A week in
the desert letting go of my obsession with all things L.A. has unfortunately done nothing to change
my dark view of our situation except to bring it into sharper focus…
We are in a
profound crisis economically and politically that is as nakedly visible to
everyone as the emperor who wore no clothes was to a small child.
We too are
in denial, particularly those with the power and wealth to provide the
desperately needed leadership to pull our city, state and nation together and
guide us through hard times that require major changes in the way we live and
work and deal with each other.
business as usual as if nothing were wrong that won’t right itself in due time.
The growth economy based on the insane belief that anybody, that everybody,
could become a millionaire – or at least live like one on credit – isn’t coming
What was normal
since the end of World War II has been and gone and isn’t coming back. American
imperialism and the military-industrial complex have entrapped us in endless
war that has consumed our resources and exhausted our strength.
The God of Materialism is dead… Hyper-consumerism is no longer sustainable or desirable
in an over-populated world suffocating in its exhaust fumes. Without a
manufacturing base, the middle class is shrinking and opportunities for the
young are diminishing even as their parents and grandparents seek to protect
what they have.
We are a
nation divided against itself, at war with ourselves, at a time that cries out for
unity. We are committing national suicide with every sector from Wall Street to
the unions grasping greedily for more and more for themselves when there isn’t
enough to go around, at least not in the way we have become accustomed to.
We are in
free fall spiraling downward out of control
all the leaders gone? Where is the business, civic, political leadership to
help us rise above our destructive selfish ways…?
moving into a new era
know it from the mobs at the shops at the Palm
Springs outlet malls and the parking lots jammed more
than a mile away.
appearances, American consumers — at least those with cash to burn or good
credit — were on a buying binge. The economic miracle that could fill the
empty treasuries of state and local governments was under way.
Or was it?
Friday sales were up just 0.3 percent and more people are expected to shop
online today on Cyber Monday, often without paying sales tax, to feed
their appetite for material goods Monday rather than will go to stores. How much of
the clothing, electronics and other sharply discounted merchandise will
actually be made in America?
is we don’t manufacture very many of the goods we consume, we import far more
than we export. The God of Materialism is dead. I’ve asked dozens of people
successful in various fields when they expect to economy to revive and they all
say the same thing: Normal
isn’t coming back, a new normal is forming and they don’t know what it will
local, state and federal government leaders keep going deeper in debt and
operating like good times are just around the corner and will bail them out,
save them politically, save us all economically.
At best, we have achieved stability with the likelihood of another economic
downturn is much greater than the likelihood of a boom that will put people
back to work and lift all ships.
by their role in causing the worst recession since the depression, the bankers and
Wall Street look greedily at the prospects of profiting from soaring government
borrowing and the fire sale of public assets.
California and Los Angeles
are up for grabs and all our leaders can think of is their own
mortgaging the future by borrowing heavily to finance high-speed trains and
subways and, massive high-rise projects for the rich, hoping to cling to power
by feeding contractors, developers and the construction industry with the
for Americans to come down to earth and wake up from the long narcissistic
we face the truth that we have lost our way, forgotten this is a nation of
ordinary folks, not those with royal
privileges, who respect honest working people and seek a balance of competing
interests, and believe that everyone has the same right to life, liberty and
the pursuit of their own happiness.
that is the point. It’s what America
is supposed to be about, not super-power and super-wealth, but a nation founded
on the belief that everyman has an equal opportunity to achieve a happy life
regardless of their background or station in life.
my happiness. I’m a lucky guy. But it breaks my heart to see what’s going on,
to see what should be the greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest
nation heading off a cliff that will cause, is causing, so much unhappiness for