Monday, March 30, 2009
I was listening to the following lecture by Yale English professor Amy Hungerford's on Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road." Honestly, I knew of this book but really didn't have a full appreciation of how important this book is to our current political and cultural challenges in America. Thanks to this lecture and the Internet, I now have a new understanding for how Modern and Post-modern American literature, art, poetry have influenced western culture and politics.
Religious, Classical, Humanistic, and Romantic philosophy actually share something in common. They all share the optimistic view that ultimate truth and absolute morality can be known and applied to form a perfect culture and society. However, after the suffering during the Great Depression and the genocide practiced by Stalin and Hitler during World War II a new modern philosophy or nihilism emerged that was inherently and intrinsically pessimistic. Nihilist philosophers were ardent atheists based what they say is the "problem of suffering." Or in other words, because bad things happen to good people, God cannot exist. Nihilism suggested that there is no meaning for life and therefore because there is no God then death causes the cessation of consciousness. The result of this thinking led to the conclusion that if we all die tomorrow, we might as well eat, drink, and be merry today.
In the 1940's and 50's the United States emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation on Earth. Men returned home from the war, got married, and moved their families from the cities out to the suburbs. This new middle class bought cars, dishwashers, laundry machines, and television sets while at the same time participated in organized religion. However, some of the children of the "greatest generation" became delinquent. The movie "Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean in 1955 was based on a scientific paper from 1944 by Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Lindner with the same name. This paper ascribed childhood delinquency to the seeming hypocrisy of parents who profess religious spirituality, but demonstrate superficial materialism and consumerism. While this wasn't a logical justification for self-centered behavior, children did use the materialism of their parents to rationalize their hedonism. And children weren't the only ones who used this excuse. The poor in America envied and resented the prosperity of the new middle class used this excuse as well.
Friedrich Nietzsche lost faith in God after the suffering of WW2, Charles Darwin denied God after losing his daughter Annie to disease, and James Joyce (idolized by the beat writers) turned from God over the social and sexual guilt he experienced growing up Catholic. These influential philosophers, scientists, and authors reflected and influenced a general rejection of faith in America and Europe. However, the human soul has an inherent need for spirituality. Unfortunately, parents were ill-equipped to answer their children's spiritual questions regarding the purpose of life. Consequently, this opened the door for the counterfeit and debased philosophies of humanism, and hedonism and an archaic form of spirituality known as shamanism which involves taking mind-altering, hallucinogenic substances.
So, what is "On the Road" about and how does it relate to all this? Honestly, let me just say that I haven't read this book nor do I think I will read it. However, the Amy Hungerford's lectures do a great job at summarizing the book. During the late 1940's a small group of writers at Columbia University in New York claimed to obtain truth from the rebellious, fallen, lost and "beat" generation by living and writing about this self-centered and hedonistic lifestyle. This New York circle of beat writers includes Jack Kerouac, John Holmes, Lucien Carr, Alan Ansen, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Kerouac's "On the Road" together with Ginsberg's poem "Howl" and Burroughs "Naked Lunch" are the three most important works of the beat writers. These poems and novels triggered obscenity hearings around the country after being ban at many schools like James Joyce's "Ulysses" before them.
"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac's is autobiographical in nature and tells the story of the beat writers with the young man Neal Cassady who is called "Dean Moriarty". Neal Cassady was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but suffered the death of his mother at 10 years of age. He was raised with his alcoholic father in Denver, CO on skid row. Neal was in and out of jail or reform school until 1945 when at age 20 he married LuAnn Henderson and went to New York on their honeymoon where he first met Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. A year later Neal moved to New York to join the beat writers. There seems to have been a mutual fascination. Cassady lacked significant formal education but tried to sound educated as he tried to emulate Kerouac and Ginsberg. Kerouac on the other hand was just as interested in emulating Cassady and another friend, Herbert Hunke, as Cassady was interested in emulating Kerouac. Ginsberg was fascinated with Cassady for other reasons and had a sexual relationship with him over the next 20 years. The Book chronicles the travels of this group with Cassady across the United States and back to Denver to experience his life of debauchery, drug abuse, and hedonism first-hand.
