Dennis Prager: The Greatest Threat Facing America

Dennis Prager explains what is the greatest threat that America faces today: “We have not passed on what it means to be an American to this generation.”

Dennis Prager Q & A At University of Denver
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNUc8nuo7HI

Dennis continued:

“A society does not survive if it does not have a reason to survive. That is true for individuals. Where there is a Why, there is a How. … We have lost the Why. The greatest generation did not teach my generation what Americanism is. It’s not its fault. It wasn’t taught. This goes back 100 years, to John Dewey, to importation of European professors, to our universities, to a whole host of issues.

The average American who deeply loves this country and even has conservative values cannot articulate what those values are. It is no one’s fault, but that is the greatest threat.”

[…]

(at 3:31 in video)

I would just add that I — I have never said this, so I have good credentials to say this now — it’s common for commentators to say every election this is the most important election in American history or in our time. I never said that except with regard to one, Bush 2, term 2. […]

This is not a presidential election and is the most important in modern American history, this November.

This November, is a referendum on what we want America to be. It is nothing short of that. And there is one party that stands for America’s values, and it has nothing to do with patriotism. […]

If we do not change both houses we lose! That is how important it is.

Comments

  1. Gene Meyer says:

    I offer the following for your consideration-

    A LONE FORECASTER’S VIEW OF THE AMERICAN SCENE

    Commonly expressed views are at odds with my understanding of our national problems; therefore I seem to be a Lone Forecaster. Issues, such as; people’s sense of wellbeing, behaving as a world citizen versus self preservation as a nation, true options open to us and myths, our competitive stance in the world, and the wasting of the energies of our young men and women are complex issues. Therefore this paper is necessarily multifaceted and integrates various issues to reach conclusions. It is easy to find fault and not offer solutions. This is written with the intent of envisioning solutions and stirring discussion.

    People’s Sense of Wellbeing
    • Co-operation is possible only when there is freedom from envy acquisitiveness, and from the craving for personal or collective dominance, power. Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
    • The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom. Epicurus (341-270 BC)
    • One’s wishes are only limited by the power of one’s gang. Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
    • What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other? George Eliot-Marian Evans Cross (1819-1880)

    Preparation to become a speaker for my employer’s company sent me to training. Materials were available to serve as a base for preparing an initial speech and I chose a history of decisions and consequences of US Supreme Court rulings. A major conclusion from the review was that the Court should never make a decision unless there is a strong national majority favoring the ruling. Evenly divided issues and decisions contrary to a strong national consensus result in unrest. When there is a small group against a ruling, that group knows most are in agreement with it. It is easier for them to reconcile their loss and move on to other issues. But larger groups disagreeing with a decision result in a sense of betrayal by their leaders and frustration that leads to tensions between winning and losing groups, and between a large sector of the population and governmental leaders.

    I believe the decision to avoid legislating, when there are very strong feelings and relatively even groups favoring or opposing, should normally extended to the Executive and Congressional Branches of our government. Recently enacted health care changes violated this guideline and the result is national division and backlash.

    Most people, and both parties, supported changes in the healthcare programs for our country. Most people know of suffering by family members and friends lacking assistance with health bills. We would be much better off if the “winning” group had backed off enough to gain a majority, or better yet a strong majority, supporting a specific plan, even if the legislation was less comprehensive. The “winners” could not even gather adequate support from their own party. Their leaders had to resort to political coercion and bribery to pass the legislation and this was readily apparent to all of America. Ayn Rand’s perspective shown above was in full play. So, a very small group of people supposedly representing us initiated legislation that was opposed by a majority of the 167 million households in our nation. Rather than being able to march forward together with legislative changes for health care, we are embroiled in opposing groups and blame placing. As a result, this legislation is still before us and not behind us. Political parties are arguing, doctor groups are arguing, retirees are fighting within their representative groups, and so it goes. For the wellbeing of our nation, let’s adhere to the strong consensus rule of governance.

    The World Environment and Beginning with an Honest Base of Understanding

    • The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)
    • Ordinary people may settle for the appearance of truth more often than the truth itself. Rene’ Descartes (1596-1650)
    • The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions. James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

    A climate/energy bill is before Congress, and it too may fall into a contentious and closely divided issue. I hope the recommendation above is in play and not a one party power play. The base for understanding the issue is in question and I offer some differing views that should be an integral part of the debate.

