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Priorities have gone askew

What does the future hold for Southern California and the state as a whole?

My intuitive feeling is that the state is in a suicidal mode, with mostly terrible leadership; restrictions on business; an Assembly and Senate that has no cooperative partnership within the two-party system -- running up a pretty awful deficit, wrecking the plans of its cities; and in regard to elected officials, a full-time focus on being re-elected.

Our region seems to get kicks out of feeling satisfied that we are stronger than the north, but that's like the kid who tells his disappointed dad that "you should have seen how many kids got worse report cards than I did." To my immigrant dad and grandparents, education was the ultimate reward of liberty, and the most important motive they knew.

Politics has become the punishment the population receives because of freedom. Everything is politicized while civility and effectiveness disappear into mud, which is the soil called politics. Long ago the peace movement disappeared into confrontational politics, of environmental tyranny and prioritizing Noah's Ark rejections, called "snail-darters" and "kangaroo rats," over solving human deprivation. People will spill bile over fur coats but hardly notice that their protection of the sacred, earth-devouring single family lot over the much more productive multiunit use defeats the only way to solve the housing crisis. Our critical nurse and teacher shortage cannot be solved with our home and rental costs.

Now each day begins with CNN telling us whether we are in a war or that we have been rejected by our "allies". Everything seems to be on hold -- except insulting behavior and the smugness of the peaceniks who are satisfied that they alone know the truth, as their antics evolve into spring break. The college kids are torn between celebrating annual spring fertility rites in Florida and Baja or marching against George W. Bush in any city -- truly noble choices of adolescents still trying to find elusive maturity. History is ignored in the search for what makes us feel good when dissing our own government -- ironically taught by generations of Republicans.

Our economy is disappearing under the weight of past and present foolishness: a huge tax gift that will add nothing to our productivity; a unilateral rant against a universally hated scoundrel instead of some group -- think that assists in the liquidation of madmen who still appear to rule countries with terror, not having to suffer the pangs of re-election, as humans never learn from their history.

This exodus from once nourishing allies began with the dumping of the anti-missile treaty with Russia and the Kyoto Treaty -- as if global warming is another Clinton fabrication. The exodus from making health services available to our population was buried under the always present "socialism". (What is it called when a Congressman receives it for nothing?)

The momentum of the country and the state has been dulled by war preparation, the fear of terrorism, the failure of business to make investments, complete dependency on low interest rates and discounts to suck the consumer into debt, and commodities they really should not afford. Now the consumers' leading indicators tell us that the maddened crowd is finally tired of huge gasoline raises, orange alerts or spending within the environment of fear.

The muscle of America has lost some 2.1 million manufacturing jobs since mid-2000. Where have they gone? Well, first Mexico and now China as it muscles up its future as we mortgage our own with frivolous purchases of gas-guzzling bullies and designer clothes for spoiled kids. Arrogance is not just the tyrant. It builds in any society where the young command the parent, and the advertising agencies only reach out to the young -- or haven't you been to the movies lately?

Forgive the rant. Sometimes it just boils out of my system as I study history of bygone days.

Goodkin has been a business ethicist and housing analyst since 1956. He may be reached at sanford.goodkin@sddt.com.

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