Vail Daily column: Let’s fix our problems
Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.
Is the totality of changes and complexities pushing the limits of what us humans and our form of democracy can “handle”? Consider the following issues, that over a period of time have been thrust upon us — where at least until recently, we can’t seem to get over “same-sex-marriage”:
• Inner-city issues of crime, gangs, poverty, race and more.
• Massive student loan debt: One, equal to total of all outstanding credit card debt and, two, cannot be erased with bankruptcy.
• Maintaining 2nd Amendment rights, but not addressing lethal combination of mental illness and, especially, modern weapons.
• Pushing limits of income inequality that is not necessary and possibly hurtful to our commerce economy and democracy.
• Action required to adapt to climate change that is already starting to affect our lives — regardless of cause or causes.
• Sustaining Social Security and Medicare with an aging population.
• Living longer, but not much thought of dementia in one of four older seniors — eclipsing caregiving of “traditional” diseases.
• Information overload with plethora of instant news/social media/etc. — at times ironically with a less informed society.
• More robots and the new cognitive computer applications with no thought of the net effects on jobs or roles of humans.
• Putting people into prison with inadequate thought of what happens in prison or upon release — as most will be released.
• Out-of-control illegal immigration — Reagan’s “line in the sand” and amnesty had no follow-through by either party over 30 years.
• Massive national debt from “more going out and less coming in,” recently mostly due to Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Great Recession.
• Job market struggling with “new normal” of doing-more-with-less and smaller percentage of full-time jobs from the Great Recession legacy.
• Competing in a fast-paced global economy, yet maintaining our economies and jobs at home.
• Humankind-altering nuclear legacy challenges: Storing waste, containing accidents, preventing dirty bombs or full-on weapon use.
• Threats of terrorism abroad and at home testing the mettle of our democracy and national debt with actual or possible calls for: One, tightened policies for refugee immigration, visas and finance residency; two, enhanced monitoring of activities and voice/digital communications, etc.; three, warrant-less searches and open-ended detention; four, continuing Guantanamo; and five, immediate military actions and long-term troop encampments.
We are sort of muddling along with many of these issues by only muttering our favorite ideological one-liners. For example, forget saying, “the best is yet to come,” when we don’t know what the best is. Consider: It’s hard to imagine what life will be like 100 years from now — the life expectancy of many children born today. So for the sake of generations to come, let’s use American can-do optimism, coupled with finally acting like grown-ups working together politically, to fix known problems and anticipate those yet to come. Then we can say, “We’ll be the best at what’s to come”.
Paul Rondeau lives in Vail.
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