And so we end another year. As 2007 fades into our memory and we reflect on every thing that has happened this past year, what have we learned?
I know that there are some things I wish we would learn, but probably have not.
We are facing a national financial crisis over sub prime lending, and need to figure out how this happened. It would be nice for congress to acknowledge that they have learned that some regulation on what companies can charge for interest rates needs to be enacted.
Years of deregulation in the lending industry is going to cost all of us. People all over the country are in trouble for getting in debt they cannot get out of. It is not just the poor who used pay day loans to keep afloat, it is a chunk of middle class America who bought into loans that seemed too good to be true, and were.
I hope that we have learned to see past the gun debate to prevent mass shooting incidents like the several mall rampages that happened this year. Arming us all or disarming us all will not take care of the deeper issue here. Mental illness and our society's lack of resources and compassion for the disenfranchised among us are a common theme in each of these tragedies.
Adding to the issue, publicity is also a lesson we seem not to be able to figure out. When we bestow fame on the perpetrators of these crimes, are we adding to a future crime. We blame the media for giving coverage to the killers as we, the public tune in to eat up every juicy morsel they broadcast.
Have we learned any lessons from the war this year? I don't know. Our nation will have to look at this decision for many decades to come and only time will tell if our choices ended up putting us in a better or worse position for a lasting peace.
Has the high price of gasoline taught us anything? It doesn't appear to have. We are driving more than ever. People are forgoing food and health care to pay for the rising costs, but not much has changed this year in our behavior.
We are championing ethanol as the answer to our prayers, but fail to consider that we continue to use vast amounts of petroleum products just to produce it. But since it originates in the American heartland, we feel patriotic with it as a part of our energy plan. It certainly does have potential, but much more research and development needs to take place to make it a truly energy efficient product.
And lastly, with all the media coverage about the realities of global warming, have we truly embraced the lessons here? My Christmas presents still came with so much packaging It took six garbage bags just to hold it all. There just wasn't that many presents to justify that much trash.
Our government is finally getting back to asking auto makers to get the mileage on cars up to 35 mpg. We should have already been there. And unless the coal industry can find ways to make the use of coal a cleaner, less polluting form of energy, the life expectancy of our local mines will be even shorter than we once thought.
My hope for the new year is that we will make some meaningful progress in addressing many of these issues with significant national policies that have the power to really affect the problems at hand. We cannot sit back and wait; all these are problems that will again dominate our national attention until we take the bull by the horns and act.
I hope 2008 will be the year of national action.
Happy New Year!