What is Really Important?
By: Bill Schoettler
February 26, 2022
Wow! Do we have a lot on our plate? Where to start? Russia has invaded Ukraine. China is threatening Taiwan. South American dictators in Venezuela and Argentina and sub-Saharan dictators are ruining their countries and [verbally] attacking the United States. We have national inflation in everything related to oil (i.e., gas prices which we pay at the pump and which all truckers have to pay which add additional costs to what they deliver), housing costs (both to purchase and to rent) are rising precipitously, our southern border is porous (over 2,000,000 undocumented persons crossed in 2021 and more are coming each month this calendar year), rising crime rates are occurring in every state, the homeless population is growing in all our major cities as well as in the suburbs, our education system is a national disgrace with local school boards fighting parents over academic content…and probably a few more issues that don’t immediately come to mind.
So, on what to focus? Where should we put our energies, both as a nation and as a people? What are the most significant issues that cry out for attention?
As an individual, I am concerned about what? About prices that I have to pay every day, prices for food, gasoline, and the necessities of my life. Those are immediate concerns. The prices I am forced to pay are climbing.
Who and/or what is responsible for the climbing prices of my daily living costs? Is it the government, local and national? If so, all I can do about that is write letters of protest to my government representatives and, when the time comes, cast my vote for the individuals and party that “promise” to lower those costs.
I am concerned about the integrity of my country, socially, culturally, politically, and physically. The borders of my country are being violated regularly, and I want that to stop. The influx of undocumented entrants needs to stop and those who have not entered according to legal protocols need to be evacuated. Yes, they need to be removed from my country and stay out until they can follow the prescribed laws and regulations for entry.
As to the political climate in my country, that has previously thrived with two major political parties each promising to administer the multiple issues of government in a way better than the opposition. The result of these diﬀering opinions has been a regular and generally acceptable continuing conflict of opinions and promises that have attracted and distracted voters for more than a couple of centuries. Now, these conflicting opinions have become more and more acrimonious and are becoming antagonistic to the level of absurdity. Common sense suggests that the country is roughly divided into two political opinions and that each side is most probably being supported by some degree of intelligence and perception. In other words, there will always be room in the political sphere for diﬀering opinions and conflict…which does not mean the opposition requires annihilation.
Education is both a concept as well as a program, the application of which requires a balanced approach as well as a conscious eﬀort to achieve a level of excellence that may be elusive but is still desirable. K through 12 education is currently under attack and has been thus for a century. Those who have graduated from college are ever willing to describe how it should be administered, what subjects should be taught and how the teaching should be delivered. Parents need to be fully involved in working with students at this level as supporters and participants with their children in learning and doing homework and setting goals for excellence. This level of education is designed to prepare children to face the world, in every case to enter the competitive world either as college students or as entrants into the workplace. As a nation, we cannot fail to handle this properly if only to guarantee our continued success as a responsible and successful nation.
But wait a minute, what about our national obligation to the rest of the world? What position do we hold, or want to hold or maintain in the community of nations?
The world, the community of nations has historically required individual countries to fight for their survival, to fight for their national interests, and to protect themselves from foreign aggression. Threats have been direct and indirect. A direct threat occurs when a neighboring country crosses a national border. An indirect threat can be such a border-crossing happening to a friend, a country with which there is a mutual-defense agreement, for example, or even a country which holds such a position (either economic or physical), the invasion of which can legitimately be considered a direct threat to our national security.
I present here a list of what I consider “threats” to me personally and to my country’s continued existence. I now will attempt to quantify these threats in a rational order of significance.
Tomorrow I will be faced with many of these threats. I will have to make purchases to supply my personal needs. Inflation, from whatever cause, will hurt my pocketbook and my feeling of comfort.
I will have ever-present concerns about the homeless who populate my neighborhood and will risk being confronted with some level of criminal conduct. The invasion of undocumented foreigners into my country is an ongoing concern that has both a direct and indirect eﬀect on my well-being. These people (the undocumented) contribute to the homeless issue, to the crime issue, and, to the extent they have become an economic drain on my country’s resources, they contribute to inflation (and the costs to me of my daily living expenses).
I confess that I have completed my series of education experiences but the future lives of myself, my children and grandchildren will all be aﬀected by the excellence (or lack thereof) of the education programs that my country’s government will provide for all citizens.
But as a concerned citizen, I must also look to my country’s position in the world and this is also a matter of concern. We are now being presented with a series of proclaimed threats that, we are being told, require responses of some sort. There is an immediate and much-publicized “threat” to the country of Ukraine. This country is currently being invaded by its neighbor, Russia. To analyze the extent of this “threat” to my country I need to understand just how such an invasion would aﬀect my country.
I have not heard from any source just how this invasion threatens my country.
I have heard from some sources that the classical domino eﬀect is now in play. Namely, if one country is invaded with impunity the invader will thus be encouraged to invade another country and so on until my own country will be invaded. This argument is weak because of the reality of geography as well as other equally obvious obstacles to such a series of invasions. Russia has indeed indicated a potential interest in other neighboring countries, and there is a genuine concern that if the invasion of Ukraine remains unchallenged, Russia will be encouraged to continue a series of further invasions of its neighbors.
It would be prudent for my country to carefully consider such potential, and how such adventurism on the part of Russia might aﬀect us.
Then there is the obvious threat to Taiwan, an island country currently threatened by China. There was a time in history when we were willing to strongly defend Taiwan against any aggression by China. That time has long since passed and today our political and economic relations with both Taiwan and China have considerably changed. We have exceptionally strong economic ties with China…and conflicting economic and emotional ties with Taiwan. China considers it has strong emotional ties with Taiwan but not too strong economic ties…but the emotional ties are very strong. In the event of a China invasion of Taiwan, the USA would be sorely pressed to do something about it. Economic sanctions are unlikely to deter China from an invasion and the US is not currently in a position to supply significant military troops to aid in the physical protection of Taiwan.
The bottom line, as I see it, is the invasion of either Ukraine or Taiwan would have very little economic impact on my country, either in the immediate future or in the longer term. The likelihood of China seeking to invade any of its neighbors does not currently appear realistic. That is, no domino eﬀect appears on this particular horizon.
There certainly is a potential domino eﬀect with Russia believing it can continue to invade some of its neighbors. Historically Russia has sought geographic protection by extending its borders to natural barriers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these borders which the USSR had established have shrunk and today Russian ambitions seem to be to re-establish themselves according to the dimensions of the USSR.
Would this ambition of Russia cause my country to be concerned? There are multiple answers to this, none of them simple.
For one thing, an expanded Russia presents much more of a “threat” to European countries than to the USA. Our borders appear to be reasonably secure from invasion. Our natural resources as well as our potential in the world as a marketplace as well as a producer would seem to be reasonably secure and unthreatened, either by excursions by Russia or by China. To put it another way, we most likely will survive, economically, emotionally, and even politically if Russia completes the invasion of Ukraine and China were to invade and occupy Taiwan.
There was a time, certainly in the not-too-distant past, when the United States held suﬃcient political influence that we would have prevented Russia from moving into Ukraine and deterred China from invading Taiwan. Our military was strong and competent, our International reputation was strong and made other countries uncomfortable.
Not so today. We have had many years of declining military power, our national mood has become completely insular and our greatest concerns have focused on subjects like climate change, history revisionism, grammatical pronoun changes, and the re-setting (or re-purposing and revisioning and re-defining) genders, police departments and our entire education system.
How this has happened, why it happened, and what our future holds are subjects for considerable debate. But the bottom line for today, the national attitude and concerns of our country should focus on our internal issues and, quite frankly, let the rest of the world go hang until we can fix ourselves.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the potential China invasion of Taiwan are and would be relatively inconsequential to the US, at least in the near term (meaning, in the next ten years or so). The inflation in this country can be cut short by a significant return to a more realistic economic program that allows the American citizen to control and manage his own life rather than having the American government make decisions on what the government thinks is “best for the citizens”.
We are being told, from all levels of our national government that “climate change” is the biggest threat to our country and the world.
This may well be true. This may also be a mistaken, and/or a “manufactured” concern. I say this because we are at [what many hope is] the tail end of a national (and worldwide) medical emergency that has resulted in outrageous so-called medical opinions that have been used to exert unreasonable controls over our citizenry and have also been proven to be unrealistic if not downright lies. Today the idea of the continued wearing of masks and the continued need for booster vaccine shots seem to be diminishing (hopefully extinguished).
Given the absurdity of the medical approach taken by our government in dealing with the so-called “pandemic” and the continuing two-faced pronouncements by government leaders (going maskless while insisting others wear masks, for example) the general public reaction has been a growing mistrust and disbelief in anything that government announces.
So when John Kerry, who travels around the world on a private jet plane, condemns the growing infusion of carbon into the atmosphere, while he condemns Russia, not for invading Ukraine but for expelling carbon into the atmosphere while invading Ukraine, while our beloved President orders sanctions against Russia while continuing to order the purchase of millions of dollars of oil from Russia, while Chinese warplanes overfly Taiwan while our country continues to purchase billions of dollars of goods from China, it is hard to accept that climate change is the “greatest existential threat to our country”.
America, we need to get our own house in order before trying to fix the world.