I titled this post with the old cliche lest we both fall into the pit with our eyes closed.
Like you, I grow increasingly tired of the finger-pointing and meaningless drivel coming from all sides. Yes, we have an economic disaster looming, the likes of which has never been seen. The Great Depression will be fondly remembered by some as a time, "we all pulled together". Hogwash. You are correct in that the root of the problem is a societal change in attitude. It will be difficult to recover. Yes, as you pointed out, we got here by going for faster and cheaper... on promises that tomorrow will never come and that actions have no consequences.
Sadly, we can't go back to The Good Old Days of an 'industrial' lifestyle, anymore than we can turn back the clock or stop the rain. That means a new approach will be needed. Technology marches ever forward, and we must change with the times or perish.
I humbly suggest we consider going back and embrace that which truly got this country off the ground - a spirit of rugged individualism and a desire to Be Left Alone. No looking to some Big Brother to fix our problems that we ourselves caused with our bread-and-circus machinations. No requests of our government other than to provide for an even playing field where the same Rules apply to all. Where the political class does thing out of a sense to protect the rights of the minority - and there can be no minority smaller than the individual: a minority of one. A county that abandons individual rights and responsibilities does so at its peril - the tyrannical rule of the mob is not far behind. We need a rebirth of belief in something beautiful and value in each person, but also something special that is larger than themselves - a country where each can achieve his heights according to his own competence. And without trying to rig the game in anyone's favor.
I admit, it's a childish dream. But I dream of a time where the Best and Brightest willingly step forward to do what they can to address the issues at hand. Not out of a desire for self-promotion, or personal aggrandizement, but because they CAN DO THEY JOB. And then, once the job is done, they graciously step out of the public eye and return to their own tasks, leaving the next problem to someone else.
Sure, this is a dream where there *IS* a bit of "from each according to his ability", but there is no demand to distribute the results of such successes "to each according to his need". I only ask that the producer of True Wealth be allowed the courtesy of deciding what to do with what they have created, as opposed to allowing some bureaucratic functionary to make those decisions according to HIS whim and personal desires.
I believe that, when the capable are left to themselves, they will achieve greater things than we can imagine. Then, having done so, the table will be set for all to reap the rewards of a new age, a new time. Arising tide raising all ships, if you will. However...
As long as we focus on trying to find new masters to make our decisions and provide for our every petty desire, we will discover that the plantation we willingly build for our own slavery will be darker than any hell-hole ever envisioned by any doomsayer (including myself).
And the mob will one day look up at the world they have built for themselves and scream: "But I didn't *know*!"
I believe we - as a people, a country, a species - can rise above where we find ourselves today. But we will fail if we work to keep those around us - who are better able - from passing us by; we would be surrounded by midgets. Instead, I would rather do what I may to lift those around me to whatever heights they can achieve; whereupon, I will be surrounded by giants. In the battle for existence, I won't as many 'big and effective guns' on my side as possible, rather than try to win with a multitude of the barely competent. I'd rather march to battle behind someone who knows how to win, instead of just ambling along as part of a rag tag bunch that only worries about out-numbering the opponent.
We can climb out of this hole, if we have the will to do what it takes. That doesn't mean it will be easy, or even pleasant. But, then, doing the Right Thing rarely is.
Let us cast aside our despair. Step back and look again at the picture with new, fresh eyes and will see the silver lining within the dark clouds. We will see that we are so blessed with riches, that our despair is driven by our childish immaturity always wants more.
Fear not. Better days are ahead.