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Old 06-11-2010, 04:09 PM   #1
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A little rant on the state of America

Sorry to do this to you. I watched some footage of the shuttle launching and then I took a mountain bike ride at lunch (which usually relaxes me) and I got a little upset about where we are. This is not political because it's been happening for years over all administrations so don't push it that direction. Also I'm skipping some stuff to get me to why I'm mad.

America has ALWAYS been the leader at something big.

At first it was big ideas (freedom from monarchy and self governance and reliance. Other countries had kind of done this, but America succeeded in a big way where no one else had. And it has usually been poised to lead the world in the next big thing at just the right time.

Then came Big Tobacco, Big Cotton, Big Steel, Big Manufacturing -all came and then the world caught up.

But then we have big science. America became THE hub for science and engineering in the world. The best and brightest came to America to innovate or to escape persecution. America was becoming important for industry prior to this, but this immigration of scientists made America what it is. It's too exhaustive to name all of the amazing scientists, so I'll just name a few that immigrated here in the first half of the 1900's:

Fermi (nuclear reactors)
Alexander Graham Bell
Tesla (ac electrical systems)
Braun (rocket engineer)
Einstein....

We had generations of the worlds best and brightest coming to America and going to American Schools and teaching or learning. But more importantly we developed 2 of the best post-graduate school apprenticeship programs on earth: Nasa and the Military-Industrial complex. These people would not only get their education but then they had an advanced studies program to apply their genius.

Which brings me to where we are now. The American Military-Industrial complex has gradually been going global and being wittled down a bit at a time. We have given up a large share of our big budget American only projects (the f-22 for example) in favor of shared technology platforms like the JSF 35. Nothing against the 35 but it was designed all over the US and Europe for use all over NATO.

30 years ago there was only 1 country that could build something on the scale of the large hadron collider (the U.S.) and it would have been built in cooperation with the US Army corp of engineers. You'd be reading about scientist coming to America from all over the world to staff it too.

It was almost a cliche that a NASA scientist or engineer would work at NASA for 20 years then retire out and go start their own widget company, suddenly advancing the state of widgets by 20 years. We'd design the first of an innovative product and the world would copy us. Does it still happen that way? of course, sometimes, but nothing on the scale of the way it was just 20 years ago.

Now we're giving up these training grounds of mighty projects and allowing the talent to disperse. A bright young person from India will now go to MIT, then go home and innovate there. We have been losing the fight for mid-level engineering (consumer products type things) for years but we always had the high end with the best of the best.

Now American engineering schools are having difficult finding American engineering post-graduate candidates.

So NASA is nominally there, but we're basically handing the aerospace torch on to China. American projects are going to go to the space station on Russian rockets????? We still have a military industrial complex but it's shared with Europe. Scientists don't need to come to America anymore since the big projects are spreading everywhere since we aren't taking leadership in the huge.

The only place left that we are undisputably in the lead is in medical equipment technology and we seem to be hell-bent on giving up that advantage as quickly as we can.

We can't make this up with manufacturing either. Manufacturing is too competitive. The only way to compete at the mass consumer level would be to devalue the dollar enough for other countries to find our products more affordable. That just means a further diminishment in lifestyle. It's not enough to sell American products to Americans anymore. You've got to sell them across the world if you want to be world class.

I'm a capitalist at heart, but America got where it is today with innovation and we have got to invest heavily as a country in big ideas that bring the brightest people here to our shores.

And most annoyingly of all, American's have been known for years and appreciated for a self confident swagger filled lifestyle and attitude. Sure that annoyed some cultures, but winners are individuals-not cultures, and winners want to join the team that behaves like winners. We are being preached at to become more humble and sensitive to other cultures etc. People haven't been struggling to come to America for 350 years because they wanted to be a bunch of cowtowing pansies. People came to America because they wanted to sack up and make more of their lives.

Thanks for letting me rant. I apologize in advance to the TL/DR crowd.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:22 PM   #2
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Oo-rah buddy, I'm right there with ya! IMHO fusion needs to be this country's top priority right now. Perfecting fusion will open the door to limitless possibilities for us, and getting there will require the brilliance you mentioned in your post. Also we need to relaunch a new space race, our children need something to inspire them!
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:26 PM   #3
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People haven't been struggling to come to America for 350 years because they wanted to be a bunch of cowtowing pansies. People came to America because they wanted to sack up and make more of their lives.
Amen
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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I actually read all of it, and I think you bring up some good points.

