Are America#8217;s best years behind us?

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2007

Qatar is a Middle East nation with a leader who is a visionary.

When faced with what he saw as a shortage of beachfront property he directed his government to go and build more beach. Experts told the government that it was an impossible task, but build more beach is exactly what they did.

Why? Because they could.

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Last year China completed a high speed train connection to Tibet, ending the isolation in that geographically challenged place on the planet. The technology used had to be created as they faced problems in climate and terrain. Nevertheless, the train now runs, on time, and the problem has been solved.

Both examples are accomplishments that America has been known for undertaking and completing. The impossible has been little more than difficult for the nation that landed on the moon.

But in recent years America has not been as innovative with problem solving. Our airports are congested, our planes late, and our security slow and inefficient.

Our energy policy is non-existent unless you count seeking oil as a policy. Our social services struggle for funding while our pension system falters and fails. Our health care, the most expensive in the world, is in chaos. And yet we seem unable to solve these persistent problems.

It seems that our inability to reach for innovation of the type the nation has been known for in its past, is guided by two issues.

First, we have not had, in recent years, the kind of national leaders who came with a vision of greatness and the ability to guide Americans to that vision. And no matter how great the American people, we need such leaders to bring us together for the common good.

The second issue is more strategic in nature. We have taken the richest nation on the planet and found that our resources are not adequate enough to meet our needs. How can this happen? It happened because we made three critical decisions.

First, we decided to fund our military at a rate approximately equal to that of the rest of the planet on an annual basis. Yes, it is true, our annual military expenditures equal those of all the other nations each year.

Second, as our health care system developed, we permitted it to seek excellence with no commitment to contain costs. As a result health care costs a greater portion of our national wealth than in any developed nation. This too drains our resources and remains an unattended issue.

Third, we tolerated political corruption and the capture of our national wealth by special interests. They discovered that government is good for business, when business owns those who govern.

Today, we have the results of that corruption with billions hidden offshore from taxation, regulations ignored, fines forgiven, and our companies actually fiscally encouraged by our government to move out of America.

We made these choices and we have the results. If you want to continue to look to Qatar and China for innovation while America can’t fix its bridges or insure its children, stay on this path. If you want a better America, the one we all remember, let’s take back the nation from the politicians who have sold us to business, from those who think war is our best policy, and from those who think free market health care is really working.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune.