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Words from Winterbilt

Are Americans Spoiled?

Shannon Bohrer

(9/10) My mother often said the problem with America is that Americanís are spoiled. She said that if America was discovered today, only the east coast would be populated because Americans wonít walk anywhere. Of course life was harder for most of our short history and only in the 20th century have we enjoyed the modern convinces of indoor plumbing, central heating and motor vehicles. People used to walk everywhere, now they drive to a gym to use a treadmill. Many people use a riding lawn mower and then walk for exerciseÖ

Are American spoiled? I am inclined to agree with the idea that we are spoiled in some ways. It seems that we donít have any patience. If we want something we buy it, and if we donít have the money, we just charge it. If something breaks we donít get it fixed, we replace it. We, as a group and not necessarily as individuals, believe that every problem has a solution. And adding to our misunderstanding is the idea that all we need is money to solve our problems. Hubris, isnít it? Of course this is the same model that our government has used for over 30 years. If a problem does exist, or at least what we perceive as a problem, with enough money the problem can be solved! And, if the government does not have the money - they just borrow it. A problem with this is that the government does not have a credit card; they just borrow the money and only pay on the interest. I do find it interesting that so many people are currently very interested and vocal about our debt, as if the dept just occurred. Our national debt has been building for over 30 years, but we are just seeing this?

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."

--H.L. Mencken

Maybe, just maybe Americans and their government are afflicted with the illness of Lackoflongrangeview. Lackoflongrangeview is a technical word meaning individual(s) that are short sighted and have a lack of a long range view. Individuals that are afflicted with this illness often display a lack of patience and are spoiled. Their view of the future is measured in minutes and hours, and their long range view is in days and weeks. What is unknown is how one catches Lackoflongrangeview. Does the government catch it from the citizens, or do the citizens catch it from the government?

Many of you have probably heard the story of placing a frog in water. If you place a frog in hot water, it will jump out before it succumbs to the heat. However, if you place the frog in tepid water and turn the heat on low, the frog will stay put, and well, you know, it wonít make it. Maybe this is analogous to us being spoiled; maybe we have been cooking so long we did not realize the heat was turned on.

Another symptom of our illness of Lackoflongrangeview is the idea that after 30 years of spending more than we made, both government and individuals, we somehow think our little recession should be over soon! For over 30 years we have been driving a truck downhill, not paying attention to the gas needle, the brakes, the tires or any maintenance whatsoever. After all, if the truck broke down we just bought a new one. If the old one was not paid for, we just financed more on the new one. Thirty years later we are at the bottom of the hill, in a ditch with a truck that is worth less than we owe on it. The truck needs maintenance, tires and gas and we donít have any money, and we want the recession to end. And we want it to end soonÖ. The problem is that we think it can end soon!

Adding to the confusion about the financial problems, at least from my perspective, is that for us to get out of the recession, we are told we need to spend more. I am not an economist and I donít play one on television Ė but I think one reason that we are in a recession is that weWords from Winterbilt

Are Americans Spoiled?

Shannon Bohrer

My mother often said the problem with America is that Americanís are spoiled. She said that if America was discovered today, only the east coast would be populated because Americans wonít walk anywhere. Of course life was harder for most of our short history and only in the 20th century have we enjoyed the modern convinces of indoor plumbing, central heating and motor vehicles. People used to walk everywhere, now they drive to a gym to use a treadmill. Many people use a riding lawn mower and then walk for exerciseÖ

Are American spoiled? I am inclined to agree with the idea that we are spoiled in some ways. It seems that we donít have any patience. If we want something we buy it, and if we donít have the money, we just charge it. If something breaks we donít get it fixed, we replace it. We, as a group and not necessarily as individuals, believe that every problem has a solution. And adding to our misunderstanding is the idea that all we need is money to solve our problems. Hubris, isnít it? Of course this is the same model that our government has used for over 30 years. If a problem does exist, or at least what we perceive as a problem, with enough money the problem can be solved! And, if the government does not have the money - they just borrow it. A problem with this is that the government does not have a credit card; they just borrow the money and only pay on the interest. I do find it interesting that so many people are currently very interested and vocal about our debt, as if the dept just occurred. Our national debt has been building for over 30 years, but we are just seeing this?

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."

--H.L. Mencken

Maybe, just maybe Americans and their government are afflicted with the illness of Lackoflongrangeview. Lackoflongrangeview is a technical word meaning individual(s) that are short sighted and have a lack of a long range view. Individuals that are afflicted with this illness often display a lack of patience and are spoiled. Their view of the future is measured in minutes and hours, and their long range view is in days and weeks. What is unknown is how one catches Lackoflongrangeview. Does the government catch it from the citizens, or do the citizens catch it from the government?

Many of you have probably heard the story of placing a frog in water. If you place a frog in hot water, it will jump out before it succumbs to the heat. However, if you place the frog in tepid water and turn the heat on low, the frog will stay put, and well, you know, it wonít make it. Maybe this is analogous to us being spoiled; maybe we have been cooking so long we did not realize the heat was turned on.

Another symptom of our illness of Lack of long range view is the idea that after 30 years of spending more than we made, both government and individuals, we somehow think our little recession should be over soon! For over 30 years we have been driving a truck downhill, not paying attention to the gas needle, the brakes, the tires or any maintenance whatsoever. After all, if the truck broke down we just bought a new one. If the old one was not paid for, we just financed more on the new one. Thirty years later we are at the bottom of the hill, in a ditch with a truck that is worth less than we owe on it. The truck needs maintenance, tires and gas and we donít have any money, and we want the recession to end. And we want it to end soonÖ. The problem is that we think it can end soon!

Adding to the confusion about the financial problems, at least from my perspective, is that for us to get out of the recession, we are told we need to spend more. I am not an economist and I donít play one on television Ė but I think one reason that we are in a recession is that we spent more than we made. I find it difficult to understand that our economy is measured by how much we spend, rather than how much we make. In fact one could make an argument that we are in a recession because we spent too much, too much being more than we (both the government and citizens) have, or had. It does make you wonder, who came up with the idea that our economy should be based on how much we spend? I would guess that the idea was influenced by big businesses that sell a lot of stuff.

On any given weekend you can drive around and observe that our society has an excess of things (stuff) of which are offered for sale. They are called yard sales, antique malls and junk/swap shops. Do you ever wonder why we have such an excess of stuff. Maybe, just maybe, itís because we bought too much stuff and donít have any room to store it. Have you noticed that one of the biggest growth industries in the last 20 years is self storage units? If a law was made that all self storage units had to close, maybe half the population would have a yard sale because they had no room for all their stuff. Of course no one could buy the stuff because they would have no place to put it.

Here we are at the bottom of the hill, with our truck in a ditch and in need of repair. We want it fixed and we want it fixed soon. Then we can travel to the mall at the top of the hill to spend money we donít have. Yes, I think we are spoiled. Of course we could change how we measure the economy. If we had some creative economist that could base the economy on the number of yard sales, maybe the recession would end soonerÖor maybe not.

To read past Words for Winterbilt columns visit the Authorsí Section of Emmitsburg.net

. I find it difficult to understand that our economy is measured by how much we spend, rather than how much we make. In fact one could make an argument that we are in a recession because we spent too much, too much being more than we (both the government and citizens) have, or had. It does make you wonder, who came up with the idea that our economy should be based on how much we spend? I would guess that the idea was influenced by big businesses that sell a lot of stuff.

On any given weekend you can drive around and observe that our society has an excess of things (stuff) of which are offered for sale. They are called yard sales, antique malls and junk/swap shops. Do you ever wonder why we have such an excess of stuff. Maybe, just maybe, itís because we bought too much stuff and donít have any room to store it. Have you noticed that one of the biggest growth industries in the last 20 years is self storage units? If a law was made that all self storage units had to close, maybe half the population would have a yard sale because they had no room for all their stuff. Of course no one could buy the stuff because they would have no place to put it.

Here we are at the bottom of the hill, with our truck in a ditch and in need of repair. We want it fixed and we want it fixed soon. Then we can travel to the mall at the top of the hill to spend money we donít have. Yes, I think we are spoiled. Of course we could change how we measure the economy. If we had some creative economist that could base the economy on the number of yard sales, maybe the recession would end soonerÖor maybe not.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer