Column by Harry Goslin.
Exclusive to STR
Whatever the challenge, you can usually count on Americans to demand more be done even though they're likely to get less returns on their "investment." From bombs to bailouts, disasters to schools, there seems to be no end to the funny-money available to "fix" all the problems facing the world. We can do it because we're 'Merica and we are, as Madeline Albright once said, the "indispensable" nation.
The killing of Osama bin Laden proves that ten years of blood and treasure was completely wasted when all it took to get this guy was a few intelligence operatives and a hit squad. All that money went somewhere, did a few folks some good, but was a huge waste in the long run. Lots of innocents were killed along with a bunch of young Americans who didn't have to die just for the promise of deferred college money.
What we wrought from the last ten years was a bigger and more intrusive state and gobs of people around the world who hate us more than they ever have. Thanks to the elites in government and corporate America who safely call the shots from afar, we are worse off economically and diplomatically in the scope of world affairs.
Our children and grandchildren can count on becoming poorer because of the last ten years of constant warfare. As our country descends further into a prison writ large, they will experience the type of slavery imposed by their own government once thought never possible in this country. It's likely that in school they will continue to be conditioned that patriotism demands they shut up and conform lest they make it easier for "terrorists," those phantom bogeymen who don't really exist except in the propaganda of government planners and elites, to destroy our "freedoms." They will never learn that axiom of history, that more war abroad means less freedom at home.
The average American isn't alone in his need to feel like he's getting more of something, more "freedom," more "security," because the level of inputs into some project or policy increases. The constant need to upgrade to bigger toys and the latest gadgets is a trait many of us share with those incompetents entrusted with making collective decisions affecting everyone.
The class of miscreants and parasites in state capitols and Washington keep their jobs by making laws and regulations that steal from us through taxes and make us criminals if we don't play by the rules they decree. Government gets more for its favored constituent groups and the rest of us keep less of what should be ours. More control and privilege for them; less property and freedom for us.
So long as it's other people's money, many Americans believe there's no problem that can't be solved through the infusion of lots of money. Identify a "problem," or better yet, a "crisis," and it won't be long before some political hack steps up to a microphone and proposes a solution: more money.
Fact is, throw money at a "crisis" and you usually make the situation worse. Take education. Even fiscally responsible Americans can be suckered into ponying up more dough for education. After all, it's for the children!
Spending more money on "education" will not make kids smarter or more competitive in the world economy. Even with all the high-tech gadgets and psycho-babble ideas forced on schools, the classroom teacher, regardless of all that other crap, still has the greatest impact, good or bad, on students.
Some advocate longer school days and a longer school year. A recent article  by LZ Granderson at CNN.com argues that the elimination of summer vacation and more school days could do much to make our kids smarter. As the argument goes, kids in other countries do so much better than our kids in math and science and they go to school all year. More time in school, specifically on math and science, would make our kids more competitive with kids from Finland, China and South Korea, some of the highest achievers in the world.
That sounds like a really simple solution. Just add 10, 20, or 30 more days to the school year, cut summer vacation down to maybe a month with more frequent breaks throughout the year, and we'll have just as many math and science wizards as the best in the world. But at the risk of being accused of making excuses for the United States, some basics about the top achieving countries must be noted.
The Fins don't send their kids to school until the age of seven. That's common in Scandinavia. Finnish children spend less hours in school per day. They don't use standardized tests to politicize education. For Asians in general, education is a cultural thing. Has been for thousands of years. These societies are mostly homogenous as well. That makes educating children en mass much easier. There's no need to cater to cultural and ethnic constituent groups in order satisfy "multicultural" education requirements. Once a nation goes down this road, social experimentation and social "justice" become more important than student learning and achievement.
Granderson acknowledges that "cutting into summer vacation won't solve all our education problems." Exactly. Not any more than spending more per pupil than the rest of the world has solved our student achievement problems, either. Our "under-achieving" isn't a matter of "time on task"; it's an attitude toward learning. Too many theorists and pointed-head types over the years have pretty much killed the rigor that was expected and received from students. As John Taylor Gatto has aptly written, American education has been systematically "dumbed down" by the same fools who now want to conceal their past destruction with "more." More money; more gadgets; more time in school.
The government’s push to improve math and science scores/achievement at any cost should be instructive for anyone who still has a functioning brain, in spite of what damage was done after years in government schools. The same government that uses a seemingly endless amount of bombs, missiles, drones, troops and treasure to try to kill one guy, finally gets him with a handful of underpaid hitmen and two bullets. And that same government is now convincing many Americans that all that waste was justified and we should spend even more.
What's really at stake here is not economic competitiveness with the rest of the world, but a plan to "farm" the best potential talent to build the next generation of weapons to be used against the world, and surveillance technology to be used against us. That's why it's imperative that our kids "catch up" to the rest of the world. The state will abscond with the best future talent and corrupt it with limitless budgets and empty promises to "make the world a better place."
Andrew Bacevich and Chalmers Johnson have written must-read books arguing convincingly against the idea of America being "exceptional" and "indispensable." Our "more" overseas has not made the world safer or more prosperous, only less. Likewise, "more" on the domestic front--surveillance, regulations, money and time in education, hasn't done us any good, either. Unfortunately, to most Americans' thinking, "less" is positively un-American.