    The first issue is an understanding of future carbon-dioxide emissions by the US and other nations so an appropriate legislative response can be developed for our nation. The United States and Europe are developed economies with modest future growth, whereas China, India and other Asian developing countries are projected to experience more than twice as much economic growth. If you take the combined $11 trillion output of gross domestic product for just China and India and assume it will grow by 7-10 percent a year, incremental (new) output of goods and services for their nations is more than twice as much as the existing $14.3 trillion GDP for the United States in 20 years or less. It is an easy calculation so that all can understand that the energy demand to support this growth, and resulting carbon-dioxide output from these nations, dwarf any potential savings possible in our country. There are eight times as many people in China and India as in the United States and the average person in China earns only 1/8 as much a year as people in the US as measured by GDP/capita. The average person in India makes only 1/16 as much as an American. These nations have dreamed of a higher standard of living for their people for generations and we cannot morally ask them to defer economic growth because of our concern about emissions of carbon-dioxide.

    Is it worth penalizing our families and businesses by adding carbon limits and associated taxes, even when the potential impact on world emissions is negligible? We can say “we are the world’s leader and must set an example”, but there are many unemployed in our nation and higher energy costs will decrease our manufacturing competitive position and limit business growth. The notion that we can have a significant impact on emissions is false, it is a myth. Carbon emissions are not within our control.

    High economic growth in the very populous nations of Asia will create a strain on all commodities and China has been purchasing and contracting future supplies because they understand this. The recent purchase of 20% of the huge, recently discovered, Brazilian oil find is an example of this. It is incumbent on our nation to find and develop conventional sources and develop new ones to cushion our nation and the world from potential shortages.

