“There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Once upon a time in a land far away…
The last decade is not that far removed to start a fable but one thing is for certain, there were some characters and plots that took shape-for better or worse. What should we expect of the next year, decade? A foundation for the coming years was being laid in the latter part of the decade that hinted we may be seeing an era of personal accountability, corporate responsibility and community engagement. It’s evident in almost every aspect of our lives; from the All-State commercials on responsibility to Subaru contributing apart of every vehicle sale to a charity of your choice.
If you’ve read my other blog posts, each is sprinkled with a sense of optimism and cautiousness. I don’t doubt we have what it takes to create a more just, equitable society but am often leery of the human element. Given the right opportunity, visions of sustainability, curbing climate change and any other worthy cause can go out of the window. Take a look at the weeks that followed 9/11. Everyone was patriotic; American flags were on nearly every lawn, car and bumper sticker. At that time, I felt a sense that our States, well, were United. Though quite horrific, those events have fallen into memory and serve as a guidepost that marked a decade. Do we move on or dwell on the past you ask? We move on with the same conviction that together we are stronger than any challenge our nation faces.
As a 30 year old American, this new direction is somewhat of a culture shock. Many in my generation were raised on the premise of “more, more, more” being the standard for success. We believed that having the biggest house, car, bank account and TV signified status or “making it” – I don’t think that will be the case as we move forward. I’m not suggesting we don’t want to be successful in our respective careers but the way we measure success has no doubt changed. In James Bedell’s “Why We Will Save The World”, he noted that “people are the new profit” and that “less is the new more”. I couldn’t agree with James more.
“So goes GM, so goes the country.”
The US automobile industry was pushed to the brink of disaster before an overhaul began. I personally didn’t support the auto bailout or any other federal intervention but was aware that without it, it could have easily tilted our country in another depression-easily. So what of capitalism? I’m not an economist but am of the opinion that the human element trumped reason on this one.
Moving forward our industries must evolve and commit to investing in R&D, infrastructure and education. Watching CBS Sunday Morning’s recent coverage of the last decade showed that the US created 0% jobs (zero) in an entire decade. Our labor market is suffering because we haven’t worked to create new industry domestically and trade policies have effectively shipped American ingenuity abroad for production and redistribution back to us.
With a defunct energy policy, declining dollar, lackluster labor and housing markets, the push is now toward sustainability, efficiency, buying local and community engagement. What happens when our GDP is growing, our communities are stable, CO2 emissions decrease and rail becomes a viable transportation alternative in the states? If our economy is to grow, history shows us that we’ll need innovation to push the limits of what we can accomplish. As those innovations come to market, legislation will be slow to understand the affects they’ll have on the public long after fortunes have been made and fortunes lost, hence the financial crisis.
I advocate growth, change, prosperity and hope. However, I’m well aware that what goes up must come down. America will recover. We will prosper again and again, we will become complacent.
I look to the past for clues and I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get it.
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