Bob Denny: When is it going to get better?

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.

When is it going to get better? The economy, unemployment, involvement in two

ongoing wars, medical costs…

Our great country is facing some of the worst problems it's ever had. Can we identify the problems, and do something about them? They say that to keep doing the same thing, but expect different results, is a definition of insanity. If change is to happen, we need to make some changes. How can we do that? You have an opportunity to vote this month.

It seems to me that if we look for the causes of our problems, we can discover some basic underlying principles. Historically, the United States has been the most advanced nation in technology, education, invention, manufacturing, and production. Statistically, we're now losing ground to other countries. We buy more from other countries than we produce to sell to them. We've become more of a consumer nation than a producer nation. Many of our corporations have relocated overseas. When you spend more than you produce, your financial situation suffers.

Corporate taxes in the U.S. are some of the highest in the world. Corporate executives make millions each year. Foreign labor is cheaper than American labor. These factors influence corporations to move to other countries. We end up with loss of domestic jobs.

We're involved in foreign wars that may pose little direct threat to our national security. Surely there are better ways to protect ourselves from terrorism than deploying hundreds of thousands of troops into foreign nations. Our system, which responds heavily to lobbying influences and huge legal suits, has some of the highest medical costs in the world.

What can we do? The following aren't the best or only solutions, but we can uncover some principles that fall short in common sense, and make some changes. Instead of spending more than we produce, why can't we support the principles of living within our means? How about producing as much as we consume, thereby balancing the national budget? If we want jobs for our unemployed folks, why don't we legislate competitive corporate taxes, encouraging corporations to bring manufacturing back to America?

Should we become more energy independent? If we produced more of our own energy, we wouldn't buy it from the Middle East. If other countries can produce and market affordable electric vehicles, why don't we? Could we cap medical suit settlements with more reasonable limits, rather than paying for them by high legal costs and medical insurance premiums?

These ideas are over-simplified, but it's a start. I believe that if we can identify a problem, we can fix it.

How about our own lives? How can we build even better lives for ourselves? Look at our basic principles, and see how they're working. Remember, to keep doing the same thing and expect different results is one definition of insanity. How about living within our means? Making the most of what we've got to work with? Supporting local businesses? The best offense is a good defense. Hire locals, who you can trust and are more directly responsible. Keep lawsuits and penalties fair.

Live green; recycle, be sustainable. Be a volunteer: Give something back. Don't keep doing the same thing and expect change. Most of all, stay optimistic. It all starts with knowing that things can get better. It's up to us.

Bob Denny is a licensed mental health therapist, and teaches psychology at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. Comments are appreciated, at

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