Boyd Matheson: America's great test is what it does when it doesn't have to do anything

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  • scollins68106 ,
    Dec. 18, 2018 3:39 p.m.

    This is an incredibly insightful and well articulated article, period. Well done and thank you for its submission!
    It does make me wonder since so many of the globe's immediate "problems" are addressed here domestically, should more thought be put to strategic planning and thinking? Civilizations, all great ones, are led by visionaries. Friction is often caused by groups who simply wish to carve out a portion of the progress with their sense of justice and "more fairly" distribute it. I contend that "we" are at a place in our history where we simply cannot let off the gas and similar to the Chinese, need to develop a national framework for a long term plan or true Grand Strategy. The sole focus of promoting peace and unity of effort globally to extend life, improve quality of life, eradicate human suffering, and enhance global economic prosperity; not at the cost to one country or another but to the benefit. Restructuring the neo-liberal world order and truly partnering with those who want to be partners in our leadership endeavors and moving on from those who don't or want to be obstructionist.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Dec. 16, 2018 10:11 p.m.

    @Karen R.
    Appreciate your thoughts on public university research. You are right. There are occasional examples of government getting something right.

    But, as I said, “more often than not” government impedes and delays the next great leap for the American people. I had to scratch my head to think of any significant breakthrough or discovery primarily through government that was not connected to national defense. As to public research universities, they simply don’t know how to get things to consumers in the marketplace without the collaboration of private industry.

    Nonetheless, as always, I appreciate your thought-provoking words.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 16, 2018 11:40 a.m.

    Should people look to their government for greatness or is greatness the responsibility of the people? Our Founding Fathers told us that greatness comes from the people NOT from the government. They limited the Federal Government to have authority to do only seventeen things. Those "things" are enumerated (listed) in the dependent clauses of Article I, Section 8. The 10th Amendment tells us that ALL other duties are the responsibility of the States or of the People.

    We are the people. If we teach people to look to the government to solve our problems, then we do not uphold, support or sustain the Constitution. On the other hand, if we teach people to magnify their knowledge, their abilities, their talents and their desires by solving the problems that we face collectively, then we are supporting those ideals that made America great.

    Some people are so lazy in their thinking that they blame the President for anything and everything. They are so lazy in their thinking that they can't imagine doing anything great themselves. They hide their light under a bushel and then complain that it is dark.

    If America is to be great, Americans must become great.

  • John Jackson Sandy, UT
    Dec. 15, 2018 10:36 p.m.

    Hatred is a storm that wrecks the insides of homes while leaving the structures standing. We have a nation -- it is not gone. But, the hatred we have for each other is gutting what we are, and what we stand for, and what we can accomplish. It is destroying us on the inside. I cannot help but think of the prophecy that if America is to fall, it must fall from within.

    Hatred eats at the soul of the hater, damaging him as much as the person he hates. So it is with us as a nation. We have sown the wind, and must reap the whirlwind. We have sown the seeds of hatred against each other, and have reaped this inability to function as a nation.

    Our divisions reflect our hatred. And, our hatred could spell our demise as the greatest nation on earth. If we would make America great again, we must make it united again.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 15, 2018 5:09 a.m.

    @ Vermonter

    I would add to Freitheit's list of government/private enterprise cooperation the public university system, which provides a lot of free research to private industry. One example: The ag departments of many schools work closely with ag chem corporations to develop products for crop and animal production.

    I'll grant that the profit motive is a strong and reliable motivator, but it isn't the only one. Many are motivated by the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. These are the people that gravitate to public jobs. Your (IMO) blinkered view of the public sector unfairly dismisses the efforts and contributions of these people.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Dec. 14, 2018 11:11 p.m.

    @Marxist. @Freiheit.
    I appreciate you sharing your words and viewpoints.

    Though I still have a difference of opinion with you, I appreciate your thought-provoking and well-reasoned comments.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 14, 2018 10:42 a.m.

    @Vermonter "Capitalism, independent of government “leaders,” has been (and hopefully will continue to be) the main impetus for the great accomplishments of America. "

    True, but not completely true. The profit drive drives innovation because being first with a technology confers a degree of monopoly power, which drives profits.

    But there is a problem with capitalism, and that is Marx's "surplus value," whereby a major portion of profits is made by employers seizing labor's surplus. Capitalism rests on the exploitation of hired labor. This leads to a natural concentration of wealth at the top. This is what happened in the 20's, leading to the Great Depression.

    During the 30's a coalition of communists, socialists and unionists had enough power to enact the New Deal reforms. But after the war business interests attacked this coalition, first the communists, and then the socialists, and finally the unionists.

    We now have no balance of power, so there is no buy in by the mass of population. That's why its so hard to get things done now.

  • pragmatistferlife Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 14, 2018 8:16 a.m.

    Here's the real problem(s) Mr. Matheson.

    The right wing of the Republican party's (who control the party) unfounded and fact less claim that government is the problem never the solution, and their near maniacal fear of spending.

    How do you solve any of the problems you list with the above principles in play?

    A rational Republican party was a partner in the development of America. Conservatives who didn't fear progress or risk but preached caution and responsibility gave us the America we knew.

    Radicals who denigrate govt. and preach austerity have given us the America we know now.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 9:46 p.m.

