My father fought against the Nazis in World War II. He served in Patton's campaign up from Southern Italy which ultimately defeated Hitler and Mussolini. I didn't understand the significance of his effort this while growing up, but my father's experience and the horrors he saw had a profound and detrimental affect on him for the rest of his life. It also imprinted on me later in life.
I spent the first 13 years of my life in Hawaii, where white people were the minority race. I had friends from all Asian cultures; and other than my parent's latent bigotry, I didn't know what racism was until I moved to Los Angeles in the early Sixties.
During my college years in California, I also developed many gay friends, witnessing first hand the obviously sane reality that gay Americans are no different that heterosexuals, except that they are often kinder - and the absolute best folks you can live near if you want your neighbors to help improve the value of all properties in the community.
As an adult I spent much of my life reading about World War 2, what led up to it, and what happened afterwards. I read voraciously about the Versaille Treaty, citizen culture in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Europe in the aftermath of the defeat of the Nazis, and the role American bankers and industrialists played in facilitating Hitler's rise to power.
As an educated and constantly maturing adult, I worked hard to be responsible, productive, a good husband and father, and a citizen that my son could be proud of - and hopefully partially model himself after. I also love the work I do for all of my clients, most of whom I consider friends as well.
That all said, I cannot pretend that our country isn't in deep trouble. For the time being, it is not only our weakening middle class economic system that is failing.
But almost everything else - at least from the America I want my son and his family to live in in the future. And I'm not talking about being "progressive" or mostly voting Democrat.
In fact, I would consider myself a fiscal libertarian (except where the private sector has no business meddling in (water, for example). I consider myself to be a sane social liberal. I also believe people who are not by nature social liberals are generally unhappy in their lives and must find blame in others who don't have their same values.
What I am absolutely certain about from my vast and long life experience, having been born and raised in Hawaii and lived in California, Europe, Texas and Michigan, is that racism, white supremacy, homophobia, and disregard for others less forturnate than ourselves has become the new 21st century American collective mental illness and national dysfunction.
And if we add in our Nation's callous greed, the ugliness and mass gullibility of the Trump cult, and the Federal and State legislators who abuse Christian values to repress homosexuals, the poor, voters they don't want voting, and (sometimes) women, America' is fast losing its exceptionalism.
All of this National dysfunction is a visible national insanity to anyone that wants to live in a civilized modern society. Which leads up to the topic of this Update.
Now, I know that the topic is is not directly economic or investment focused, but our angry and dysfunctional social decline will ultimately end up being an economic disaster if our Nation keeps going down our current "uncivilized" path.
Here, in my opinion, is what we should be most worried about as Americans:
Donald Trump’s ascendancy into American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, facilitated by a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason, science, and education that has been decades in the making.
It also points to the failure of civic balance, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life, and the destructive erosion of any sense of shared citizenship.
As "market" obsessions and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and our public spheres are being even further downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish - from public schools, non-corporate media, health care for the poor or uninsured, and empathy for the less fortunate - there is also a serious erosion of community, justice, equality, public values and the common ngood.
At the same time, reason and truth are not simply contested, but wrongly vilified - banished by the legacy of Donald Trump’s poisonous and mostly bogus world of “fake news.”
Under the Trump administration, sane language was pillaged, truth and reason almost totally ignored, and words and phrases emptied of any substance (or turned into their opposite), all via the endless production of Trump’s Twitter addiction and the ongoing clown spectacle of paranoid and conspiracy theory right wing media (e.g. Fox News).
This grim reality points to a current failure of civic imagination, political will and open democracy. It is also part of a politics that strips society of any democratic ideals and undermines any understanding of public education as an essential national good.
What we are witnessing is not simply a political anarchy used to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate and financial elite, but also a reworking of the very meaning of literacy and education, crucial to what it means to create an informed citizenry and democratic society.
In an age when literacy and thinking become dangerous to the anti-democratic forces now governing most of the commanding economic and cultural institutions of the United States, truth is viewed as a liability, ignorance becomes a virtue, and informed judgments and critical thinking are demeaned and turned into more "fake news."
Under the reign of this now normalized perspective, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to trash and science is replaced with pseudo-science. Moreover, traces of critical thought appear more and more at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society.
Now, after a 40-year reign of primarily American corporate (neoliberal) power and lobby money dominance, civic culture is being demolished, shared citizenship eroded, self-interest and a survival-of-the-fittest ethos has been elevated to a national ideal.
In addition, language has been militarized, handed over to advertisers, and a political and culturally embarrassing anti-intellectualism is now sanctioned by a white supremacy pandering Republican Party.
And not unlike the cult following of Donald Trump as a political force, we have a celebrity culture that produces an ecosystem of babble, shock and tawdry "reality" entertainment. Add in the cruel and clownish anti-public intellectuals who defend inequality and infantile forms of masculinity, and define ignorance and a warrior mentality as part of the natural order, we see the dethroning of any viable sense of national committment.
The current American culture of manufactured illiteracy is also being produced through a media apparatus that trades in illusions and the spectacle of violence. Under these circumstances, illiteracy becomes the norm and education becomes central to a version of a zombie politics that functions largely to remove democratic values, social relations and compassion from the ideology, policies and commanding institutions that now control American society.
In this age of manufactured illiteracy, there is more at work than simply an absence of learning, ideas or knowledge. In fact, our Nation's manufactured illiteracy has become a political and educational project central to a growing corporatist American neofascist ideology and set of policies that work to depoliticize people and make them complicitous with the neoliberal and racist political and economic forces that impose misery and suffering upon their lives of those outside the system.
Finally, there is also the workings of a deeply malicious form of 21st century scapegoating and lack of personal responsibility.
In our current American moment, the illiteracy, ignorance and blaming others by roughly 40% of American voters can only offer the paving of a path toward a more dominant form of 21st century Americans neofascism that has descended upon the United States.