Friday, April 13, 2007

America's future

The following was a speech given to a group of young people concering the future of our nation:

Ever since the creation of government there has been one government who’s power could not be matched by any other nation. Rome, Greece, Spain, Mongolia, Britain, France, and now America. During their period of power these super powers have all had strong militaries, stable economies, and capable leaders, but they all have one more thing in common, they all collapsed. Their treasuries became drained, their economies frail, and their militaries overextended.
Three and a half years ago the decision was made to invade Iraq. Now, we bear the consequences of that choice, through the stubborn stupidity and willful ignorance of our leadership our military has been stretched thin by an unwinnable conflict. So thin that if the President tries to salvage his great failure with an additional 20,000 troops our nation would be unable to respond to an attack or even an invasion against the United States.

As troubling as the situation concerning our military it is a small worry when compared to some of our other issues. President James Madison, a student of history and government wisely observed that “A public debt is a public curse.", anti slavery and woman’s rights activist Wendell Philips keenly noted that "Debt is the fatal disease of republics.". Today our nation owes $8.9 trillion or over $29,000 a person in debt, we spend $55 billion on interest on the debt each year, and according to Congressman John S. Tanner at the rate we are going every cent of tax revenue will go to interest on the debt by the year 2040.

What is our government doing to solve this problem? Absolutely nothing. While billions of dollars are being squandered on foreign wars and failed experiments in democracy our government has given billions in tax cuts to the top 1% of wage earners, handed out overpriced contracts to Halliburton, the Vice President’s former company, and is spending money on countless other foolish projects such as $13.5 million to help finance the World Toilet convention in Ireland and $50 million to build an indoor rain forest in Iowa. The attitude of our government can be best summed up by Dick Cheney who claimed “Deficits don’t matter”.

And for Dick Cheney deficits probably don’t matter becuase when the time to repay the debt comes the generations of our parents and grandparents will be long gone and the burden of this debt will fall upon our shoulders. The choices our parents make today may not affect us for another forty years, but they will effect us. As Thomas Jefferson said “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.". Our nation was founded on the principle of no taxation without representation, but this reckless spending that we have no vote over will be a burdening tax on our livliehood.
Older people expect and hope for us to silently accept the bill for their prescription drugs, they want us pay for their war in Iraq, and they demand that we pay for their tax cuts. In short, they wish for us to pay their share of their government. The generation preceding us is the most lazy and irresponsible in the history of this country. They are financing their wastefull lifestyle with the inherited wealth of hundreds of years of hard work and they are finance their wastefull government with debt that will take hundreds of years of hard work to repay. This is not only a debt we should not bear it is a debt that we cannot bear.

The idea of what the government owes may be troubling, but there is also the problem of what the average citizen owes. American consumer debt is $2.2 trillion. Last year Americans spent more money then they earned. People are taking money out of their homes and on their credit cards to buy products made with cheap labor from China and India. I am sure everyone here has heard of all of the textile plant closings by us. This is not because there is not a demand for textile products it is because the textile products we buy come from Chinese mills, Vietnamese sweat shops, and Indian slave factories.

Of those nations China is the one to be most concerned about. China may soon have the capability to do what no terrorist can ever do and that is topple the United States.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once commented “Our debt, after all, is an internal debt, owed not only by the nation but to the nation. If our children have to pay the interest they will pay that interest to themselves.” and in Roosevelt’s time that statement was true, today it is not. We are buying Chinese products en masse and the Chinese are using the proceeds to purchase our debt and stock in our corporations en masse. China, a communist nation with a deplorable human rights record holds several trillion dollars worth of government and consumer debt, one fifth of shares in publicly traded U.S companies are held by foreigners. Every year a trillion dollars flows out of the country and into foreign nations. That is a trillion dollars that will not come back to the U.S economy until our workers will labor for 25 cents an hour and go to bed hungry. This cycle cannot be maintained we must break it while we can.

The U.S worker expects to be paid more then the laborer of any other nation, yet the U.S comes somewhere around twentieth in education levels and the U.S worker does not labor as hard as those of other nations who have a higher education level and are paid less.
In spite of all this our nation has the strongest military in the world, the most industrious economy in the world, and an endless pile of resources at its disposable. Our nation is one of resilience, we managed to make it through the Great Depression, two world wars, the Cold War and countless other adversities. And I have no doubt that if we labor on this issue we can again make it through. Live within your means, use your credit cards sparingly, try to purchase products made in the U.S when you can, study hard, work harder, and most importantly let your voice be heard.

Our parents and grandparents don’t care about this issue they’d just as soon stick us with the price of their generations. We have no advocate for this issue but ourselves.
Many of you will be eligible to vote in the next election. You must take up this opportunity. I an sure you know that one vote never influences an election, but the collective vote of our generation could easily sway an election. For example in the last Senate race in North Carolina the margin of victory was just 150,000 votes. Young people who chose not to vote easily could have swayed that election. But, more importantly, when politicians are deciding how to vote on a specific issue they look at a variety of things, one of which is what percentages of what groups voted. If only 5% of people under thirty vote while 90% of people over fifty vote the official is going to give more attention to the latter group even though they represent less of the population. And even if you cannot vote you must be heard! Go to and and send a brief note to your elected officials, heck if you don’t want to write a note I’ve got one written for you, write a letter to the editor of the news paper. The important thing is we are not going to win a battle we don’t fight. The price of apathy is a heavy one. Now is the time for action.

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