You can’t handle the truth

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There is a line in a Jack Nicholson movie that is quickly recognizable to most folks over 50. In “A Few Good Men”, Nicholson plays a Marine Corps Colonel involved in a criminal coverup. As a crusading Navy lawyer hammers away for the truth, Nicholson berates him with the blistering charge, “you can’t handle the truth”! That line has become idiomatic in our lexicon today, and it seems to hang over quite a few discussions dealing with where we are now as a country. Inflation, supply chain problems, gas prices, employment, immigration, shortages and empty shelves bewilder us, while the "experts" argue back and forth with the quick, easy answers from their sides. The truth is, the answers are not quick and they are not easy. At least not the ones that really matter. Inflation, which now ranks as one of the top concerns in the nation, was described less than a year ago by the Biden administration as a “temporary influence”, but now it is more dangerous than ever at a record breaking high of 8%. Supply chain woes played a part in that, but supply chain problems were brewing long before the pandemic hit due to failing infrastructure and a shrinking number of folks who actually work to deliver the things we all need. Supply chains also revealed their weakness when the culture of working from home, working less, and being paid not to work took a disastrous toll on the economy and productivity. And all of this simply highlights the true origin of supply chain problems. Nearly three decades ago, the Clinton administration ushered in the idea of offshoring and hollowing out American manufacturing. Incredible as it may sound, the country that used to make more of everything for the whole world, now just doesn’t make that much anymore. So in a country that allowed so many jobs to leave its shores for China and Vietnam and Bangladesh, maybe our ability to "handle the truth" should be questioned. If we are being honest with ourselves, let's admit that American jobs were traded away for cheaper consumer goods and products of all kinds from third world countries. If you want to be painfully honest, you could say it was all done in the name of greed and convenience. Now, we don't make the things we need, and it takes longer and cost more to get them from the foreign countries that do. Oil and gas are glaring examples of policies that are demonstrably self defeating and poisonous. It was easy to fall into that trap, and you can blame whoever you like, but the greatest challenge before us now is to be sure that the misguided course this nation is on today is corrected. We don't have to re-create the economic wheel, but we cannot look at the growing list of issues we face and idly sit by while faulty leadership continues to blunder through dangerous waters. The answers are there. They may be twisted and tangled and buried in years of bureaucratic mulch, but they are there, and a willing, determined people can still find them, and then they can not only handle the truth, but demand it.

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