Labor Day vs. Thought Day
by Kent M. Pitman (Monday, September 4, 2006)
Labor Day is a celebration of the people's willingness to work. And in the Manufacturing Era, that was perhaps all it took to stay ahead in the world. Today, in the Information Era, we need to start to think about creating a "Thought Day", perhaps in March, six months opposite "Labor Day" where we address the question of whether the US is confronting the Information Era by properly educating its public, requiring the necessary degree of literacy, especially math and science.
Outside of the US, when people say "Intelligent Design", they don't mean that people can turn their back on science and expect God to fish them out.
Not to mention that a number of present US policies seem to be about catering a popular vote that wants to be told there are no hard times ahead rather than confronting the harsh realities of what the world has become. If fixing the problems requires electing someone who says we need to make hard choices, and if the people will not elect such a person, then simple logic (no longer being taught in our classrooms) implies that we will not fix the problems, and the situation will continue to worsen.
They say that reporters are always covering the previous war. Sadly, it may be that the generals are often fighting that war, too. We seem to wish that modern warfare were as simple as having fancy guns, but I don't think that's the threat any more. Sure, we have to be prepared for that; I'm not advocating we stand down. But we also have to protect ourselves from new threats, not just threats involving guns.
While we boldly spend our last dollar "fighting the terrorists abroad so we don't have to fight them at home" (as if that were something that really worked that way), we're also being quietly bought out by foreign investors. Before long, there's not going to be much left to buy.
Human labor is losing its value in the age of computers and robots. The new jobs are for scientists and mathemeticians, not for carpenters and seamstresses. Human beings cannot compete financially unless they are paid slave wages. And the solution isn't unions because many unions are asking for money that makes the companies they work for non-competitive. Companies can't pay what their products can't command. The solution is a heavy emphasis on education and capital investment in critical industries.
Anyone who thinks the major threat today to the US is terrorism and not bankruptcy is not thinking clearly about the history of overextended empires of the past, such as the Romans, the Spanish, the Dutch, and the British. We're next in line if we're not very, very careful.
We spend money like we're able to just mint it at will and force other countries to treat it as valuable. That won't work forever, and isn't even working very well right now. We are borrowing too much, and not investing in the infrastructure we'll need to pay it back. It's time to draw back into our country rather than meddling in others, time to become a bit more humble as a nation, time to focus on rebuilding our neglected infrastructure, time to admit there are serious financial considerations to be worked out, and time pay back some debt.
If our creditors stop lending us money, we may not be able to afford the products we've been buying from abroad and that we no longer make at home. Like computers and other technologies we need to keep ourselves both financially competitive and strategically safe. We need to stop and think about what we need, and not just assume that raw labor will save the day.
We need serious reflection about where we are.
We need "Thought Day".