Sunday, May 4, 2008

Asian Values Vs. Subprime Values

In today’s New York Times, Tom Friedman asked in a terrific op-ed piece: “Who Will Tell The People?” In it he argued that the American people are hungry to make this country strong again. Isn’t that the essence of patriotism?

He wants a president tough enough not just to withstand the lies of his opponents but also to tell us the truth. Isn't that the essenece of leadership?

He also laments that:

“We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents' generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: "You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years."

Right on all points. I’d add one more. It’s not enough to have truthful leadership and a personal commitment to traditional values. We need: a) a political system in which money doesn’t dominate; b) a tax system that rewards savings, investment, production and export; and c) a trade policy that puts the interests of domestic producers first. Do any one of these, and the other two will be easier to achieve. Do all three, and watch the resurgence of “Asian values” in this country.

Idealism and moral virtue at the level of individuals are simply not enough to turn our country around. They are undermined by a governmental system that systematically puts special interests before the public interest. If you want this country to be strong again, start demanding more -- a lot more -- of all public servants. If you want better public servants, study the real issues, raise hell whenever necessary to bring attention to them, and vote on that basis, not some PR-fed image.

Charles Blum

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