Ask people in other countries what they admire and respect most about America and they will mention, without hesitation, cutting-edge technology and scientific investigation (linked with higher education), specialist medical care, environmental safeguards, freedom of the press as well as religion and America’s amazing National Park System and other ‘protected’ areas.
Aren’t those also things Americans should care about? Do these positive quality of life factors really have to be obliterated in order to create decent paying jobs as Trump purports? Wouldn’t investing in science and technology–especially in the creation of technologies to produce carbon neutral sources of energy–not create more jobs for the future rather than using those investment dollars as direct payments to long-established major corporations whose only goal is to increase profits in the short term for their shareholders?
Trump’s Egotism Knows No Bounds
At a rally in Duluth, Minnesota this week, President Trump claimed that’s he’s smarter and richer than the elite. By the elite, I assume he means the same generalized ‘liberals’ to which he often makes reference in his speeches. I hate to be the one to break the news to him, but Americans who might label themselves as ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ span the full socio-economic spectrum in America. But I won’t be waiting for him to clarify that point. The last thing I expect to come out of Trump’s White House is clarity.
One fact I don’t believe anyone who’s been listening can deny is that our…uhh…’fearless’ leader has no qualms about boasting of his superiority in seemingly every aspect of human endeavor. I swear, if he waves his dick any higher in the air, it will surely sprout wings!
Grow-up Mr. President! This isn’t a pissing contest like the ones I’m sure you enjoyed with your rich buddies back at your private grade school. You wanted to be ‘The President,’ so this is the part of the script where you support your claims. It’s time to unveil your tremendous brilliance and show us just how smart you are. Yes, we need evidence not ‘alternative facts’ and please, please turn off the smoke machines. The fog is already so thick in this sound stage that many citizens are flailing around in the dark looking for an exit.
Waiting for Evidence
Mr. President, what are you going to do to improve the lives of the unemployed folks in places like West Virginia who believed your campaign rhetoric? While I do have empathy for the poor and unemployed, why would a career coal miner suffering from chronic lung disease want his children to follow in his career footsteps? Would a caring father really choose to send them to an early death by working long days in an underground mine where they’d almost certainly develop the same painful health issues far too early in life? As a caring father, I’d advise my children to seek the kind of education and training that would prepare them for the jobs of the future in the fields of science and technology, education or health care.
It shouldn’t be news to anyone that technological advances are changing our world at a rapid pace, and there are certain industries that are being replaced. The only long-term solution for replacing the jobs being lost in dying sectors of the economy, such as the coal industry, is a strong public education system, retraining programs for those affected and renewed economic development in rural areas. That means people have to see the handwriting on the wall and be willing to change, but it also requires the use of critical thinking skills (something that seems to be in very short supply in our nation’s capital these days) on the part of our national and state government leaders.
View from Abroad
Don’t think that watching the destruction of American institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Education is any easier from my viewpoint abroad. If anything, living in poorer countries–where corruption and cronyism in government is tolerated and often encouraged–only heightens my awareness of the damage currently taking place within every US Government Department.
On a daily basis in the developing world, I witness the results of weak environmental protections, lack of zoning regulations and the poverty that results when government officials care more about lining their own pockets than about the welfare of citizens. As I write this, I’m constantly interrupted by fits of coughing due to the poor air quality in the city I’m currently visiting. This is what lack of government regulation brings and believe me when I say it isn’t the quality of life I know most of my friends in the USA cherish!
What kind of leader do you want?
This isn’t an original thought, but when did many Americans become SO afraid of having intelligent leaders? You know, someone who would consult experts in a given academic field before making decisions that affect all living beings on planet earth, rather than only seeking advice from like-minded ideologues and profit-driven corporate executives. I admire leaders who take the time to deliberate all the possible merits of an issue and only speak when they have something of substance to say, and who even then, measure their words carefully as opposed to Trump’s style which seems to follow a reality TV script that constantly seeks to shock the world.
