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Forget government: It's all up to us now

Last week, I was shaken out of my peaceful summer dream by a headline.

The stock market dropped over 600 points on Monday, signaling a possible slide into our 10th Great Recession in two months.

I scanned down the page, looking for some good news, but the dream didn't return.

Worker productivity in America took a dive for the second straight quarter, causing leading economists to predict that by next spring, there will not be a single American motivated enough to get out of bed and show up for a job he may not even have by the end of the week.

People are asking themselves many questions right now. Is it just our hard luck to live in this trying era? Or are we paying the price for sins we committed in a previous life? Will our leaders ever learn how to do their jobs?

It is natural to wonder about these things. In fact, I constantly catch myself doing the same.

But then I look at my hands and realize I still have 10 fingers; talk on my phone and realize I still have friends; go for walks in the country and know that, no matter how far the economy sinks, I will still have the blue sky above me and a warm lake to float on.

Instead of trying to understand the insanity of the modern age and the people running its controls, people might do well to respond to every new distressing headline with a single simple question: so what?

That said, I admit that I have less invested in the system than men who are older than me, with careers and families to support. I was broke when the economy was great, am broke now, and will still be broke when (if ever) things start improving again.

Still, today's sad state of affairs might let people finally realize that our leaders are not, and never really were, "of the people, by the people, and for the people" -- and that we might do well to ignore them as they have ignored us.

The American system was built on deception from the start, when the Founding Fathers launched a Revolution to redirect the peasants' anger at their American leaders towards the British king instead.

Abraham Lincoln -- one of my personal idols -- admitted that he fought the Civil War to preserve the Union, not end slavery.

In these cases, the hood-winking of the people resulted in a positive outcome. America won its independence. Slavery was abolished. It all turned out right in the end.

Thus, Washington and Lincoln are lionized and hailed as national heroes, and rightfully so, because they did great things for America. The fact that they were not always pure in their intentions, or upfront with their constituents is hardly relevant.

When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, idealists across the nation (myself included) rallied behind the idea of a change from the hypocrisy of the rich white old men we had let run our country for the past 230 years.

We the People thought we finally had someone in the Oval Office on our side. What happened?

The new president wasted no time in appointing depressingly familiar industry barons to top-level positions, and enacting failed policies far out of line with his campaign promises.

The Conservative and Liberal media alike, and the American people themselves, have wasted no energy in labeling our young president the biggest sellout since the Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, they are mostly right.

When Obama -- the Last Great Hope for a disenchanted nation -- turned his back on the people, our country's last semblance of trust for its leaders vanished. Now, it is doubtful that anyone living in America is capable of getting us out of this mess.

There is no government, no authority, no system left to believe in. I guess we have to start believing in ourselves.

Nathan Kitzmann graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and will be attending the University of Minnesota this fall.