An expansionist view of a contractions world

As we go about our Life Unscripted I can’t help but wonder what lies ahead.  That is to say, not what we plan, but what surprises we’ll find along the way.

In response to a conversation I had the other day I was searching among old photos for a particular memory.  Among the batch in which I found what I was looking for, were a lot of renovation photos from one of our trips to Europe.  I remember thinking during that trip that Europe was in a constant state of repair.  Which is to be expected when you have buildings and infrastructure that have been around for multiple centuries.

When I was young this nation was still in it’s expansionist stage.  We might not have been doing much about conquering and colonizing other lands — by the 1950’s most of the desirable spots on earth had already been staked out by other countries.  But we had a lot of our own country that we had not yet tamed, had not yet settled,  which lay completely undeveloped.  To date there are still places where that applies.

When the Eisenhower administration worked to get the Federal Emergency Highway bill passed — the forerunner of our Interstate Highway System — the government had the sense to fund the project for some 50 years into the future.  Now — 50 years later — we are going through the agonies of rebuilding and redesigning some of those highways because of burgeoning use and basic wear & tear. I keep wondering to myself how long will we go before we hit that invisible barrier between our desire to grow and our need to maintain what we have already created/built/conceived?

One of the ongoing conversations during the last several administrations has been the federal deficit.  We have clearly gotten to the point where we have more programs than we have income to sustain — what we have not encountered is the public will to say that some programs are no longer needed, other programs are more important, and perhaps some of the nice things we want to do for ourselves and others might just be beyond our combined pocketbooks!

As a retiree no one needs tell us that we have to live within our budget.  The results of not doing so are catastrophic.  RV’ing can be cheap or it can be expensive.  Like a nation we can ignore maintenance for a while but eventually time catches up with us and things break instead of bending and we have no choice but to fix them.  I suppose at some point this nation will face the same reality — but we haven’t done so yet.  We haven’t yet learned to appreciate out history and we still think it’s “cheaper” to tear things down rather than to adapt, repurpose, or reconfigure them.  The same applies to programs: we keep coming up with more programs costing more and more money and at some point we are going to have to say: this is not something we can do as a government, this is a cause for those who care about it.

Right now Peg & I are watching our coins and keeping our billfold closed until the bank account recovers from our house purchase.  Mr Trump has inherited a fiscal situation that is better than it has been in quite a while; I hope the current administration can maintain the numbers for however long he’s in office.  We are not yet to the point that many other nations on earth have reached where our longevity has gifted us with a nation that has fallen to bits around us and is in desperate state of disrepair.  Oh, we’re getting there for sure.  Surveys of bridges and tunnels and roads show an increasing number of unsafe transportation artifacts;  public water systems are aging, so are the sewer pipes.  We keep paving over more and more of the earth and water runoff fills our wastewater treatment facilities.  We’re starting to realize we need to maintain on an increasing level but we don’t yet accept that maybe our needs are outstripping our ability to pay at the current taxation levels — so hard choices have yet to be made about whether we are going to fix things needing fixing, or help people needing help.  Choices will be hard.

It’s good to stay flexible and open to change.  We are facing more changes ahead in the next few years than we can guess — because life has a way of throwing things at us that we never anticipated.  Bad weather tears up the roads and the next thing you know there are bridge or road failures and people killed and … where oh were are we getting the money to replace them?  Other areas of life will do likewise.  Some day we may be feeling — ourselves — as if the U.S. is always in a state of repair.  I wonder how receptive we’ll be to maintaining our historical sites, or our cultural sites when it is a choice between them and feeding the hungry or helping the sick.  I really don’t know what the nation will choose.  Or what politicians will choose.  I’m glad I am the age I am.  If I were 30 it would be harder to maintain a positive outlook.  At 68 I know I have a shorter time left on earth and I’ll be likely to be gone before the challenges get too intense.

Still, it’s an unscripted life — even if we want to write a script.  Momma Nature will have her way with the world.  National friends and National enemies will provoke us and curse us.  Heath will ebb and flow.  The stock market will rise and fall.  It’s an unscripted life when it comes to the big things.  Best we set our minds to accept that.  Best we learn to be happy with what we have, with who we are,  with what we can do — because at times in life that’s all we have and that’s all we are.

Thanks for stopping and I’ll be here again tomorrow.  Why not stop in and say hi!


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