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?