The United States in 2010.

Home Columns Books Talks About me Contact me

January 17, 2010

Our Land

       When listening to the American ballad, “This land is your land ….” one is filled with patriotism and pride in the United States, and rightfully so. We are a great country. In our history of expanding from coast to coast, immigrants and others were creative and entrepreneurial in their use of the abundant resources available to them.

       In this expansion, however, we ignored the rights of the native peoples. Today we decry the genocide in other parts of the world but that word was seldom applied in studying our own history. We must acknowledge our failures in the treatment of Native Americans.

       Our creative use of resources involved abuse of the environment over the course of history. While much of that abuse was absorbed by nature, we are at a time when nature can no longer  handle the abuse. The destruction of habitats for the sake of satisfying our lustful desire for oil must end.

       Global warming is an undisputed fact. It is irrelevant to debate the human cause when we have the technology and ability to change that course. It is irresponsible for humans to deny reality in this regard. To do so could well bring about the extinction of the human race. Despite the recent record cold snap in our country, global warming is occurring. We have to look at the global weather, not just our own.

Our People

       We are mostly a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. Many of our ancestors, I suspect, arrived in this country when there were no restrictions on immigration because there was land to explore and develop. My grandfather immigrated in 1859 and settled on the farm in northern Michigan where I was born.

       For the last century we have been trying to restrict the flow of immigrants as the land and resources became less abundant. But that has not deterred millions from entering the country through proper channels and otherwise to participate in the hopes and dreams we hold dear. The fear of terrorism must not deter us from a compassionate policy toward immigrants.

       People must always be the focus of our policies and interaction in the lives of our citizens. This could not be more clear than in the issue of health care. It is preposterous that the wealthiest nation in the world has the highest cost of health care and that the benefits of health care are denied to millions. A Harvard study released in September 2009 linked 45,000 deaths each year to a lack of adequate health care. (1)

       Health insurance, the primary method of paying for health care, has been so closely associated with employment that it is hard to separate insurance from health care. However, in a recession economy with ten percent of the people unemployed, it becomes abundantly clear that offering health insurance primarily through employer sponsored plans is a serious problem not only for those needing health care but for the cost to employers in providing this insurance. 

Foreign Policy

       It is a welcome change to hear our president speak of the United States as a member of the family of world nations. This is a foreign policy that recognizes that people around the world are no different than us. We all share the same aspirations of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for ourselves and our loved ones albeit in cultures and societies that are in some cases very different than ours. War cannot be a course of first action ever again. Is President Obama doing that in Afghanistan?

Freedom

       One of the fundamental freedoms of our country is that of religion. We extol it by telling the story of the Pilgrims coming to Massachusetts Bay Colony to practice their religion freely. This freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution. Just as the application of this freedom was not always clear in the early days (witness the ouster of Roger Williams from the Colony), so today it is ignored by some who wish to expel Muslims from our country or refuse them the free exercise of their religion.

       Freedom of speech is another basic right. It requires listening. However, people are yelling at each other as if yelling makes points more valid. We also need to be careful what we say. Not all opinions are of equal merit and they should be based on credible evidence.      

Taxes

    Taxes are the price we pay for the freedom and rights we so cherish in this country. Part of the problem with taxes is the corporate welfare that steals taxes from their proper use in education, infrastructure, and other services provided by government.

 

   If we are to be a beacon of hope for people around the world, we need to project and practice our ideals with compassion at home and abroad. Perhaps that’s a good resolution for all Americans for 2010.

 

(1) Study Links 45,000 Deaths Per Year To Lack Of Health Insurance

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58G6W520090917