I will turn 70 in 2016 so perhaps this is a good time to look back. I grew up in the 50s – the golden age for the American middle class. But that’s not what I remember. Instead I remember the weekly and futile cold war duck and cover exercises at my school probably best described by Jimmy Buffet,”tuck your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye”. Then came the 60s – the first thing I remember is the Cuban missile crisis. All of the old cold war fears returned.
I became of political age during the Vietnam war which guided my political leanings for the rest of my life. I graduated from college in 1968 during the Tet offensive. I accepted a position with the Defense Intelligence Agency to avoid becoming canon fodder in the jungles of SE Asia. I wrote two working papers while employed with the DIA;
- The old Yugoslavia would fall apart when Tito died.
- The old Soviet Union was in a death spiral.
They were both ridiculed by both the CIA and the British MI5 – as it turns out I was right.
Upon leaving the DIA I returned to the US and became an engineer. It was an exciting time – I still hold 30 now worthless patents. During the 70s the middle class was still for the most part still thriving. Then in the 80s along came Ronald Reagan and trickle down economics and the middle class began to die. The demise of the middle class was a result of both outsourcing and factory automation. The unfortunate reality is that industrial robots can do a better job than humans. This has become a social problem and how we deal with it is one of the great challenges of our time. Rebuilding the collapsing infrastructure in the US is a solution but the now radical Republican base oppose this. While most on the right complain about China they are about to become the renewable energy kings of the world while the Koch brothers financed politicians oppose renewable energy.
And then there is the new threat, Global Warming. Yes it is real as we witness on a daily basis with droughts, floods and increasingly violent storms. The recent storm in the US is moving into the North Atlantic. It is predicted to become a hurricane strength super storm over Iceland and then slam into England which is already experiencing record flooding. The Mississippi watershed is seeing record flooding and the number of tornadoes is what we usually only see in the Spring.
The too big to fail banks have learned nothing and are in danger of failing again because of risky derivative trading.
The US is still thinking about global hegemony and intent on spending our resources on wars in the Middle East that have little or nothing to do with our security while the infrastructure here at home continues to collapse.
All of this makes me glad I’m old and have no grandchildren.