    "The real test of a nation is what it does when it doesn’t have to do anything."

    How true. Just as it is when it comes to individuals.

    What that really means is that the real test of a nation/individual is how good are they in **not** relying on crisis management to do what needs to be done. That is, in not waiting to be forced to act by dealing with foreseeable but still **potential** problems before they become current and existential ones.

    One of the more obvious examples of our DEcreasing ability to act in such a prudent manner as a nation is our decade's long and increasingly self-delusional refusal to live within our means. We insist on spending money we don't have, adding to an already astronomical national debt, as if there are no eventual and inevitable consequences.

    The wisdom of behaving honestly and prudently is summed up in the old saying that, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

    You'd think that having a 16:1 advantage would be more convincing to more people than it turns out to be.

  • JaneB Wilsonville, OR
    Dec. 13, 2018 7:00 p.m.

    Trump is not a man of action. From what has been reported, most days he has a very light schedule, and watches a lot of FOX. We know this because he tweets out what they say throughout the day. And I don't see a lot of accomplishments. What little good has been done was by congress, dragging Trump along.

    The things Trump has done, have mostly been destructive. For example, separating immigrant families at the border was heinous. To top that off, they asked family members to come forward to take care of the children still in custody, but that was only a trap, and they arrested most of them. So the children sit in custody. It's beyond shameful.

    There are many more examples of Trump's destruction. Not room to write them all.

    This country only works if there is compromise between right and left. That is the way congress worked not too long ago. It's a shame because most Americans are not either far right or far left. We are mostly in the middle, just wishing they would work together to solve our problems.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Dec. 13, 2018 5:16 p.m.

    Gil Bates

    I don't think the majority of the country, nor it seems the Senate and Congress, are on board with this President, whose actions seem more in self-interest than in those of the American people.

    And other than rule tweeks and a tax bill for billionaires, what has the Trump administration really put into "action"?

  • Gil Bates Mayfield, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 4:07 p.m.

    The irony here is that we currently have a president of ACTION, rather than acquiescence. The editor simply doesn't like Trump's plans.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Dec. 13, 2018 3:42 p.m.

    Two quotes from this opinion piece that strike me:

    “Great necessities call out great virtues.”

    True indeed. Sadly, Americans seem ignorant of pressing issues (climate change, national infrastructure, health care, de-industrialization to name a few), and elements of the political establishments seem intent on ignoring these problems. Instead of answers, the past two years give us sloganeering and propaganda.

    "The American people will respond with unrivaled capacity and commitment when a leader with vision invites them to be part of a cause — not a caustic debate."

    Wish this could be true. In 2016 the American people decided that leaders who engaged in caustic debate won elections. Rather than serious discussion of the issues confronting the country we got Trump's tweets, insults and appeals to our lesser angels. Furthermore, the only cause Trump really cares about is the size of his checkbook.

  • Freiheit Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 3:08 p.m.

    "Capitalism, independent of government “leaders,” has been (and hopefully will continue to be) the main impetus for the great accomplishments of America. "
    Capitalism has indeed done great things, but many of America's greatest accomplishments have been a combination of private and government projects. The world's first transcontinental railroad was a joint effort. Electrification was as well. The transistors developed at government supported labs became the foundation for advances in radio, TV, computers, cell phones and all our "smart" stuff. The list is much longer than space here allows.

    To castigate the government as an impediment to progress is to ignore a great deal of what has been accomplished.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 2:25 p.m.

    Can't argue with Matheson, really.

    But there are some really critical tests facing us as a nation. Two of them are:

    1. Climate change. The Trump Administration has issued two very dire reports lately on the threats of climate change, despite the efforts of Trump and other supporters to kill any actions to address the problem. We are seeing critical problems now and today. We must act.

    2. The threat to our nation, democracy and standing in the world due to Donald Trump. The danger is real, demonstrable, and taking place. This is serious.

    Can we as a nation address these problems, or will short-term personal financial interests prevail? Will we sell our "birthright for a bowl of pottage"?

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Dec. 13, 2018 12:44 p.m.

    I am a little surprised the Mathewson thinks if nothing is happening in Washington, then America is not doing anything.

    One can easily argue that almost all the “can-do” examples cited by Matheson (NASA, the interstate highway system, the Cold War and 2 World Wars) were all accomplished in the name of national defense. The Transcontinental Railroad and cures for countless diseases were largely accomplished by private enterprises (i.e. capitalism).

    Capitalism, independent of government “leaders,” has been (and hopefully will continue to be) the main impetus for the great accomplishments of America.

    The telegraph? Check. The cotton gin? Check. Electricity, Motion pictures, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, radio, television, personal computers, the iPhone....

    Check times at least 100 (with virtually no government involvement).

    The Government, as the Founders noted, and Ronald Reagan emphasized, is more often than not, an impediment to America’s greatness.

    So I join the Founders in championing a government that is painfully slow and often gridlocked.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 13, 2018 11:39 a.m.

    " We are a can-do country. The discipline to deal with the difficult without delay will define America’s future."

    Yeah, and the current GOP controlled government are "can doing" rolling back regulations on clean air and water, financial regulations, consumer rights, land use, labor rights and anything else they can enrich themselves at the detriment to the overwhelming majority of Americans.