Someone recently asked about the origin of "May you live in interesting times."
I said, It was originally considered a curse in China. Considering our state of our indebtedness, and to whom, perhaps it should be, "May you live in compound interesting times."
A little more background, if you will. I did a little study of Chinese history back in my college days and even wrote a paper on the history of technology in China. As I recall from my far distant and semi-misspent youth, the Chinese venerated tradition. Find the perfect order and then don't change it, no matter what!
Given the complexity and variety of technological innovations that came out of China, it was somewhat surprising that they would have been eclipsed by the West. Everyone knows the Chinese invented gunpowder, and if you think about it, modern ceramics originated in a country once known for its "china". They invented the compass and innovations in sailing technology, but the culture of tradition, making each generation match the one before was not a suitable womb for innovation.
The West, on the other hand, embraced innovation with a passion. And each innovation caused the innovators to try to improve upon the one before, And as you can imagine, brought about a lot of that dreaded "change". (No, I wasn't going to go there, but thanks for paying attention!) A whole new genre of writing was created about things never even dreamt of before. Hence, they called them "novels". (That's a novel idea!)
You should hunt an old 8 track cartridge down on Craig's List or give someone a nickel for one at a garage sale. Give it to your kids and tell them what it was. Tell them how much music it would hold. And then, tell them about the skeins of magnetic tape that could often be seen at the base of stop signs, where frustrated music lovers would throw the tangled mess out a window after the player "ate" it.
It was innovation that put an ipod jack in my new car's dash instead of an 8 track slot. Innovation that created the computer or smart phone that you are reading this on this very moment. (And now I'll go there) And innovation can continue to create wealth today, if government would loosen its stranglehold on the economy. Investors need to know the extent of the risk to which they are exposing their capital, and have a reasonable rate of return. This can be accomplished by lowering the tax rates, which typically and historically bring in more revenue to the government through increased activity.
Second, bureaucratic hurdles should be lowered or removed. (Think Chinese traditions) Unnecessary and redundant agencies place a burden on new and existing businesses. It's time to trade in a few score of paper pushers on the government payroll in favor of the businesses that will create your next job, or invent the next innovation or technology that will make our future brighter.
Thirdly, we need a common sense approach to our energy need. I doubt that wind and solar are the future fuel for American prosperity. These are boutique sources now, at best, and both require a duplication of capacity for those times the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. Until such time as technology makes a quantum leap to cold fusion, greater solar cell efficiency or some unknown and as yet undiscovered technology, petroleum is the fuel of America's economy. And rising petroleum costs make American made goods less competitive, America's crops more expensive and degrades the quality of life for all Americans, save the wealthiest.
We have been getting lame excuses since at least the Clinton administration as to why drilling in the most God forsaken corner of ANWR wouldn't produce any noticeable results "for ten years". So, in doing nothing but obstruct the oil industry to please the environmentalist wacko wing of your base, these oil fields would be producing wealth for the oil companies, Alaska and the US, though taxes, and contributing to the world supply of oil to reduce the demand starting around 2003? Literally, thanks for nothing! /sarcasm
"Interesting times" can be very unsettling, hence the curse aspect. And, if the times were "interesting" it would have to be because they didn't conform to the old and better ways of our traditions. Change is not always for the best. Things changed in New Orleans with a hurricane and in Japan with an earthquake and a tsunami. Some of you long for the good old days of 2008, when you had a job and a decent, if not spectacular 401k. And change happened in 2008 when the nation elected the most incompetent or destructive President since Jimmy Carter.
But, change happens. Right now, we need a double dose of it in Washington. We need a president and a Congress that will make real and not phony spending cuts. The recent downgrade of America's credit rating is a demonstration that world markets will not tolerate the Washington Kabuki dance of fiscal pretense. America has got to get serious about its spending problem. Congress needs to be told that they must find some projects worthy of cuts or termination beyond defense and care for the elderly.
Can you tell me today of a single program, outside of the military (and I'm sure if we looked, we could find some waste and inefficiency there too!), that anyone of either party has suggested that we eliminate, either because it is redundant or no longer serves a useful purpose? And could we not also finds tons of spending for things that might have been a good idea in times of plenty that we can no longer afford? This is also true of state and local governments. You'll see a two story modern art "sculpture" in a public park, and junkets to exotic lands for Very Important Conferences, but we either need to raise your taxes or cut back on police, fire, schools and libraries.
The time for lip service and political gamesmanship has passed. This next election cycle, we need to replace anyone who gets in the way of real financial and debt reform.
This nation was built upon freedom and innovation. It's time once again that we freed ourselves from the tyranny of bureaucrats and big spending politicians, and rallied to the ballot boxes in 2012 to return sanity and self control to government.
When you think about it, that'd be quite an innovation!
Cross posted at Proof Positive