Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Four-Letter Word

The dirtiest four-letter word in America is not among the list that George Carlin made famous. No, this dirty word drew its notoriety from Ronald Reagan, Phil Gramm, Alan Greenspan, and the George Bushes. In more ways than you can count, the nation reached its zenith in 1969, when the highest tax bracket was 91%. Yes, that's right, not the dinky little 36-39% currently being bandied about like a shuttlecock. Back in '69, rich had a wholly different meaning. There was no such thing as a hedge fund manager whose annual income was measured in billions. There were no Limbaughs or O'Reillys making millions annually in the hate-mongering profession, either. There were, of course, millions of bigoted, but hard working, Archie Bunkers without college degrees who were able to raise families comfortably.

The humongous elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is the wrong decision made back in 1970. The incorrect assumption was that if we cheated logic in every manner possible, we could continue our economy's limitless growth without controlling the population's growth, or even increasing taxes for the social service needs that were certain to explode along with this growth. The short version is that we correctly integrated our public school systems in the '60's while incorrectly refusing to increase funding for the education of an increased population. I coined the tacky, but succinct, phrase breeding ignorance to describe the new direction America took in 1970.

So here we are with an exploding, and ignorant, population facing an ever shrinking job market. A lot of the damage to our job market has simply been the result of technological development. A lot has been due to a crumbling educational system, and the greed is good concept has been a real stinker. Here we are on a down escalator with its switch locked into the on position, and only so many people can squeeze onto its narrow lane. Expansionism, materialism, and imperialism have all contributed to our demise. Sooner or later we shall have to control population growth or we shall all go crashing downward, and some of us will not land on our feet.

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