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It's from my imagined view seen from high in the air that I see my country losing focus and just reacting to circumstances on ideological grounds. Some governor's are using their budget shortfalls to settle old scores and are eliminating investments in the future by saying they simply can't afford it. I see that, whether it's the local, state, or Federal budget. We keep electing people who want to let you keep more of your money, while letting the infrastructure deteriorate for the next administration. Some politicians will raise your taxes; others will raise the fees to give us the service we want to keep, but not pay for. It's always about “don’t eliminate my mortgage deduction, cut out the pre-school meals." I hope we find the equilibrium before the bond raters force us to change our ways.

We hear the misconception that collective bargaining is bankrupting several states but often it's only about 3% of the actual budget. They are exceptions like the ones New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois but even then,the outlandish pensions were not the cause of the budget deficits. Instead of going into all the details of actual funding, deferred compensation and other factors, we need to stick with the basics. In 2008, the housing crisis reduced revenues to the states, who by, and large we're doing pretty well during the bubble. The crisis created the layoffs, fewer revenues and more demand for social services. Politicians told the voters what they wanted to hear" we will cut government waste, but we will not raise your taxes." That left austerity as the only tool left in the tool box. It'll be interesting to see where those states are in two years.

It is interesting that Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker told the voters that he would refuse a little over $800 million from president Obama's high speed rail project, and he still won. The money was to be used for a new train terminal, new passenger cars, and repairing the existing rail from Madison to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He rationalized it based on not being able to afford the matching funds. That's the same reason, the governors of Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida are using. Last night, I heard a republican senator from Wisconsin say that the high speed rail money was a waste of money because his state was in bad need of road and bridge repairs instead of a service that few people would take advantage of. I bet those same roads, and bridges will go untouched.Worse yet,he is not taking into account of work that could be done while commuting,bad weather would not be the cause of canceled meetings,less wear and tear on the the existing roads and bridges and don't forget all the jobs it will create.We have China, India, Europe and Brazil challenging us every day, but it seems we're going to take a pit stop to get our house in fiscal order because we can't seem to walk and chew gum at the same time. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy took advantage of the Soviet challenge to build the interstate highway system and set us on a path to reach the moon.

We remain the world's largest economy, the largest military and a country with a technological advantage for now but like everything else, unless we use it, we will eventually lose it. We are where we are today, because of what we did in the 1950s and 1960s: an interstate highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a first-rate public educational system, and generous immigration policies. Since we're not graduating mathematicians and scientists at the rate needed to compete; we need to keep the highly skilled immigrants who get their skills from our universities and American companies. Tom Friedman said "We are not inviting many of the world's "high-IQ risk takers" to come to America any more. And worse, we are asking many of them to leave. That must change." President Obama has to get a chalkboard and explain to the nation that reducing funds for education, scientific research, air traffic control, NASA, infrastructure and alternative energy would not produce much savings, but it will hurt the economy's long-term growth. Our success has made us complacent, but we still have some advantages because we cannot be overwhelmed by a financial crisis as easily as Greece and Ireland. We still have the trust of the world and our borrowing costs have gone down, not up.

Our politics are about preserving the past and tiptoeing around the feelings of the constituents. The lobbyist groups with the big money are maintaining the status quo because there are no lobbying groups for the new industries. That is why the Federal government spends $4.00 on the elderly (voters) for every dollar it spends on those under 18(education). Even Franklin Roosevelt knew his New deal was a persistent, bold act of experimentation, but he shut down programs when they didn't work. I hope one of these days we will all agree that an obese society leads to health problems and rising health care costs instead of ignoring the obvious to promote an agenda. We can't even change the school menus or the products that go into the school's vending machines, without cries of government intervention. The answers are not always on the spreadsheets but those that are leery of government will use those numbers to create panic and fear that will drown out any voices who call for investments for the future or to even begin to change our ways.We have complained of high gas prices for 40 years but we are still on fossil fuels. When gasoline gets to $3.00 we hear cries of "drill baby drill" instead of investing more for alternative fuel projects that will settle the problem once and for all.

That's my take after reading a couple of articles from this week's Time Magazine's. On one side was Fareed Zakaria asking the question “Are America's best days behind us?" and a competing article titled” Don't bet against the United States" by David Von Drehle. After reading those articles I decided I will stick to this saying by Leo. F. Buscaglia "“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position.”

Time magazine March 14,2011 issue.