Andy, you are absolutely right that we must take action in the present in order to safeguard the future. Integrated into the national consciousness is the sense that people came to the "New World" of America to build something positive for the future, and that we all have to work together. We celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving in which those who were native to this land joined with the new arrivals to give thanks for surviving the present difficulties and laying a foundation for future prosperity. Whether through the New Deal public works projects of FDR that helped build confidence during the Great Depression while at the same time investing in the future, or the interstate highway projects undertaken under Eisenhower that helped link this country together or the Great Society investment in society and civil rights under Johnson, we do our best when we work together with the future in mind. Squandering on consumer goods with inbuilt obsolescence or on money for money's sake is certainly more comfortable, but having the public join together with government to invest in long term development, the benefit of which perhaps only their children will see through better health, better education, better communication and transportation systems, and better public services, takes sacrifice, commitment and vision.
It is certainly NOT hopeless. Americans have shown that even after historical lapses, we side with "our better angels" and build a better future together.