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Guest Column: How we got here

September 19, 2012

By George Schrum

At the age of 84, I find myself looking back more often than ahead. I find that I see more clearly the things my country has accomplished and where we have failed. I believe the problems we are facing today have been 60 years in the making and may take a long time to correct. I grew up during the Depression years, and I believe we feel much more insecure today than we did then.

There are those who say our government cannot accomplish anything well, but I would beg to differ. Among those accomplishments are the great dams of the West, the TVA, Social Security, Medicare, RFD, the GI bill, REA, the interstate highway system, the airway systems, laws to protect the workplace, civil rights, and the educational system, which produced the people that put us on the moon. These are but a few of the things that made our lives better and did not run us broke.

Where did we go wrong? Who decided we should solve all the problems of the world? Who decided we should be the police chief of the world? We fought four unnecessary wars at a cost of well more than 100,000 lives of young Americans who believed they were fighting for our freedom. In reality, our freedom was never in danger, except by politicians. The first two wars were civil wars. When we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, we invaded two sovereign countries whose people had done nothing to us. The people who committed 9/11 were mostly Saudis. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan all wasted lives and wasted wealth. Think what we could have done with the wealth, and think how many of the dead could have gone on to accomplish great things. I urge you to read Eisenhower’s farewell address, and you will understand why these wars were fought and who profited from them.

I believe President Reagan’s deregulations started today’s meltdowns. Do we really need banks that employ more than 100,000 people? Canada has weathered the financial problems much better than most of the world because the institutions were well regulated. I also believe President Obama should have let the banks fail or at least broke them up, but the bailout of the auto industries was a good decision. President Bush’s tax cuts accomplished nothing except to make the rich richer.

I have a few more questions. Who stole the $2.6 trillion Social Security Trust Fund? Why don’t the politicians tell us? Why is Medicare being turned over to private insurance companies that make huge profits from it?

George Schrum is a resident of Winnebago, Ill.

From the Sept. 19-25, 2012, issue

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