January 29th, 2018
From across the pond, living in Europe in a different and more caring culture one can conclude that he election of Donald J Trump by 35+% of the votes, the US has chosen for Nationalism and Self-Isolation, which already has led internally to increased polarization and caused a surge in racial prejudice, a result of the divisions in American society.
These divisions and inequality in society and the hardening in Congress have grown since the early 1960’s, the Nixon “Law and Order” years and have been hidden under the surface and have now been freed by Trump.
In this process the discomfort during the Vietnam, Watergate years, the impeachment of President Clinton and the election of President Obama played also a role.
Today there are problems and differences in the areas of healthcare, education, welfare, gun control, poverty and sustainable development, climate change, foreign policy, world governance and the budget and deficit are out of control. This had led to a society in which a large group of people has been left behind and is a symptom for a divided country.
The question which responsible Democrats and Republicans are facing, on which consensus needs to be found is: “how do we define our civilized Society in the light of the present divisions and inequality in Society?”
Suggesting, in a civilized Society Climate Change is accepted, Women have the right to choose, Universal Health Care is included and a civilized Society takes care of the neediest among its citizen.”
In his 1962 book “Travels with Charley” John Steinbeck described his travels through America and how the growth of technology had been shifting society towards the cities. He witnesses protests against integration by cheerleaders and was revolted by the sickness of racism, its unfounded hatred and he asserted “pain spreads out to all America“. In fact Steinbeck saw America in the 1960’s in a sense of being directionless and therefore endangered as it was moving rapidly into an uncertain future marked by huge population shifts, technological and industrial change, and unprecedented environmental destruction.
It seems, Trump was bound to happen, he is only a symptom and if not Trump someone else would have used and stimulated the feelings in the underbelly of America to return to the same “good old” times of racism which has never been curing and was waiting in the sewer until someone woke the beast up.
Looking back at the political scene, divisions and polarization increased in 1995 in Congress under House Speaker Newt Gingrich who also led to the failed impeachment of President Clinton. After President Bush the tensions reached a destructive level under President Obama, a level like never seen before, resulting in a completely dysfunctional Congress.
Today it can be expected that these divisions in society will continue to grow due to unstoppable developments in society stimulated by Technological and Artificial Intelligence advancements made of which the consequences will need to be addressed.
As estimated by Oxford University these technological developments will lead that approximately 47% of US middle class jobs will disappear in the coming years and decennia. In the UK and China this is respectively forecasted at 35% and 70 %.
Today this is already creating a completely different society, in a world in which in the US 14 % of its population is functional illiterate. As a example of the failure of the education system we can take the city of Detroit were 47 % percent of the people are functionally illiterate. As comparison, the figure for Vietnam is 6,7 % and for Croatia 1,7 percent.
Functional illiteracy relates to the inability of an individual to use reading, writing and computational skills in everyday life: filling out a job application, reading traffic signs, figuring out an election ballot, reading a newspaper, understanding a product label.
Functional illiteracy also shows its face in “corrective institutions.”According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” The statistics back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
In the richest country on earth, 14 percent of Americans – 34 million men and women (one out of seven) cannot do these things.
As was pointed out in an article of CNN in 2014 it is estimated that 19% of high school graduates fall into category of being functional illiterate, which says a lot about educational system and the priorities. As was pointed out there are many glorified college athletes which are functionally illiterate.
If anything, the situation is worse than those statistics suggest, because a estimate of 40 million more Americans cannot read or comprehend above eighth grade level.
To appreciate what that means: You need ninth grade comprehension to understand the instruction for an antidote on an ordinary can of cockroach poison in your kitchen, 10th grade comprehension, to follow a federal income tax return, 12th grade comprehension to read a life insurance form.
The overall statistics are unacceptable and the government and the educational board are responsible that children and young people are able to educate, train, and further educate themselves in accordance with their abilities, and that children should be supported in their development to become self-reliant and socially responsible persons and sustained in their social, cultural, and political integration. The Government and the educational board are responsible for the schools provide for adequate basic education, available to all children.
Should we also not conclude, that the quoted statistics are unacceptable to a free and civilized society and that this is a much more serious problem then arranging tax cuts! This goes to the core of the question of what we consider a civilized society.
But the problem of illiteracy of which there are different forms (Illiterates, semi-illiterates and functional illiterates) is not only a US problem but a world-wide problem.
In the world there are over one billion people which are illiterate, but the most problematic and destructive form is the hidden illiteracy, which a form of illiteracy hidden from themselves and from others.
These people are ignorant of their own ignorance and do not fully comprehend the information received, have studied or wrongly concluded and their actions are based on what they do not know or do not understand fully.
We live in a world in which education is the key to prosperity for future generations and there is no question another value system has to be developed, whereby in the future a universal income will need to be considered.