Stan Brook

Welcome to the new America, it helps if you like canned spam.

Mr. President,
You have helped usher in a new age for America, albeit not a golden one but one which involves bicycles and canned spam.

America's long association with high living standards has slowly been eroding for several years. Compared to previous years they are now in a free fall.

Is it a zero sum world junior? Do some countries gain only at the expense of others? If so would it explain why China's standard of living is rising while ours are falling?

As the Chinese people begin to gain from their financial partnership with WalMart, Toys R Us and other retail stores, they are poised to take the mantle as the world's largest consumer nation away from America.

Ordinary Chinese citizens are now buying cars and parking their old bikes while Americans are parking their cars and riding their old bikes to work.

Indeed, the increased ridership of existing bike lanes in American cities is not due to a sudden realization of achieving good cardio health.

People in cities such as Chicago, Washington Madison and Portland, Oregon, are
taking advantage of recently built bicycle lanes, bike-friendly transit systems, and designated bike-parking areas to get to work and back because of rising fuel costs.

It took some time, but America is finally beginning to feel the pain of high gas prices, which the rest of the world has had to bear for many years.

Since the cost of gas has always been higher in Europe they adapted to it and built mass transportation systems and used smaller fuel efficient cars.

As a nation built around cheap cars and cheap gas America's present fuel crisis is changing everything.

Something is going to have to give, to blunt the increased cost of driving to work. Perhaps urban areas will become America's new hot real estate market.

Making money more available for mortgages, favorable tax rates for businesses and vastly improved inner city schools could cause a return of businesses and employees back to the city.

These last few weeks we have also seen stories such as the farmer who has gone back to
using mules to cut back on their fuel cost, and people riding their horses to town or to their school.

More bicycles on American streets are not the only indicator of an economic reversal of fortunes.

As the salary of the Chinese people goes up the amount of meat into their diets has increased while lower wages and higher costs in the United States are forcing some Americans to increasing their consumption of generic foods and canned Spam.

Since you continue to argue that we are not in a recession, what do you tell the Americans who have lost their high-paying factory jobs and now can't afford to travel to their lower paying job they were lucky to get? What do you tell the mother who can only afford to feed her family two meals a day and can't afford to get sick?

Stan Brook knows about the plight of poor people. Brook along with volunteer doctors and nurses have helped treat thousands of people in remote areas of the world such as Guyana, and other third world nations.

He began a volunteer operation called Remote Area Medical or RAM more than 20 years ago. He works without a salary and funds his effort through the generosity of people who donate to his venture.

His venue has changed radically over the years as he now spends approximately 60 per cent of his volunteer effort in the poor areas within the United States.

CBS 60 minutes highlighted his cause describing one weekend last spring when he landed his vintage World War II plane in Layayette, Tennessee, where hundreds of people, some of whom drove hundreds of miles to get someone to help them with their ailing health problems. During this particular weekend RAM treated 550 people.

Since 47 million Americans are without health insurance, it is a sure bet RAM will continue to visit more American cities to provide badly needed health care to Americans as long as the donations allow.

It's a pickle junior, a real pickle.

The volatile Stock Market and the violent weather hitting America this spring are also adding to the gloomy mood.

As families are shown on the news rummaging through the debris that used to be their homes, reporters ask the victims about their recent tragedy. Sometimes the disaster survivors wonder aloud what their future will be after the flood, the fire, the mud slide, or the tornado has destroyed their homes.

It is easy to see thousands maybe millions of other Americans in the drawn faces of those distraught survivors as they are hit by a tsunami of money woes fostered by a perfect financial storm. A storm created from a criminal lack of financial regulation, terrible education reforms, horrendous economic practices, a short-minded energy policy and a politicized presidency.

There is little relief for many average people in the United States. If the series of impending weather calamities doesn't bring Americans to their knees, a guy they thought they could have a beer with, most certainly will. Their only hope is to pray they can stay afloat until you leave office and the next president and congress can provide some sort of relief.

Until then it is going to be a rough ride for ordinary folks who thought they would always have as good a life as their parents.

Date: June 14, 2008 12:51:32 AM CDT

On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence.

We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions.

Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.