Washington, DC - Many of us heard the news on December 4. America is no longer number 1. We are now number 2. The Chinese economy overtook our economy to become the largest in the world. We've been the leading economic power for about 150 years but times have changed. We can now take our number one finger down or instead hold up two fingers.
I remember as a child hearing about our country being number one in everything. We were the number one economic power. We were number one in Education. We were number one in the Olympics. We were the best in the space program. We were the best in making cars.
We smirked about our transitor radios made in Hong Kong although they were really good radios. We don't smirk today. If a television isn't make in Hong Kong or Japan we figure it's a piece of junk.
In 1975 I bought a Chevrolet Monza. Suddenly the whole floor was pulled out from beneath me when I realized General Motors was making garbage to sell to economy conscious consumers. It was like General Motors had thrown something together to sell to us poor young college students who were strapped for cash and wanted to make our gasoline go further. I struggled as this car suffered numerous breakdowns. Finally, I drove a Toyota Celica and felt like I was riding in a new Mercedes.
My father-in- law at the time was an engineer for General Motors and hated Japanese cars. He also served in the military in World War II and had nothing good to say about the Japanese.
Many American cars went through a poor craftsman stage during the early seventies. Our lousy production flooded the country with Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas and Volkswagens. There are now large manufacturing plants scattered throughout America bearing these names. I realize they hire Americans and that is great but how much money really ends up across the ocean? I think most American cars are very good today. However, we got ourselves behind the eight ball due to a lot of years of poor craftsmanship. Today we are strangled due to the overwhelming retirement packages promised to retirees.
During the same era that we were making substandard cars, our government was cranking out free money and food stamps. This has only increased. We became obese, smoked our lungs out while trying to find entertainment through our four hundred television channels. Our government started paying people just enough so that they did not want to work. One employer recently lamented that his biggest competitor is the federal government.
We allowed lawyers to become crooks by conniving with clients on how to get something for nothing. Throughout Appalachia and other parts of our nation lawyers advertise promising their clients disability checks and other welfare compensation.
Too many Americans started buying into something for nothing. Somebody told us we didn't have to work hard or compete. We were simply entitled to the good life because we had been born. We demanded more wages, more generous retirement packages and gold lined health insurance packages. This was all great but many American corporations, strong-armed by unions, promised to pay what they really could not afford. Today they are struggling to pay retirees and cannot grow their current work force.
We must generate a new America. Fifty percent of the people cannot sit home while the other fifty percent carry the load. We cannot expect to collect wages when we may have contributed little into a system that is already eighteen trillion dollars in the red and bleeding red ink every day.
We can save America but we have to put our hands to work. Too many Americans have their hands out or are pointing their fingers at others. We need to point our hands and our fingers at ourselves and do something. We need to do what we can for the sake of family, our country and ourselves. It's not what "they" can do for us. It's about what we can do to be the best, not number two.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author. He is read in all 50 states.