Is it the middle class, suburban lifestyle? Is it the rural, agricultural lifestyle? Is it the immigrant community lifestyle? Is it the 1950s nuclear family, with a mother and father, 3.5 kids, a house, a car, a job and a pet? Or is it the Year 2001 lifestyle of spending and entertainment?
Whatever it is, our president has promised that Americans will not be asked to change their lifestyle.
And why should we? We are comfortable, have a lot of options readily available to us for anything we want to do or possess. We can travel around this vast country almost at will, and each in our own automobile.
Almost anything we want can be purchased on credit.
This last paragraph could have been written in 1928 just as easily as it could have been written today. The only differences being that the conveniences are greater and the stakes (as we will put it) are higher.
As I recall from the last economics course I took, periods of depression and prosperity rotate in cycles. Being that we have been prosperous the past few years, it seems we are due for a depression. There are many signs that we are entering a depression: massive layoffs by large corporations, the federal government repeatedly slashing interest rates in desperate attempts to boost the economy, and headlines warning of economic difficulties ahead, just to name a few.
There is nothing like a recession to change a nation’s lifestyle. Not that we are headed for another Great Depression or anything, but, people’s lives are affected by the economy.
And then there are the environmental issues. Our president favors efficient production for industry rather than managed, long-term production that is environmentally sound.
Granted, our energy needs are a problem. California is short of electricity, and oil for our cars is not in infinite supply.
However, even if we tap the oil reserves in Alaska, which is an environmental tragedy, the oil supply will not last forever. Additionally, air pollution, which is increased by industrial production and petroleum-fueled vehicles, is rapidly giving us all health issues, including asthma.
It seems that one way or another our national lifestyle will change.
Perhaps we should make a change in our national lifestyle, especially since we will eventually have to change anyway. We can make the change more agreeable by taking some positive action to change our lifestyle before we are forced to change. We should encourage greater economic responsibility rather than wild spending, use energy sources that are drawn from renewable natural resources, and take measures to protect and clean our environment.
Another positive change would be to shorten the standard workweek from 40 hours to 35 hours, as has been done in France and parts of Germany. In France, this reduced workweek has given people more time for family and vacations. In this country, where stress is high and family often comes secondary, a reduced workweek would greatly increase the quality of life for Americans.
It is good to know that President Bush is looking out for us. The path he is leading us on, however, is simply one of trying to maintain a lifestyle that, while good, has some major shortcomings. Change is inevitable, and this nation needs leadership that will help us make the best changes possible.