April 13, 2012 2 Comments
Hello, folks! I know I’ve been on hiatus for what? About two weeks now? My grandpa always told me that excuses and alibis ring up “no sale” every time, and he’s right. I’m still giving you my excuse, but I think it’s a good one: I recently found out that my husband and I are expecting our first child. Great news, to be sure, but I haven’t exactly been feeling like myself. Okay, I’ve had my head in the toilet most evenings (morning sickness is a serious misnomer), and I haven’t been writing much for either of my blogs. I’ve mostly been avoiding getting sick and going to bed early, and unfortunately, I’ve been missing out on the action! Would you believe that I just read today that Rick Santorum dropped out of the race? (I’m delighted.)
I’m trying to stop being a wuss and get myself back into the swing of things, and I’m going to start tonight by looking at an article I found on Lew Rockwell titled “The Great Collapse of the US Empire” by Jeff Berwick. Some of the article seems to be thinly veiled advertising for his firm’s services, but he makes some legitimate points about the way the United States is going. I think many Americans have a keen sense that something is very, very wrong at home, but they haven’t a clear of idea of why or how, just that everything is going to hell in a hand basket.
Having lived and worked outside the US for about three and a half non-consecutive years, and I can certainly say that there are places where freedom still has a real face and hunting for a job doesn’t make you feel like a blind sow rooting for an acorn. For about the past two years, I’ve become firmly convinced that East Asia is where it’s at now. The so-called Asian tiger economies are manufacturing powerhouses, and the standard of living here is rising quickly to rival that of any country in the West.
Let’s take a look at a “snapshot” of the average Korean family with a child or children attending my school. Almost without exception, their fathers work for a bank, a company like Samsung or Hyundai, in a law firm, as a small business owner, a factory owner, a doctor, or educator. Most of their mothers stay home, although I have several whose mothers work in government, in banks, or in other prestigious jobs. The students all wear North Face jackets, carry smartphones, and attend minimally two or three after-school academies. They are all learning English, and all of the kids above a certain can speak with some degree of competence about world affairs. In short, most of these kids are like the “smart” kids you knew in school. Except that they are the majority. And they are competitive.
The way that one is able to live in Korea further highlights some of the serious problems that we have in the US today. Koreans do not fear the police. The police are here to help, and they generally have a “hands off” policy. Forget being harassed in the street. More often than not, the police are young boys doing their two-year civil service, move in herds, and will smile and say “Hello” in English when you pass. Small businesses are alive and thriving here. Walk up and down any Korean street, and there are innumerable merchants plying their trade, and most of these businesses are family-owned. It is incredibly common to go into a restaurant here and be waited on by the wife or children while the father prepares your meat in the back room.
Does that mean I think that everything is perfect in Asia? Obviously not. However, what I see here is much closer to how I envision a free, functioning society. The people are not afraid of the police or the government. Education is good and considered to be a worthwhile endeavor. Manufacturing is still alive, and competition is encouraged. In fact, the hard truth in Korea is that you have to compete and compete hard or fail.
The simple truth is that East Asia has a large population and is becoming more and more relevant on the world stage. The people here are intelligent and economically successful, and they are enjoying their new prestige. They travel, they spend money, they work hard, and they know what they want. But one thing that I’ve never noted is that they expect anyone to give it to them. Does this mean that everything is always bright and shiny and wonderful? No. The suicide rate here is the highest in the world, thanks to work-related stress. There is a lot of pollution, and students spend more time at school than with their families or unwinding a bit.
I suppose what I’m really trying to convey is that capitalism is alive here more than it is in the West. Freedom is alive here in a way that it is not alive in the US today. I pay 3.5% in income taxes. My health care, though not specifically to my philosophical tastes, is more accessible and just as good as anything I would get back home. The Korean system is not perfect, but it does better by me than the imperfect system at home, which is frankly the worst of both worlds. My life is good here. My husband and I save approximately $3000 per month. We are debt-free, and we have enough money to do pretty much whatever we want, when we want. The sad fact is that this would not be the case in either of our home countries, England or the US.
It is high time that the US government remove its blinders and get with the program. The US is being grossly out-performed by the East, and that doesn’t have to be the case. I still stand firmly behind the belief that Americans are the smartest workers on the planet, and I think just about anyone who has worked both in the US and overseas will tell you that’s true. We have unbeatable innovative skills, drive, and grit, but American business is stymied by the insurmountable burden of taxes, regulations, and labor laws that the government has laid upon it. And I don’t just mean big businesses; this affects all businesses, from big manufacturing companies to the family-owned local business, a breed which I fear is approaching extinction now.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the government making any serious efforts to alleviate the situation at home. Their answer is always the same: MORE. More taxes. More laws. More regulations. More committees. More money to the banks. More money to the mega-corporations. More debt so that we can spend ourselves back to prosperity. It’s time to reconsider the old notion that sometimes less is more. Less regulation. No war. Fewer taxes. Smaller government. For God’s sake, stop taking money away from those who need it most. Quit giving our money to failing businesses with too much influence. Stop peddling influence for money overseas. Let America get back to work. Let us compete. We have done it before, and we can do it again, but first, the government has got to get the hell out of the way.
My pessimistic view is that it is going to take a serious collapse to realize this goal. I really hate to be that way, because it harkens me back to my grandfather again, though not in the best way: all doom and gloom and “I told you so.” Part of me, however, is starting to think that maybe we need to get back to basics. Let it all fall down, come what may. Maybe, as Berwick suggested, a collapse would take the TSA, the Federal Reserve, and all the shady elements of the government with it. Maybe it would allow us to get back to first principles, with a new era of liberty and prosperity rising like a phoenix from the proverbial ashes.
I hope that it doesn’t come to this. Santorum is out and Gingrich is bouncing checks for $500. They’re out. Ron Paul is still in, and with a rally at UCLA last week that counted over 10,000 in attendance, I can’t say that the message of liberty is falling on deaf ears, because I truly believe that more and more people are hearing that message and responding to it in incredibly positive ways. This is so uplifting, as I truly believe, as do most of us in the movement, that there is nothing that brings people together so much as freedom. This gives me hope that the spirit of ’76 is not dead yet, and that the fight has only just begun.