Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome to the Lean Years

Welcome to the lean years.

"Yes, sir, we’ve just had our 70 fat years in America, thanks to the Greatest Generation and the bounty of freedom and prosperity they built for us. And in these past 70 years, leadership — whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township — has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants.

But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, “where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,” said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum.

Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag.

Let’s just hope our lean years will only number seven. That will depend a lot on us and whether we rise to the economic challenges of this moment. Our parents truly were the Greatest Generation. We, alas, in too many ways, have been what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation,” eating through the prosperity that was bequeathed us like hungry locusts. Now we and our kids together need to be “The Regeneration” — the generation that renews, refreshes, re-energizes and rebuilds America for the 21st century."

Thomas Friedman once again informs with this op-ed on the macros of our current economic challenges in America. I believe many of us are just "shell-shocked" at the reality of our country's loss of power, peace and prosperity in such a relative short time.

I believe I quoted this in an earlier blog last year...but I think it comes down to something like "we have met the enemy...and the enemy is "us". Its not like we set out to destroy ourselves purposely...but we had it so good for so long that we just ignored the sometimes too obvious signs of our potential demise.

-We ignored the government raiding of our entitlement funds paid for by our own taxes and social security contributions

-We played along with the game of "take as much as you can from government handouts" without realizing we were only stealing from OURSELVES

-We allowed our elected leaders to "scare us" into compliance with the sudden reversal of personal freedoms, privacy, and even common justice where we used to be innocent until proven guilty...we felt so patriotic complying with the "Patriot Act"

-Instead of counting on our educations, inherent industriousness and work ethic...we counted on syndicates to protect our jobs and livelihoods. We chose tenure over incentive pay. We chose to sue every time we were slighted or in conflict versus "working things out" over time and persistent reasoning.

-We forgot how to compete in industry and manufacturing. Instead we continued piling on employment policies, minimum wage bills, environmental regulations and in some cases "four day work weeks" or automatic double pay for overtime...forcing many companies to "go offshore" where they have a chance to stay competitive and profitable.

-Many of our younger generation have forgotten how to spell or do basic business math in their heads...but boy are they good on computers, cell phones and those video games (which by the way are usually manufactured in China, Korea, Japan or Taiwan).

-Bottom line is we forgot what it means to "save for a rainy day"

I still believe we can recover...but it will be a much longer time in coming than the government or media want to admit in public. Some young people are going to have to "toughen up" in a hurry...and some of the formerly tough are going to have to get back in shape for the fight of their lives and for their livelihood.

No comments: