Sunday, June 01, 2008

What's Going On?

I am feeling the crisis.

Marvin Gaye recorded one of the greatest social anthems of our time - underscoring the message we've got to find a way to bring some understanding here today - a song that is consistently brought up to reflect the tumultuous dynamics of an ever changing society.

Gaye asks a simple question that comes with a litany of complicated answers - much like many of the questions that arise when discussing the tenuous problems burdening the American people today.

Why is the economy sputtering? When will things get better? When will we all be living good again?

I read a million headlines in the papers each day - and they all seem to create a connect-the-dots scenario. Oil prices continue to hit new records on Wall Street. Cincinnati has the nation's third-worst carbon footprint (and my fair Lexington gets the infamous honor as #1).

And our educational system is in trouble, too.

Our children are not getting the tools they need to compete in the global economy. Click here and you'll discover America's students are not as proficient in math as their counterparts in Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and Germany. But, guess what - we're also behind Canada, Korea, the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland and Spain. These are the same kids who will someday be joining the workforce, competing with every other worker around the world.

We are a nation in crisis.

Today I filled up my car and winced at the grand total of $67 and change. Mind you, I do not drive an SUV. I drive an economical sedan that gets about 32 miles to the gallon on the interstate. Still, I am seriously considering working in to my schedule a one or two-times-a-week bus routine to offset the economics.

Lean Cuisines are no longer 5-for-$10. Granted, that is not the nation's bellwether for an economic rough patch, but it's MY frame of reference for how things are changing. Produce is a little more expensive - so are beer and milk.

Airline tickets. The fares are enough to induce a heart attack in anyone entertaining the idea of a summer vacation. I know so many people forgoing the big vacation (whether it be by plane/train/automobile) for something local.

The pinch hurts a little more for me right now, considering I've dropped about $1100 in car repairs in the past ten days. I have had to carefully budget the next two weeks to ensure I can still cover my rent and car payment and leave a little something for my insatiable thirst.

President Bush's tax relief was a nice little trick - $600 to help Average Joe buy a big screen TV or tickets to Disney World. More likely, Joe is spending his cash on the utility bills, paying the nice folks at Verizon, and maybe hoping he can order a Bloomin' Onion next time Joe goes to Outback.

I kind of feel like the gesture was akin to putting a Mickey Mouse band-aid on a severed hand.

Our nation needs to examine the root of our struggles and search for ways to make changes there - heading things off at the pass, so to speak.

We are far too reactionary in nature and it will be the detriment to our standard of living if we do not look for ways to make urgent changes for tomorrow.

What's going on, indeed.


Chris F. said...

What can I say, we are creatures of comfort especially in the second half of the 20th century to the present. Our technologies while something to be thankful for, have created a huge barrier between us and the world we live in. God forbid we should ever have to ride a horse again, use a pitchfork or get our hair and clothes muddy aside from the nightclub silliness.

Yes, we would make changes so as long as it isn't painful. But if what we are doing now isn't painful enough, what is?

Denae said...

This is a strange comment..and feel free to beat me senseless... but I don't think the downturn in economy is all bad. Because of this mess I have changed my outrageous spending style to that of a conservative consumer and I'm now SAVING money. Things will likely get worse before they get better and I think we're wise to buckle down.