But unlike Nihilist philosophers who denied any type of spirituality. The Beat writers attempted to mixed into their writing Judeo-Christianity and Eastern Religious thought except when it came to the part about temperance and self-restraint. Their philosophy seemed to be that they could attain enlightenment through drug use and unrestrained sexuality. Their writings refer to several instances of hallucinatory visions while under the influence of illicit drugs. It is no surprise the Beat writers identified with certain Native American tribes and other Southeast Asian groups as "noble savages" who also practice shamanism. In fact, Kerouac and the group make a special side trip to try peyote with a group of Native Americans in "On the Road."
These beat writers automatically garnered a cult following which continues to the present. And not surprising. These writers identified a hedonistic sub-culture, emulated it, and then wrote propaganda to justify and glorify the lifestyle. More and more youth in America and around the world began reading this literature and sought to emulate it, and these and other beat writers continued to glorify the behavior. In addition, these writers inspired a whole generation of musicians who used the influence of Blues and Jazz and created Rock and Roll. Hundreds of Rock and Roll bands including the Beatles, Grateful Dead, Queen, and Bob Dylan claim inspiration from the these beat writers and numerous of songs have been written about them. I realized I have one on my ipod. "Hey Jack Kerouac," Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs.
But while the rebel kids of the 50's didn't have a cause, the Vietnam gave the kids of the 60's a new justification. Consequently, the "beatniks", "bohemians hedonists" and "hipsters" of the 50's became the "hippies" and "peaceniks" of the 60's in Berkley, California. This counterculture group embraced the sexual revolution and experimented with drugs all while protesting against the war. By the late 70's and early 80's this generation of "baby boomers" finally married and settled down, but the philosophies are still reflected and protected today through social liberalism. After the Vietnam War this group searched for new causes. Many from these "dead beats" remained politically active by joining pro-communist groups united against what they saw was US capitalist imperialism. Later this group gravitated towards environmental issues and are behind the recent "man-made global warming" delusion. Most recently, this group has been advocating for same-sex marriage which they are calling "the civil rights issue of our generation."
MTV, VH1, and BET use the same tactics today as the beat writers. MTV claims it is simply holding up a mirror to society. However, that mirror is only reflecting a specific debased and corrupt sector of society. Consequently, kids across the world are exposed to this depraved sector of society and are seeking more and more to emulate what they see glorified on MTV. So, it is no surprise that we have seen hedonistic behavior spiral out of control with Generation X. Unfortunately, too many in our society say, "kids will be kids" and "I just like the beat" without considering the dire consequences of our unrestrained, family and self-destructive, hedonistic behavior.
So, what happened to the Beat writers? After spending time in France at the Beatnik Hotel and in Mexico and Florida, the movement remained strong in San Fransisco which attracted a large homosexual population with the support of Allen Ginsberg. But despite being very politically powerful in San Fransisco and even having very liberal federal judges but were not powerful enough to overturn proposition 8 defining marriage as only between a man and woman. But the New York and Boston Liberals have been moving in increasing numbers to Vermont and are recently attempting to approve same-sex marriage as Massachusetts and Connecticut have done. As for the beat writers themselves, they have all since passed away. Some earlier then others from overdose or health conditions relating to drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, the self-destructive philosophy continues which resulted in the early deaths Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and others like Elvis Presley, Marlyn Monroe, and Kurt Cobain and hundreds of thousands of youth who just like the beat.
Classical Greek Philosophy discussed the idea of "the Golden Mean." The Greeks believed there to be three ingredients to beauty: symmetry, proportion, and harmony and that ethical behavior constituted "nothing in excess." According to Wiki, one of the earliest representation of this idea in culture is the story of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus, a famous artist of his time, built feathered wings for himself and his son so that they might escape the clutches of King Minos. Daedalus warns his son to "fly the middle course," between the sea spray and the sun's heat. Icarus did not follow his father; but flew too close to the sun until its heat melted the wax off his wings.
