As I watched the news last night I was confronted with Janet slapping Paris, and then Paris slapping Janet. Grandma was in another state, while the siblings were fighting over three children who have the potential of being multibillionaires. It reminded me of the Jerry Springer show, if you remove all the money, because the conflict is over the money. I have no right to question whether this family cares about these children, I am sure they do, but whoever controls the children controls the millions left to them by MJ.
Before we start wagging our fingers at the Jacksons, and saying what a shame, we have to look at ourselves. Just like the Jacksons are divided, so are we as a country. The division is becoming more prevalent, and more defined. The wealth of this country is being distributed in a manner that the haves and have nots are lining up on two sides of the tracks. Ideologically the line between liberal and conservative is ineradicable. Politically and economically our country is divided, just like the Jacksons, over the wealth of this nation.
Econometrics have demonstrated that the wealth of this nation is shifting to the upper quintile. These same statistics demonstrate the number of people falling under the level of poverty in this country has grown. With this division the tension in this country is seething just under the surface waiting to boil over.
Ideologically our country is horribly divided. A CEO is crucified for his personal comments about gay marriage. His company, Chic Fil A, has been targeted for his personal comments. The company itself has policies in place to prevent discrimination, and its CEO is a very caring man who believes like many people in the US that discrimination is wrong, but marriage is defined as a union of a man and woman in holy matrimony. Immediately people respond to this attack and create a movement for eating at a Chic Fil A restaurant. Both sides paint horns on each other, refusing to listen.
However, when the two sides sit down and talk, a new context is created. George W. Bush and his wife Laura have created a foundation for the eradication of Aids in Africa. Elton John made quite an observation yesterday. He stated that George W. Bush has taught him a lesson. John stated that at one point in time he hated Bush for his policies, until he met him in 2004. John said, “At the Kennedy Center concert we spent some time in the intermission with the President, George Bush, and he was amazingly informed about AIDS,” John recounted. “He treated us with such kindness. I had so much respect for him, especially when the PEPFAR thing was announced when he gave 15 billion dollars to AIDS. He knew what he was talking about.” I am sure there are other political divides between Bush and John, but coming together on this issue created civility and dialogue. Two things that seem to be missing from the civic arena.
The Economic and political divide will hinder this country’s ability to lead. Daniel Henninger discusses this divide today in the WSJ. He started his article with “For a long time, the United States had one economy.” This economy was based upon a circular flow between a buyer and seller, supported by the government. Our Democratic capitalist system flourished. Meltzer in his book, “Why Capitalism,” also discusses this one economy and the amazing result. After the WWII the United States and western Europe, which had capitalist systems grew exponentially. At this time some felt that centrally planned economies were more efficient, and Nikita Krushchev stated that the Soviet Union would bury the West. However, “By 1980, the competition was over. China and Vietnam accepted capitalist development, followed by India, which made the transition from socialist planning and direction to a more capitalist system.” Eventually, the wall would fall.
Now, many years later, we are arguing over two economies. One is a public economy based in large government. The other is a private one, based in private ownership of the means of production and minimal government intervention. This divide is the result of political polarization within this country. The desire to subordinate the private economy to the public one is being listed as a moral act. However, the privateers are crying out to allow the efficiencies of the capitalist system to work.
As much as I want to say woe is our country, we do subscribe to a Democratic Capitalist system. We have the power to decide between these two economies. If we want to create a public economy based in a government controlled system, that builds things for us, we know how to vote. If we believe in free enterprise then we know how to vote. This election does seem to have mandate written all over it. Or maybe there is another way? A way that Elton John and George Bush found? A way of meeting, discussing, and learning. Maybe, as Stephen Covey used to say, we should find a win-win!
And that is my thought for the day?