This may be it. I'll begin by saying that I do believe I will be an American patriot to the bitter end. Being born and raised awash in an ever present ocean of nationalism, as the vast majority of American babies are, I'm not sure I've ever believed the USA might not be the most powerful nation on this planet. It is a potential reality that I can't say I've ever seriously considered. Only at this moment am I coming to realize that this may well happen in my lifetime.
NBC Nightly News just reported that a high speed rail line proposal has been submitted to congress for a line from Boston to Washington D.C. The cost of the proposal? 117 billion dollars. No funding in place. Wouldn't start until 2015. Estimated time to completion? 30 years.
The report then went on to say that China set a high speed rail record today of 258 mph. The Chinese currently have 4300 miles of high speed rail line in operation, and in two more years that number will go up to 8000 miles. Trains are, by a very large margin, the most efficient method of travel and transport over land. These trains represent the future of timely, economical, and efficient transport of people and freight. To be able to transport commodities so cheaply and quickly is going to allow Chinese productivity, already formidable, to skyrocket. Compounding these already compounding effects is China's obscenely low cost of labor, alongside healthy levels of untapped mineral reserves. In all likelihood the quality of life will improve, the masses will be happier, and many will have good reason to perpetuate the machine.
Not that China doesn't have its problems of its own. In fact, up until now I had myself convinced that China's problems were so large that they wouldn't be able to overcome them.
- The one child policy has left them with an inverted population pyramid, leaving today's China with a much larger elderly population than working age workforce to support it...
- Too much too fast. Two coal power plants open in China every week. The Chinese have by far the highest rate of new diabetes cases in the world. They are succumbing to the same cheap and easy fa(s)t food addiction that destroyed the waistline of the USA, and ever larger percentages of the population are gaining access to the convenient and cheap alternative, without the education required to understand the diet's effects.
- Forgetting their past in a race for the future... erased thousands of years of rich heritage and destroying hundreds of thousands of peoples lives to create a mind numbingly large reservoir of water heavy enough to deflect the crust of the Earth by 6 inches. How could that not result in earthquakes? The epic center of the 8.0 Sichuan quake that killed a guesstimated 68,000 Chinese citizens was a mere 300 miles away from the Three Gorges Dam.
- And if none of those were going to be the thing to cause the downfall, the people at some point would finally throw off the chains of oppression to seize their own happiness. But what if those same chains of oppression safely guide them to happiness, and in a fairly quick time frame?
I will always stand by the tenet of allowing citizens the freedom to do what they choose to do, and I will discuss it to anyone who asks. While you may take it for granted, something like that is dangerous and outlawed in a country like Myanmar. It is an incredibly underrated and under-appreciated privilege that everyone of this country exercises every day. This far reaching freedom is also fairly unique to this specific period of human history in which we, the lucky few, happen to exist on this planet. This freedom, however, is no guarantee of a society's success. Perhaps it was all just a fantastic coincidence that the most powerful nation in the modern world's rise just happened to be the world's first nation created with the idea that every citizen is an integral part of the country's process and success... that every man is created equal.
The USA needs to reevaluate. How is it that the powers that be could be so unbelievably conceited and myopic as to think we, a nation of fat and lazies on the other side of the planet could possibly understand, let alone absolve, the depth of tradition, history, hatred, and see the USA as nation builders. How can our leaders not understand that one can not force a vision on those who never had any intention of being receptive to it. Sweeping changes in policy and our nation's approach need to take place, and the sooner the better.
The nation needs to withdraw the majority of its military machine to within its own borders. It needs to sell its military bases in countries such as Germany and Japan to allied forces. For the pragmatic protesters... our aircraft carriers are more than enough base for the majority of any necessary operations. And of course I have a feeling our allies would be more than helpful if we ever happened to need that air strip again, assuming the cause was just. The military engagements of the future are precision guided, clandestine, and quick operations. Focus will be on agility, stealth, efficiency. Most of the successes reported by the news agencies involve drones hitting a building where an informant disclosed a meeting was happening or somesuch... why does there need to be 100,000 boots on the ground for that? Our forces are overstretched and overworked. The country is not taking care of its veterans well enough, and struggles to provide the best equipment available to every deployed regiment... which is something that every person who lays their life one the line for this country most certainly deserves. The suicide rate for returning soldiers is absolutely unacceptable.
With these resources closer to home the USA could develop inwardly as well as assist in a more meaningful way outwardly. More thorough, rapid, and robust responses to international tragedies and natural disasters. Focus more on the building of goodwill and trust with the rest of the nations of the world, and give fewer reasons to inspire hatred. Perhaps the relatively efficient machine that is the military engine could put those resources to use building infrastructure in our own country, instead of destroying it in others.
I believe there is a path. We need to be at the forefront of developing the new energy economy, leading the world, our expertise in everything from planning to implementation to maintenance in demand around the world as we better capture and more efficiently use all the energy provided to us from the sun and moon in the form of solar, water, and wind. Chinese have recently began underselling US retailers in solar panels. I haven't heard any comparisons regarding quality.
We need to be the change you wish to see, as I see quoted so often these days. If you want to end the terrorism and hate you need to capture the hopes and dreams of the youth of a people. If you can get that far, many will find a path on their own. Be the shining city on the hill! Be the inspiration! Be the very proof that the hard worker who does well by others can build themselves a life of happiness of their own choosing.
But it is impossible to force people to understand these things. You must demonstrate them, show that they work, and allow people to make up their own minds.
What I see right now is that we are mired, bogged, tangled, twisted, drowning in our self inflicted red tape cat's cradle of bureaucracy. In conceding the power to the individual so was power conceded to the conglomeration of individuals, the corporation. Throughout our nation's history there were those in power who saw the danger of these conglomerations should they become too large and busted those trusts. But, like a starfish and its never tiring water vascular system on the powerful, but ultimately fallible, muscle of a clam, that freedom allowed corporations to infiltrate the seats of those who make the rules, digested those rules, and created rules that would work in their own favor. The very freedom of the individual that makes this nation great just may be the freedom that allows this wonderful social experiment to suffocate itself.
So I don't know, perhaps the beginning of the end actually began long ago. It's certainly the beginning of my own realization and what will be subsequent observation. In reality, I suppose the beginning of every end is really the beginning of the beginning. So it goes, and we are powerless to change it.