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all taught about this principle. Socrates taught that a man "must know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible". Aristotle in his work, "Eudemian Ethics," writes on the virtues and discusses how for every behavior, morality is flanked by immorality on both extremes. For example, if courage is the moral behavior, one should avoid the extremes of cowardice on one side and rashness on the other. Likewise, Aristotle taught that one should be generous but not stingy nor extravagance; or ambitious but not slothful or greedy. Despite this call for moderation, proportion, and balance, world history demonstrates wild cultural swings from one extreme to the other.
The Western World emerged from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance between the 14th and 17th. The Renaissance Period encompassed a cultural rebellion of learning based on classical sources, development of linear perspective (depth) in painting, and educational reform. Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the movable-type printing press made the Bible available to the common man, which resulted in an increase in literacy in Western Europe. At the same time Martin Luther's ninety-five theses catalyzed the Protestant Reformation and the Mèdici Bank in Florentine Italy gained enough wealth and political power to sponsor numerous artists and architecture projects to balance classical Greek and Catholic ideals.
The Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution
Disillusioned with religion following events such as the Spanish Inquisition, and the loss of Jerusalem and Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, there was a great turning away from religion as primary way of life. Europe turned its attention from religious authority to the authority of politics, logical analysis and reason through the scientific method. This period from 1660-1836 goes by the names "the Enlightenment," "the Age of Reason," and "the Neo-Classical Age." Major figures of this era include Galileo, Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Goethe, Immanuel Kant, and John Locke; composers Mozart and Haydn.
This period also encompasses the Industrial Revolution. During the Industrial Revolution, the manual labour and draft animal–based economy transformed to an economy based on machine manufacturing. It started with the mechanisation of the textile industries, the development of iron-making techniques and the increased use of refined coal. Trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads and railways.
Art during this period shifted away from an idealized neo-classical realism and began to depict ordinary workers and farming communities in scenes of everyday life. Realism, in contrast to Romanticism, showed an objective, unemotional view of the world. The goal of Realist artists was to record an impartial view of society.
Following the French Revolution 1789-1799 hostilities developed towards the new industrialisation. Known as the the Romantic movement; major figures of this movement included poets William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Lord Byron; composer Beethoven; authors Victor Hugo, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and James Fenimore Cooper and artists Eugene Delacroix, William Blake, Francisco de Goya, William Turner, Auguste Rodin, and John Constable. The period was strongly influenced by the philosophical theory of Rousseau. This movement stressed the importance of nature in art and language, in contrast to "monstrous" machines and factories; the "Dark satanic mills" of Blake's poem ." The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience and emphasized intuition, imagination, and feeling over deductive reason.
The Victorian Era of the United Kingdom took place during the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 1837 to 1901. This period marked a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowed a large, educated middle class to develop. During this time technology brought urbanization, modern sanitation, photography, and electric lighting. However, the Victorian Era also experienced problems of urban poverty, child labor, gambling, prostitution. Art during the Victorian Era included many styles ranging from neoclassicism, romanticism, social realism. Major Victorian Era artists include Hughes, Millais, Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, and Hunt.
The increase in urbanization, pollution, corruption and anonymity of the city led to a large increase in prostitution and unsanctioned sexual relationships. Prostitute came to have symbolic significance of a double standard toward women. Victorian Society placed enormous pressure on women to maintain a role of homemaker and sexual purity however the same was not true of men. Divorce legislation introduced in 1857 allowed for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a woman could only divorce if adultery was accompanied by cruelty. Dickens and other writers associated prostitution with the mechanisation and industrialisation of modern life, portraying prostitutes as human commodities consumed and thrown away like refuse when they were used up (from Wiki).
