In politics as in our jobs, we tend to be specialists. Some specialize in saving wildlife, some in defending the freedom to choose, or the right to life, or the freedom to bear arms, or for restrictions on the sale of arms to those with criminal records. And so on.
Our specialties teach us to see the world with blinkers on. We have some clarity on matters that draw our interest; we may not be conversant with any number of other areas. Because breadth of view is seldom a priority, it is understandable that we fail to appreciate the pervasiveness of our nation's incompetence.
Consider just the following:
Does America do a good job of protecting and updating its manufacturing sector? No. One recent study compares 40 nations on the amount of vigor with which they promote their manufacturing future. On that set of metrics, the U.S. finishes dead last.
Does America protect prosperity for all its citizens? No. More than half of the nation's income gains over the past thirty years have gone to those in the top ten percent.
Does America have a financial sector that does its best to protect economic stability and steady growth? No.
Does America have an energy sector that understands the reality of global warming, its irreversibility, and the urgent need to change course? No.
Does America have a medical sector that does its best to be affordable? Or a medical sector that costs $1 trillion a year more than anyone else's medical sector would cost for a population of our size? We have the world's most overpriced medical industry.
Does America have a real estate industry that's determined to curb stormwater runoff, protect streams, and reverse decades of ghettoization? No, No, and No.
Does America have an agricultural industry that's determined to halt water pollution and the creation of dead zones in the ocean? No.
Does America have an agricultural industry that fear the creation of antibiotic resistant pathogens, and therefore avoids nonstop administration of antibiotics? No.
Does America have a food industry that's dedicated to the prevention of obesity and diabetes? No.
Does America have a public school system that engages all children, educates all children, and graduates all children? No. Not hardly.
Does America have a strategy for metropolitan area growth that helps commuters get back and forth to work without congestion? Are you kidding?
Does America have a Congress and a Senate that routinely demonstrate an adult spirit of fiscal responsibility? No.
Do American states use responsible methods for redistricting themselves after each Census? No. They prefer gerrymandering. And they don't mind electing ideologues on the left and right alike.
Does America have a fiscally sound approach to funding Social Security? No.
Do America's political parties address the nation's long-range future in a thoughtful and responsible way? No.
Is America competent enough to thrive in the twenty-first century? Well. No.
Think about it. On issue after issue after issue, America drops the ball. This can't be an accident. Incompetence has become our settled habit.
Something has to change.
Steven Howard Johnson