HOW TO STAY PROSPEROUS & FREE IN THE 21st CENTURY Americans have always understood that that this nation is unique among nations in the long march of human history, and as we speed into the next century, we seem to be at a crossroads. We are worried that with so many things out of whack; the traditions and institutions that made America great are under attack, standards continue to be lowered, so many minds seem clouded by the fog of liberalism. So let's stay positive; the personal freedoms we still enjoy; the widespread prosperity and bounty unimaginable in any other time and place; the innovations and progress in medicine, technology, communication, science, business, and more; the standard of living never before attained by so many among a nation's citizens...we wonder, will it last? The questions remain. What will ensure that America continues? Can our culture be reclaimed? How can we stay free in the next century? While people of other countries have been restricted m to pursue prosperity, bounded only by the limits of his or her imagination. Besides, only a conservative would ask how we can STAY prosperous and free in the 21st century. A liberal would whine that only a few are prosperous--the evil rich who have somehow gotten rich off the backs of the poor. Liberals don't notice, or understand freedom. They see victims; the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the have-nots. America has had the original ideas of self-government and self-reliance; for which we must thank our Founding Fathers.
"Even though it will disappoint many of you, the evidence is that you have a very bright future." This is how I finished my presentation at American University, eliciting a few chuckles from the audience. On a more serious note, I asked the students to consider a radical proposition: Economic growth and technological progress are not enemies of the environment but are perhaps its best friends, since they allow us to reduce humanity's footprint on the natural world. High tech agriculture boosts farm productivity, which means a cheaper food supply and more land spared for nature. Better sewage treatment means that our rivers and streams can run freer of pollutants. Catalytic converters on cars and better filters on power-plant smokestacks have greatly reduced smog, smoke and soot in the air. But only rich societies can afford to pay for these. In the end, the best environmental program of all is the promotion of prosperity.
If you notice phrases, ideas, and anecdotes that closely resemble those that appear elsewhere in my writing, it's not a matter of sloppy editing. I'm repeating myself. I'm reshuffling words in the hope that just once I might say something exactly right. And I'm still wrestling with dilemmas that are not easily resolved or easily dismissed. I run at them again and again because I am not finished with them. Any may never be. Work-in- progress on a life-in-progress is what my writing is about. And some progress in the work is enough to keep it going on.