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The Edge of Freedom

Posted by Rick · April 22nd, 2004 · 7 Comments

Is America in its waning years?

Many successful empires have come and gone through the ages. Could America be the next England (or France)?

Thomas Friedman notes in an op-ed piece today in the New York Times that offshoring is occurring not just because labor is cheaper, but because, well, labor is cheaper. Of course, Friedman doesn’t quite put it this way. He thinks that the cost of health care for labor — many developing countries don’t require it, because unlike the United States they have national health care — is not part of the cost of labor. In the end, that’s a quibbling semantic distinction.

More important, however, is the great job Homeland Security is doing protecting us. After all, we’re single-handedly (no pun intended) fingerprinting most of the world’s mobile population. If you fly across our border, as opposed to swimming, running or crawling, you’ll be fingerprinted. Obtaining a visa to work or study in the United States has now become so difficult that most legitimate folk won’t waste the time on it. And why should they? Technology has made it possible for other countries willing to spend the money and not so paranoid that everyone is out to get them — maybe because they aren’t busy bullying large numbers of the world’s population — to successfully cater to “the cream off the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world.” In addition, countries like China are pouring large amounts of money into basic scientific research. The United States used to do this, but short-sighted business interests took over. While basic science is what allowed us to build a country that could bully nearly the entire world, it won’t turn profits quickly enough. Investors want results now. We have become incapable of thinking for the long-term.

Not so China. And, frankly, if we were smarter, we’d understand that al Qaida has the patience of Job when it comes to planning, plotting and waiting. You don’t see Osama bin Laden busting his budget and bringing his organization to the verge of bankruptcy in Iraq. He’s committed just enough resources to keep the U.S. occupied and spent just enough to drive Americans into a frenzy passing laws and building Homeland Security departments which we can use (and are using) to destroy ourselves.

After that, it’s mop-up for those who want us. If they’re even smarter, they’ll leave us alone to wallow in our own intellectually- and economically-impaired muck; we’ll be no threat to them anymore and they can successfully overrun Middle Eastern governments. (If China doesn’t stop them first.)

And all this for what? Are we safer today than we were before 9/11? No. Do people still get past airport security? Yes. Are there weapons that cannot be detected by current methods? Yes.

Even if we put tracking chips into every human walking within the bounds of the United States of America and supercomputers could watch their every movement, suicide bombers should have us realizing that if a terrorist could get his hands on some missing plutonium. Recent (April 15, 2004) testimony before Congress reveals that military labs in the United States are “missing” some plutonium.

The bottom line here is that the United States, in alienating itself from the rest of the world, in refusing to fund basic science projects and emphasize (and make possible) higher education for our own citizens, we are increasingly eroding not only our respect, but our power — and with that, our ability to protect ourselves from real enemies.

We are walking on the edge of freedom. If we’re not wise enough and careful enough to reverse course, we may find ourselves falling off that edge.

Categories: Social Issues


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark // Apr 22, 2004 at 11:56 am

    Hisotry tells us that the Roman Empire fell after they made Christianity the state religion.

  • 2 harry // Apr 22, 2004 at 1:58 pm

    Would Mark care to cite what evidence he belives is available to link the fall of the Roman Empire with constantine’s conversion? That comment has piqued my curiousity.

  • 3 Bob // Apr 22, 2004 at 2:58 pm


    Speaking of outsourcing..Michael Moore’s website and web design all courtesy of Canadian talent.

    Considering his book is titled “Dude, Where’s My Country” this would be considered bad taste at best, duplicity at worst.

  • 4 Mark // Apr 22, 2004 at 9:04 pm

    My earlier comment was an observation that was not meant to necessarily create a strong link. Rick’s mention of falling empires provided me an opportunity to briefly point out the folly of those on the religious right (sic) who constantly bemoan the fact that our nation is not a theocracy. They misquote and twist the words of our Founding Fathers (several of whom were unabashedly NOT Christians) to create a fiction of our country being founded upon their personal view of “Christian” principles. They seem to think that placing fellow zealots into politcal office and requiring all kinds of public pronouncements about their god will save our country. State promotion of Christianity really helped the Romans, didn’t it?

  • 5 Bob // Apr 23, 2004 at 6:30 am

    Our country was founded by people escaping state religions. We were all bound at one time to religious tolerance as a state religion.

    For the record, many Christians are fed up and embarrassed by the ‘religious right’, that political block that once represented the deep south but now has spread to all corners of our country. Moderate Christians just have to be motivated to into the voting booths. And that, my friends, would take a miracle.

    Perhaps, like the Romans of old, we should punish a rougue area of our empire for the damage they have done. Perhaps we should send in more Yankess to clean up the mess the South has caused…….

    Oh wait, sorry, they already retire to Florida, my bad.

  • 6 Mark // Apr 23, 2004 at 7:33 am

    I’m from the Deep South, Bob. The man who, more than anyone else, caused the shift from the South being solidly Democratic to solidly Republican was Lyndon Johnson. He pushed much-needed civil rights legislation through Congress, which angered the pin-heads who thought segregation was a good idea (public schools in the Deep South are now the LEAST segregated in the country, but that’s a whole other story for another time).

    The segregationists flocked in masses to the Republican Party, and that’s where they stayed. They voted for Goldwater in 1964, took a diversion to George Wallace in 1968, went for Nixon in 1972, and were enthusiastic supporters or Reagan in the 1980s. This same crowd are fans of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, so-called ministers who once fervently supported segregation and who still today preach hatred (even if the targets of their hatred have changed).

    Some of my Republican friends here in California cannot understand my visceral dislike of the G-O-P (Greed On Parade). While there are many reasons, the civil rights issues from my childhood still resonate in my soul. The people in my home area who wanted to maintain a system that was immoral, backward, and harmful to whites as well as blacks — these are the people who voted Republican. They still do. That particular crowd clung dear to ideas that my family found repulsive. They still do.

  • 7 Bob // Apr 23, 2004 at 10:10 am

    I reiterate my previous statement, that many moderate Christians cannot fathom what this ‘religious right’ is (or was) thinking.

    I also reiterate my statement that we once held religious tolerance as our state religion. The ‘new’ religious Christian right has a ‘for us or against us’ mentality which ironically also permeates the current administration.

    I was simply agreeing with you that the religious Christian right is doing more harm than good in my opinion and does not need to be pushed down our throats as the unofficial state religion.

    Whether we talk about now or a hundred years ago, religion has no place in politics.

    As regards to the Deep South, your point is well taken. It also proves that you don’t have to be a member of the ‘right’ party to be the better human being. I would have proudly stood with you and your family in the ‘wrong’ party.

    My apologies if my lame attempt at humor offended you. If I can claim a ‘mulligan’ this humbled Northerner will take it now, thanks.

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