The Great Society

During the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, in the early 1960’s, a term which held wonderful promise came into use; The Great Society.  America was going to the Moon, we were going to defeat poverty, and Vietnam was a backwater few had heard of.  We were showered with greatness, from our big, powerful cars to our huge, luxurious houses.  The environment was not a concern, except for Rachel Carson.  Materialism was shiny, and new, and still under warranty.

But there were troubling signs, incidents which rattled our complacency, trends which boded ill.  Debt became something easily had, instead of something which was only available to those who did not need it.  Companies began to cut corners, wages did not grow in conjunction with productivity, and investment in the future began to decline.  American soldiers killed American students.  Riots wracked several cities, and a river caught fire because it was so polluted.

America can still be great, but only if we renounce the materialistic, short term thinking of profit at any cost.  People are what will make the difference in the long run, people who are willing to share the sacrifices as well as the rewards.  People are not a resource to be mined, exploited, and discarded.  They have creativity, ingenuity, and spirit, things which no computer is likely to possess for many years.  Paying people minimum wage, regardless what it is, diminishes them, and reduces their ability to create demand for goods and services.  Only when the prevailing wage is considerably higher than the minimum wage will we see a society which might be called ‘Great.’

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