    Perspective on US and World Energy Demand
    • Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
    • General ideas and great conceit always tend to create horrible mischief. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
    • Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
    • Truth is the one thing nobody will believe. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
    • The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. Jean Baptiste Moliere (1622-1673)
    Massively populated developing countries are poised to grow economically at rates much faster than the developed world. This will create exceptionally high demands to develop infrastructure and meet the increasing purchases of goods. This is already occurring as automobile sales in China exceed those in the US. Perspective on the overall push for energy can be imagined, as the 2.5 billion people in China and India begin to replace the bicycles used for transportation and delivery of goods with motor bikes and trailers. It takes only a small yearly change in the percentage of families moving to motorized transportation to swell energy demand dramatically.
    Finding and producing conventional energy sources and developing new sources is a must to buy the time needed for fledgling new technologies to develop a sufficiently broad base to become important contributors to supply. The rule-of-thumb timing for this to take place is 25 years, with most of the benefit occurring in the subsequent decades. Conventional resources must fill the span of time for new sources to develop. We and other nations must encourage and not discourage the search for oil, gas and coal. Solar, wind, biomass and other emerging technologies can fill only a very small slice of the energy supply for the next two or more decades. Heavy subsidies needed to accelerate the development of the new technologies will be a burden for all countries since they are not currently competitive, except in a few special situations.
    The mind set of most people is that new fledgling technologies can quickly displace conventional energy sources and that the cost of doing this will not be exorbitant. This is an unstudied misperception. I was pleased to see a study of solar photovoltaic energy economics done by Green Peace last year. Their conclusion was similar to mine and indicated that this technology must be heavily subsidized if it is to make any headway because it cannot compete with conventional generation of electricity. The usual statement from new technology proponents is “I’m not an engineer, but…” and then they go on to tout new technologies without an understanding of their competitive status or the time required for them to develop. It was so refreshing to see the Green Peace study which changed the response to “I’m not an engineer, but I’ll try to understand what engineering forecasting studies tell me about evolving unconventional energy sources.” I have not been able to find the study again. I guess they took it off the internet. It is so easy to mandate use a new technology rather than seriously consider its true costs because then you don’t have to be honest about the cost to society. I can make similar arguments about the other fledgling technologies, but urge you to do that so the conclusions can be trusted. Look at what the electric industry is saying about the true cost of installing the new generating technologies.
    With conventional energy sources strained by economic growth in developing countries, it would be a mistake for our nation to stifle their development and use. If we limit coal, natural gas and oil exploration and use, we will jeopardize our national future and tie ourselves to ever increasing imports and balance of payment problems. It seems essential to me that being a responsible world citizen requires us to help fill the evolving world energy supply void, for our own national good and that of the rest of the world.
    United States Competitive World Position
    • Very few facts are able to tell their own story without comments to bring out their meaning. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
    • There is always a right and wrong way, and the wrong way always seems the more reasonable. George Edward Moore (1873-1958)
    First, the United States has a deteriorating competitive cost position in the world. Entitlements built into our labor costs over many years are seriously impacting the competitiveness of goods we produce. We have added to this with the recently approved Health Care Bill. Fast growing economies of India and China have minimal, and in some cases, no entitlement costs for their labor. The difference in cost is substantial and contributing to US firms moving portions of their businesses to other countries. This makes sense from a current competitive cost perspective, but may also be logical if the company is competitive internationally. Demand for products will grow fastest in the emerging counties of SE Asia and establishing a position there to compete within the new markets may coincide with plans to serve both the US and emerging foreign markets.
    Second, we experience cost penalties from environmental regulations and associated legal expenses, not incurred in developing countries. Before exploring this, let me say that our nation made large and important steps for the benefit of our country with early regulations. Progressively tightening emission standards has reached the point of adding substantial additional costs, without a commensurate benefit for society. This limits expansion at existing locations and impedes approval for plants at new locations. It forces internationally competing firms to choose new plants in other countries and serving existing US markets with increasing imports. EPA actions have grown oppressive for our industries.
    The continuing onslaught of lawsuits against our industries by environmental organizations and EPA add to the competition and cost problems. I urge you to do a little checking on the internet to appreciate the extent of litigation taking place both nationally and within all States. We have grown environmentally conscious as a nation and our children are told the heroes are environmentalists and villains are our industries. This has been programmed into our whole society and embraced as correct thinking throughout our educational system. The result is a perceptual imbalance in fairly weighing emissions control and penalties for our industries and society. Industry is at a prejudicial disadvantage sufficiently great to give environmental organizations undo leverage over them. Why build plants in the US when a foreign country will welcome them, without these problems, and rejoice in the jobs they offer?
    The one significant advantage enjoyed by our nation is a mature and efficient manufacturing network. To understand this, the example of a chemical product like butadiene can be used. About fifty different industries are tied to this chemical, employing millions of people. It has environmental risks and needs emission limits. But, regulations and lawsuits can strangle existing production. The resulting impact is far greater than most would imagine because of the myriad of downstream product dependent industries and the people they employ. If ethylene, propylene or benzene chemicals are used in this notional example the impact is even greater because hundreds of downstream industries are dependent upon each of them. I have used chemicals because I am very aware of the interconnectedness and resulting efficiencies for these products. Other non-chemical industries have similar competitive interconnectedness. The strength of our existing networks gives a competitive advantage to help offset other disadvantages. We must carefully judge the impact of legal and regulatory actions that tear away at the efficiency of these networks and can broadly impact competitiveness and jobs.