I want the best and brightest to be my leaders. Someone who speaks eloquently and has the knowledge and confidence to use the English language to its fullest extent in order to thoroughly educate citizens. Someone who uses the kind of vocabulary that keeps me on my toes and has me running for the dictionary when I don’t understand their words. Someone who inspires and challenges me to research and learn more about issues, rather than hastily dismissing critics as liars. And yes, I do want a leader who’s respected by the vast majority of the world’s leaders, because all nations must be able to work together in order to solve daunting issues such as global warming and over-population that threaten the very existence of life on planet earth. Finally, I want a leader who will encourage me to evolve into a better person and therefore a better citizen who is more capable of affecting positive changes within my community and country.
Loose lips sink ships
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from living in and adapting to life in various cultures is the importance and weight carried by spoken words. This may come as a shock to some Americans, but locals in much of the world don’t openly express their true feelings, instead deferring to keep harmony between colleagues and within their cultures. Regardless of whether or not we choose to copy this more thoughtful approach to self-expression, imagine the dismay of many world leaders when they consider some of the 100s of off-the-cuff remarks President Trump has made. The only other current world leaders in the same league are loose-lipped vigilante Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Trump’s showboating even puts Vladamir Putin to shame which should be an alarming comparison!
Accelerating the shift of power
The world’s negative view of Trump’s personal attacks and ‘America First’ policies are playing directly into the hands of Xi Jinping as China accelerates its charm offensive (and own empire building) through business expansion and by directly financing infrastructure projects in developing countries on every continent. While Trump spews venom at foreign leaders and builds walls around the USA, China is signing treaties and business deals.
At a time when China is quite wisely seeking to endear itself to both the post-industrial and developing world, the USA appears to be hurtling head-first into an abyss. Economist Kishore Mahbubani warned in his prophetic book “The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East” that the kind of protectionist (America First!) policies espoused by the Trump administration are exactly the wrong course of action if the West’s most powerful country wants to retain its current spot as the world’s dominant political and economic power. The eyes of the world are watching, and even though some Americans may pretend to not care what ‘foreigners’ think of their country, over the long term such reckless behavior from our leaders will only end up harming the USA’s economy and stature in the world.
Wasn’t US industry (and therefore the country) built by accepting change as an opportunity and facing challenges that in the end lead to innovation and what we in the West always labeled “progress’? Our current administration appears determined to ignore the necessity of scientific investigation which was the key to America’s military and industrial might in the past.
The greed of our current corporate model which values sort-term profits above all else is only a prescription for more financial disasters of the 2007-08 type in the future. In addition, we need to take a look at successful business models used in other countries instead of thinking we alone have all the answers.
For example, Germany has proven it’s possible to have a strong economy based on medium sized businesses that seek to build resilience and longevity through partnerships rather than solely focusing on short term profits. In other words, bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to customer service (care to navigate the phone tree anyone?) and critical manufacturing concepts such as quality control.
Has America lost its moral compass?
Aside from economic concerns, what has happened to the ethical and moral beliefs of many Americans? Don’t we teach our children that bullying and intimidation are not a model for the way to lead a productive life? What does it say about the USA as a nation when we allow our highest elected official to get away with outrageous remarks demeaning just about anyone who isn’t a member of his immediate family?
Honestly, US voters couldn’t have elected a more stereotypical ‘ugly American’ character than our current ‘me first’ buffoon who presides daily over the White House’s oval office! The image that Trump projects to the rest of the world is one of selfishness, deceit and intimidation, the school yard bully who didn’t get his way and seeks to take out his revenge on everyone around him. What a wonderful adult role model that presents for impressionable children!
In my humble opinion, it seems the only thing Trump has accomplished in his time as President is to make many people (both in the USA and abroad) question the nature of reality itself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of the way business as usual has been conducted in the corridors of Washington, D. C. in the past, and yes, institutions need to be constantly changing in order to better serve a country’s citizens, but I absolutely do not believe that the best way forward is for our current administration to simply burn down the house.
Our leaders in Washington, D. C. need to change their habitual short-term, politically-expedient way of thinking and begin supporting some of the many innovative economic and educational initiatives being implemented on the local level across the country. Building a culture that’s based on sustainable economic development and skills-training for ALL will reap benefits for the generations to come.