By Dink Nesmith(Published in the Athens Banner-Herald)America, we need to wake up and look in the mirror. Staring back at us is the ugly truth: We are the problem. If we don’t come to grips with reality and change direction, the most advanced nation in the world is going to lose its coveted place.This isn’t about pointing fingers and blaming Washington. The real issues live on Main Street. Where we got off the right road was wandering away from John Smith’s Plymouth Rock premise: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”Like stacking crumbling bricks, we are building – generation after generation – a faulty foundation for our future. Just look around. Other countries are out-working us. This didn’t just happen when the economy gutted the job market. For decades, it’s been clear too many of us are soft and too quick to stick out our hands.It’s our fault. We have allowed this to happen. How? We have rewarded the unproductive with entitlements. And now, we have elected leaders, at every level, who protect their jobs by pouring more entitlement slop into the something-for-nothing trough.But there are people desperate to blister their hands to feed their families. A job, any job, would be a godsend.And there are those who cannot take care of themselves. It’s our moral obligation to help the helpless.But my jaw tightens when I see someone who is unwilling to work but expects a handout.This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. There is plenty of incompetence on both sides of the aisle – on the local, state and national levels. This is about restoring health to “the American way.” And that starts with everyone doing what they can to make it better.President Obama gets high marks for trying. Right now, we see trillions of dollars being thrown at problems. But where are the positive results? If we’re going to encumber our great-grandchildren with debt, I believe we should invest those borrowed dollars into re-educating those citizens who have forgotten John Smith’s concept – the one that made America strong.More adults and parents need to be responsible for the consequences of poor planning. Education opens doors of opportunity, but you must be willing to step through the threshold and try. We should begin now, purging the entitlement mentality. We owe America for our freedom.A good place to start retooling that thought is with our teenagers. Let’s bring back the draft. Everyone doesn’t have to carry a rifle. There are public-service needs, but all would benefit from the mental and physical shape-up of a boot-camp experience. Employable skills would be a valuable byproduct for many.In the meantime, for those who can’t find a job, let’s benefit from the Great Depression and revive the Public Works Administration. While we are building roads and repairing tattered infrastructure, our tax-dollar investments would be fortifying our foundation and letting folks rebuild their pride by earning a paycheck.America, we need to look in the mirror. Staring back at us will be Pogo, who observed, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We must make hard decisions, right now. If we don’t make a U-turn soon, we’d better start learning to speak Chinese.’¢ Dink NeSmith is president of Community Newspapers Inc. in Athens. Send e-mail to email@example.com.
Returning to the American way
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