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From Bondage to Bondage

May 30, 2013
By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.  Ed.D. President Association of Benefit Administrators

If you have studied history you know that empires begin to slide into the dust pile when they have a combination of pervasive and staggering debt, and have lost their moral code and have overextended their military reach.

The U. S.  is in this band today and faces an impending crisis if our leaders do not wake up and deal with the many daunting issues facing our nation.

Perhaps the most compelling is our lackluster economic growth and its terrible effect on our overall employment. We are in a period of permanent job loss and NO ONE has a plan.

In the last two decades, we witnessed the phenomenal growth and demise of Japan. There was, if you recall,  a period when the rest of the world thought that this Asian tiger would gobble up the rest of us.

That did not happen and, today, Japan is the sleeping tiger.

If you look at Europe you will observe a continued recession, slow economic growth, false starts after attempts at austerity, and rising unemployment.

The Middle East is also desperate for economic growth in order to provide some 200 million young men with hope for a healthy economic future. The failure to do so will only lead to more outrage on the streets and for the potential of continued growth of jihadist fundamentalism for those youngsters who are so inclined.

The U.S. is no different when it comes to job creation. Our unemployment rate is desperate! Don't our politicians know that economic growth comes with job creation.

Unfortunately, there is no discussion in Washington today about the need for a massive infusion of a jobs program to move the needle for our economic growth. I would submit that our leaders suffer from economic defeatism. Their fears appear to be stifling their creativeness in leadership and they are engrossed in a vicious circle of political sniping and carping that will get us nowhere.

There was a time when America was a spectacular blaze of confidence. When there was nothing we couldn't or wouldn't do to move this country in the right direction. Now I am not so sure.

If we continue in this holding pattern of non-activity for too long, there will be a large cadre of millions of Americans who will NEVER get anywhere near the "American Dream." That would be tragic and will lead this country back into bondage.

Unemployment for young people between the ages of 24 and 35 today has risen to 27%. That is the highest number for that age bracket than any other industrialized nation. What will our youngsters' future look like?

Recently, I was meeting with some officials of the International Longshoremen 's Association and one of them, after some discussion about the state of affairs in this country, showed me what was printed on the back of his business card. It was poignant and disturbing at the same time.

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependency;
From dependency back into bondage."

From bondage to bondage. Is this going to be our legacy? One would hope not. But we cannot leave it up to our recalcitrant political leaders because they have failed us.

It is frightening that we have gone through this iteration during our nation's first 200 years and, somehow, find ourselves in this horrible place. But as we know, history does repeat itself. Our founding fathers must be rolling in their graves.

We have to become more aggressive with our political initiatives and spell it out for them. The message is clear and simple: "Do the right thing or your days in office are numbered." The days of apathy, complacency and political correctness must be behind us.

When will our leaders wake up and smell their poisonous behavior?  Failure to meet their obligations is frightening.

The American people must set aside their own petty political differences and recognize that the only thing that will change this landscape is for the people themselves to unite and run these political slugs out of office.

Our inability to do so will mean that it will only be a matter of time before we slip into bondage.

 

May 30, 2013

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