Like most of us, I worry that our state and federal governments are heading in the wrong direction.
I know that it is easy to be critical, that compromise is difficult; therefore, I strive to keep an open mind when formulating opinions. Yes, the stock market is at an all-time high and unemployment is very low, all of which seems good, but I also see that our government added over $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) to the national debt this year. Our national debt now exceeds $68,000 per person or, put another way, $183,000 per taxpayer. And the interest on our debt is now $479 billion for 2019, and that is at the interest rate of only slightly more than 2%. I worry that, during this “great economy,” the Federal Reserve has had to cut interest rates two times to stimulate the economy from falling. Can it continue or are we in another bubble? The fact that the government is already deficit spending and the Fed has cut interest rates to next to nothing means that our ability to stop a recession is gone. Increased deficit spending and or lower interest rates are no longer possible and printing more money will only bring runaway inflation.
I also know that all our major cities in the U.S. today have unprecedented homeless camps not seen since the Great Depression. These people don’t seem to be participating in the prosperity. Our huge prison population, exponentially larger than any other developed country, isn’t participating in this prosperity either.
The far-left Democratic hopefuls like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren think that the answer is to take from the rich and redistribute to the poor. Although I disagree, perhaps they are at least partially right. It seems that our tax codes do favor the super-wealthy and corporations. The facts indicate that the One Percent are increasing in wealth while those of us who are in the middle are not. Since our economy is supported by consumer spending, is this economic model sustainable? What will happen when, during the next recession, the masses no longer have the money to spend?
I worry that our government is allowing corrupt Big Pharma to steal billions from Medicare and Medicaid, that government deregulation of the airlines and our food and drug and banking systems has left us vulnerable to exploitation.
I also worry about our nation’s standing on the world stage. Are we meeting the challenges from China or are they winning their goal of world dominance in their 100-year Marathon? They are certainly gaining world influence and allies while we bicker with our old friends and allies. Turning our country away from world involvement and betraying our friends and allies seems the exact wrong thing to do and is isolating us at just the time that we need friends.
Global warming is another thing that I worry about. My own personal take on this problem is that we have already lost any ability to stop this trend, at least for the foreseeable future. It will take ingenuity and planning to protect our coastal areas and make the changes in farm practices to compensate for weather pattern disruption. Global warming will continue to influence the migration of people, and we need to prepare rather than ignore the problem. Perhaps, if we had abandoned fossil fuels and developed safer and less environmentally damaging nuclear power and electric vehicles at the turn of the century, we might have stopped the warming, but we are beyond that now. Shouldn’t we be pushing for solutions outside the box?
Mostly though, I worry about education. Education is the answer to just about all our problems. We know that when we start educating children early and give them the tools to succeed throughout their education years that they become productive citizens and that at least some of them find the solutions to society’s most-pressing problems. Most of our incarcerated citizens are uneducated. Educating these forgotten kids would give them the skills to succeed and reduce the future prison population substantially. Our Founding Fathers knew that an educated and informed population was essential for our Republic to survive. I worry that we do not have that.
Right now, our president and our governor seem to be hell bent on fanning the flames of divisiveness and confusion. They promise utopia similar to what Bernie Madoff did. I worry a lot.
Ed Linkous lives in Fairbanks. He served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly from 1987 to 1989.