Friday, April 1, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Revisiting Ten Critical Problems That In 2013 Were Not Being Solved

In 2013, I wrote a column on this site specifying ten
critical unsolved or deteriorating problems facing the
nation that needed to be addressed then, and during the
next presidential campaign. Today, in the midst of that
“next” campaign, I come back to my original list of
critical problems and examine what has been done or
not done about them.

(My updated comments appear in italics.)


With so many crises facing the nation both domestically
and internationally, it is curious and alarming that ten
of the most serious and urgent problems are not being
meaningfully addressed by the president, his
administration, or the Congress.

Here is my list of those imminently problematic issues
(not necessarily in order of importance):

PENSION FUND LIABILITIES, public and private, continue
to grow. The bottom line of this is that workers at some
time in the future will either not receive pension benefits or
they will be greatly reduced. New corporate pension funds
are generally being phased out, but many existing ones
significantly remain unfunded. There is some work being
done to repair local and state pension funds, but those for
federal employees often remain in perilous circumstances.
(These public and private pension funds continue to
accumulate larger and larger unfunded debt, but in spite of
sensible ideas brought forward to “fix” them, little has been
done. One partial and necessary solution is to increase the
current retirement age for Social Security from 65 to 70 or
72 for younger workers recently entering the employment

UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES are vastly underreported.
The current “official” number is about 7.5%. The true
number is almost certainly closer to 14.3%. This
misreporting of unemployment figures lessens the urgency
to resolve the chronic problem. The Old Media co-conspires
with various levels of government’s desire to disguise the
true dimensions of unemployment in the U.S.
(The latest “official” number is at almost 5%, but the true
number is higher. Systematic removal of millions of persons
“no longer seeking work” from the “official” figure is the
major explanation of this. Unemployment is down now, but
the number of Americans not working is at an all-time high.)

is staggering. Although under-reported, even the reported
numbers clearly shows the profound damage to this
community. While smokescreens about alleged “racism” and
discrimination abound, very little is being done to actually
find meaningful jobs for these young Americans.
(The black unemployment rate continues to be much higher
than the national average,}

is undermining the quality of higher
education in the U.S. Although some welcome reaction
to hitherto radicalization of much of the college and
university programs is now taking place, the value of
the “liberal arts education’ has dramatically declined
in most major U.S. colleges and universities.
(Negative reaction to “political correctness” is being
registered in the 2016 presidential campaign, but it remains
widespread on most American campuses.)

INFRASTRUCTURE in the nation is being neglected
while endless debates about “global warming,”
boutique farming and hyper-environmentalism deflect a
much-needed discussion about the state of America’s
roads, highways, water availability and quality, food
production, and health conditions in the workplace is
(American infrastructure has become an issue primarily
for state and local governments. Federal policy has become
enmeshed in a hyper-expansion of federal regulations.)

ELITISM IN U.S. ARTS CULTURE is separating the
creative visual, musical, performing and literary arts
from a large number of Americans via government
aid programs and “official” arts criteria that encourages
elitist art programs. The result is an overall decline in
American culture, and reduced public participation in it.
(U.S. arts culture has continued to decline.)

GOVERNMENT INTRUSION into American private
life is increasing. Although headlines about government
surveillance is now frequent, this masks more serious
issues about increased federal (and some state and local)
regulatory intrusion on individuals, small business and
general entrepreneurial activity.
(A public backlash to government surveillance has
highlighted the issue, but expansion of federal regulatory
policies continue.)

are replacing common sense and genuine public interest
in the modernization of the nation. Excessively costly
high-speed rail and unnecessary local light rail systems
are being proposed, designed and built. The
overbuilding of public colleges and universities, local
takeovers of private utilities, delays of needed pipelines,
and other ultimately unjustifiable and unsustainable
programs are being implemented without proper public
review and approval.
(An imbalance in priorities for public spending continues,
and needed public services and facilities for veterans have

While the U.S. defense budget is very
large and popular (and often justifiable) target for waste
reductions, current policies to drastically reduce the
nation’s armed forces, naval and international
strategic presence are increasing the nation’s vulnerability
and its vital interests in a time of heightened international
instability and overt threat.
(Reductions in our armed forces and national security
institutions continue.)

isa self-induced obstacle to American leadership in global
innovation. One area government funding can clearly
contribute to improved national well-being is through
encouraging and enabling new scientific research. This is
especially critical in the current era when emerging
economic competitors such as China, India, and Brazil are
aggressively challenging American leadership in this area.
(American scientific innovation continues to lead the
world, but there is no evidence that public support for these
efforts in improving.)

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2016 by barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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