics.  Now is not the time to wallow in your misery.  Now is not the time to feather your own nest.  Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and do what makes Americans Americans: thrive in the face of adversity, overcome our problems and differences, and do what needs to be done, regardless, simply because it is the right thing to do.


Our society has broken down in many ways.  Some people like to blame politicians for taking sides and blinding themselves to opposing ideas.  Others point to corporations for having too much money and not enough jobs.  Still others will tell you that a general moral decay and the proliferation of easily consumable, disposable media are to blame.  And some will say that immigration is the key.  But the truth of the matter is that while all of these problems contribute to the overall circus that our nation has become, the actual root cause of the problem is all too simple; a problem that everyone seems to have overlooked.


The problem is you.


America was founded on a very simple concept: a government for the people, of the people, and by the people.  Forget the freedom stuff.  Forget the right to bear arms.  The most important thing we have as Americans is the ability to continually forge the direction of our country by sheer will alone.  We are supposed to have a government that works for us, comprised of us, and answerable to us; not just every four years, but every day.  We as citizens have that power, and it is perhaps the most awesome power of any country in the world.  But we don’t use it.  We no longer have a government that works for us; we now work for the government.  All of the problems that we now face we brought about by our own individual sloth and greed.

We have gotten into the mindset that our federal government exists to serve our individual wants and desires; that it’s there to bail us out when we’re in over our heads; that its job is to hold our hands when disaster strikes, and that it holds a blank check to solve all the problems of the world.  But we have forgotten that the government is us.  We have forgotten that companies are us.  We have forgotten that America is made up of people and is not just comprised of billionaire puppeteers pulling the strings.  We are the puppeteers!  We hold the strings!  And by allowing people in power, be it governmental or corporate, to run roughshod over our ideals and beliefs is our own decision.  We have empowered our faults through inaction.  We have sent our jobs overseas because we want to pay less; we want to pay less so we have more money to buy things.  We want to buy things because we have become greedy.  We have convinced ourselves that the easy way is the best way, and in doing so we have followed the pied piper of want down the road we find ourselves on today.


But fear not!  This is not an equation without a solution.  The solution is you.  Just as every American has contributed to the problem, so can too every American contribute to the solution.  Doing the math will not be an easy task, it’s going to hurt; but nothing truly good and lasting ever came from doing things the easy way.  We’ve been following that wide, easy path for too long; and while it’s given us temporary fixes, we have not yet had the guts to do what is truly necessary to get our great country back on track.  We need not do anything radical.  We need not take arms against our government.  We simply need to institute a number of changes, and most importantly, accept individual responsibility for the mess we find our country in today.


First, America needs a simple flat tax.  The problem is not that some people have more money than others.  That reality exists in every form of government that has been known to man.  Part of what makes America special is that as Americans we have the opportunity to make something of ourselves, to do better than the generations before us.  If the opportunity to grab that golden ring is taken away from us, then we cease to be America in anything but name.  Accept that you have what you have.  Accept that others might have more; they might have less.  But never stop striving to better yourself, your family, and those around you.  Right now we have a tax code that requires experts to decode.  Everyone seems to be in agreement that our tax system is broken.  It needs to be simple, it needs to be straight forward, and it needs to contain no loopholes and no deductions.  A flat tax put forth in this manner will be equally fair to the rich and to the poor.  You simply pay a tax on the money you earn.  Everyone pays, but everyone pays the same percent, no questions asked.  No loopholes, no deductions.


Second, we must stop government handouts.  The economic woes that currently grip the nation have been caused by our meddling in the free market.  Free markets work; but only so much that we keep them free, and America has manipulated the economy to such an extent that it has broken, though not beyond repair.  We have allowed our government to keep businesses afloat when they should have expired.  We have injected money where no funds were needed.  We have paid people to do things simply for the sake of nostalgia and votes, and this has helped bankrupt our economy and ourselves.  In a free market, business will exist and flourish for as long as there is a need for that good or service.  When a need dissipates, so will that business.  When a need arises, people will rush to fill the vacuum.  But we have given money to individuals and institutions past their expiration date.  We have rewarded bad business decisions and failed practices that should have resulted in individuals, companies, and sometimes institutions leaving the marketplace.  This, my friends, is not a free market.  This is not how our system was designed or how it operates.  It will be difficult for some to make this change; but this is where we as individuals step in.  There is nothing socialist in looking out for your fellow man, your neighbor.   Where we once turned to each other when things got tough, we now turn to our federal government.  It is time to reverse these actions.  We’ll have to tighten our belts and lean on each other for strength; but we can get through it.  It has to be done.


Third, we need to bring jobs back to America.  We as Americans have done an excellent job of talking out of both sides of our mouths.  We bemoan the lack of domestic jobs, but we continue to consume and trumpet the very products whose manufacturing positions have been outsourced overseas.  How many products do you own that could have been made in America but were made abroad?  iPhones, iPads, Dell computers, produce, shirts, automobiles… the list is exhaustive.  And they’re all made in China, or Cambodia, or India, or where have you, just so you can pay less.  Why?  It’s not corporate greed, its consumer greed.  You have chosen to purchase these goods in the name of the all mighty dollar.  In order to reverse this trend you must hold companies responsible for their actions.  If enough people won’t buy a product because it’s not made in the USA, eventually someone will start to make it domestically because there is a demand.  Every single American holds the keys to the kingdom of renewed job growth in their hands.  They just lack the willpower to use them.


Fourth, and most importantly, we must hold our elected leaders responsible on a daily basis for the decisions they make.  Our city council members, our mayors, our senators, congressmen, and even our president work for, and are answerable to, us.  It is our responsibility as American citizens to hold them accountable for their actions.  No one is above the law and no person or entity is above the people.   We cannot pretend to have a representative government when, in our last federal election, only 37.8% of the eligible electorate voted.  We all need to let our voices be heard because when we don’t, we arrive at the destination where we now find ourselves.  It takes effort, and we have grown lazy.  We have allowed our own greed and sloth to corrupt our representatives; but once again they are not to blame.  Even the greatest of our elected officials is only human.  We must blame ourselves for not holding the fire of responsibility to the feet of those elected so that they will do the will of the people, not the will of the pocketbook.  We have proven over the last one hundred years that as we have increased our power and wealth, so too have we increased the fallibility of our leaders.  Therefore we must act to institute congressional term limits to stem the influence of those who would seek to bend the ears of the elected away from the voices of the voters.  We must hold our representatives totally accountable so that they know that if they are not willing to follow the will of their people and work together to forge a compromise amongst divisive ideas that there is no place for them in our government.  For as long as there will be a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, there will always be a conflict of ideas.  The ability to place self second to the will of the people, to abandon ego and fame for the good of all Americans, and to find compromise where others see only one path is what makes America great.


As I have said our problems are many, yet the solution is simple.  The only question that remains is if we still have the stuff within us that our forefathers used to fashion this great nation during times of great duress; or do we now lack the very substance that makes us Americans.


Heh heh heh... I knew I wasn't the problem.



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