John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


America is Doomed?

Posted on May 27, 2010

Planet getting eaten (Credit: ESA/C Carreau)

I was watching television this morning and CNN was alternating between video of the great Gulf leak and a video from the Hubble telescope of a planet getting eaten by a bigger star.

So, the message is if we don’t all kill ourselves, well, then a big star is going to eat us all any way.

On that cheery note, let me add another.

America is doomed.  At least, that is the message that we get all too often from both the left and the right.

We are going broke.  Our workforce isn’t competitive.  People in the rest of the world hate us.  We can’t plug the damn hole.  We have too many immigrants coming into this country.  Crime is too high.  Our military is stretched too far. We are too fat.  We are too old.  We are too young.

And of course, we better all start speaking Chinese soon, because the Chinese are so rich, they work so hard, they are so smart, and there are so many of them, that we really can’t compete. America is doomed.

Really?  Put me down as an America-is-doomed skeptic.

If you listen to the national media, the experts and the pontificators, this is what you hear about the good old U.S. of A.   If you look at the polls, the right track/wrong track has been on the wrong track for quite long time.  Ever since 9/11 it seems we have lost our national mojo.

Tom Friedman, the erstwhile New York Times columnist, wishes that we could be China for one day, mostly because he wants to impose a huge carbon tax on everybody.  President Obama thinks that America is too materialistic and thinks that Americans are too greedy.  Al Gore thinks that because we pollute so much, the world is going to basically end in about 50 years, and America is going to be at fault. On the right, the Tea Party movement has expressed in no uncertain terms that they are as mad as hell at the government, and they aren’t going to take it any more.  The Christian right thinks we are going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I think everybody needs to take a big deep breath and put this all in perspective.

Yes, our government spends too much money.  That is easily fixed.  They just have to spend less.  I know this is possible because it is happening in the private sector.  The personal savings rate is going way up and personal debt is starting to go down.

The crime rate is actually declining.  It may seem rather odd, in a year where the economy has been so rocky, but the murder rate is down in most cities, as is most violent crime.

Our military is stretched pretty thin, but our military still dominates the world.  It has the best equipment, the best training, and the most support it has ever had from the population at large.  We are about ready to win in Iraq, and the conflict in Afghanistan, while largely forgotten by the average American, is going according to plan.

China has a lot of money, but what kind of country is China that they can’t survive an open Internet?  If they are so strong and so secure, why do they have to spend so many of their national resources keeping their people from expressing themselves?  Sure, they have a lot of money, but they don’t have any freedom.  And, let’s not kid ourselves, they have our money because we buy a lot of products from them.  That too, is easily fixed.  We can put up very high tariffs on all products on Chinese goods, if that is what we want to do.  But we aren’t going to do that because it is not in the interests of the consumers nor American manufacturers.

I don’t worry about the Chinese.  Until they can show that they can withstand a little bit of freedom and still survive, they aren’t really a long-term threat.

Europe?  Well, Europe is a basket case.  The Euro is about ready to collapse.  Demographically, Europeans are slowly but surely being wiped out by their own inability to reproduce.  That this why so many Europeans are so concerned about the Islamic hordes that are coming into their countries.  The Muslims reproduce at a much higher rate and in 30 years, they will make up a fairly high percentage of the population.

South America?  I have been hearing much about Brazil.  Brazil is multi-cultural.  It is big.  It has many resources.  But the Brazilians have huge problems with the vast disparity between rich and poor in their country.  And the Brazilian poor are not like the American poor.  They are desperately, desperately poor without ever having much hope for social advancement.   And Brazilians simply don’t have the national habits that we have to create an efficient, productive, modern economy.  They don’t protect intellectual property or property rights like we do.  They don’t have an appreciation for the free market that we have.  And their work force simply can’t compete with ours.

Same thing for India.  It is true that India has a huge middle class (in numbers).  But as a percentage of the population, the poor make up a far larger percentage and, like the Brazilians, they are desperately poor, with little chance at social mobility.

America will continue to be competitive for three reasons.  It has a system of government that promotes intellectual property and property rights, which gives incentives to inventors and investors that spur constant innovation.  It has a history of social mobility which provides all new Americans a healthy narrative that they can achieve their dreams if they just work hard, which in turn is terrific for productivity.  And, unlike in other societies, it has a history of openness, which inspires creativity and innovation.

America is going to be fine, as long as we allow freedom and innovation to work its magic.  There is nothing we can do if a big death star decides to eat the planet.  In the meantime, we should understand that America is not doomed.  Its best days are still ahead of us.