The Grand Old Flag

Seventy-nine Years

July 2, 2022

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The Grand Old Flag Ain’t What It Used To Be

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By Ron Munden

I woke up this morning and just like that I was 79 years old.  I am glad that I am still kicking but  I am more pessimistic than I have never been  in my life.

Up until the mid-1990s I was one of the most optimistic people around.  I saw a bright future for this country.  We had defeated the Soviet Union and we were the dominant world power.  We were calling the shots.

In the 90s I did see one cloud on the horizon – our failing education system.  By this point our education system was no longer rated the best in the world and the trend was downward.  I still thought there was time to correct our course.

I come from the technology world.  I spent 35 years working for the Department of Defense — first as a government worker then a contractor for DoD. I strongly believe that the nation with the best technology will dominate the world and the keys to having the best technology are a great education system and a government that invests heavily in research and development.

In the 1990s I did not recognise this second key was also in decline.

In retrospect the 1970s were the start of the decline.  In the 1970s the country decided to cut taxes on the rich.  After all, the rich were better at managing money than the government.  This is partially true.  They knew how to buy politicians.

When taxes for the rich went down, so did the government’s investment in infrastructure and research and development.

The financial experts decided that it was cheaper to manufacture our products in other countries because of the cheap labor.  So we shipped our jobs and our technology to other countries in order to increase company profits.  

In the early 2000s our leaders decided it would be good to fight a needless war so we attack Iraq.  So our country spent 15 years spending money on fighting wars while China spent its money on research and development as well as stealing our technology.

Of course we can’t forget that since about 2016 this country has been engaged in a civil war between the right-wing and left-wing extremes in the country.  Since both teams are roughly equally matched, we can expect this harmful conflict to continue into the future.  And we can expect it will increase.

Climate change adds an additional stresser.  Our country has not taken it seriously. Neither has the rest of the world.  As the world leader we had the responsibility to lead not to deny.

I know that there are many in our country that deny climate exists because that is inconvenient. These people will not change their minds until the air conditioning unit fails and they begin roasting within their own skins.

While the people in the USA fight each other, China continues its move toward world domination.  Today, the United States no longer has the fastest computers.  China does.  Built with Chinese designed parts in China.

In war game simulations at DoD, the US easily defeats Russia.  In match ups with China, China is the winner over the US 6 out of 7 times.

In the early 1980s I heard a lecture by Dr. Forester, a professor from MIT.  He was an engineer turned economist.  His lecture focused on how short term solutions are always diametrically opposed to long term solutions.   Dr. Forester expressed concern about the long-term future for the United States because it always takes a short-term approach to problem solving. 

China plays the long game; the US the short game.  Soon we will see that Dr. Forester had a valid concern. 

I am glad I was born 79 years ago.

I thank God each day for being born to parents that were part of the greatest generation this country has ever known. I thank God for allowing  me to be able to have lived in the greatest nation on earth – heads and shoulders above all others.  I thank God that I was not born in 1953 or 1963 or not 1973 because my generation will be gone soon.  We will not have to live through the demise of this once great nation.

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