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January 7, 2007

Little Reason for Optimism

By Jan A. Larson

I'm generally an optimistic person by nature, but as the 110th Congress convenes, I find there is little reason for optimism.

I don't know if I've deluded myself or whether my inherent optimism has clouded my judgment in the past but I am now becoming resigned to the idea that enough Americans are ignorant, lackadaisical, apathetic and stupid that the nation is headed on a course of destruction from which it will not recover.

Too many Americans it seems just don't give a damn about their country.  Too many don't appreciate what they have.  They don't appreciate what it took for them to have what they have.

Americans are like children and the politicians know this.  We don't like broccoli so politicians feed us ice cream and we lap it up.  They promise to solve the nation's ills, but ultimately just make them worse.  That is what the Democrats will undoubtedly do, with Republican complicity, but we will elect them again anyway.

Americans voted the Democrats into power almost entirely on the basis of one issue - the war in Iraq.  Americans don't have the stomach for war.  In nearly four years in Iraq, American casualties number about 3000 - approximately the same number of Allied forces killed in one day, June 6, 1944, during the invasion of Normandy.  Such an invasion could never take place today.

Political correctness, the desire not to "offend" the "Muslim street" and a goal of inflicting no civilian casualties has produced a "tip toe" war where the United States, instead of taking powerful, decisive action, has fought this war in a way that makes it impossible to win.

The American public is tired of the war and wants it to go away.  Winning doesn't matter - just make it go away.  The Democrats will make it go away and once they do, there will be no going back.  If the U. S. leaves Iraq before the Iraqi government can control the country, it is only a matter of time before another despot - likely a despot friendly to Iran - takes over.

My prediction is that the U. S. will withdraw from Iraq and Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, if they haven't done so already.  I also predict that at some point in the next 10 to 20 years, if not sooner, Iran will detonate a nuclear device - likely in Israel - and there won't be anything the U. S. can or will do to stop it.

There is little reason to be optimistic on the domestic front either.  The looming Social Security bankruptcy train wreck will happen.  There might have been a chance to avoid the pending disaster had the Congress and the American people supported the privatization of Social Security, but again, fear and ignorance rules the day.  The laws of mathematics cannot be repealed, so either young people are going to face taxes far greater than the benefits that they can only hope to receive or retirees are going to see benefits cut drastically.

My prediction is that Social Security taxes will be raised substantially and at some point when the crisis is imminent, a "lifetime earnings" test will be applied such that anyone that earns more than a certain amount during their lifetime will have their Social Security benefits reduced or eliminated.

There will be absolutely nothing done in the foreseeable future regarding illegal immigration other than the possible implementation of an amnesty program.  This will, of course, do nothing but increase the flow of illegals into the United States.

The 110th Congress will likely raise the minimum wage because it sounds like something that the stupid public would want.  This will have multiple effects:  More young people will be tempted for forego higher education in favor of a career at the low end of the employment ladder, more employers of low-wage workers will hire fewer of them and, there will be even more incentive for employers to hire illegals at sub-minimum wages.

The future does not look good for the advancement of freedom in the United States.  In the past few decades, it has become illegal to smoke in many places, to drive without a seatbelt, to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, to own a gun without registering and to gamble on the Internet.  All these restrictions passed in the name of "protecting" Americans.  That is, protecting them from themselves.

Political speech, the very reason the First Amendment was written, is now restricted by McCain-Feingold.  Nancy Pelosi wants to further limit free speech in the name of "lobbying reform."

The government can now take your property for whatever reason it chooses as long as that reason involves more tax revenue.  The government tells you where you must send your children to school even if that school is failing.  The government forces you to disclose all details about your finances.  None of these things is likely to change as long as Americans don't seem to care.

Americans, by and large, have it easy.  Most people have far more than the basics of life, an in fact, even of the so-called "poor" in this country live better than royalty of centuries past.  We concern ourselves with the lives of celebrities but don't know anything about history.  We see turmoil in other parts of the world, but would rather ignore it.  We don't see the threats to our country from without and within.  We expect government to take care of us and politicians promise they will.  Unfortunately politicians can't keep those promises and I fear that one day we will all wake up to a very different America and it won't be very pleasant.

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