Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, March 03, 2011

America: the Al Bundy of the World

In case you never watched “Married…With Children” — Al Bundy is a 40-something shoe salesman with no money, a car that doesn’t run and a totally dysfunctional family. But that doesn’t matter, because he spends most of his time reminiscing about his glory days on the high school football team.

And here we have a country with a crumbling infrastructure, a pitiful education system and a gap (more like an abyss) between the richest and poorest that’s wider than that of most Third World countries.

But that’s OK. Hey, we won World War II, and during the 1950s and ‘60s we were the most prosperous country in history. We’ve been to the moon. We’re Number One! Hey, remember that touchdown I scored in senior year?!?

This article by Fareed Zakaria has some unpleasant truths that we all need to acknowledge.

The U.S. is still the largest economy and has the world’s largest military by far. But as the author says:

“But these are snapshots of where we are right now. The decisions that created today's growth — decisions about education, infrastructure and the like — were made decades ago. What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and '60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world…”

These grim numbers have already appeared in previous articles, but here goes:

Globally, America’s 15-year-olds rank 17th in science; 25th in math.

We’re 79th in elementary school enrollment. Our infrastructure ranks 23rd. America ranks 27th in life expectancy. And most pathetic of all — not mentioned in the linked article — one quarter of the world’s prisoners are incarcerated in the United States. Talk about a “government takeover.”

I don’t agree with everything the author says. But he makes an excellent point with:

“But reducing funds for things like education, scientific research, air-traffic control, NASA, infrastructure and alternative energy will not produce much in savings, and it will hurt the economy's long-term growth. It would happen at the very moment that countries from Germany to South Korea to China are making large investments in education, science, technology and infrastructure.”

We’ve spent decades coasting on the decisions and investments we made fifty years ago. Now that we’re gutting everything that holds this country together, what are we sowing for the future?

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Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

And the Klanbagger scum who benefited so much from that infrastructure we set up are also the ones dismantling it. Why? Because their entitlement mentality has someone else footing all the bills. They want it all, but they don't want to have to give a DIME back for any of it. The GUBMINT is STEALING THEIR MONEY!!! Never mind they wouldn't have had shit if they'd been born most anywhere else.

I despise them. Fuck the motherfucking boomers.

March 4, 2011 at 2:33 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Since we suck, this is precisely why we need to spend more on blowing shit up 'cause once everyone passes us, all we'll have left is blowing shit up, that's how you win the future!

March 4, 2011 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Seems like there are some Americans who are working very hard to sow something that will look like the socio-economic America of the 1880s or 1890s.

March 4, 2011 at 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty selfish to me Tom,you want us to number one in everyhting?

March 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

It's only getting worse...

Public education is constantly targeted for failure by constant defunding by the Right. Science is undermined by the Right’s insistence on including religious creation beliefs in public schools. Higher education is fast becoming an option for only the wealthy. Then there’s this disturbing information:

From the Literacy Company: http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp

More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate. Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functional illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs. More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage. Nearly half of America's adults are poor readers, or "functionally illiterate." They can't carry out simply tasks like balancing check books, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job. 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.

Ignorance is Strength. Mission accomplished by the GOP.

March 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Good of Zakaria to point this out. We're throwing away the seed corn of future competitiveness and prosperity, and for what? To make millionaires and billionaires richer. To satisfy the ideological preferences of undereducated, misinformed, selfish tea bag clods. To help corrupt, authoritarian Republican hustlers get and keep political power.

But it gets worse, even, than just what's being done to education and infrastructure. A 2008 article based on 2004 statistics, shows the U.S. 29th in the world when it comes to infant mortality, tied with Slovakia and Poland but behind Cuba.

And get this:

"Racial and ethnic disparities clearly play a role. In 2005, for every 1,000 live births, the infant mortality rate was:

* 13.63 among non-Hispanic black Americans
* 5.76 among non-Hispanic white Americans"

Given what we've seen and heard from tea baggers/Republicans/libertarians just about our president, does it surprise anyone that that would be the case?

The political right's actions regarding education, economic and social fairness lead right to those statistics. And yet they get away with presenting themselves as the party of pro-life family values, economic growth and on and on.

For Republicans to keep getting elected the way they did last fall, this country is already dumbed down to the point of being its own worst enemy.

March 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

I'm in agreement with Jolly Roger. This country has grown so self-centered and so complacent we have neglected everything, and now we are in severe disrepair.NOW is the time for a massive re-committment to infrastructure and education, which can ONLY be accomplished with direct government involvement. It cannot and will not occur as the result of massive tax cuts for the idle rich or by selfish profit-taking by that same greedy group!

March 4, 2011 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1st. America is not an Island. We are so intertwined with Foreign Investment that the Average Blue blood Superpatriot would shriek if he really knew - and we are not talking about the Asians, we are talking about the gold old fashioned white Canadian and European investors who have the bulk of investment and ownerships making the Asian seem minuscule by comparison.

2nd Japan is a Superpower because it has almost no defense. Period!

3rd Great Britain declined because they lost most of their colonies and slave labor is always better. Moreover, they are HAPPY of not having to shoulder so much world responsibility, “Let the Americans do it”. You can’t insult them anymore and they do just “fine”

“If a business leader notes that tax rates in much of the industrialized world are lower and that there are far fewer loopholes than in the U.S.”

Fine but there’s the Slave labor analogy again, I’ve worked for foreign companies. American workers are a bargain! In spite of what you hear of our out of control, non competitive salaries and high cost of living (and that Union thing again)! A foreign company will make more money in America because American workers have very few benefits in comparison. Just a few wordings on the legal documents can give that foreign investor the same tax breaks and loopholes an American Company gets while at the same time taking advantage of their obscene- can’t-rationalize-tax-breaks we give to foreign companies if for no other reason for being foreign.

Finally What always kept Al Bundy going is that he scored four touchdowns in the city championship!


March 4, 2011 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: That's exactly it. The Klanbaggers who have benefited from our infrastructure are the same ones who are dismantling it now, so that tax dollars can go to THEM instead of to the whole country.

Randal: We might as well keep getting better at the one thing we're good at.

Snave: Ah yes, the Gilded Age. Time to bring back the good old days.

Anonymous: Not everything, but we could try being number one in something besides weapons and Biblehumpers.

Jack: You're right, a "massive re-committment to infrastructure and education" is exactly what we all need to make. Otherwise we'll continue with the "hubris before the fall" which preceded the demise of every previous empire.

Erik: Good perspective. Thank God America is not an island. I think the only thing that will save us is the increasing globalization and inter-connectedness of all countries and regions.

Good old Al Bundy. When he's 90 years old in a nursing home, he'll still be reminiscing about those touchdowns.

March 4, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Dave and SWA: Sorry, there was a glitch with Blogger and my e-mail comment notification. I just now saw your comments at my e-mail; they never appeared at the Blogger menu.

Dave: Thanks for the sobering statistics. We need to know this, as unpleasant as it is. You're right -- Mission Accomplished.

SW: It makes perfect sense that race would play a role in infant mortality.

"For Republicans to keep getting elected the way they did last fall, this country is already dumbed down to the point of being its own worst enemy." True indeed. I think that's our predicament in a nutshell.

March 4, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

Great comparison of the USA to Al Bundy. Sad, but great.

March 8, 2011 at 2:13 PM  

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