Editor, Daily Press:
If you have to have a starting point, you may as well choose President Eisenhower’s warning to beware the military industrial complex.
About that time, banking and corporate heads were discovering they could demand previously unheard of multimillion-dollar salaries, and their attitude toward obscene greed was filtering down through the rest of society. They were too big to fail, so when Gordon Gecco of movie notoriety finally declared that greed is good, that greed works, and that greed was the driving force behind progress, our ultimate doom was sealed. The elite set the tone, and the little dogs followed right along.
For thousands of years, humanity had known greed is not good. In fact, greed is one of the seven deadly sins! But, so what? America was on top of the world. We were in the middle of a cold war, but we had been through World War I and World War II, and Korea, and we could handle anything. The country was up to its ears in wealth, and if you didn’t have yours yet, it was just a matter of time or you weren’t trying. Get yours, get it now, and get it any way you can.
Our churches were all wrapped up in politics, so who was there to sound a cautionary warning? Our moral leaders were too busy lamenting abortion, homosexuality and ideology to worry about such things as the cancerous growth of the seven deadly sins in our midst.
A few brave souls, such as Peter Peterson with his debt clock, and William Greider with his social and economic commentaries, were trying to call attention to the moral and ethical rot that was infecting the greatest country in the world. Their doom-and-gloom warnings ignited a surge of apathy, but who could take them seriously when we were No. 1?
For well over 10 years, even I tried to explain the economic perils with which America is struggling. At this point, though, America is like the man who jumped off the Empire State Building. As he fell past the 10th floor, he thought, “Well, this isn’t so bad.”
The fact remains, though, that we are walking in economic quicksand. Whether you believe it or not, our politicians are trying every way they can, short of doing what must be done, to get our economy back on track.
Sadly, the greatest obstacle they face is the American people. In a democratic republic, political leaders only act decisively after the public makes up its mind. We have failed our political leaders by being hostile to politics, by failing to vote and exercise our civic responsibilities, by being indifferent toward corruption, and by failing to support whistleblowers and leaders who are willing to act responsibly by confronting those who are destroying our country.
As a consequence, we no longer know who or what to believe or trust. Is it any wonder that all we are doing is wading around in a swamp of apathy and polarization?
The road to recovery demands three immediate actions. First, international bankers and plutocrats are still committing crimes without suffering commensurate consequences. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sent to jail when convicted. Second, Congress must be freed from the undue influence of Wall Street lobbyists and money. And third, government officials and the public must put aside their political agendas and provide the leadership we must have if we expect to escape this headlong plunge into a world economic dark age of unimagined proportions.
Such corrective steps will not be taken unless the public demands them in no uncertain terms. Don’t think that individual citizens are helpless pawns. In a democracy, we are the final authority! It is time to either put up or shut up and be forever sorry.