Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Losing our future orientation

NY Times columnist David Brooks writes that America was founded by Europeans with a future time orientation, but we are shifting towards those who favor presentism and consumption:
Europeans who settled America gave their lives a slingshot shape. They pulled back so they could shoot forward. ...

This future-oriented mentality had practical effects. For decades, government invested heavily in long-range projects like railroads and canals.

Today, Americans have inverted this way of thinking. Instead of sacrificing the present for the sake of the future, Americans now sacrifice the future for the sake of the present.
The Germans, Finns, and South Koreans still have a future time orientation:
U.S. firms are also lagging in their commitment to research and development. Between 1999 and 2006, for example, German firms increased research-and-development spending by 11 percent, Finnish firms by 28 percent and South Korean firms by 58 percent. During that same period, U.S. spending increased by a paltry 3 percent.

Increasingly, companies have to spend their money on retirees, not future growth.
Brooks has been a huge Barack Obama booster for years, but he is regularly disappointed:
But it would be great if Obama gave an imaginative speech that reframed things as present versus future.

If the president were to propose an agenda for the future, ...

Would Americans buy that agenda? Maybe. Americans are neglecting the future, but I bet they’re still in love with it.
Sure, some Americans plan for the future, such as the Tea Party crowd that objects to our massive debt.

Rand Paul gave the Tea Party response to Obama's speech:
President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.

What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.

What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.

He described a limited government that largely did not interfere with individuals and their pursuit of happiness.

All that we are, all that we wish to be is now threatened by the notion that you can have something for nothing, that you can have your cake and eat it too, that you can spend a trillion dollars every year that you don’t have.

I was elected to the Senate in 2010 by people worried about our country, worried about our kids and their future. ...

Washington acts in a way that your family never could – they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem.

Tonight I urge you to demand a new course.
But Pres. Obama's re-election was based on identity politics. The exit polls reported that the decisive votes came from non-whites, non-Christians, and non-marrieds. His typical voter is a single woman whose main concern is getting someone to pay for her next birth control pill. NY Times editor Sam Tanenhaus just wrote a long article about how Democrats are dependent on non-white voters.

Pres. Obama does sometimes talk about the future:
But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. ... (APPLAUSE) Now (APPLAUSE) ... We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late.
He gets applause with this, but the judgment of science is that global warming did not cause Sandy. He is not doing anything to combat climate change. The people who are most interested in sacrificing for America's future are those who are married, have kids, attend Church, and have traditional American values. And they vote Republican.

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