THERE IS AN elitist criticism of Americans that says we're apathetic. I disagree. I think most of us care. But I also think we're just too damn busy.
That's my conclusion after the Q&A sessions at my public speaking events over the past two years. Most attendees seem to understand the system of information gathering in my book. I rarely get someone (outside my family and friends) saying I'm a load of baloney.
But here's what I invariably hear from someone who attends my speeches. "I have a job and two kids. I don't have time to read four newspapers and numerous blogs each day." If it's not the "two children" scenario I hear, then it's "caring for an elderly parent" or "working two jobs" or "getting a masters degree while working full-time."
I realized these are the people for whom I really wrote my book. They're today's Joe Fridays: "Just the facts, ma'am." (For those under 35, see the 1960s TV show "Dragnet.")
As you will see in one of my book's early chapters, called "The Mini ROIL," I give you a scaled back version of my system that requires only 15 minutes of reading and some selected TV watching via TiVo or DVR.
But don't entirely blame yourselves. It's not just our lifestyles that steal time. It's the media. The news is littered with differing viewpoints and entertainment nonsense. Ideally, differing viewpoints sound great, but they're impractical. Plus, many of those viewpoints are financially supported by political parties or special interests, thus causing more time wasted as we try to decipher the information's veracity. The entertainment side of news is merely to get ratings numbers for advertisersnot to inform.
Still, even the slightest bit of information gleaned from today's media is worth it for us news gathering, informed citizens.
It hit me after reading a new report from Stratfor (www.stratfor.com). It's called, "Geopolitics and the U.S. Spoiling Attack," written by Dr. George Friedman.
Friedman explains the apparent wishy-washy U.S. approach to Iraq. He contends our current approach is no different than our policies toward all conflict since World War II.
It is not because of a lack of moral fiber, as conservatives would argue; nor a random and needless belligerence, as liberals would argue. Rather, it is the application of the principle of spoiling operationsusing limited resources not in order to defeat the enemy but to disrupt and confuse enemy operations.
In other words, we're not out to destroy, just control or maintain our economic edge and lifestyle.
Friedman also contends that this strategy is not planned. He gives no President or Congress credit for a policy structure that has, it seems, allowed us to thrive as a nation despite conflicts we either, to use a sports cliché, have lost or tied. Friedman says this plan of action is a result of events and circumstances as they happen.
I would go even further.
I think the "spoiling operations" are a result of the force of American public sentiment. We the public ended the war in Vietnamdespite the efforts of politicians to keep it going. We the public sent a firm message to the current Administration that we want this war in Iraq to end, if not now, soon. We the public have told this Administration you squandered the good feelings of the world community after 9/11 by going to war in Iraq.
And your voice should only get stronger. As I explore different Internet and communications technologies, I realize that the United States is far behind other countries. We are not "wired" like countries in Asia and Europe. Information is still controlled by a few in the media and the few in power in Washington. However, that will be changing in the next few years. Get ready for an onslaught of new gadgets and gizmos that will inform and entertain you instantly wherever you are.
The news will also get betterand not because of the new technology. The big reason is the baby-boomer who gets wired. Those of us born between 1946 and 1964 have controlled the free market since we were in diapers. As the boomers begin to enjoy retirement and their wealth, they're going to have more free time. That means we're going to start controlling the debate on serious issues like the world economy, the environment, foreign wars, Social Security, and Medicare. Our lives and livelihoods will depend on it.
Trust me. Most of the baby-boomers I know could care less about the real father of Anna Nicole's baby or whether Britney makes it out of rehab.
Stay tuned and stay informed.