Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Message To Our Detractors

When you choose to air your social and political beliefs in a public forum you can expect to be criticized.  Fair enough!  It comes with the territory.  We are more than willing to engage in a substantive debate on the merits of our views regardless of the subject. 
Unfortunately most of the criticism that we receive is without substance or merit.  It goes simply like this: “We live in the greatest country in the world.  If you hate this country so much than why don’t you just leave?”  (Editor’s Note:  France is the destination most often suggested by our detractors.)  Comments like this make it difficult for us to respond in any substantive manner.  After all what do you say to someone who simply says “leave” without providing the basis for their disagreement? 
Normally we just ignore these comments.  But today we thought we’d make an effort to respond.  So to all of you who wish we would just stop our bitching and move to the land of the croissant; we ask that you consider the following:
First of all you should know that our comments are not made out of some socialist, Marxist hatred for our country but rather a patriotic frustration over how badly our society has regressed over the past several decades.  It is a frustration over what we could and should be.  Here are some of the reasons for our negative commentary…all based on facts not political ideology.
If we are indeed the richest, most powerful, most exceptional “greatest” country in the world as our detractors so passionately exclaim, then…
Why are one in five of our children living in poverty?  22%!  According to the last census 16,401,000 US children live in poverty.  That’s beyond shameful!
Why do 15.1% of all persons in this country live below the poverty line?  That 15.1% is the highest poverty rate since 1993.  And in case you are interested, the “poverty line bar” is pretty damn low.  You are considered to be living in poverty if you are a single person earning less than $11,344/year; a single parent with one child earning less than $15,030/year; or a family of four earning less than $22,113/year.  Can you imagine…families of four living on $22,113 plus $1 are no longer considered living in poverty!  What family of four can live on $22,113?  The fact that it is happening in the “greatest country in the world” defies belief.
But we digress.
If this is the greatest country in the world then…
Why are 50.7 million of our citizens living without access to affordable health care?  That’s 16.7% of our population that are on the precipice of financial ruin should they contract a debilitating disease.  The Unites States is the only modernized country in the world that allows this to occur.  All the rest provide health care for all of their citizens.  We understand that half of the country is not interested in providing health care for everyone.  We think that is a mistake.  Why?  Mortality!  Read on...
Why does the US rank only 38th in life expectancy and 49th in infant mortality?  The answer to a great extent is because 50.7 million US citizens don’t have access to affordable health care.
Why are we failing to provide our children with the best education in the world?  According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development…an independent think tank that ranks the quality of education among developed countries…our children rank 14th in reading; 17th in science and 25th in mathematics.  Regardless of your ideology you should find these results embarrassingly unacceptable.
Why is our infrastructure is in such bad shape that it is referred to as “increasingly third world” by the rest of the planet? According to the World Economic Forum of Global Competitiveness our infrastructure ranks 23rd in the world…right behind Malaysia and Barbados.  Don’t believe these statistics…take trip to any other industrialized/modernized country and check out their high speed rail, modern airports and broadband capabilities. Then return home and tell us you don’t feel like you have returned to the 1950’s.
Given our crumbling and antiquated infrastructure, why is unemployment at 8.2% and underemployment at 14.9%?  These numbers are even more disconcerting when you realize that 41.9% of those individuals have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.
Why do we allow the best and the brightest kids from foreign countries to enroll in our universities only to ship them right back home once they graduate?  Why don’t we encourage them to stay and use that education to develop new products and services right here in the US?
Why don’t we have comprehensive immigration reform?  This country was founded by immigrants.  It was the meshing of different cultures and the freedom to express their cultural differences that brought about the entrepreneurial spirit that made our country great.  Now we shun those who come from different cultures.  We marginalize their cultural differences instead of embracing them as a continuation of our heritage.
Why are we willing to give billions in tax breaks and incentives to multi-billion dollar corporations but unwilling to give home heating oil assistance to our poor and elderly.
Why do we allow our elected leaders to return to Washington for multiple terms when their ineffective time in office produces nothing but years of partisan gridlock?
And why have we become so ensconced in our own little “me first” bubble that the vast majority of us doesn’t give a damn about any of the above.
If our detractors still think that all of this is just hate speech then we would suggest they consider a far more knowledgeable source on the state of our union than we could ever hope to be.  The American people.
Former NBC NEWS anchor Tom Brokaw spends his days traveling the country and talking to average Americans about their views of our nation.  He stated as recently as this morning that no matter what part of the country he is in he hears the same two concerns repeated over and over again: 1.)  They do not believe that their children will grow up to have as good a life as they do. 2.) That maybe America is no longer the greatest country in the world.
This space is devoted to creating a dialogue that will serve to return this country to the great nation that it once was.  We have no doubt that we can get there.  But in order for that to happen we must face our failings and have an honest and substantive debate on how to correct them.  Only then will we return this country to its greatness.  While this task will undoubtedly be difficult it is a task that we must undertake; if not for ourselves then for the generations that follow.          


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