Martin Luther King Jr. was martyred 40 years ago. Now is the time for Americans to take an account of Martin’s dream. MLK’s dream, and his lifelong struggle, was to create a new America based on the principle of fairness – for every citizen to have reasonable access to food, education, housing, jobs, health care and hence maintain an overall dignified and decent life. The mandate that he called for, and the mandate that we have after 40 years, is rather dismal. In last 40 years, we have seen the emergence of an America that is long on rhetoric and short on action. Our public policies are not serving the public – it’s serving the elite, a few rich and wealthy. The general population does not have access to power and is unable to give input for public policies. Politicians who are supposed to represent us are bonded to lobbyists and vested-interested groups.
In America, it looks like lobbyists run the government, and the common people are mere spectators – helpless, spiritless and frustrated. It seems like we are living in a society where middle- and poor-class have almost accepted the fate that I have experienced in Third World countries – people given up hope, the last asset of human existence. The wealth gap in America is the largest among the industrial democracies.
As a result of our silly and mean-spirited public policies that we have pursed domestically and internationally, America has become what we did not want her to become. In the last 40 years. The U.S. dollar has depreciated 300 percent, of which it depreciated almost 35 percent during the Bush administration. Our federal budget has hole larger then a black hole of our universe.
Currently one out of 12 federal dollars is used for paying interest only. By 2010, the amount ($350 billion) we will be paying for interest alone will approximately cover the budgets of all the universities and colleges in the United States.
This is mind-boggling. Our federal debt is beyond our imagination ($10 trillion and more). We are running on borrowed money, fighting wars on borrowed money and consuming on borrowed money. We want to give the powerful and wealthy tax breaks whereas we are enslaving our future generations by borrowing from others.
And who are the others? Asian and oil-exporting countries. Our political and corporate leaders are intellectually and morally bankrupt. They are looking for their immediate and instant benefit and profits by mortgaging our future. The senseless Iraq war has already cost us trillions of dollars, and if it continues it can cost us $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in the next five to six years.
We are spending senselessly; on the other hand many countries are spending prudently. The just-born Euro has become more powerful than our dollar. China and India have become formidable powerhouses economically and technologically.
China graduates 600,000 engineers, India graduates 300000 engineers annually, and even South Korea graduates more engineers than the United States. It did not happen automatically. It is the result of our silly and unsophisticated public and corporate policies.
Yes, we can blame our circumstance to the lobbyists and the vested interest groups. But we as a people have some responsibility, and we as a people can change our circumstances, and we as a people can take some responsibility for our own lives.
Americans don’t vote. Running for an office requires money, but no money is needed to vote. It’s the civic responsibility to vote.
If you don’t vote, don’t expect someone else to do the job for you. In this year of presidential and the congressional elections, every young man and women (teenagers included) should get engaged in the political process. America is run by lobbyists and interest groups because we let them do it. There is no reason that lobbyists should be so powerful. It’s our choice.
Socrates, the great sage of Ancient Greece, said, “Unexamined life is not worth living.” We Americans need to wake up and examine honestly our past deeds and readjust our compass. We can decide and control our fate – if we choose to. We don’t want the 21 st century to become someone else’s century. We need to put MLK’s dream into action.