babylon fall?

the ideas presented in this article probably aren't surprising to those of us who have been thinking about/feeling the crunch for some time now. but far too many folks are easily deluded into thinking that we'll never fall off the pedestal...

In the beginning of his book, [Author Juan] Enriquez presents readers with an experiment. Imagine you're a member of the British cabinet in 1905. A world map hangs on the wall of the elegant conference room in Number 10 Downing Street delineating the greatest empire that has ever existed: an area encompassing nearly 30 million square kilometres (11.5 million square miles), 20 percent of the world's land and nearly one-quarter of the total human population. The question is: How will the world look in 50 years -- in 1955?...

The U.S. national debt, topping $8 trillion, is a troubling illustration of the fact that the United States is squandering its future. "From time immemorial the last thing a government does is drive the country to bankruptcy," Enriquez observes. "You cannot spend five to six percent more than the country earns every year without serious consequences. It is not inconceivable that the U.S. will be running out of money."

It can be said that the U.S.'s per capita debt level, at around $27,500, is acceptable relative to that of other leading industrial nations... But the U.S. appears far different than other Western OECD nations when you look at other economic and social statistics. Enriquez mentions a few: The minimum wage has fallen by 37 percent since 1968 in terms of real dollars; 11 percent of Americans don't have enough to eat; in 2000 the federal government spent $2,106 on each American child while spending $21,120 on each person over age 65. Enriquez cites research indicating that if the U.S. government maintains its current policies, nearly half the budget will be spent on senior citizens by 2016. Hence his question: Do you invest in the future or in the past?

Within two generations, 40 percent of the American population will be comprised of African-Americans and Hispanics. Both groups continue to lag far behind whites and Asian-Americans in the educational system. Few graduate from college and even fewer get advanced degrees or become scientists. Countries like Finland, Iceland, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Singapore are already surpassing the U.S. when it comes to scientific research. This causes Enriquez to say that without making significant investments in education for African-Americans and Hispanics, who will make up almost half the population by mid-century, America cannot maintain its current prominence in the sciences.

that last paragraph is in line with my saying that we've been "kicking ourselves in the ass" for a long time now when it comes to how the education of our kids. we'll educate anyone & everyone from other nations--which is fine--but we refuse to tap the potential of little marisol, jorge, aisha, and raheem.

one point that's not raised (at least in the article) is the fact that many of those black children are hindered by other things that make them unlikely candidates for higher education, even if it were suddenly made free for all. lead poisioning, prenatal drug addiction, abuse, and other environmental and socioeconomic factors are stunting the growth of black kids in horrific numbers.

access is only one part of the problem. we also have to cease and desist the practices that are killing our babies.

in 50 years, i will be in my late 70s. but my grandchildren will have to live through and survive the decline. if that ain't food for thought, i don't know what is.

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