What is the Greatest Threat Facing America?

Ignorance and Apathy

The only people who ask a question regarding the survival of the American Democratic Experiment (as it has been labeled) or the survival of the American Culture (however it is defined, but it is always defined from some benchmark in the past) look at our present situation and conclude that things have never been worse.

Which contrasts with a physician colleague of mine who told me once that "this was the best of times; America has never been better."

"The best of times"? Many would conclude otherwise, noting that our "culture" is as despicable as rap artists and inner city youth can make it. As "coarse" as Hollywood can create dialogue. As "perverted" as sexual deviants can display themselves in public places.

"The best of times"? The American public educational system, which was once the envy of the civilized world, is now its laughing stock, with the single exception of doctoral level education in the sciences. We have the country's largest union, the National Education Association, to thank for that, persistently lowering standards over the past 50 years so that today, the average high school graduate cannot read his diploma, and the average college graduate can not calculate interest paid on a mortgage, or identify the planets in our solar system.

"The best of times"? We kill over 1.5 million unborn infants each year. On the other hand, in many inner cities, the illegitimate birth rate is over 80%.

"The best of times"? We continue to segregate ourselves into "special groups" or voting blocks, demanding that our special interests should not only be protected within the amalgam of American society, but should be given special preference. The number of such groups continues to expand, and each voice is Loud and Brash.

I identify the greatest threats to the continuity of the American Experiment as these:

1) The public school system, or what I call the "government schools." They are so corrupt, so political, so self-serving, so uninterested in making every student the best they can be, in deference to their own ascension of the "educational ladder", that American kids will get dumber and dumber, at which point some other culture will Conquer Us.  ( 1 )

2) A political system which is so intend on achieving power for its "Party" that it will do Anything, promise Anything, to get elected. Including things which weaken the country or negatively influence our economy. Such a system - such a collection of ambitious individuals (they are not patriots) will ignore real threats like Islamic Fundamentalism, to the point where some other culture will Conquer Us.  ( 2 )

3) The above two combine: it is the interest of the political system (let's be clear: they are Democrats) to make the population Dependent on government for everything, including their health - which is the next great American thing to be, first attacked and second absorbed, into the federal government bureaucracy. Why not facilitate that dependency, and others, by encouraging ignorance? Thus, the second group supports the first, and vice versa. Ultimately, some other culture will Conquer Us.

Instead of continuing my own argument, I choose instead to allow old voices to speak for me. Here is a collection of quotes from previous Americans. They all saw this coming:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."
[Alexander Tyler]

"Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion - in the long run, these are the only people who count."
[Robert Heinlein]

"Do we really think that a government-dominated education is going to produce citizens capable of dominating their government, as the education of a truly vigilant self-governing people requires?"
[Alan Keyes]

"America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to 'the common good,' but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance -- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way."
[Ayn Rand]

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."
[H. L. Mencken]

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." [Margaret Thatcher]

"There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation of all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."
[Teddy Roosevelt]

[1] Yes, everyone knows at least one teacher who had the highest intention, and served students with the best of their ability. (Many of them have migrated to private schools to avoid control by unions.) Those that remain are, perhaps unknowingly, faithful soldiers to the union. And thus the political purpose. It is a truism that at any university, the "education" students are the weakest, intellectually. They do not, for instance, do well in any science course. The best that we can say for them is that "they mean well". (BACK)

[2] To take one example: politicians will sell out to the (miniscule in numbers, but large in persuasion) radical environmentalists, and forbid the US from drilling for its own oil, making us unpleasantly pliant to Arab manipulations. What? You say that you are FOR clean air, and clean water? Which of us is not? (BACK)

Paul V. Hartman, MD
Athens, Georgia
April, 2007