May 02, 2017

“How are the mighty fallen!”

President Trump, riding shotgun on “an armada” led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, roared and charged at N Korea, but, when he looked Kim Jung-Un in the eye, blinked and turned tail; now our president is proposing to talk with Kim, who has responded with studied silence. So our Trump turned to a smaller shrimp, inviting President Duterte of the Philippines to come to the USA; but Duterte said he was “too busy” to bother. How are the mighty fallen!

Our president wants to “make America great again.” We must support him if he demonstrates an awareness of what a herculean task it entails. First we must disabuse him of the illusion that it’s a mere matter of launching cruise missiles and carrier warships.

  1. In the days of “Great America,” about 40% of the world’s scientists & engineers lived in the USA at one point, says RC Adkins (an IBM Sen-VP). By 2012 it was down to 12%; and by all accounts, that decline has accelerated in recent years.
  2. Today all states of the Jim-Crow Deep South fall in the bottom quartile ranking for educational attainment even within America’s benighted educational status.  {From “WHITE RAGE” Carol Anderson, Bloomsbury 2016}

America’s aspiration to greatness is severely hobbled by two self-inflicted handicaps. The first is that we have our priorities inverted. Our insane splurge on “defense” is wrong-headed. The latest figures available are for 2015, when, with a population of 325 million and a federal budget of $3.8 trillion, the USA spent $760 billion on military pursuits — providing employment for 2.5 million persons (1.4 million on active service and 1.1 million on reserve— but only $70 billion to educate 114 million citizens of school and college age. Thus, on a per capita basis of citizens served, the military gulped 500 times as much of our tax money as education.

The second handicap is our long and inglorious history of cutting our nose to spite our face: the energy and resources squandered in America’s reactionary war on the rights of blacks, a war led by the Deep South to be sure but supported and abetted by all levels of the federal bureaucracy. No sooner had 250 years of chattel slavery for blacks been ended by a shooting Civil War than it was effectively reimposed by the administrative equivalent of a new Civil War in the form of Jim Crow practices that lasted another century and half all across the USA—aimed at furiously swatting down every Court ruling that tried to open equal opportunities to all citizens. As they say, when you pin someone to the ground you are also holding yourself down with him.

Thus, while the Soviets made education free and compulsory following WW-II (and most of Europe wisely followed suit), the USA deemed it more important to enforce Jim Crow. Even when ‘Sputnik’ was launched in 1957, causing Americans to panic over an apparent “technology gap” evidenced by the launch of that satellite, that “gap” was not taken as a wake-up call for mass mobilization in our educational; instead, the system was stultified in the all-out war to exclude blacks from participation in the commonwealth.

Finally, this oddity: Our president and his cohorts declared war on immigrants even while they rued America’s fall from greatness. They are blissfully unaware that the individual sparks which ignited the erstwhile greatness of the USA was mostly struck by immigrants, particularly the ones who fled Europe just ahead of or during WW-II to escape the sort of fatuous fascism that is now burgeoning in the USA. Electing an ignoramus as president is another manifestation of our constant propensity to spite our face by cutting our nose. A people do get the government they deserve!