    Thirdly, there is a climate bill before Congress that will penalize our industries by imposing carbon limits through heavy taxes or emission permit payments. As outlined earlier, we as a nation have a minor role on future worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions. Yet this bill seeks to significantly alter our manufacturing costs by adding to energy costs for every plant in our country. Promoters of the legislation speak of the need for regulation of coal use because it has a higher emission per unit of energy produced. Yet, coal is the only conventional fuel where the US has a significant cost advantage over any other nation in the world. China is second in coal resources, but they are increasingly importing our coal because their usage is outstripping their ability to produce it domestically. So the emissions continue worldwide, but they are in another part of the world. Does it make any sense to penalize our industries?
    Fourth, we have an underutilized labor base with many of our nation’s young workers without a job. This is expected to continue for as many as five years. Most of our people know of a family member who has not found a job after a hundred job applications have been filled out. These are people in their most energetic and creative ages and it is a tragic situation. The unemployed, underemployed and those who are not even counted because they have temporarily given up, is not even captured with the 10% unemployment number calculated by our government. It is a great loss for those out of work and for our nation. This needs priority attention.
    Looking for Solutions
    • The businessman’s tool is values; the bureaucrat’s tool is fear. Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
    Our nation’s sense of wellbeing requires attention by our political leaders. National unity and political trust have been shattered. This has been the result of the blatant and divisive Congressional and Presidential legislative battles. It has been exacerbated by hauling our industrial leaders before Congress and accusing them and their industries of being greedy and self serving, even from the podium of the President. The divisiveness must stop for the good of the nation. The strong majority rule can go far to restore unity of purpose for our people.
    Pride in the people serving in our industries must be restored and we must guard and improve our competitive position in the world. Our youth and young adults, the emerging strength of our nation, need jobs so they can regain a sense of contribution and have restore hope for a sound future. We need to moderate the environmental costs and temper environmental criticisms, to restore a level playing field. Restoring industrial pride and a sense of national support will be essential to build confidence and promote the development of new plants and jobs in our own country.
    Networks of industries which add to our competitive position must be protected. One such network exists on the Gulf Coast. It consists of refineries integrated with much of the nation’s basic chemical industry. The network of pipelines serving related downstream industries offers special environmental challenges. Efforts to regulate such a large industrial area under national guidelines established for other regions with lesser industrial concentration can unintentionally impact many industries and their associated millions of jobs. We must protect our society, but much study and care must be exercised as environmental edicts and litigation can result in broad damage and job loss in this area.
    Needs of our nation must take precedence over world leadership when US jobs are involved. Climate change legislation as proposed will have almost no impact on future world emissions of carbon-dioxide, but will penalize our industries by significantly adding to energy costs. The ability to stand before the world and say, “we are world leaders and will unilaterally penalize our industries and people for the sake of our climate concern” seems of minor importance when compared with developing jobs for the 16 million Americans now out of work.
    Energy and other commodity products will be in strong demand as SE Asian countries move to a higher economic growth pattern. It is incumbent on all nations to improve efficiencies in their utilization and to develop new capacity. Conventional energy sources have an important role in bridging the lengthy period required to sufficiently develop fledgling new technologies. It would be a major mistake for us to impede development of the conventional resources and penalize the energy future for both our country and other nations. Therefore, I am in favor of continuing the development of offshore oil and natural gas resources that support the jobs of millions of Americans. These offer hope for moderating energy imports and our world trade deficit.
    I lived in Ventura, California when the oil release off the coast caused exploration to be shutdown. It has been over 50 years since that happened. Exploration and production of offshore energy is again shutdown, after only a few months. These resources can be developed safely, but may require additional safety measures. Let’s not shut off their development and make this another area where we will incur substantial job losses.
    Does anyone else think this way, or am I the Lone Forecaster?
    A Personal Note
    I was a US and world energy forecaster for a major energy company for 12 years. My areas of expertise included Russia, Europe, India, US industrial energy demand, and production from some of the new technologies. The first Industrial Global Climate Coalition had broad representation from US Industries and I made the studies on the potential for limiting carbon-dioxide emissions through substitution among fuels. This took place when Al Gore was Vice-President.
    Gene Meyer

  2. james arft says:

    I can agree with much of what Dennis Prager says. However, the reasons given us for being in Iraq by the Bush 2 team and accepted by the congress has nothing to do with American greatness. Our reasons for being there continue to be false and run counter to the very idea of freedom, the Declaration and to the Constitution. He is right. We have lost our way and with a great deal of help from a manipulative educational system. One failure is to be aware that our country’s borders are limited. The power of our elected is limited to our borders in peace, by treaties which favor our people. Attacking Iraq never had, nor does it have, any legitimate standing. Iraq never attacked us. Let me remind Mr. Prager that the people of Iraq, or the region, elect any us president- ever-, any member of Congress or Mr Prager to be their rulers or governors. This type of gross disprespect for other Nation States is only matched by the gross disrespect for the American people by most of the establishment politicians and their supporters. Why have we lost respect for liberty abroad and at home. Sure, part of the blame is aimed at educators. Blame is aimed at Democrats. But, let me point out to Dennis Prager that blame is also aimed at those within and around the Republican party who allow and support anti libery, anti constitutional and gross manipulation of facts to promote special interest advantage.