Jefferson Davis, Adolph Hitler and Neville Chamberlain walk into a bar…

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John O. S. Houston

… as We the People ponder the state of our nation.

A stock market plunge, a debt spike, and a flood of over-printed, under-valued currency.  A European financial crises and the rise of political extremism. Heat waves scorching American crops and the devaluation of agricultural land. An abundance of poverty and a paucity of jobs. 300 full-time converted to 400 part-time positions: “job growth.”

The tail end of a long and unpopular overseas conflict. Russia looming large as both enemy and ally. An Asian nation rapidly industrializing with little but domination on the mind. A lunatic spewing anti-Semitic and anti-western rhetoric, while stockpiling arms intended to destroy the lives of millions.  Appeasement.

2013 looks an awful lot like 1938.

Extremely unpopular, divisive and derisive politicians who are hated by half of the nation. An “Us versus Them” mentality punctuated by extremists on all sides too busy slinging the barbs of insult-laden mud to come to the negotiating table, so that this country can right itself. Mutually assured antagonism.

2013 looks an awful lot like 1861.

When we look through the history books that chronicle the founding of this nation, the pages are marked with bitter conflict, rivalries and heated debate. But our most precious documents were forged with words of “Compromise.” Where have those politicians gone? How do we, the governed, move forward when our leaders seem to be vultures, weasels or, worse, baboons getting drunk off of power on the taxpayers’ tab, colluding about how to keep the racket running? We choose to change the paradigm.

Now, at these critical moments, the proverbial crossroads, it is our choice, whether to continue down this path of assured self-destruction or drop our differences, find our commonalities, and heal our wounds for the sake of preserving our nation, its prosperity and our posterity.

Our labor force is our backbone, yet unions suffocate the body, vying for government control more than assisting the working classes, and aid and abet asphyxiation through political pressures.

Education is vital to our growth, yet archaic and ineffective methodologies sap our nest eggs, providing nothing more than loans and a fancy piece of paper, suitable for framing but not employment.

We yearn to uplift the tired, poor and huddling masses, yet with everyone’s hands out, our palms are all empty. And when we do get what we think we deserve, we are outraged because the dollar is worth less than the ink on the page. But that hasn’t stopped the government from printing more crisp greenbacks.

The Federal government relies on taxes to fund programs, but we rob Peter to pay Paul, and neither can afford the American Dream.

Our jails create criminals; they don’t reform them.

We cut Defense spending, but it creates new technologies, employs citizens, and keeps us safe at night from those who irrationally hate us, so that we may shine as the beacon of freedom across tumultuous seas.

We are angry when we hear of outsourcing, but refuse to go the extra block to buy at the locally owned and operated businesses … and cannot understand why the little guy is driven into the ground as taxes, regulations and minimum wages continue to climb.

Foreign oil is crippling our wallets and funding our foes, yet we refuse to entertain the notion of alternative or innovative energy sources that lie just beneath our nose.

We need social programs, not social handouts. We need critical thinking, not close-mindedness. We need to get off of our computers and smart phones, meet our neighbors, and work toward common goals.

Don’t look to our politicians. They have their heads up their Washingtons. Look at yourself. Are you living the example? Are you doing today what will make tomorrow better?

Our roots are strong, but the leaves are withering. This generation, at this moment in time, must refresh the life within the tree of liberty – or we will be left without even so much a stump to speak on.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Hitler orders a round, drinks two of the beers, as Davis drinks the other. Then they both walk out, leaving Chamberlain with the bill, and no beer. Chamberlain reluctantly puts it all on his tab, which he promises his grandchildren will pay, someday. But he leaves a tip for the working class bartender. “If you don’t learn from history,” he tells the barkeep, “you are doomed to repeat it.”

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John O.S. Houston is a 24-year old product of Washington, DC gridlock, and an education from The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 2012.  He has spent his time since graduation traveling to 43 of the 50 states to get a first-hand account of what is actually happening in our country, and how we can get ourselves back on track.  He also enjoys the beach, the 21st Amendment, and Harpo Marx.

About Author

PAUL DRIESSEN is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), public policy institutes that promote environmental stewardship, the enhancement of human health and welfare, and personal liberties and civil rights. He writes and speaks frequently on the environment, energy and economic development, malaria eradication, climate change, human rights, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. His articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines and on news and opinion websites in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Uganda, Bangladesh and many other countries. Driessen’s book, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death, documents the harm that restrictive environmental policies often have on poor people, especially in developing countries, by restricting their access to life-enhancing modern technologies. It is in its second US printing and has also been published in Argentina (Spanish), India (English), Germany (German) and Italy (Italian). He was editor for Energy Keepers - Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle, by CORE national chairman Roy Innis; Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns, by Nick Nichols; and Creatures, Corals and Colors in North American Seas, by Ann Scarborough-Bull. His report, Responsible Progress in the Andes, examined ways that modern mining operations can bring jobs, infrastructure, and improved safety and pollution control practices to poor communities. Driessen’s studies and analyses have also appeared in Conserving the Environment (Doug Dupler, editor), Resurgent Diseases (Karen Miller, Editor) and Malnutrition (Margaret Haerens, editor), all part of the Thomson-Gale “Opposing Viewpoints” Series that is used in many high schools and colleges; Redefining Sovereignty: Will liberal democracies continue to determine their own laws and public policies, or yield these rights to transnational entities in search of universal order and justice? (Orin Judd, editor); and other publications. He played a lead role in the “Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now” campaign, an international effort that restored the use of DDT to African and other malaria control programs, and served as an advisor to the film “3 Billion and Counting,” examining how environmentalist and EPA campaign against DDT had devastating impacts on families in poor developing countries. Paul received his BA in geology and field ecology from Lawrence University and a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, before embarking on a career that also included tenures with the United States Senate, U.S. Department of the Interior and an energy trade association. He has produced documentary films about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, immigration through Ellis Island, and marine habitats beneath offshore oil production platforms. Driessen is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and college campuses, and at business and public policy forums. He participates in energy, health and environmental conferences, and was active in the Public Relations Society of America, where he served as Washington, DC chapter newsletter editor and in the Social Responsibility Section.

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