The dire situation we face today did not happen by accident, but rather a result of our arrogance and splurge. The attacks on Sept. 11, lit a spark of national self-reflection, which, instead of blazing into a collective drive for reform, gave way to an epic state of decadence. Heedless of all warning and despite the conflicts that ensued in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States embarked on a seven-year binge. The War on Terror came with no rationing or draft, just a presidential enjoinder to spend freely. “Get down to Disney World in Florida,” George W. Bush said two weeks after the attacks. “Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” The nation obeyed.
The whole house of cards came crashing down this year, in the form of 1.76 million foreclosures and counting. Other markets followed suit, and the succession of disastrous news reports. The sub prime market tanked, gas prices reached $4.50 a gallon; Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, as did, ATA, and Frontier airlines; car sales reached a 15-year low; unemployment reached a 16-year high.
Then, Barack Obama won the presidential election and for a moment the nation breathed easier. But the statistics from last month indicate that we are spiraling down. It is disheartening to see friends and hard working Americans loose their jobs and homes and the uncertainty of what the future holds.
But, there’s hope things will turn around with Obama’s economic recovery plan as long as he stays committed and delivers on his promises. President-Elect Obama and the congress have been moving quickly and decisively to develop a plan to revive the economy through swift passage of the single largest economic recovery package in U.S. history. With a commitment to transformative change aimed at catapulting the U.S. into a position of leadership in the new green economy, the incoming administration plans to make a significant down payment on major green initiatives that will spur innovation, put money back into the wallets of hard-working Americans, and create millions of green jobs.
Despite all that has happened, and all that's sure to come, I'm optimistic that we can weather this, provided Americans change their bad habits.
The loss of thousands of lives on 9/11 wasn't enough to change our habits, but the ongoing loss of millions of jobs may do the trick.
The party's over, people!! Let's behave.
This was initilally published late 2008.