President Obama said Thursday the United States “had gotten a little soft” before he took office and needs to regain its competitive edge in the global economy because opportunities for younger Americans are not as plentiful as they were for their parents.
Mr. Obama was asked if he was worried that today’s recent college graduates do not have the same opportunities that the baby boom generation had when they were younger.
“Absolutely,” Mr. Obama told Orlando’s WESH-TV.
“Even before the financial crisis hit, one of the reasons that I ran for president was that wages, incomes, had flat-lined at the same time that costs were going up,” Mr. Obama said, adding “I think people felt that opportunities were becoming more constricted for the next generation.”
“And that’s why, making sure that we’re revamping our education system, making sure we’ve got world class infrastructure, investing in basic science and research and technology, making sure that we are moving manufacturing back to the United States, and that we are being tough with our trading partners — making sure that they’re not taking advantage of us,” Mr. Obama told the interviewer.
All of this of course happened before Mr. Obama was elected. Not on his watch. He’s chosen to be the cure.
And, you know? Pace Jimmy Carter – and to agree for once with Mr. Obama – we have gotten a little soft.
It started in the nation’s public schools, which for two generations have ceased to teach what it had heretofore meant to be a citizen. As Dennis Prager said, this is the worst thing ever to happen to our country:
I believe the greatest threat facing the United States of America, and I have believed this my entire adult life, is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation.
Oh, to be sure, students are still taught to “rock the vote!” as the highest expression of civic duty in on cycles (it’s dissent, in the alternating ones). But we used to have a unifying theme, a clarity of moral vision. Our values included independence, hard work, and individualism. You got out of life what you put into it. We pledged allegiance to the flag.
Your kids aren’t getting that in school these days. Or if they are, the version that they’re getting isn’t the one you received, and it’s not the one that 400,000 members of the Greatest Generation died for, in Europe and the Pacific.
Rather than their accomplishments, and that of those that came before them, our children have been treated to American history as a non-stop guilt trip.
- The pilgrims, who came here to escape religious oppression and live free lives hacked out of a wilderness? Puritan scolds.
- The settlers that came after, building a new civilization? Land rapers and genocidaires.
- Thomas Jefferson, author of Declaration of Independence? Patrician slave owner.
- The great struggle to define the limits of the federal government against the will of the states? A cartoonish caricature of the “good” citizens of the north suppressing an evil rebellion of unrepentant slaveholders.
- Our expansion westward, with free peoples once again carving out an existence across vast distances in the face of great hardships and savagery? More genocide by land grabbers against peaceful, agrarian aboriginals at one with nature.
- Our industrial expansion, the engine of widespread prosperity and eventual arsenal of democracy? Rapine and repression of the working class by avaricious and amoral robber barons.
- The Spanish-American War, which drove a harsh, corrupt and declining empire out the hemisphere, eventually liberating millions of minds? America’s own first foray into colonialism.
- Our participation in the Great War against militarism, and to put an end to war? An inexplicable and historically irrelevant overseas adventure that only led fascism, more genocide and even greater bloodshed on an industrial scale.
- Our victory in the Second World War against the forces of fascism? A perhaps necessary but nevertheless regrettable waste of blood and treasure which led in turn to imperial overreach by the last unravaged country. A war, moreover, fought by a “greatest generation,” comparison with which is impossible, thereby alleviating its successors from attempting great things of their own.
- The titanic clash of dialectically opposed ideologies represented by the Cold War? A period of foreign misadventures, military over-spending, hysteria and fear in which it is too soon to say whether the better side won. Don’t get me started on Viet Nam.
All of the things you learned growing up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s about the birth and growth of a great nation were lies, gentle reader. And the generations that came after you know it. They do not get a “both/and” or “yes/but” course of instruction in the history of the great (dead/white) men that built this land, with their very real sins contextualized to the times they lived in. What they have learned instead is that American exceptionalism, to the degree that it exists at all, is a great litany of uniquely American mortal sins; over-indulgence, global warming, greed, hubris, and a whole host of “isms”: Colonialism, militarism, and imperialism. But far and away they have been taught about our worst sin of all, racism. This is a sin that can never be fully expiated, no matter how many over-credentialed and under-qualified community organizers of color we elect to lead the free world.
But we can try, can’t we? So instead of national greatness, our students are lectured on the moral imperative of “diversity” by unionized public servants who seem to care more about the size of their paychecks than the number of students in their classrooms. The new priests of orthodox mediocrity have been for two generations teaching our children to kneel with them at the sacred altar of government, from whom all blessings flow and to whom all things should be given, apart from some spare necessities suitable to their plebeian status as cogs in the great wheel of government-driven society.
Hard work? It’s, well: Hard. Why bother, when somebody from the federal will eventually show up and give you the fruits of some other putz’s labor. More fool him, for putting his back into it. “Independence”? That’s just a city in Missouri, what with unemployed and unemployable 30-somethings coming home to live with mom and dad, having spent a useless decade of protracted adolescence becoming “credentialed” for jobs that don’t exist. And individualism is all well and good in today’s diploma mills, so long as you don’t stand out in any way by failing to conform to the lumpen campus political orthodoxy.
The popular culture largely eschews the notion of morality, when not actively campaigning against it. Our youth have been trained for going on forty years now to instead value their own feelings about moral conundra, morality no longer being a treasured inheritance passed down from generation to generation for over 4000 years, but rather largely a matter of personal preference. Then they are thoroughly steeped in the language of unearned “self-esteem”, which eventually collides with the cold, hard world of the market economy, a market that cares far less about their feelings of self-worth than it does about their productive potential whilst on the clock.
We have the greatest universities in the world, with top notch engineering, science and technology classrooms. A quite remarkable number of which, lacking motivated and qualified applicants closer to home, are filled with students from India, South Korea and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Most of whom will go back home, taking with them their hard won knowledge, and leaving behind soon to be empty podia. Who will teach those classes a generation hence?
The rising nation, equipped with advanced degrees in comparative literature, and having amassed unpayable student loans, lacks the skills necessary to thrive in a growingly competitive world. This leads to inchoate anger, class resentment, and feeble and infantilized citizens dependent upon the largesse of an ever-more-smothering nanny state. And, yes, malaise. Or, to put it another way, we’ve “gotten a little soft.”
President Obama is right, he didn’t cause this softening, although to be sure he profited from it. Its the natural result of teaching two generations of students that the great things done in the past by exceptional people didn’t merely mask sins, they were in themselves sinful. It’s the natural result of preaching the toxic gospels of moral relativism and statism. It’s the natural result of preaching the morally neutral value of diversity for its own sake, and its crowning achievement was the public school system’s touchy-feely obsession with “self-esteem” unattached to any accomplishments. The sad thing is, of course, that Mr. Obama’s election to the presidency offers no cure for this syndrome.
Indeed, it is a symptom.