Thursday, May 08, 2008

NYTimes: Who Will Tell The People?

I read this op-ed in the New York Times and was compelled to share. Click on the title above to read the full article; highlights are below:

Our president’s latest energy initiative was to go to Saudi Arabia and beg King Abdullah to give us a little relief on gasoline prices. I guess there was some justice in that. When you, the president, after 9/11, tell the country to go shopping instead of buckling down to break our addiction to oil, it ends with you, the president, shopping the world for discount gasoline.

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.”

I'm worried that the youth today—not just in America, but in Taiwan as well (and quite possible the world over)mdash;get the wrong message. Buy the bag, the shoes, live the celebrity lifestyle - but how is that possible with average salaries?

If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

How could this be? We are a great power. How could we be borrowing money from Singapore? Maybe it’s because Singapore is investing billions of dollars, from its own savings, into infrastructure and scientific research to attract the world’s best talent — including Americans.

Nothing like a little travel to give you an idea of how we're keeping up with the Joneses. Thailand's new airport in Bangkok is great, far nicer than LAX, and it's a developing country.

Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, just told a Senate hearing that...“China, India, Singapore ... have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

America is still a truly wonderful place to get an advanced education. I believe American universities are at the top of their league. In fact, a lot of America's growth can probably be contributed to those who trained in American and chose to stay. But if they have options elsewhere...?

Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is “toughening up” Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

I don’t know if Barack Obama can lead that, but the notion that the idealism he has inspired in so many young people doesn’t matter is dead wrong.

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