It is hard not to notice that America as a whole is stuck in a perilous place today, but too often our legitimate concerns are ignored and our voices silenced.
Inflation is galloping along, and the only available cure is the chemotherapy of economics—a wretched recession. Of course, the flip side of inflation is rapid asset devaluation, which generally leads to a liquidity crisis and defaults because lenders tighten loan standards going forward and are quicker to pounce if existing loans seem to be teetering. The standard governmental response—a frantic and poorly executed money dump—always causes a host of additional problems, but this might not even be a viable option at this time because of the parlous state of federal and state balance sheets. We might soon find out just how far we have to fall before we hit bottom.
The consequences of Covid-19 shutdowns continue to ripple through our nation. If one can judge accurately from the statistics available to date, we are trapped in an economic recession, suffering from a national mental health crisis, and only now are comprehending the damage done to a generation of students who were locked out of classrooms long term, which produced its own epidemic of learning loss and social dysfunction that might never be overcome.
Opinions vary as to whether this societal and financial wreckage was justified by the need to respond to a genuine public health crisis, or the actual crisis was the fear mongering governmental overreaction that resulted in an unprecedented attack on our most fundamental civil liberties. Partisans on both sides of this issue probably will still be fighting it out when they are being wheeled into their nursing homes. We could be years away from a dispassionate and definitive evaluation of what was either a heroic medical miracle or a pointless mass psychosis.
As is almost always the case, armed conflicts—and the threat of yet more ahead—are all around us, but the recklessness of the rhetoric today reflects a stunning disregard for the consequences of escalation. We might be one itchy trigger finger away from a broader European struggle over Ukraine, another Middle Eastern shootout, or a confrontation in Taiwan. If any of the parties involved decides they have nothing to lose by pushing to the very precipice of war, even the slightest miscalculation could plunge the world into a nightmare. It would be nice to see cooler heads prevail, but it is difficult to see this happening when so many supposedly sane leaders seem intent on ratcheting up their rants in a truly frightening game of diplomatic chicken. Never has the difference between projecting resolve and picking a fight been more obvious to everyone but those blundering through foolishly provocative press conferences across our world’s capitals.
However, as frightening as all of these threats and many others too numerous to list might be, we must always remember that all of our problems are exacerbated by the extraordinary efforts now being made to censor and shame those who question the leadership and direction of our nation.
Although we comfort ourselves with the fantasy that we are far more advanced than our superstitious ancestors, it is difficult to ignore the inquisitorial zeal of the attacks directed at those who have concerns about, taking just three examples, the climate change agenda, the precepts of Critical Race Theory, or the goals of gender change advocates who encourage children to seek irreversible pharmaceutical and surgical solutions to typical adolescent discomforts with their changing bodies and developing sexuality.
It is neither outlandish nor paranoid to see all of these as money making adventures in extremism, and the dictatorial suppression of dissenting opinions only leads to more questions about the true intentions of those determined to press forward regardless of the damage to individual lives and our collective well being that might result. Concerns about our national fiscal management, Covid-19 response, and foreign policy likewise require stern and unflinching inquiry.
We might, as some claim, be on the cusp of a new and wonderful era of human history if we can only crush the troglodytes standing in the way of progress. However, it is equally likely that toxic narcissists and determined grifters are taking full advantage of our trust and good will to enrich and empower themselves. Either way, we need to be able to talk openly, honestly, and without fear of reprisal in order to determine the actual difference.