Modernism and Post-modernism
Modernism rejects the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and religious faith. Modernists do not necessarily reject all religious or Enlightenment thought but seek to question the assumptions and axioms of the previous age. Religious, Classical, and Enlightenment philosophers are characterized by an underlying optimism. Conversely, Modernist philosophy and literature by Schopenhauer, Sartre, Camus, Beckett, and Nietzsche are distinctly pessimistic. Suffering during the Great Depression and the genocide practiced by Stalin and Hitler during World War II promoted this new pessimism and the philosophy of nihilism. Nihilist philosophers were ardent atheists based on the "problem of suffering." Nihilism suggested that there was no meaning for life and therefore because there is no God then death causes the cessation of consciousness. Several other significant thinkers of the period were Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud
Artists also questioned old assumptions and consequently Modern art encompasses an array of artistic styles including impressionism, favism, cubism, art nouveau, art deco and abstract expressionism. Impressionist paintings demonstrated that human beings do not see objects, but instead see light itself. Impressionists during the Modern Era include Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne, Morisot, and Degas. In addition to experimenting with light and color, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse abandoned the use of traditional perspective in cubism and abstract impressionism. Modern and post-modern music like art and philosophy is likewise experimental and deconstructionist in its focus to discover and accentuate exceptions to traditional rules of rhythm, harmony, melody, tempo, and dynamics. Post-modernists error when they conclude that the existence of exceptions is proof that the rules themselves don't exist. The error in their argument is that if the rules didn't exist, they couldn't be having the conversation in the first place.
As we seek to establish a more perfect union, in an age of religious and political extremism, my hope is that a majority of us are still searching for the happy medium.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
How we got here
According to Maya Angelou, to understand where we are now requires that we look back at where we came from. When the US emerged from the Great Depression and World War II, the US was the most powerful nation on Earth. Eisenhower was president, the Dollar was backed by gold, and the "Greatest Generation" was raising large families, moving out to the suburbs, buying cars and dishwashers from US companies. So what happened?
When the our parent's parent's bought a home, their mortgage only accounted for a small percent of their gross income. In 1949, mortgage debt was equal to 20 percent of total household income; by 1979, it had risen to 46 percent of income; by 2001, 73 percent of income (Bernstein, Boushey and Mishel, 2003). So, now almost all US family income is consumed to cover housing and travel expenses alone.
But there are other factors here that this paper doesn't tell you. Now that US mortgages consume 73 or more percent of our gross income. What we need to realize, is that number includes both incomes from the husband and wife. When the data was first collected, very few women worked outside the home. Now, in many cases, women are forced to stay in the work place to cover basic housing costs. What all this pressure has produced is a new class of middle-class poverty called "house poor."
Additionally, the housing crunch is limiting house size and family size. But not in the way you would think. Despite having ever-smaller families, the size of the average American house has doubled since the 1950s. Average house size now stands near 2,349 square feet. Bigger homes require more money to furnish them. And this additional pressure on the family budget leaves little room to fill rooms with kids instead of "stuff."
And what is the result? With more money devoted to basic necessities, there is no money left over for savings and growing the economy. Also, with both parent's working, children and spouses are increasingly not getting their emotional needs met and instead turning to the addictive behaviors of substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, emotional eating or shopping to escape their stress. When family members face stress, the best way to deal with it is through our family relationships. But if no one is home, then it is tempting to turn to harmful and destructive behavior to cover the pain. And what we are left with are Americans who are overweight, divorced, substance addicted people with huge credit card debts.
Illegitimacy is one of, if not the major cause of poverty in America. Since the sexual revolution in the 1960's, the US is suffering the grave consequences of extra-marital sex which has now become a socially acceptable and expected behavior. My wife went to an inner-city school in Atlanta, GA. She said something very insightful concerning teen pregnancy. She told me, in many cases, the girls who got pregnant in high school didn't get pregnant because they didn't understand how to use birth control. Many got pregnant because they wanted to be pregnant.
Why would a teenage girl want to be pregnant? One of the major needs of the human soul is to feel loved and valued. The family is designed to meet that need and all other needs of its members. But if the family is broken, there is a natural force to look to gangs or pregnancy to fulfill that need for identity and belonging. There is no greater validation or sense of belonging that a human experiences than becoming a parent. But we shouldn't become parents to fulfill our needs. We should become parents when we are ready and able to fulfill the needs of children.
