Randy Shilts wrote a book about the Aids epidemic and used that title. The classic book and movie “Titanic” could also have been called by that same title. It is hard to forget the scene in the “Titanic” movie where the band continued to play even as the ship slipped into the depths of the ocean.

When the Titanic hit that iceberg, it was sailing at top speed through waters dotted with icebergs while the people on board continued to dance and party, seemingly oblivious to the dangers in the water just a few yards away. That illustration pretty well defines the United States over the past 30 years. We have been sailing along at top speed through dangerous waters continuing to dance and party while danger continues to haunt our country in a variety of ways.

It is a short trip from the Aids epidemic and the Titanic to the governmental strife we are experiencing in Washington D.C. The list of hazards and jeopardy are long and significant as they relate to preserving our way of life. Check the following examples from that very long list.

Our country is continuing to spend more money each month than we take in. The national debt continues to grow. At some point there will be a great reckoning.

We have multiple environmental challenges, the latest is how to take advantage of new energy sources provided by technology advances. We can celebrate our energy breakthrough but the by-products that need remediation are the potential of fouling our drinking water and the underground aquifer that has supplied our midwestern farms with water for generations. We should also point out that earthquakes follow the fracking industry with the state of Oklahoma as a prime example. Global warming continues to be a serious issue.

The infrastructure of the United States, the bridges, roads, national parks, water and sewer systems, are in such disrepair that they are nearing emergency status. Note the drinking water problems in Flint, Michigan, which our experts tell us is just the tip of the iceberg.

When most of the national pundits are asked about the actions/inactions of Congress they use one word to describe the situation, “gridlock.” With a long backlist of issues to deal with they insist on tilting at windmills. The votes to abolish Obamacare now number more than 50. The last two sessions of Congress were the least productive in history. One hundred days into the new administration and nothing appears to have changed.

All of this and more, “as the band played on.” The U.S. government has been involved in borrowing against the future with an underfunded Social Security fund, budget shortfalls that don’t get made up, and entering high cost conflicts abroad that are funded by borrowing yet more from our grandchildren. We used to call this dilemma “guns versus butter.” In short, if we had to buy guns we couldn’t afford butter. Since the presidency of Lyndon Johnson we have had a total of more than 25 years of foreign conflicts from Viet Nam to Iraq to Afghanistan. All of this while actually lowering taxes. In short, we bought both guns and butter and borrowed the money from our grandchildren to pay for them.

The new congress is once again focused on lowering taxes. Some say that cutting taxes causes the economy to heat up to the benefit of all. Unfortunately, that belief is not born out by history. In truth, history tells us just the opposite. The more taxes the better the economy and the less growth of the national debt. As old Casey Stengle, former manager of the New York Yankees used to say, “You could look it up.”

“And the band played on?” Oh yes. What is that line in an old folk song, “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn.” History speaks, we should listen.

— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.