By Steve O’Keeffe — http://bit.ly/u2mmHN
Sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast on Saturday. Looking at the L.L.Bean catalog. Do I need snowshoes or cross country skis or even a new fleece for Christmas? Snowshoes, really? The answer for me – and most of America – is no. We don’t need new snowshoes. All we’re doing is buying stuff we don’t need and won’t use. Stuff that’s mostly made in China. Our consumption is sinking our nation in avaricious quicksand. Worse, it’s mortgaging the free world’s future.
Super Committee Be Damned
So, what’s that got to do with the value of democracy – and who the hell am I to question the value of one man, one vote? Well, I’ll come back to the snowshoes. Let’s consider the challenges that we face as a democratic society. So much for the Super Committee… We have a series of difficult decisions ahead of us. Rational people know the right answers – we need to raise the retirement age, we need to reform the tax code, etc. But, and here’s the big but, it’s impossible for an elected official to make the right call on difficult decisions and have any earthly chance of being returned to office. And, no new candidate has a prayer at the ballot box if they call it like it is. Was anybody else angered by Grover Norquist on 60 Minutes on Sunday?
So, at this impasse, it seems that our system of democracy is doomed to make the easy, wrong decisions. The two parties will continue to score points – rather than compromise like adults and get to real solutions. Isn’t the absurdity in Greece the perfect metaphor for democracy’s decline?
Now back to L.L.Bean, snowshoes, and Christmas lists. Everybody knows that the developed world is drowning in debt. If the dollar’s depressed, the Euro’s having a nervous breakdown. But does it really matter if we’re all in debt? Here’s the rub. It’s the transfer of wealth and control to China that sounds the alarm bells. When the Berlin Wall came down, it marked the triumph of the free market over central planning. The Dragon Economy is effectively erecting the “Great Wall of China.” Tibet is oppressed. Iran is buttressed. Our military’s now scrambling to the Pacific Rim.
Ephialtes Goes Shopping
Our father’s expended blood and treasure in an epic Cold War struggle to defeat totalitarian states. The irony, we are defeating ourselves through our appetite for snowshoes and knickknacks. Like Ephialtes at Thermopylae – the Greek who showed the Eastern forces the pass to attack the 300 in the rear – we’re actively undermining our own system.
If democracy is on the way out, maybe we should be shopping for a better system? Our leaders keep looking for answers in extreme adventures at opposite poles. Perhaps those snowshoes will come in handy after all…