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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/14/11

A Vision Of An America That Might Have Been

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   30 comments
Message Michael Payne


Rather than investing the wealth of America in rebuilding a collapsing economy and a crumbling infrastructure, our government has gambled it away on a very bad investment, namely, war. That wealth should have been used in the process of restoring stability to our nation but it was not and a great opportunity was squandered. I often think about the America that might have been.

Especially since America entered the 21st century, our presidents, first Bush and then Obama have invested the wealth of America on destructive weapons of war; guns, bullets, missiles and bombs. The rate of return on this risky investment has been nothing more than massive destruction in foreign lands and the deaths of far too many innocent civilians and U.S. troops.

We could and should have invested those mega-billions of dollars into the creation of jobs, jobs and more jobs; we could have stopped the hemorrhaging of our industrial sector by creating new industries to develop and manufacture solar panels, windmills, alternate fuels and other energy-saving products. The opportunity was there for the taking, but we failed to seize it and are now paying a heavy price for our misguided actions.

Instead of investing billions of dollars on deadly drones and hellfire missiles, and the employment of contractor/mercenary companies, our government could have funded programs for the creation and development of autos, busses and trucks fueled by electricity and natural gas. It could have funded mass transit systems within cities, together with high speed rail and even bullet trains between major cities. We could have replaced our totally obsolete rail passenger system, AMTRAK, with fast, modern trains such as those now commonly used in Japan, China, and European countries.

Instead of weapons of war we could have invested billions into education. Let's look at these alarming statistics about America's world rankings in academic achievement, as taken from the fact sheet of the Alliance For Excellent Education. " Today, the United States' high school graduation rate ranks near the bottom among developed nations belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

On virtually every international assessment of academic proficiency, American secondary school students' performance varies from mediocre to poor." Among the 30 nations ranked, the U.S. was 15th in reading literacy, 21st in science and 25th in mathematics. This clearly indicates that our education system, the key to America's future, is literally on life support. Is that what some still refer to as "American exceptionalism?"

And while we should make the funding and improvement of our education system a top priority, the opposite is happening as states have been forced to lay off many thousands of teachers and cut back on important school programs. What is wrong with our priorities, what has happened to our drive for excellence, and our commitment to our children's future? Â

Far too much of America's wealth is invested in the more than 750 military installations around the world. At least half of that monumental cost could have been redirected into the repair and improvement of our nation's rapidly deteriorating infrastructure; the interstate highway system, bridges, dams, waterways and our national electrical grid. Much of these critical elements of our nation's commerce are falling apart due to a lack of funding.

We failed to invest in an effective universal health care system based on a Medicare model or some other single payer system to replace our outdated, costly and inefficient system with one that the people of America need and deserve. We refused to fund a modern health care system that would drastically reduce the costs of health insurance premiums and prescription drug costs.

Lastly and of critical importance, America foolishly used its military forces in so-called resource wars, i.e., the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These resource wars have one objective and that is to control regions of the world that contain the largest oil reserves. Yes, America has a great dependence on foreign oil to fuel our commerce and economy but the way to guarantee supplies of energy should not be through wars but by the development of alternate fuels and sources of energy.

There are those who strongly feel that it's not the government's responsibility to create jobs and that job creation should be left up to Corporate America. Well, that might be a reasonable conclusion in theory, but in actual practice it no longer works. Corporate America no longer cares a whit about creating jobs for Americans. What profit hungry corporations do is transfer jobs of American workers to overseas slave labor and then, shamelessly, expect those same American workers to buy their imported products.

The U.S. government, considering the precarious state of our economy, should have become the driving force for job creation. There are numerous ways by which it can work with and provide funding for entrepreneurs who wish to create new manufacturing in this country. This can be accomplished by the carefully managed use of effective stimulus programs, tax incentives, governmental agency assistance and other governmental/industry cooperative efforts.

The corporations in the defense industry would be very displeased if hundreds of billions of dollars were shifted from the agenda of war into the process of rebuilding America. These are the corporations who make the weapons of war and they rely heavily upon continuous funding from the government to sustain themselves. They are interested in the proliferation of war and ever greater profits; they have no interest whatsoever in the domestic needs of America.

Let's put it this way. It is government's job to provide security and safety for the American people. It is not government's job to create a vast military empire and to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars to wage unnecessary, illegal wars. But that is exactly what is going on. It's time for our government to severely scale back these negative investments and reinvest this money back into this nation.

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