Vail Daily letter: America’s place |

Vail Daily letter: America’s place

Peter Bergh
Vail, CO, Colorado

Following World War II, and with ever-increasing intensity, there has been another war raging across the United States. This is not a race war, as some would have us believe, but an economic war that has had the unintended and devastating consequences of pitting the haves against the have-nots. Witness today’s horse race for the prized Washington Cup.

Tragically, the seeds of this unnecessary conflict were planted at a time in our nation’s history when the country was at the very top of its game, respected and admired by the entire world as a bastion of outstanding achievement and offering to all the hope for universal prosperity and lasting peace.

Steeled by the Great Depression, and led by a man of vision and great courage, Americans were united by a common threat, and despite overwhelming odds, set about the formidable task of defeating the Axis in two widely separated theaters of war thousands of miles from home.

The euphoria of this incredible achievement lasted through the prosperous years when Eisenhower was president. However, ignoring Ike’s warning to “beware the military industrial complex,” and forgetting the reality that history has the tendency to repeat itself, the populace in its newfound and almost universal prosperity fell into a stupor of self-indulgent consumption, and an obsession with sports and entertainment that has proven to be intimately intertwined with corresponding feelings of entitlement.

Now, once again, it is dawn in America. More than 300 million Americans are slowly waking up to the fact that while most of the nation lay in stupor for several decades, our great public education system was allowed to virtually collapse, we assumed the costly role of world policeman while letting the nation’s entire domestic infrastructure fall into disrepair and coasted on our laurels.

As a direct consequence, the national debt has soared to $16 trillion, the current real deficit is in excess of $3 trillion and we are faced with $25 trillion of currently unfunded health care costs.

While the good news is that the United States has historically proven to be able to reinvent itself and prevail when faced with threats to its very survival as a nation (1776, 1861 and 1941, for example), the bad news is that though today about two-thirds of the voters believe that the nation is heading in the wrong direction, there is no consensus as to what must be done to alter course.

Of greatest concern to me at this critical point in time is that there does not yet appear to be a leader on the horizon having the stature of Washington, Lincoln or FDR – a person who has the knowledge, conviction, experience, integrity and the courage to stand up tall and tell the American people the harsh truth as to what must be done to overcome the huge challenges we face in order to ensure America’s survival and a return to greatness and world acclaim once again.

This will of necessity entail convincing a self-indulgent electorate of the need for MASS (mutually agreed shared sacrifices) at all socio-economic as well as corporate levels, and for everyone to recognize that ultimately someone will have to pay the bill for what has become known and accepted as the “free-lunch” that most everyone feels entitled to. Houston, we do indeed have a problem, and it is much greater than originally thought.

Clearly the wheels are in danger of coming off the bus. However, before they do, it is my hope that people will soon take heed of Abraham Lincoln’s dire warning that “a nation divided against itself cannot stand” and take appropriate action in order to avoid the fatal crash that a great many of us see coming.

Peter Bergh


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