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Bradley writes: "Just as no one guaranteed that the Greek, Roman, or Ottoman Empires would last forever, no one has guaranteed America its continued dominance in the world. If overreaching abroad and decay at home cause us to falter, the world will be a place with considerably less hope."

Former Senator Bill Bradley. (photo: Vanguard Press)
Former Senator Bill Bradley. (photo: Vanguard Press)



We Can All Do Better

By Sen. Bill Bradley, Reader Supported News

08 May 12

 

ust as no one guaranteed that the Greek, Roman, or Ottoman Empires would last forever, no one has guaranteed America its continued dominance in the world. If overreaching abroad and decay at home cause us to falter, the world will be a place with considerably less hope.

America's idealism, optimism, and spirit of self-reliance - all these have created the unique American character, a character that has inspired people around the globe. But the America of today is in a state of confusion. We don't see our problems clearly, or if we do, we often - out of inertia, fear, or greed - fail to deal with them. The federal government has amassed an enormous debt in just the last 10 years. Many of our state and local governments, have pursued the "free lunch," spending lavishly on pensions and health care and then handing on the bill to future state administrations. The corporate sector is consumed with the short term, trapped in a financial prison of stock buybacks and quarterly earnings reports, unable to invest or hire in its own long-term interest. Ten years ago, 61 U.S. companies had triple-A bond ratings; today there are four.

As long as you act a hair's width within your lawyer's definition of the law, you get a pass that exempts you from doing what is not just legal, but also right. I had a friend who worked at the highest levels in three major investment banks over 25 years. He told me that once when he refused to work on a deal because he didn't think it was right, the head of the firm came to him and said, "I know what we're doing is unethical, even immoral, but I can assure you it's not illegal."

Exacerbating these failings is a mass media that champions the superficial, sensational, and extreme view. Only a few major newspapers, all of them under relentless financial pressure and apparently unable to reinvent themselves in order to attain a level of profitability, still attempt to ferret out the truth, but reporting, the craft of going out to discover what isn't known, too often gives way to opinion pieces.

The losers here are the people, who would like to know: What happened in the city council meeting? Or in the congressional committee room? How was the money for schools spent? How did that special-interest tax break make it into the tax code? Who agreed to the pensions that bankrupted our town? What did corporation X do for the ten thousand workers it just fired? How will the latest technological innovation affect jobs? These are the kinds of questions that rarely get answered, at least on television. If people in power are not held responsible for what they do, it will be easier for them to abuse that power. Without facts to challenge a government official or a CEO, the peoples' questions and accusations are parried by elementary public relations tactics.

 

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-4 # Archie1954 2012-05-08 22:03
Possibly senator but there will be a lot more peace!
 
 
+5 # paulrevere 2012-05-08 22:25
You Sir, have no shame...you consider to preach that we can all do better and you milked the system decade after decade as a big time power broker and so helped orchestrate, not hinder this abomination of mayhem and strife.

I remind you Sir, of the promise of America when you were a youth...you, personally, along with all of your ethicless collegues did this...SIR!!
 
 
-3 # Milarepa 2012-05-08 23:52
When the US dissolves there will be a lot more hope, and a lot more peace.
 
 
-4 # Rick Levy 2012-05-09 00:04
I can sum up this commentary in two words: false equivalence.
 
 
+12 # Citizen Mike 2012-05-09 06:02
This is nothing but blather.

Bradley is still clinging to that nutty and destructive notion of "American exceptionalism. " It is well past due for us to denounce and renounce this absurd belief. It only conflates our arrogance at home and draws resentment abroad.

It's true we were the heroes of WWII but that is long gone. Today we are best known in the world for our misguided destructiveness and imperial arrogance in Vietnam and Iraq.

And we are now starting to resemble the Nazis we so desperately fought. I cannot tell "exceptionalism " from "master racism."
 
 
+7 # lark3650 2012-05-09 06:12
Oliver Goldsmith said: "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay." ...that is what happened here in America...the land Lincoln referred to as the "last great hope of earth."
 
 
+5 # dkonstruction 2012-05-09 13:52
Bradley's first sentence sort of sums it all up doesn't it..."no one has guaranteed America its continued dominance in the world."...clear ly he thinks that our "dominance around the world is a good thing."...sorry bill, tell that to the Hawaiians, the Philipinos, the Cubans, the Latin Americans (at least those that we invaded and or helped to dominate through client dictatorships), not to mention the Vietnamese, The Iranians in 1953 or the Congolese in 1961, Haiti, and more recently Iraqi's and Afghani's (not to mention the recent coup in Hondorus with clear support from the Obama administration) . If the half million dead Iraqi children (according to the UN as a result of the sanctions we pushed) are an example of what we can expect from US world dominance (with the likes of Madeline Albright saying that these deaths were "worth it") then what exactly are you defending bill?

And spending on health care and pensions are "free lunch" programs? give me a break. what about the decade plus of war spending or tax breaks for the rich?

Pathetic, when this kind of nonsense is held up as an alternative to anything
 
 
+4 # propsguy 2012-05-09 15:10
with all due respect sir, it's not the workers pensions that have bankrupted state and federal governments. the wars and the tax cuts for the richest of us had something to do with it. your point is well taken but your cowardice in avoiding the real culprits is appalling
 
 
+1 # lark3650 2012-05-11 07:53
For every person who is getting to the root of the problem...peopl e like Ralph Nadar, Alan Grayson, and Bernie Sanders, there are thousands like you, Mr. Bradley, chopping at the branches.
 

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