Of Yuppies, Congressmen, and Contras
IS THERE life after college?
A friend of a friend who is a philosophy at the University of West Virginia says no. There's no life after college. There isn't even any life during college.
The professor's point is that college has become "pre-income." Students are no longer learners; they are worriers. Most of them worry about the same things: how to get good grades, find a good job and finance a nice lifestyle once they graduate. One result of this fixation with "what next?" is the stampede into professional school and professions.
In the hurry to get where they are going many students go through college anxious about the future rather than confident enough about it to enjoy the present. After graduation they stampede into professions and professional schools without first taking time to find--or create--jobs that will give them more satisfaction than just a big paycheck.
Of course, the professor says, none of his students heed his advice to ease-off on the professionalism. They stubbornly follow the ideas about their future employment which they form at the wise old age of 21.
EVERYONE KNOWS that the budget deficit is killing the economy, and everyone knows that Congress is only making the deficit worse.
The reason the deficit persists is that no congressman will give up his favorite programs since he knows that other congressmen won't give up theirs. The situation is like little kids whining, "I'm not going first." No one has the authority to force priorities and thus taxing and spending decisions.
Part of this problem arises as a result of the decentralized structure of the Congress. And much of the blame goes to the congressmen themselves, who will not do politically painful things--such as cutting programs--unless the political pain from not doing them is greater.
There is, however, one pain every congressman understands--losing an election. If Congressional election margins were to shift radically against incumbents, those who were able to cling to their seats would get the point.
Vote against your incumbent congressmen, if you want a job when you graduate.
THE CONTRAS are stepping up the killing in Nicaragua, and they are doing it with our tax money. Of course, this is nothing new. They have been doing exactly that for five years now, and they are no closer to beating the Sandinistas than they were in 1982. Our frustrated contra policy has thus far only created more corpses, not better policy options.
The Sandinistas are in charge to stay, and our officials are unhappy, fearing that the Nicaraguan government will repress its people and subvert its neighbors. Only two options remain: either invade or let the Sandinistas do what they will. Everything else we can do we already have done.
The lesson of our dilemma is clear. If we had done something about Somoza's corrupt dictatorship in 1974 or 1977, we would not be where we are in 1987. Instead of taking prompt, intelligent action as soon as the dictator discredited himself, our leadership putzed. Now only two unpleasant alternatives remain. The situation is an echo of what happened in Iran, In Cambodia and in Cuba.
It's time to consider creating foreign policy institutions that can act sensibly and forcefully over time. Our current institutions will only bring us more of the same--corpses rather than options.