By George Krebs, published in the Arizona Republic’s “Your Turn”, Feb. 2, 2018. Original title: “Older generation has a duty to restore comity”
I am a senior on Social Security and Medicare that is distressed and astonished at the current political environment our country.
I and my wife also have pensions, quickly disappearing for most Americans, that allow us a comfortable and financially stable retirement. The government Medicare program works well for me and other seniors.
We attended private colleges when the costs were manageable. We worked for employers who respected their employees and adhered to a social employee-employer contract that benefitted both. The citizen-government relationship was similarly mutually trusting and supportive, with clear delineation of responsibilities for success by each.
Today’s environment has changed radically!
The “government is the problem” mantra espoused by president Reagan has become the new modus operandi. Government and the necessary revenue needed for it to properly support us are demonized. Any taxes garnered are disparaged as more money to be wasted or to be redistributed to some unworthy “lazies” in our society.
Forget the need for government support for good education, improving our roads, bridges and infrastructure, disaster relief (hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, etc.), or military readiness. How about protecting our food quality, assuring adequate pharmaceutical effectiveness and other services best provided by a joint government effort rather than by individuals, cities or states?
We are now all for shrinking government support, at all levels, relying instead on profit-making “private enterprise”. We demonize those who push for more government as out-of-touch “liberals” or “elites” or some other derogatory name. Many of us have become brainwashed to these gut-instinct labels. We no longer look at what policies are being proposed or if they are worth supporting.
We now despise those who are the name-called and demonized, and like being on the “winning” team of the nastiest. We no longer value the basic tenets of democracy, at least as I understand it.
Democracy means active citizenship. It means working in a mutually respectful environment based on trust and fair play. Each side gets to argue its points, compromises are made, and we move forward together. Everyone is engaged and has skin in the game. Today, it is more like, “If I have the power, then I make the rules, and if they primarily benefit me, then join me or suffer!”
So politicians are driven to acquire this power to enable them to rule, demean the opposition and to personally acquire the perks and benefits of power. Working for the common good is not how the real world (of those who “succeed”) works. Join the strongest team and succeed with power and perks. Keep the opposition demeaned and powerless. This is the new criterion for success in government.
I long the good old days of my youth when we all worked together. We helped each other and had a vision of mutual progress, both for ourselves and our country.
Our new focus on “nationalism” and of “America first” is just expending the widely entrenched individual attitude of “me first”.
Most younger Americans have not experienced what I have in my earlier years. To reclaim what we had, more of us seniors and older adults need to speak up, move us back to a mutually constructive and progressive society.
Otherwise, other nations will keep catching up to and exceeding us.
We will not solve our problems like immigration reform, large deficits, extreme income inequality and variable social justice, but instead will continue to flounder, continue scapegoating, and wondering why it has to be this way….IT DOESN’T! Become an active, involved citizen. The time is now!
George Krebs is an engineer who retired from Motorola.