Wednesday, August 11, 2010


By Ivan G. Goldman

How did it come to pass that Fox News and its screaming pals on the talk-radio circuit have convinced so many Americans to forsake their own interests so they can combat a nonexistent Zulu hippie atheist conspiracy to cripple America?

It’s because our population is more ignorant and poorly educated than it used to be, and the problem grows worse as our trickle-down economy beats up more and more on the shrinking, confused middle class. People incapable of critical analysis are easier to manipulate, particularly as increasingly sophisticated mass media blend news, gossip, advertising, and propaganda into a mess of commingled goo. So voters pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. People barely scraping through the ruins of our economy actually support politicians who vote against saving the jobs of teachers and in favor of tax cuts for the super-wealthy.

As Robert Reich recently pointed out, in 2007, 23.5 percent of U.S. income went to the top 1 percent of earners. They soaked up a relatively more benign 9 percent of income in 1980. Yet if you pay any attention to these statistics you’re considered “un-American” by the zombie minions who favor mindless war and pollution and disfavor medical care for the disadvantaged. Of course there's also a moral question here, but it's something these people either don't see or can't bear to examine.

The College Board recently reported that the U.S., once the world’s leader in the percentage of young people with college degrees, has fallen to 12th among 36 developed nations. The U.S. ranks behind Canada, South Korea, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium and Australia.

A growing percentage of students who do get an education here are from other lands. After graduation most of them will return home to enrich their own countries with their knowledge.

But even if we were to regain our Number One status, the problem goes deeper. According to Dan Poynter and Erma Bombeck, only 42 percent of America’s college graduates will ever read another book after they leave school. I consider that statistic reasonably accurate because many respondents lie to pollsters to look better, meaning the truth could be even worse. Many students stumbling through to a degree see it as a social/financial tool and have little intellectual curiosity.

On August 3, 71 percent of Missouri voters approved a ballot measure designed to thwart the federal government from establishing the newly enacted health care plan inside the state. At last count, fourteen states have sued in an effort to escape the terrible tentacles of limited health care reform so they can nestle safely in the bosom of unimpeded insurers and drug manufacturers.

The ability to apply critical thought to the most transparently fallacious propaganda is rapidly disappearing. Yes, Obama is an imperfect leader, but who among us could solve a broken economy, a rigged tax system, two crazy wars, a melting planet, and a nonexistent health policy before the next set of midterm elections?

What this administration’s opponents don’t tell their deluded followers is the true content of their strategy, which is to combine the worst elements of the Hoover, Reagan, and Bush Junior administrations. Republicans like Bobby Jindal, Mitch McConnell and ex-Governor Sarah obtain their ideas from people like dope-addled college dropout Rush Limbaugh. They figure they don’t need to take the time to find out what they’re talking about as long as their contributions keep rolling in. Maybe they’re right.


Sue said...

such a sad commentary on the state of our union. We are doomed by our own stupidity, but the righties like it that way. Our only saviour then is for the left to rise up and fight the evil beast known as the Republican party? God help us all...

Christina said...

you always know how to get me to think. It is sad but true. What can we do about it?

Ivan G. Goldman said...

Thanks, Christina. I think we're dragged down by our Constitution that gives Wyoming 2 senators when it has about as many people in it as Long Beach, CA. It's a conservative document that makes change very, very difficult. Politics lets you down. Art lives. So keep playing your music.

Grist said...

It’s easy to feel like you’re one of the people memorizing a book in “Farenheit 451,” but maybe it’s not as hopeless as that. Was Jaime Escalante, who died in March, wasting his time teaching math at Garfield High for 17 years? Is former SNCC Mississippi Project director Robert Moses wasting his time with the Algebra Project? I’m reminded of the men who fought against the plague in Camus’s novel “La Peste.” Righteous indignation is understandable, but it’s not enough.

Ivan G. Goldman said...

You're absolutely right, and I suspected as I wrote the reply that it would be misinterpreted for good reason. I know Christina, know she worries about the state of the world and know her as a talented musician, so in her case art is absolutely the way to go. But of course we shouldn't give up. Even when you can't make all the changes you want, you can, in our system, at least lessen the damage by greedheads and fools.

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Jim in Missoula said...

So here we are in Dec 2012 and still hanging on by the skin of our teeth. Obama's still in the saddle, but the race ain't over yet. Lotsa luck to you all!