Bob Herbert has been one of the treasures at The New York Times for the past 18 years. My ‘must reads’ among the Times’ stable of op ed writers has been dwindling in recent years; but Herbert kept me coming back. His voice always clarified complex social challenges; he always pulled me back to earth. He says he’s “off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society.” Good for him. But oh, he’ll be missed.
Today’s column, Losing Our Way, is his last. It is, of course, pure Herbert.
So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home. . . . Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st Century. . . . The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
. . . [Today’s income] inequality . . . is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.
. . . Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power . . .So the employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.
Among the comments was this. Well worth a read.