That said, not every single mother gets pregnant on purpose. Despite what the literature tells you, birth control has documented failure rates which are even higher when used by immature adolescents. And the same reasons young people should not be having sex is the same reason young people cannot be expected to use birth control responsibly. Abortion and feticide is not the answer. The psychosocial and spiritual strain and guilt of killing your baby follows women throughout their whole lives.
Why This Happened
Knowing what is happening does not answer why it is happening. The housing bubble was caused by our current banking and home mortgage system. The system places a huge weight on US families and homeowners. When a family borrows money from the bank, they agree to pay back the bank at a certain interest rate. That's fine. The lender barrows money from the US government at a certain interest rate and they lend it to families at little higher interest rate. The margin is the profits that allow the bank to stay in business.
The problem is not the interest rate. The problem is the amortization schedule of the mortgage. It turns out that on a typical 30-year loan, it takes 18.5 years before more than half the house payment goes to paying down any significant principle on the loan. Before that time, most of the house payment goes to pay interest. That means building equity requires that the home price goes up. And now that families are more mobile than ever, and going from job to job and house to house, home prices over-inflated to the point that the bubble has finally burst. US families can no longer afford to pay what is being charged for homes these days. And so we are experiencing a correction in the market and many poor and rich alike are defaulting an their mortgages now that their homes are now worth much less then what they purchased the home for. The falling home prices creates negative equity which means that even if the homeowners were to sell the home, they wouldn't make enough on the sale to pay the original loan amount.
"You either pay interest or earn interest." The loan and interest system between creditors and debtors is a system that enslaves people and nations, creates a class society between debtors and creditors, and prevents the easy generation of wealth. When a family (or a nation) gets a loan, nearly all the money that family generates goes immediately to interest. It can take 20 years for a family to begin to significantly pay down the principle on their mortgage and begin to earn equity. On the other hand, when a family chooses to save, the interest system is totally the opposite. It takes nearly 20-years for that money to begin to earn any significant interest. The deck is staked against the people to keep them from generating any significant savings and wealth. Instead, all that money is being pumped into the pockets of the world banks who own the majority of our T-bills and national debt.
The Perfect Storm
US Mortgages account for 10 trillion dollars in total value. The federal government during the Clinton years encouraged lenders to extend loans to risky or sub-prime borrowers. Instead of fixed-rate loans, these sub-prime borrowers were given adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). The value of USA sub-prime mortgages is estimated at $1.3 trillion, about 10-20% of the total. When the rates increased on these loans, many homeowners with these mortgages could no longer afford their monthly payments and defaulted on their loans and gone into bankruptcy and foreclosure. By 2008, approximately 25% of sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) were either 90-days delinquent or the lender had begun foreclosure proceedings. These ARMs represent 43% of all defaulted loans. The banks who offered these loans are left with a home that they are forced to sell at a considerable loss. Insurance companies like AIG who back these loans with private mortgage insurance (PMI) are being hit hard because they can't pay the $756 billion in defaulted mortgages (this is where the 700 billion number came from I think).
Other banks and financial institutions are being squeezed because a large portion of their worth is tied up in paper derivatives called mortgaged backed securities. These pieces of paper trade like stocks and bonds but derive their value from US mortgages. For some reason, despite the warning signs, investment firms were giving these mortgage backed securities their highest ratings (AAA). Banks are usually ultra-conservative with their investing and had been buying these securities in great numbers. However, since the Enron fraud, the Security and Exchange Commission has forced companies to account for these securities and others like it according to "Mark to Market" principles. This means that the value of the note is based on what you can sell it for today and not what you project it could be worth in 30-years when you plan on selling it. But, derivatives can be very volatile. And when the housing bubble burst, these securities became more worthless that the paper they were written on. So, many banks and companies lost money.
That set into motion another problem. And that is that banks do not borrow all the money they lend. Banks in the US operate and lend money on a principle known as leveraging. Leveraging means that for every $1 they own or borrow from the government, they lend $50 or even %100. The problem is that when a bank loses what little capital they have, it reduces the amount of money they can lend 50- to 100-fold. So, after the MBS's tanked, banks lost capital and became greatly limited in how much they could lend, investors got spooked and took their money out of the stock market, people's 401Ks took a huge hit, people stopped buying stuff, companies began losing money and can not find lenders to lend them money until the economy turns around, and many companies like the auto makers have huge pension plans and health care plans that they still are responsible to pay but no one is buying their cars causing them to run out of cash. Companies are now being forced to cut production, benefits and jobs. And these job cuts are adding to the already over-extended unemployment, Social Security, Medicare and welfare system in our country. That bubble is next to burst.
