The problem is the present, not the president
by Andrew D. Hall
November 15, 2012 12:00 AM | 8151 views | 11 11 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I probably shouldn’t even be writing this. I’m not a political expert or even a political junkie. I spent last Tuesday night flipping back and forth between the election results and an obscure NBA game. I’m not remotely qualified to write about such matters, but while the other newly-minted political experts are sharing their insights, I’ll chime in.

The president is not the problem with the United States of America. We are. Depending on how you voted, you may or may not even recognize a problem in the U.S. But let me assure you: there is a problem, and we are the problem.

To hear the pundits squabble, America has never been more divided. Racial, political and socioeconomic gaps have not only cut the country open, they’ve gutted it. I don’t disagree with the notion that there is a gap in America, but the massive schism exists between what we’ve accomplished and what we think we deserve.

Never before has America been home to such a devastating complexion of underachievement and entitlement. While paradoxical at first, it’s clear that these two mentalities feed off each other to create a true “chicken and egg” relationship, and I don’t know which came first. But I do know that those two approaches to life cannot coexist productively. And these two absurdities permeate every class, race and gender of this nation.

Somehow the status quo is no longer merely accepted — it is preferred. If you disagree, I’d love to hear the story of how your efforts to advance yourself, your family, your community and your nation have exceeded the efforts of your parents or grandparents. I’m not speaking of social enhancement, corporate ladder climbing or financial success; I’m talking about efforts. And if your efforts truly surpass those of the previous generation, I’d love to hear your story and let you buy me a cup of coffee (I deserve it).

Unfortunately, few of us have that story. Yet we all think we deserve more. I’m sure I could present a compelling argument for my deserving of more money, things or vacation. But like everyone else who felt the sting of guilt while reading the previous paragraph, I’ve fallen short of the legacy set for me by previous generations. I’m not deserving of what I do have, and I’m even less merited in wanting more.

The predicament of “getting what we deserve” is that none of us are going to like it. And the predicament of giving people “what they need” is that none of us can define what that is. Relying solely on the government to define those needs and relying on others to provide them is simply impractical and leaves everyone frustrated. And it leaves everyone complaining.

But if we all committed the time we would have spent whining over the next four years — be it about Barack Obama, the House, the Senate or even the weather or the Atlanta Braves — and spent it advancing our efforts I think we might see some real growth as a country.

Something tells me that a little more effort by us — the problem — will go a long way in reducing the nation’s sense of entitlement and disdain for the needs of others.

I’m only 25 years old and I am often blown away by the progress I’ve seen in this country even over my relatively short lifetime. But other trends are downright disgusting. Let’s make sure that the next generation isn’t disgusted by our collective lack of effort.

Let’s make sure that the next generation doesn’t inherit our sense of entitlement. If we can fix those two things, the rest will start to fix itself.

Because the problem isn’t the president; the problem is the present. And as part of the problem, I guess I’m extremely qualified to write this.

Andrew D. Hall is a financial planner in Marietta.
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Lib in Cobb
November 23, 2012
@Sam Adams; Mitt was "skewered" because he was a badly flawed candidate, who was nothing more than the best of a very bad lot.

The entire Republican party, including the voters, are at fault for the current situation of the GOP and YOU know it. All one needs to do to recognize the fault is look at who ran in the GOP primaries, then look at the very far right policies on women and voters rights. I don't need to say anything else.
November 15, 2012
I am proud to know this young man and even more proud he is a member of our family. No truer words have ever been spoken.
Kevin Foley
November 15, 2012
Excellent insight. Too many of us geezers vent our spleens here. Great to hear from an articulate young man who can clearly and succinctly put his finger on the problem. Hopefully we'll hear more from you.
Francesca L Lee
November 15, 2012
Dear Sir;

I would like you to meet my husband. He is now 72 years old. His father was a share cropper and his mother took care of the 4 kids. My husband, Glenn, changed school 12 times during his childhood and got what education he could. At 17, he joined the coast guard and served 22 years. He then retired and worked for the barges out of jacksonville then he was retired and took up trucking, owner operator which he worked for 10 years give or take. I am his 3rd wife. His first 2 took him to the cleaners. In 1997, we had a son together. Max is now 15. Glenn lost a lot of his IRA money in the bull market but he still saved. He was his military pension which he earned and his social security which he also earned. I, now stay home and take care of my son and my husband. My husband has diabetes now and emphysema. His doctor says he is dying. I'm not sure you will agree but I feel he has not only equaled his father but surpassed him. We might be considered middle class, I'm not sure where the line begins but I feel that my husband is an example to young men today. He is a prime example of never getting hand outs, he worked for everything we have. 10 acres paid for, house paid for and 3 cars paid for. You can't ask for more than that.
November 16, 2012
A very inspiring story about someone who earned every penny he got.

I wonder if that could be said for the 2 ex wives who you said took him to the cleaners in divorce massacres?

He also could be an example to young men of today as a warning to not marry predatory women.
Katie Miller
November 15, 2012
Well said.
November 15, 2012
Well said.

Very encouraging that it is coming from a mere "youngster".

Nathan Bach
November 15, 2012
This is the most insightful political column I have ever read. Bravo, Mr. Hall. If I knew you personally, I'd buy you a cup of coffee.
Devlin Adams
November 15, 2012
Very good column, with remarkable insight. Unfortunately,nobody will pay attention to it, because that would mean admitting that we are the problem. Nobody wants to do that.

Too bad!

Thanks for this wake up call, evenb if it wakes up nobody.
Harry Hagan
November 15, 2012
This is a superb column; thanks! It should initiate a national dialogue. It won't, of course, but it should. I have not read or heard this angle discussed in quite this way. Bravo!
Samuel Adams
November 15, 2012
Nice column, though I'll let you speak for yourself on the trying part.

Maybe I'm unusual, but I have more than a few friends who've worked their tails off to be successful, never whining, contributing to society, donating to charity, doing all the things that your generation might consider passe or gone with the wind. And I am 51 years old, stuck in the hinterlands between the baby boomers and gen. y or whatever they call the 30 and 40-somethings. My children also bust their tails, and I give them much credit....they are just a couple years behind you. And the young men and women serving in AFghanistan and Iraq and other terrible places are also NOT of whom you write, I fervantly hope. No, you are only speaking of the 47%, I'm afraid. The question is, why do you get kudos, yet Mitt Romney got skewered?

The problem in this country is the leadership, i.e. this president and the large sucking insects elected to "serve" us as politicians. You're just 25 and wrote a great piece, so you get a pass. And I'll call you soon for that cup of coffee.
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