Posted by: spacewritinguy | June 14, 2008

Suicidal Tendencies in Our Rulers

The individuals who seek to rule us–the presidential candidates, the members of Congress, the Senators, and the civil service bureaucrats they hire–are losing their senses of national self-preservation. Consider just the following:

Energy Independence: The Democrats in Congress, the Democrat presidential candidate, and the Republican presidential candidate all have a mental block about drilling for more oil, in ANWR or elsewhere. Even if the change in actual petroleum supplies changes minimally for the next X years, the psychological pressure on speculators and other nervous Nellies will be reduced. And, just as a second job might not bring in a LOT of money to a household, especially if it’s some sort of mall or burger-flipper job, it still increases the overall supply of money, and that’s got to reduce pressure on other aspects of life, right?

Those Who Mean to Rule Us (for I think we’ve moved beyond the point where we’re electing “public servants”) also have a mental block about simple supply and demand. Supply goes up, prices go down. Supply goes down, prices go up. Money might not be the most noble means of measuring worth in the world, but it reflects a simple reality: the less you have of something, the more precious it becomes, especially if you need it to survive. This matter of money also explains why NFL or NBA players make more money than teachers, despite the fundamentally more important nature of teaching to our society. The simple fact is, there are more people capable of being teachers than being professional basketball, baseball, or football players. One could make a similar argument against “movie stars,” yet somehow moral outrage stops at the border of Los Angeles County.

It is also interesting that we’re willing to let other nations outpace us in research and development of new technologies (energy and otherwise) while we remain stagnant or sluggish. If the federal government is unwilling to invest in cutting-edge technologies or basic physical research, it should at least make it easier and more lucrative for private individuals/organizations to do so. But returning to the federal side, why can the government not fund specific technology development experiments in space solar power, helium-3 fusion, or other space-based technologies that could help the nation with its material and energy needs?

Immigration: A nation that was rich, confident, and sane in its judgments about who it would allow to become citizens would make it easier for individuals with highly useful skills (engineering, science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc.) to enter the country and become citizens. Similarly, that same rich and confident nation would also make it much more difficult for individuals with little to offer except brute physical labor and no family connections or job prospects to enter the country. As I recally, my European-immigrant ancestors had to have either family members, a job, or both present in-country before they were allowed to pass through the gates of Ellis Island. Do we no longer require such things?

Homeland Security: On a similar note, would a sane, competent nation require its own senior citizens, some of them war veterans, to submit to pat-downs and luggage searches while foreign nationals from nations known to hate (and attack) us skate by security for fear of generating a lawsuit? Also, why do we believe that it is perfectly logical to build a database capable of tracking criminals and terrorists worldwide (including all of their aliases), but somehow believe that a physical barrier along our borders is impossible?

Education: Twenty-plus years ago, a Reagan Administration study stated the following about our government-funded education system:

If a hostile foreign government had imposed this system of education on the people of the United States, we would rightly consider that an act of war.

National Commission on Education, 1983

It hasn’t gotten much better. And yet the remedy is No Child Left Behind, which is a test-based “education” program that teaches children little to nothing about problem-solving, making analogies, or applying acquired knowledge to real-world problems. We’ve gotten teachers and student hung up on memorizing facts. And, in an effort to survive this annual blood sport, teachers and schools are forced to focus on the dim bulbs in their midst to get them to memorize what needs to be memorized so that the schools don’t lose funding. Gifted students, who don’t consider rote learning inspiring or interesting, are held back and bored by teachers’ efforts to get the dim bulbs to brighten up for The Tests.

We also have the problem that our education system believes that its primary reason for existing is to provide the widest possible access to a college-level education, even if students below a certain I.Q. or g don’t benefit from the theoretical basis of said education. Some folks do just fine focusing on a hands-on trade, of which there are dozens necessary to keep our civilization functioning (plumber, machinist, tool and die maker, carpenter, electrician, etc.). Others manage to advance reasonably well through the service industry with sufficient self-education and -motivation. The problem with the employment system is that it is now credential-based, with HR managers focusing on college educations rather than sheer experience. Baby Boomers–or maybe the Silent Generation–were the last ones to have the ability to advance to serious management or other high-paying jobs without a college degree. Now, if a kid doesn’t have the attention span or interest in a college-type education, they are effectively doomed to perpetual second-class status. And, in connection with our immigration policies, we are off-shoring the jobs that these non-college-educated Americans are capable of doing. If we made it incredibly difficult for illegal aliens to do manual-labor jobs, there would suddenly be a whole range of jobs that “Americans won’t do” that would disappear. But our policies are not set up that way. Why?

Defense: The increase of military forces in Iraq by six brigades–the “surge,” as it is known–has produced effective gains on the ground. The Iraqi people are beginning to trust and work with American soldiers to report Al Qaeda activity in their country, while the Iraqi army and security forces are gaining in confidence and effectiveness. The U.S. military recently enjoyed one of the most casualty-free months in years. The war, in fact, is no longer a “winning issue” for Democrats because their calls to cut and run have proven to be wrong.

We are also facing an Iran on the verge of acquiring or building its own nuclear weapons. Our allies have tried negotiations, and said negotiations have failed. The rise in oil prices and our unwillingness to do anything to stop those who those who increase worldwide tensions (and oil prices) as well as our unwillingness to increase petroleum supplies is helping contribute to the fall of the dollar. The world, as much as it resents our cowboy ways, still looks to us for leadership. The attitude seems to be, “Okay, if you’re going to continue to be the toughest kid on the block, what are you going to do for us? Why should we trust you?” It’s about time that an American presidential candidate provide a sane and realistic answer to those questions.

So the question comes back: Why won’t Those Who Mean to Rule Us take steps to defend this nation or protect its interests? Is this the ultimate result of cultural relativism, where even the State doesn’t have a will or clue about how to defend itself? The world wonders.

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