Philosophical musings of Chic Hollis
That message wasn’t, “Love your enemies, the Soviet and the Cuban communists, and fly some astronauts to the moon.” For those of you who have forgotten those famous words that he spoke almost 50 years ago, I will repeat them for you: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
So powerful and inspirational were his few words that patriotic Americans dashed off to save the world from the threat and spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Remember our failure in Vietnam? And our triumph of landing on the moon and bringing our astronauts back home?
Have our young ambitious statesmen, Democrats and Republicans, forgotten President Kennedy’s unifying advice? Let’s look deeper into the evolution of the attitudes of the common people of this nation. They have lost the patriotic spirit of WWII as the consequence of the failed ventures in promoting our polarized form of democracy to the restless natives in other parts of this world. Many of those innocent foreigners are troubled by terrorists, drugs, poverty, disease, religious zealots, and unrestrained capitalists selling arms, derivatives, and freedom from the domination of nations with imperialistic agendas such as ours.
What can we possibly do for our country today with its unrealistic belief that we are the saviors of humanity? A nation whose financial obligations are unsustainable? Whose democracy is crumbling thanks to polarization? Whose ambitions far exceed its ability to achieve them?
What happened to the wisdom of the ancients who praised humility, taught us to keep our noses out of the businesses of others, to stay home, to help our neighbors, to work hard, to save something, and to prepare for that unpredictable rainy day?
When did this whiney philosophy, “Take care of me, Uncle Sam, I’m important!” become so popular? When the draft was discontinued? When our parents let the hippies do as they pleased? When the Soviet regime disintegrated, and the Chinese juggernaut was not ready to ascend the throne? When we forgot that world leadership is best attained by daily performances that demonstrate capability, intelligence, compassion, and ethical behavior?
Was President Kennedy’s inaugural address just a few words of polished political rhetoric that the masses who applauded him readily accepted because common folks had jobs and a decent income in January, 1961? For those of us who heard him speak, we were moved to sacrifice for our country and join the Peace Corps to help others that needed American assistance.
Fifty years later, those patriotic feelings have mostly disappeared. Public approval ratings of the performance of the leaders of our federal and state governments as reported in various polls are at a new low. Our nation is in retreat, hampered by a lack of funding, an unimaginative leadership that lacks vision, and a restless population that is no longer unified as it was during WWII. We dabble unsuccessfully in foreign politics, procrastinate in designing decisive measures to solve domestic problems, and react weakly in defending our porous borders.
We can’t possibly follow Kennedy’s recommendation “to ask what we can do for our country” because our leaders have no consensus about how citizens must help out. Of course, the rich should pay more taxes, the unemployed should be given a job that pays a “living wage,” and the polity should be patient because ruling a large nation is very difficult. Strict demands can’t be placed on citizens. They must be cared for by compassionate government agencies.
In the minds of government officials, there is no restraint on spending someone else’s money. Likewise there is never enough money to satisfy all the wishes of the needy public. Can’t someone make a list of what citizens can do for America? I tried doing that below:
1. Postpone the expensive insurance program for universal healthcare until some serious effort is made to understand how healthcare costs can be contained. Insurance companies are not going to do that without rationing!
2. Tax anything and any service that isn’t taxed, but don’t tax the middle class. Yeah, right!
3. Stop exporting jobs to prevent the captains of industry from increasing their take home pay.
4. Return to the 12% limit on charging interest on debt, and cut the late payment fees to 1% of the outstanding balance.
5. Tax corporation income earned outside of the US, as the Federal Government taxes individuals.
6. Eliminate the inequities between the treatment of corporate income taxes and of personal income taxes. (e.g. If individuals can only deduct interest on home purchases, why should businesses be allowed to deduct whatever interest they pay? Why should businesses be allowed to deduct party and entertainment expenses, when individuals can’t?)
7. Change the rules that favor government employees over private employees. When do you start showing the world that this nation stands for equal treatment under the law?
8. Stop spending money for futile wars and stationing troops all over the world. Is this country being paid by the UN to defend other countries?
9. Put people to work on renewing the dilapidated infrastructure of our bridges, ports, and roads.
10. Start building a consensus that includes people from all walks of life about taking care of this nation so citizens and legal residents have a fatherland that we can be proud to serve.
Write down your ideas and send them to me at Newsblaze. Don’t count on egotistical politicians and CEOs to think ahead. Those know-it-alls won’t ever solicit ideas from the general public!