Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clueless in America…

This is my own takeoff from a NY Times article I read today with the same title. While we all are entertained and oft times perplexed by the current 3 candidate Presidential race…I think its time to face the fact that all…the media, the candidates, and we the voters…are missing the boat about what the real needs in America are.

As Mr. Herbert in his article alarmingly points out:

  1. An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds (1 MILLION + per year)
  2. Two thirds of all teenagers of age to graduate from high school are incapable of mastering college-level work
  3. In the “Common Core” survey ( http://www.commoncore.org/ourreports.php ) , nearly 20% of respondents did not know who the USA fought in World War II

In addition to these unfortunate facts, you don’t have to look far to see these inadequacies played out in our culture.

  1. 1 of every 9 black males is behind bars, representing 41% of the nation’s 2 MILLION inmates. You can only imagine their job prospects when/if they get out of jail.
  2. 1% of our population is in a federal or state prison. Highest percentage of any industrialized first world country. Shameful! How did the Land of the Free become the world’s leading jailer?
  3. COST of incarceration? Averages $30,000 per year. About 60 BILLION annually. Couldn’t that somehow be spent more profitably for rehabilitation and in our country’s educational pursuits? This “paying your debt to society” is running the society into bankruptcy.
  4. Is this because crime rates have been increasing? Actually, NO. They are about what they were in the 1970s. It’s just the PUNISHMENT that has increased. Incarceration does NOT reduce crime. So we need to find a better answer for this.
  5. The social costs of incarceration extend to our family structures… An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent their biological father. You think this might have anything to do with children’s education capacity?
  6. America's imprisonment of drug offenders dwarfs the incarcerated drug populations of all of Europe. In fact, America has 100,000 more persons behind bars just for drug offenses (458,131), than the European Union has for all offenses (356,626), even though the EU has 100 million more citizens than the US. And Europe is arguably a more liberal, less religious culture than America. How do we explain this?

While I could go on and on with alarming statistics that raise many questions, I think some connections here are obvious. While citizens and politicians continue chanting for more legislated morality and better education for our children…the masses are dying on the vine for lack of attention, education and treatment for our real ills by their government, churches, schools and other social institutions. The idea of incarcerating every drug user and getting “tough” on crime without some form of rehabilitation or job training/placement for these misplaced persons just doesn’t hold water…and is helping to sink our county into financial ruin. If something doesn’t get changed soon…I’m afraid it will be too late for our country. The terrorists we so fear in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere will over run us just by waiting for us to implode with our own denials of freedom and lack of self controls at home.

So, with this quick snap shot in hand, why can’t we get our government, and governing “wannabe’s” to address these REAL issues instead of focusing on just cutting taxes, growing the economy and “being tough on crime”? Instead of coming up with answers and ideas for these issues, these Presidential candidates are busy drinking shots and beers with the blue collars, and talk talk talking about “uniting America” and helping the “average American”. Sounds good…but tell me HOW you are going to do that? How are you going to reduce prison populations, restore fathers to their roles in children’s lives and get ALL the above better educated to meet the global competition for jobs and productivity we are facing?

Nobody wants to deal with the TOUGH questions…because… they are CLUELESS in America…

1 comment:

edward said...

With all the questions being raised or pressure being placed on our government, I truly believe making a difference starts with US as individuals. Things that we can do and some of us ARE doing is:

1) Be an EXAMPLE to our families and communities in being a "caretaker" of our fellowman. Tutor a child, be a big brother/sister, or simply take on a young member of our own extended families as a special focus in our lives. To this end I salute my mother (and before his untimely passing, my step father) who for most of their retirement years have helped tutor troubled students in elementary schools wherever they were living.

2) Get politically active with your local representatives to attempt persuading them to deal with these REAL issues in our society.

3) Be a "mentor" to someone younger or less experienced than you in a certain vocation, trade or discipline

4) Extend a hand to a prison inmate or a nearby single parent in helping them cope with life's hard knocks

5) Give financial and time support to localized charities that help the poor or unfortunate in YOUR neighborhood. Lets not put every charitable act on the governments over weighted shoulders.

6) Call or write a friend or loved one who is struggling in life...and extend a helping hand...or a financial loan if needed. And do it responsibly (dont buy drinks for drunks)

Can you suggest more ways here?