December 05, 2009

Is the Future as Good as the Present?

Maybe New Models Are Needed

As students, we didn't think all that far ahead; of course we were concerned about the future but we firmly believed in the American dream--the world was there for us to take. It's been quite some time since I graduated college, and many things have changed, but also many haven't. The middle class hasn't advanced all that much, if at all. I went to a public university so I managed to get my degrees while accumulating little debt. However, most students today graduate with a huge amount of debt--a figure that's rising about 6% a year. Project Student Debt has the numbers for graduating seniors. [pdf] The most debt-laden students are in the Northeast!

The employment prospects for graduates reflect the overall state of the US economy. Yet, US workers' productivity has increased while wages haven't followed the trend. Since 1973, real wages have remained stagnant! Read Elizabeth Warren's America Without a Middle Class to find out more. The presence of a strong middle class is very important in a stable, progressive, and fair commonwealth. Unfortunately, most of the wealth is amassed and held by the very small elite that has been using the political system to its advantage. The corporate media hardly talks about the distribution of wealth and usually distracts the audience with cheap, mindless entertainment.

I don't know whether the American people have begun to re-evaluate the conditions in our country, but there's a sense at present that the "fix is in." They believe that Wall Street is more important that Main Street, and that the government primarily serves the wealthy and powerful. On the other hand, there are too many of us who prefer myths and distractions to reality. For the life of me, I don't understand how voters elect most of the Republicans in Congress today--such a conservative bunch that has no intention to do anything good for the common folk, from consumer protection to equality of opportunity conditions. Or, that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and so many others, have tens of millions of listeners! This does have a tremendous effect on our national dialogue and on public policy.

Now, on to education. Did you read Bob Herbert's editorial in the NY Times? He argues that the greatest national security issue in the US is the crisis in education. This isn't too far fetched, you know. Within the span of one or two generations, the effects of a largely uneducated public, the lack of real opportunities, and the lack of economic growth that matters to most people can be explosive. An empire that's losing power can also be a very dangerous thing. I could see how demagogues can convince the American public that our woes are not our fault by the fault of others, and that we must act unilaterally against our enemies! Always confusing the issues and transfer blame.

In the end, we'll collectively get what we deserve. What do you think we deserve in the near future?

Here's a popular American explaining American history and providing a solution for a better country:

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