Saturday, September 12, 2009

4 Problems That Could Sink America ... Really?

Rick Newman of the U.S. News and World Report has written an article about four threats to America's future prosperity. In the article the four threats he outlines are: 1. We don't like to work, 2. Nobody wants to sacrifice, 3. We're uniformed, and 4. Selfishness (the iCulture) . Here is my critique on his four reasons.

1. We Don't Like to Work

Summary: Newman basically sums up that we are just too darn lazy. He gives the example of an entrepreneur who works 16-hour days and says not to complain about money if you only want to work 8 hours a day. So, again, if we all just work harder!

My Take: As usual, another half-sided, poorly thought out idea by a journalist out of touch with at least 50% of the real world. The state of our country today is NOT because we don't work enough. The housing crisis was not a result of people not working hard - that roofer who wanted a $500,000 house probably worked harder than the average Wall Street broker. The real problem is this: people make poor life decisions. The roofer made a poor life decision by buying more house than could be afforded, and probably needed. The mortgage company made a poor life decision, for the business, when it decided to loan the money. It doesn't matter how hard people work if they squander whatever they earn, regardless of how much or little.

The article also quotes an economist (one of the most clueless and overrated of professions) as saying: "Instead of buying stuff at the mall, spend the money on evening classes. Learn a language or skills you don't have." So learning Spanish or Mandarin is going to help that roofer pay his mortgage? Too bad he can hardly handle English.

Oh yeah, and 16 hour days? If most people did that, who is going to raise the children? Our society now has as many, if not more women in the work force as men. We would have to return to a far more traditional way of life that allow for at least one parent to stay home in order for that to work. The problem with that however, what's the point of being married to someone who works 16 hours a day? How on earth do you find someone to marry if you're working 16 hours a day. I hope that entrepreneur is already married, or not. I'm not sure. Also, "regressing" society to one working parent in a home would take a HEAP of production out of the economy. I thought the idea was to produce more, not less.

Despite the obvious flaws with this first reason, Newman did get it half right, many of us do not work hard enough - FOR WHAT WE HAVE. Too many make their living off the efforts of others with no respect or appreciation for those efforts. I don't have a problem with someone who doesn't want work - that's just more opportunities for those that do. The problem I have is with the government that forces me to support those who refuse to work. Now that's a reason worth investigating!

2. Nobody wants to Sacrifice

Summary: One statement from the article sums is up - "It would just be too uncomfortable to tell the middle class that if they want something, they need to earn it themselves." On the face of it, it looks like a statement I would actually agree with. But look a little more closely and we will see that it falls flat on its face. The key words that destroys the validity of the state it are "the middle class". Actually, at last check it was the middle class that was working the hardest and earning the most from their OWN efforts. The correct statement would read like this:
"It would just be too uncomfortable to tell AMERICANS that if they want something, they need to earn it themselves." Why does he exclude the lower and upper classes from his statement? Something is seriously amiss with his thinking.

He also makes a comment about the government providing "expanded health care". This is important to note as I expose his utter hypocrisy in a few moments.

3. We're Uninformed

Summary: We are just too ignorant. Newman says, "The health care smackdown -- sorry, "debate" -- is Exhibits A, B and C. The soaring cost of health care is a problem that affects most Americans. It's shrinking paychecks, squeezing small businesses, bankrupting families and swelling the national debt."

My Take: Newman is just too ignorant. Not about the cost of healthcare, but about the idea that the government paying for healthcare is somehow supposed to prevent all of the things he stated the cost of healthcare is causing.

Tell me this, how is it that the government spending MORE money, by providing universal healthcare, supposed to make the national debt LESS? If he thinks the cost of healthcare is shrinking paychecks, wait until the 50%-60% tax rate the government imposes to pay for healthcare "reform" hits the fan.

Also, did Newman not just say something about a problem with the cost of the government providing "expanded healthcare"? So now he is criticizing people for opposing it, FOR THE SAME REASON HE JUST STATED IT WAS A PROBELM? Wow. (That's all I better say about that.)

4. iCulture

Summary: Everyone wants the best of everything for the least effort. Newman says, "Rationing is a dirty word, so we can't have a system that officially rations something as vital as health care or education. Instead, we have unacknowledged, de facto rationing that directs the most resources to those with the best connections, the most money or the savvy to game the system."

What?! No rationing? But, but, what about all of the hard work and sacrifice he was just talking about? Is not rationing a major form of sacrifice? The fact that healthcare and education is involved doesn't change the need to sacrifice, despite the fantasy world Newman lives in. That's why I don't have a Master's degree. I have kids. Whatever money and time I have is primarily spent on them. Therefore, I sacrifice my desire to obtain more education. Same thing with healthcare. If I hire a personal trainer and cook, that would be far less money for my children. The fact that a personal trainer and cook would do more to improve my health than any doctor or medicine on the planet is irrelevant. That's what is known as sacrifice.

Newman also makes a half-true, whole lie of a statement in saying "Americans still believe they deserve the best of everything -- the best job, the best health care, the best education for our kids. And we want it at a discount -- or better yet, free -- which brings us back to the usual disconnect between what we want and what we're willing to pay for". No Mr. Newman, only those that are not willing to ration, um, sacrfice, believe that. I, and many like me do NOT believe that. Newman uses a general term when he should use a specific term, and a specific term when he should use a general term. According to Newman, when it comes to working, only the middle class is involved. But when it comes to sacrifice, everyone is involved? Unless of course, you don't work hard, and therefore have nothing to sacrifice. In that case, the government is supposed to force someone else to pay for it. Right, Newman?

If I were to have a conversation with Mr. Newman, I would direct him to the very ancient, very wise words of Ecclesiates 2, notice verse 11:

"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."

What the scripture is saying is that everything we do as people is ultimately doomed to failure. Whatever we gain materially will have little spiritual value, and therefore fail to satisfy. If we work hard and yet are driven by vain desires with no spiritual guidance or purpose, we will likely end up losing whatever we do gain, or destroying ourselves and others in the process. That is the underlying reason why many of us don't want to work hard or sacrifice, and choose to be lazy and ignorant.

So, are we as Americans, as humans, doomed to failure. NO! Now read Ecclesiates 2:24-26:

"A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

Basically there is only one problem that will sink America: Life without God.

God Bless. Even you, Mr. Newman.

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