What should happen
There is not one simple answer to solve this problem. Our current economic and family crisis is caused by multiple weaknesses which have combined to create a catastrophic system failure. So, to solve this problem, we must avoid laying blame on any one thing, but look at how individual citizens, banks, and the government can change to get us out of this crisis. Only the application of a common-sense, principle-based approach will work.
People are our greatest resource. All people deserve the opportunity to be educated, develop their God-given gifts and talents and become contributing members of society. How many potential Einsteins or Mozart's have lived and died; their talents and abilities untapped and undeveloped. The family is the cornerstone of our society and is the only institution that can adequately meet the emotional, and psychosocial needs of its members. The family must be empowered to fulfill its fundamental purpose.
Civic leaders need to speak out against any extra-marital sex. Children have the right to be born into a home with both a mother and a father. Illegitimacy is the number one contributor to poverty, drug use, crime, and gang activity. I don't want to go back to the days of the scarlet letter, but we need to recognize that what the Bible calls fornication weakens our society. Extra-marital sex needs to loose its social acceptance.
Women should be encouraged to be college educated but to stay home with children while keeping their skills current if possible. Educated mothers result in highly motivated and goal-oriented children. But children need the nurture only a parent can give. The dollar worth of a stay-at-home mom has been estimated to be over $120,000 per year. Unless she is making more than that, it doesn't make dollars or sense to have both parents work. With mom at home, children are taught proper diet and health practices and how to care for babies and children. The transmission of these basic life skills and knowledge will result in a healthier population and less strain on emergency departments that are overrun with the responsibility to trying to educate people on the most basic and fundamental life and health skills.
US Families should be encouraged to have a good number of children. Grandparents are not supposed to be raising grandchildren. Children should be able to find employment close to home. Parents who have children close by have a built-in care-giving system in place when they get older and require it. Elderly parents do better when cared for by family instead of being institutionalized. 2/3 of money paid for health care is spent in the last 6 months of life. If we created a culture and tradition as other countries do where family cares for its own, and those family members are better educated on end-of-life care, health care costs would significantly be decreased. Elderly patients in Nursing Homes will end up in the hospital and back to the Nursing Home much more than patients who stay at home with family. Home health, hospice and respite services should be further developed and expanded.
Banking and Government
1. Get rid of the Fed and sell your own bonds and print your own money.
2. Immediately pay off all debt by printing the money.
3. Get rid of the banking practice of extending loans on leveraged capital which will prevent inflation by creating a demand for all the newly printed dollars.
4. Revamp the interest system so that borrowers are able to immediately pay off a greater portion of their principal and begin earning immediate interest on savings. In other words, do away with the amortization of debt repayment or change it to a flat rate.
5. We need to be more self-sufficient and produce and buy American products.
6. Do away with the idea of pensions and any idea which puts financial burden on a future generation. Again, let people save today by earning better interest rates.
7. Carbon dioxide is not a significant greenhouse gas, realize the theory of man-caused global warming is a fraud and allow 3rd-world nations to industrialize and create electricity with coal.
8. Extend education and business loans to developing countries using our fair interest system and allow them to create their own wealth and produce and buy their own products.
9. Work to gain energy independence as well as economic independence which means limit borrowing and buying from other nations as much as possible if we can build it here.
10. Get rid of derivatives for sure. Allow companies to issue bonds to raise money at better interest rates (remember that only the federal government should print money).
Maya Angelou shared the following wisdom, "I looked up the road I was going, and since I wasn’t satisfied, I decided to step off the road and cut me a new path.” I think it's time in America to follow this wisdom and cut ourselves a new path that removes the chain of debt around the neck of our country and the American people and puts the family first.