Although the 24-hour evening news instructs us that economies periodically scrape along the bottom when the national tide is low, and hard times come and go like hurricanes, this is something different.
Our country is seriously ill, yet we whistle past the unemployment lines as if it were a bad cold that will pass.
Not this time.
The country is in denial about the fundamental malady.
Like an aging heartthrob, America is simply not the country it once was.
It’s an identity crisis that won’t be cured by leasing a red Porsche convertible and getting a razor-ribbon tattoo.
Sure, it’s still the global powerhouse, and has the weaponry to prove it.
It continues to be the big man on campus with wealth, influence, and a flock of cheerleaders.
But the abs… the six-pack… is gone.
Now it holds its stomach in while it inflates its sagging chest.
America has become A-Rod; still able to crush a ball, but, like him, much less frequently.
Our leaders remind us regularly that we’re the best, and we still believe it, but not with the self-assured conviction of the past.
We have become the English gentry who auction off the family heirlooms to maintain a fading lifestyle.
How did it happen?
The Bush tax cuts and wars-a-palooza?
Barney Frank’s quick-change artistry of converting the nearly homeless into new homeowners?
The bankers and brokers who engineered Sanskrit parlor tricks to harvest even more wealth for themselves?
The gasping unions who vigorously fought back against a diminishing supply of air?
The entitled 47 percent who were accused of sucking lady liberty’s teats dry?
The lobbyists who turned our congress into an escort service?
The corporations who gained ‘Peoplehood’ but lost any residual interest in people?
But the ones responsible for disemboweling the country were us, the folks.
We wanted more. More house with more closets, and more stuff to fill them.
The timid public service announcements to “Buy American” were meant for some patriotic suckers. Not us.
We fed our insatiable yearning for more, and, to get more, we started bottom-feeding for the lowest price…a price that was founded from cheap foreign labor that was paid little, worked in unhealthy places with no medical benefits, or benefits of any kind.
Who could compete with that?
We fully bought into the addiction while we surrendered our jobs.
Americans could no longer make shirts, sneakers, or TVs that Americans would buy.
So, we closed up shop and went shopping for bargains.
The Faustian bargain trips to Sam’s Club put Uncle Sam in distress.