From Devil's Kitchen: The challenge

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By Jan David Fisher

In case you didn’t get the memo, we, the United States of America, are facing an economic challenge.  The two largest nations, by population, are developing a middle-class.  What this means is that these people want, and now are acquiring, the funds for the same things you, dear readers, want.  China and India contain nearly half of the world’s population – 2.5 billion out of 6 billion. While their governments may not have appeared to have changed, they have unleashed the middle class to rebuild their nations.

We have about 350 million people in the USA. The interesting thing about this number is that our producing middle class is actually shrinking! The ranks of the poor, lower class are increasing along with the retired portion of our nation. What does this mean?

We, as a nation, are faced with a challenge. Do we continue to support the non-producing portion of our population or do we abandon them? Our government does not have the wherewithal to continue to support the lower, non-producing, class of people in this country.

We do have some alternative actions we can take. The biggest action is to do a better job of education. I am not writing about improving our teachers, but rather better motivating our students to learn. We have to stop accepting the excuse, “I hate math, I don’t like numbers, why do I have to learn algebra, and you, Dad, don’t use it?”  The subject could be reading, history, science, even music.  We have allowed students to fail and then said, “It is okay! They’ll find some subject to excel in (sure they will!). The era of the tinkerer is gone. The well educated have surpassed the less educated in an ever-widening gap. This is a gap we, as parents and citizens, have allowed to grow.

Jobs across the spectrum have gotten more complex.  Consider the garbage man. A typical crew was three guys: a driver, and two picking up and dumping barrels into the back of the truck.  Today, the crew is one man; he drives the truck and operates the fork lift that picks up the container and dumps it into the top of the truck instead of the back end.  The route for a truck is the same, and it takes about the same amount of time. What happened to the other two men on the crew? They are drawing unemployment checks (about to end) and looking for another similar job.

Here is another way of looking at the challenge. China has more students in the top 1% of their class than we have in our entire school system as a nation!  It is this group that Bill Gates and others come from.  We are vastly out-numbered in the effort to create a better life for ourselves.  We must increase our top student population, or we will be buying China’s ideas, their tools, and their products. When we can’t meet the competitor, we lose. If we want to maintain our standard of living, our way of life, then we have to stop tolerating failure.  If a student wants to “Opt out” of education, fine, but then he or she had better prepare for an early death.  The new (old) motto is, “produce or die!” Until next week.

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