Seven Unspeakable Truths

Americans live in a state of deceit and denial inculcated by the insidious accumulation of entitled thinking that has reached a tipping point beyond which the destruction of social order and national power is certain.  Like children without rules or boundaries we have become tempestuous and, in more cases every day, violent.  We still have the capacity to identify the truth but lack the courage to speak it.  Our leaders, including President Obama, will not speak these truths.  I will.

There are seven truths—things I am certain of after significant study and deliberation—that America must face if we are to maintain our position in the world, even if only in relative terms.

  1. The wars we have chosen to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are unwinnable; we must move expeditiously to extract ourselves from the center of this quagmire and deploy a strategy of offshore balancing to contain terrorism while, at the same time, develop new sources and forms of energy to become energy-independent.  If we don’t, we will find ourselves at the center of a much larger confrontation beginning in the Middle East (probably between Israel and Iran) and spreading from there.
  2. The obligations of our government to supply public goods, particularly Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, are financially unsustainable—even if we radically reform our healthcare system—which isn’t going to happen.  Debt is not power.
  3. Our critical national infrastructures including transportation, power grids, and water supply systems are rapidly approaching a period of catastrophic failure that will cripple our economy more than the current financial crisis.  When main street fails, it’s over.
  4. Climate change is a reality, notwithstanding the unfortunate apocalyptic grandstanding by Al Gore and a few rogue scientists, but the orthodoxy of environmentalism is wrong.  We must find new ways to conserve and produce energy that allow economic growth to be sustained.  We must do this for the environment and, moreover, for our national interest; for our health and security.
  5. Within twenty-five years the dollar will no longer be the world’s reserve currency.  We must move expeditiously to begin the process, region-by-region, of migrating to a common currency—the ‘globo’—to protect us from non-US currencies being used against us and to mitigate the inherent instability produced in a global financial system populated (currently) by 178 different currencies.
  6. Our primary and secondary education system is broken.  Today, we are maintaining our global edge on the back of our superior universities. While our students catch-up because they have access to college, unlike the developing world (especially China and India), this will change.  We must immediately move to improve the quality of teachers and reduce the burden of unions and bureaucrats. Parents, teachers, and communities must wrest control of this system, which is in rapid decline.
  7. The absence of a liberal immigration policy, which has always been the lifeblood of America’s capacity for self-renewal, will lower our replacement rate and increase our dependency rates to levels that will produce demographic-induced collapse.  If you want a preview, look at Japan.

Rival interests do not defeat great powers; they collapse at their own hand.  In America, we have the knowledge and the means to maintain our position in the world and to secure our future for many generations.  If we do not face each and every one of these truths, we will fail.  Let the real discussion begin.

By |2017-05-25T22:26:36+00:00February 21st, 2010|General|0 Comments

A ‘Next Big’ Idea: Civic Entrepreneurism

As I have argued in prior posts, crisis offers liberation and it is indeed time to reboot “We the People.”   But, how do we do that?  Does the combative divisiveness and invective of the Tea Party or provide any answers?  Will Obama’s State of the Union address illuminate new pathways to what David Brooks calls “dynamic optimism?”[1]  Is Sarah Palin poised to launch a campaign of patriotic renewal?  I doubt it.  Rebooting America will be accomplished one entrepreneur at a time.  One of the ‘next big’ ideas is civic entrepreneurism.

Civic entrepreneurism embraces the retreat of government services in the face of economic decline.  Its biggest markets are municipal, county, state (and eventually) federal programs.  California—historically an entrepreneur’s dream—remains a golden state of opportunity. Civic entrepreneurs form for-profit, non-governmental organizations to provide essential services formerly provided by government.  Their rewards are both social and economic.  They are part mercenary, part altruistic; and they provide enormous opportunity for those displaced during the Great Recession and those looking for a long and productive career.

While some will no doubt argue against civic entrepreneurs as invasive privatization of the public sector, their arguments fall short given the reality of government’s necessary abandonment of such services.  Civic entrepreneurs should take a close look at state and municipal government budgets to identify those ‘essentials’ that are now available to be filled by private enterprise.   Existing infrastructure—built by government agencies—may even be available for purchase for cents on the dollar, and staff may be in place, or re-hired to launch the new service provider.

Tomorrow night, Obama will be announcing the freeze of government expenditures on certain programs for three years.  California’s woes are well documented.  There are few, if any, states, counties, or municipalities that are able to meet their existing public obligations.  It is time for entrepreneurs—the backbone of America—to step in and fill the void. ‘Public goods’ are the next private enterprise.

[1] David Brooks, ‘Populist Addiction,’ New York Times, January 26, 2010
By |2017-05-25T22:42:16+00:00January 26th, 2010|General|0 Comments
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