Won’t-Do America

June 23rd, 2010at 07:25am Posted by Eli

Bob Herbert has a great column in yesterday’s NYT about how the U.S. has let greatness slip away, mishandling crisis after crisis and allowing their opportunities go to waste.  But I think his perspective is a little skewed:

As a nation, we are becoming more and more accustomed to a sense of helplessness. We no longer rise to the great challenges before us. It’s not just that we can’t plug the oil leak, which is the perfect metaphor for what we’ve become. We can’t seem to do much of anything.


We are submitting to this debacle with the same pathetic lack of creativity and helpless mind-set that now seems to be the default position of Americans in the 21st century. We have become a nation that is good at destroying things — with wars overseas and mind-bogglingly self-destructive policies here at home — but that has lost sight of how to build and maintain a flourishing society. We’re dismantling our public school system and, incredibly, attacking our spectacularly successful system of higher education, which is the finest in the world.

How is it possible that we would let this happen?

We’ve got all kinds of sorry explanations for why we can’t do any of the things we need to do. The Democrats can’t get 60 votes in the Senate. Our budget deficits are too high. Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck might object.

Meanwhile, the greatness of the United States, which so many have taken for granted for so long, is steadily slipping away.

It’s not that we can’t fix anything, that we’ve become too collectively stupid to figure out solutions to problems, it’s that we won’t fix anything.  Our political system has become so corrupt that concern for protecting the well-being of corporations and the wealthy now trumps all other considerations.  Remove that constraint, and a whole realm of possibilities and solutions opens up.  But as long as we’re stuck with it, we will continue to muddle through with half-assed band-aids that don’t work because they were designed by the very industries whose recklessness and criminality made them necessary.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Economy,Media,Politics,Republicans

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