Posted by: goalpath | January 15, 2010

2000-2009 – the Worst Decade in Recent History? Can we Leverage the Internet to Make the Next Decade Better?

Time magazine’s November 22, 2009 article, “The ‘00s: Goodbye (at last) to the Decade from Hell” points out that the first decade of the new millennium might be one of the worst decades for America in recent history. How could they have drawn this conclusion?

In the last ten years, we have experienced two financial meltdowns – first in 2000-2001 when the internet Bubble Burst. Then again in 2008-2009 – that one shouldn’t be that hard to remember. America also suffered through 9/11, Anthrax letters, Hurricane Katrina, massive corporate bailouts and major unemployment. And last, but certainly not least we have had to deal with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that continue take American lives and siphon off more and more of our tax dollars and resources.

So have we learned anything from the last decade? We should have learned a lot, but if Washington D.C. is any indication, we may be doomed to repeat the last 10 years. Have you seen any new government policies to address the problems on Wall St. and in the investment banking community? Have we put in place new regulations to prevent Wall St. and investment bankers from overleveraging their capital and gambling on speculative investments and derivatives? No.

Has our government initiated the legislation that would provide funding to rebuild America’s dilapidated infrastructure to prevent future catastrophes such as those that took place in New Orleans and Minneapolis? There has been a lot of talk on capitol hill and some small projects approved, but no real progress in funding major infrastructure projects. Has our government put a priority on job creation or required the banking industry to use some of their TARP money to open up credit lines to small businesses? No.

While we are drawing down our troops in Iraq, it appears that the President plans to build up our troop levels in Afghanistan. I am still waiting to hear what our objective in Afghanistan will be and why we need an additional 35,000 troops at a cost of one million dollars per soldier per year. I thought we were getting out of the nation building business.

Seems to me that Afghanistan will just be another Iraq. We initially went into Afghanistan to get Osama, yet we don’t even know if he is there or in Pakistan. Won’t our occupation in another Middle Eastern country just increase the terrorists resolve.  If we run Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and Pakistan won’t they just move their operations to another country? Do we really need to spend $35 billion per year to democratize Afghanistan? My son and I are both veterans, so don’t accuse me of being a pacifist. I am just trying to determine how our national security is protected by occupying Afghanistan.

How did we reach this point in history and how can we prevent repeating the same mistakes in the next decade? Most historians would say that we reached this point through neglect, greed, self interest and losing sight of our responsibilities both in America and globally.

So how can we get back on track in moving America forward? The economy should be our number one priority. Job creation should be right at the top. In the next ten years, our top priorities should be green jobs, investment in small business, rebuilding our infrastructure, alternative energy research subsidies, designing and building a smart power grid, and more comprehensive information sharing in key sectors like government agencies and medicine – ie. electronic medical records. Had the FBI shared information on the shooter at Ft. Hood with the military, could that tragedy been averted? Maybe, maybe not.

Financial regulations need to be put back in place to regulate Wall St. and the investment bankers. When it comes to banking regulation, investment banks and commercial banks should not be under the same umbrella. They are very different and they should be regulated and insured differently. Why should the government treat investment banks the same as commercial banks and insure speculation on the part of investment bankers? It doesn’t make sense.

The American people need to become more involved in government, business policy and government regulation of business. As long as the industry lobbyists continue have major influence over legislators in policy making in Washington, the people won’t have a say in how business and industry is regulated and controlled. We need to take back our government from corporate America and the lobbyists. Isn’t it supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people?

One way we can ensure that our voices are heard in Washington would be to leverage the internet and mobilize our voices. By democratizing the web and galvanizing public opinion on each issue, we can use the internet to tell the politicians exactly how we feel about each of these issues as they arise.

The major political parties and their leaders seem to be more interested in working against each other than addressing these issues. Instead of doing the job for which they were elected, they only seem interested in blocking each others progress, rather than working to pass the needed legislation to get America back on track. I’m not suggesting deconstructing our political party system, but giving Washington a non-politically biased barometer of what their constituencies are thinking about a particular issue at any given point in time. If millions of Americans voice their opinions on these issues, don’t you think our fearless leaders will listen and act? 

It is all about the numbers. I started my web community, www.boomeropinion.com, to give Baby Boomers a voice in America. Boomers represent one of every three adults in America and control 70% of the wealth in this country. One would think their opinion counted for something. If even 10% of the 77 million Baby Boomers in America voiced their opinions on these critical issues, I am convinced Washington would begin to listen.

Within the next few months, we will upgrade Boomer Opinion to allow our users to create their own polls, ask topical questions and start discussions on topics of their own choosing. We will follow that with opinion portals for Gen X and Gen Y. Once we get traction, maybe our political leaders will start working to fix America instead of fighting each other over partisan agendas.

What is your take on the last decade and democratizing the web? Is America ready for this? Let us know what you think.

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