|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
As a nation, we are becoming more and more accustomed to a sense of helplessness. We no longer rise to the great challenges before us. It’s not just that we can’t plug the oil leak, which is the perfect metaphor for what we’ve become. We can’t seem to do much of anything.
The city of Detroit is using federal money to destroy thousands upon thousands of empty homes, giving in to a sense of desperation that says there is no way to rebuild the city so let’s do the opposite: let’s destroy even more of it. Lots more of it.
There are plans aplenty for demolishing large parts of what’s left of Detroit, which in its heyday was the symbol of an America that was still a powerfully constructive force, a place that could produce things and improve the lives of its people and inspire the rest of the world.
Referring to an aspect of one of the plans, The Times’s Susan Saulny wrote in an article in Monday’s paper: “An urban homestead — one of the more popular parts of the plan — would be tantamount to country living in the city, the plan says, with homeowners enjoying an agricultural environment and lower taxes in exchange for disconnecting from some city services like water.”
The June 28 cover story of Time magazine is headlined, “The Broken States of America.” As I’ve mentioned here several times, the states are facing a catastrophic fiscal situation that is short-circuiting essential services, pushing even more people out of work, and undermining the feeble national economic recovery.
As Time reported: “Schools, health services, libraries — and the salaries that go with them — are all on the chopping block as states and cities face their worst cash squeeze since the Great Depression.”
We are submitting to this debacle with the same pathetic lack of creativity and helpless mind-set that now seems to be the default position of Americans in the 21st century. We have become a nation that is good at destroying things — with wars overseas and mind-bogglingly self-destructive policies here at home — but that has lost sight of how to build and maintain a flourishing society. We’re dismantling our public school system and, incredibly, attacking our spectacularly successful system of higher education, which is the finest in the world.
How is it possible that we would let this happen?
Overwhelmingly, Americans think the nation needs a fundamental overhaul of its energy policies, and most expect alternative forms to replace oil as a major source within 25 years. Yet a majority are unwilling to pay higher gasoline prices to help develop new fuel sources.