Comments on: America’s Bright Future, an article by Victor Davis Hanson.
Full disclosure: I am not an academician or scholar with the credentials of Dr. Hanson, but I have done extensive reading on the matter about which I will comment. If interested in further insight on the point of view addressed in the following narration, I recommend writings of Herbert Striner PhD, former Dean of the Kogod School of business American University. In particular, I recommend his book; Regaining the Lead: Policies for Economic Growth. (1987) Dr. Striner is a personal friend dating back of many years. He was a regular speaker/presenter at executive training programs I facilitated for IBM during the 1980s. I was invited to make comments on the draft of his book.
I cannot fully support the optimistic views expressed in Dr. Hanson’s paper since they do not consider, or least do not state the significant influence on scio-economic development by factors dealt with in Dr. Striner’s books, lectures and “white papers”, factors with which I fully agree are extremely important. These factors, explained in great detail by Dr. Striner include the impact on American wellbeing by the culture (religion, wealth, education, childhood ethical inculcation, etc.) the experience of those involved, and the political environment extant when Dr. Hanson’s posits come into play.
Dr. Hanson’s belief that, notwithstanding the talk of gloom and doom--the decline of America—this country is the leader in almost any category one might place us. America is politically stable, produces enough foodstuffs to satisfy much of the world including our own, our military keeps our enemies at bay and could readily become energy independent with a minimal political shift in policy. But, with shifts in attitudes and the reemergence of many of our prejudices and fears, all of the foregoing could become almost meaningless. Evidence already exists to that effect. We produce more coal, oil and natural gas to supply all our needs, but because of the fear of many that we are polluting our atmosphere, we do not take full advantage of these resources. Instead, we spend a great deal of our time and money trying to comply with “green” rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and from pressures generated by countless well-meaning, but economically illiterate organizations. Our attitudinal shift from basic Christian principles on which America was founded (per the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) to that of previously intolerance of those bent on our downfall. Finally, our changing views on the role of government in the area of universal welfare has led us to monumental debt, uncountable governmental rules and regulations, depletion of our military strength, conscious relinquishment of our leadership roles in the international arena and our failure to maintain the high educational standards of earlier generations. We tolerate the dissolution of the family values that accept children born out of wedlock, all-time high divorce rates, abandonment of family discipline that bleeds over into the school system and indeed into adherence to our laws.
Having all the natural resources we need, being the most economically sound of any country in the world, leader in science, industry and medicine and militarily powerful enough to deter almost all aggression may be of diminishing value with the lack of the will of our citizens to maintain moral, ethical standards and a willingness to make economic tradeoffs to ensure our prominence in those fields where we presently are leaders.
There’s a generally accepted adage based on psychology that says: Whenever logic and emotion confront, emotion always wins.