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From Baghdad to New Orleans, this Administration has at once tied up our military and depleted our ability to respond to disaster. Other men or women in the job might have done little better, but Mr. Bush is on the job and has to take the heat. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it--unless you are a proud Authoritarian and plutocrat.

Richard Smith Speaks To Our National Focus

The Focus

The point is not to predict the future
but to prepare for it and to shape it.
Richard Smith

Our projections mostly reflect the historical trends of the last four years and of 2.5 millennia before then.

Negative political trends and influences:

  • Age of reason is now in decline. It will take a disaster as serious as an economic meltdown or nuclear explosions within our borders to jolt US citizens to the realization that a macho style, friendly demeanor, and evangelism do not guarantee leadership, substance, or security.
  • American public. The trend of preferring form over substance will continue and be fostered by: TV and the mass media.
    • enhanced propaganda of White House origin.
    • materialistic priorities as parents feel the need for two or more jobs per income producer with attending less time for children who will be left with TV, Internet and media providing entertainment at the expense of political, historical and scientific awareness.
    • the continued trend toward fundamentalism in governance that not only denies reality but collides with all other brands of fundamentalism. This will mean more conflict in the world, not less.
  • Brain power loss will continue by making it more difficult for foreign students to get an education in the US than it is today. A fundamental engine beneath the greatness of America has been slowed significantly.
  • Creativity in America will decline. This has begun to happen with the politicization of education and the arts and sciences. Creativity will suffer in pace with the degree to which our society becomes lock-step.
  • Education. Emphasis on performance with specific criteria of achievement will foster rote learning instead of insight, cheating instead of learning, cooking the attendance books by school administrators."No child left behind" will be largely an empty euphemism without significant actual effect on true education, but the propaganda machine will paint it otherwise.
  • Education will become less competitive in the world. This is a necessary result of putting form ahead of substance in our national priorities. To our over-loaded teachers this means drill and rote memorization will have higher priorities than teaching how to think or ensuring students learn how to deepen their Insight.
  • Fundamentalism, masquerading as faith values society cannot live without, entering the federal domain recognizes neither the wisdom of our founding fathers nor history. When a religion actively engages in politics it raises the question: Why does any religion need government assistance? [Extreme religious leaders need government to force all non-believers into their fold--it is all about power, not faith. Faith and values have become synonymous, and "values" has become the buzz word of a propaganda machine. See Monotheism and Violence for a reality check. All three religions, all candidates, have values.] If a democracy allows it to happen, then the people will deserve what they get--a never-ending conflict with themselves and with other nations over whose god is God. [The US is already trying to force Evangelical behavior on other countries.] Why is it that 20% of the US public is telling the other 80% and the world what to do?
  • Gerrymandering will get worse. Gerrymandering disenfranchises the voting public. It is anti democratic.
  • Inflation rate will increase. We are seeing the first blips already because of the confluence of Iraq, oil prices, tax cuts, and the decline in the dollar on world currency markets.
  • Job exports will continue; otherwise US industry would become even less competitive than it now is.
  • Polarization. Will increase within the US electorate as well as between the US and other nations. It could accelerate. This does not bode well for peace. After all, peace is all about harmony, fairness and good will. The challenge: "You are either with us or you are against us." will be seen by history to be a failed policy, probably by 2008. If not then, the US will become a failing nation by 2020.
  • Science and technology. Erosion of American leadership has now begun and will continue. Biological science will suffer disproportionately at a time when it needs to be the other way around. Foreign scientists will increasingly be unable to publish their works in American Journals.
  • Solvency and credit rating of the US will decrease. The value of the dollar is heading down down already. Tax and war policies now in existence will ensure this happens.
  • Tax cuts. Never in history has a nation cut taxes during wartime; it does not make sense. But that is the trend now, and it will continue to worsen the national debt while putting Social Security in jeopardy sooner rather than later. Medicare is already on the ropes. So what gives?
  • Terrorism world-wide will continue to increase.
  • Trade balance. The trade balance will get worse, possibly a lot worse, before it gets better. This feature exacerbates the soundness of the US dollar. Exchangeable capital is leaking out of our borders at worrisome rates. That cannot be sustained after four more years of the same monetary policies.
  • War will at least continue, probably escalate; war against Iran will be used in an attempt to consolidate absolute power in a closed social circle supported by powerful special interests.

A few positive trends, or at least situations, do exist.

Short of a financial melt down, innovation will remain at high levels, maybe even increase, especially in agriculture.
  • In spite of their polarization, US citizens have much more in common than in difference. This feature will have greatest effect at the local and regional levels. It won't go away any time soon. A third term for Bush policies could end that situation.
  • In spite of the very real polarizing issues, individual Americans will continue helping one another at the family and local levels.
  • China will remain a friend even if it considers US as bungling in foreign relations.
  • Technical innovation will at least hold the line and have a still strong base if the situation improves in 2008. Otherwise, it will likely decline.

  • Fundamental to all this is an overly willing American public that believes terror and Iraq are synonymous and together represent our greatest threat in these times. In other words, bin Laden instilled fear that Mr. Bush is exploiting to the fullest for the benefit of his plutocratic, Neocon, and fundamentalist supporters.

    We have looked high and low and find no rational basis for believing terrorism and/or Iraq are our greatest enemy. None. That DOES NOT MEAN we are soft on terrorism. On the contrary, we would contain it by concerted, coordinated police work, the kind that is working in Europe, while removing the causes of terror over the long term. As long as we insist on humiliating the Muslim world, the Muslim world will fight back. As long as the average Muslim feels alienated from the rest of us, terrorists will find radicalized youth. As long as Muslims Scholars are muzzled in America, as Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ibadi is today, we shall lose our strongest friends at an accelerating rate. As long as foreign scholars are not allowed to study or publish in the US, we will lose friends who know us best.

    Shiites burned an American flag in Pakistan. These people were once our friends. Only they and their Sunni brothers can accomplish a reformation from within Islam. That possibility is becoming ever more remote. It is true that democracy and freedom are exciting concepts and they were never dead in the Middle East. The question is how to bring these desires to the forefront in national governance for the two or three generations it will take to establish democratic traditions with the infrastructures to support them. Toward that end, the developed world must work arm-in-arm, not at odds with one another. It will take time.

    With the moderate voice in the State Department now gone, things could easily get worse. US officials say that Washington has done a poor job of explaining our policies to the Muslims. We do not agree. Our policy is very clear, and it is spelled out by the barrels of our M16 assault weapons. When you are dodging bullets, you do not have time or patience for words. This has now become a problem on both sides of the fence. See Remember and March for some historical perspective.

    Terror has two sides, and one side is us.

    See also:

    Finally, this heaven we live in exists only because the various ecosystems keep it in balance--or they did until recently. For more on that story see:

    A Most Workable Policy Worth Repeating:

    The Focus

    The point is not to predict the future
    but to prepare for it and to shape it.
    Richard Smith


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