We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism. Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it. And far too many of us were happy to buy the dot-com and subprime crack for quick prosperity highs.....Emphasis mine.
So much of today’s debate between the two parties.... “is about assigning blame rather than assuming responsibility. It’s a contest to see who can give away more at precisely the time they should be asking more of the American people.”
...[I] would get excited about U.S. politics when our national debate is between Democrats and Republicans who start by acknowledging that we can’t cut deficits without both tax increases and spending cuts — and then debate which ones and when — who acknowledge that we can’t compete unless we demand more of our students — and then debate longer school days versus school years — who acknowledge that bad parents who don’t read to their kids and do indulge them with video games are as responsible for poor test scores as bad teachers — and debate what to do about that.
Who will tell the people? China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have free markets like we do, education like we do, access to capital and technology like we do, but, most importantly, values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.
Instead, we have a culture of entitlement, fanned by the rotors of helicopter parents, and an "I've got mine, screw you!" ethos encouraged by a putative Christian right wing. Is it reparable? i don't know. Increasingly, I don't see how. I come back to the US and am struck by our rampant homelessness, potholed streets, bankrupt states, crumbling public schools, and minor universities teaching remedial reading to uninterested teenagers. There is out-of-control religious bigotry fanned by one party, a political discourse that is no more than a shouting match between polarized center-right and far right voices, and heterosexist bias that deprives GLBT citizens of fundamental protections. I'm not seeing a shining city on a hill, but a crumbling vestige of a dying empire.