On one side, we could be getting struggling to advance as a country due to various factors--low test scores, recession, huge deficit, and unemployment, to name a few.

On the other, globalization may be taking the stage, rather than the nationalism we've become accustomed to. Former second and third world countries are advancing to a level near ours. We're no longer the country with the most steel mills or coal mines. The internet has brought the world together in an unprecedented way as well. Innovation need not take place in one lab at NASA when we can instantly transmit our data to another lab in the UK for them to add their research. If we don't have XXX particle excelerator, but the French do, why not work together and same some much needed money?

I suppose it's a little from column A and a little from column B. I'm an optimist so I'd like to think that we are no longer in the upper echelon because technology has brought mankind a bit closer together--rendering this echelon obsolete. The days of Big Steel or Big Cotton may be in the past, but there's no reason we can't continue to do what we do with our own sense of class, style, and pride. The 350Z is a fantastic car. It's fast, fuel effiecient, and nice looking. Why do I choose a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger? Because I'm an American and that's how we roll.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:34 PM   #5
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And most annoyingly of all, American's have been known for years and appreciated for a self confident swagger filled lifestyle and attitude. Sure that annoyed some cultures, but winners are individuals-not cultures, and winners want to join the team that behaves like winners. We are being preached at to become more humble and sensitive to other cultures etc. People haven't been struggling to come to America for 350 years because they wanted to be a bunch of cowtowing pansies. People came to America because they wanted to sack up and make more of their lives.

Thanks for letting me rant. I apologize in advance to the TL/DR crowd.
Well said and I agree 100%.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:13 PM   #6
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I actually read all of it, and I think you bring up some good points.

On one side, we could be getting struggling to advance as a country due to various factors--low test scores, recession, huge deficit, and unemployment, to name a few.

.
And the fact that when Lil Johnny or Lil Susie doesnt win at something, they make up some BS trophy for last place. Seriously, where is the Drive to do better?? We are rewarding sub-par performances so that we dont hurt someones feelings.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:24 PM   #7
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I feel we all need towards globalization - one world, alignment of goals. I do think America has tailored off in it's achievements though. Schooling seems less important these days. If we could actually act as one world, maybe we could make better strides in the common things: war, hunger, poverty, the common cold, fighting diseases...etc... The more we act on our own (that goes for any country) the more we stand to lose, IMO. The Human Race...not the American (fill-in-the blank) Race...

Just my 2 cents...

You do have good points!
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:40 PM   #8
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I feel we all need towards globalization - one world, alignment of goals. I do think America has tailored off in it's achievements though. Schooling seems less important these days. If we could actually act as one world, maybe we could make better strides in the common things: war, hunger, poverty, the common cold, fighting diseases...etc... The more we act on our own (that goes for any country) the more we stand to lose, IMO. The Human Race...not the American (fill-in-the blank) Race...

Just my 2 cents...

You do have good points!
I dont want to start a war here but you know thats never going to happen with the likes of al Qaeda, GIA, and ELN running around. These peoples only mission is to bring down other cultures that dont align with their own. It will never be united world and thats a fact of life. I whole heartedly agree with the OP. As a Nation we need to get our sh*t together and it starts from the top down unless a revolution takes place. Honestly it doesnt look like thats going to happen soon either. All we can do is hope for the best and do the best we can do.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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And most annoyingly of all, American's have been known for years and appreciated for a self confident swagger filled lifestyle and attitude. Sure that annoyed some cultures, but winners are individuals-not cultures, and winners want to join the team that behaves like winners. We are being preached at to become more humble and sensitive to other cultures etc. People haven't been struggling to come to America for 350 years because they wanted to be a bunch of cowtowing pussies. People came to America because they wanted to sack up and make more of their lives.
This is what is eroding away and slowly being destroyed by culture in this country. It won't be long, we will just be another country. People better wise up and figure out what made the USA, the USA in the first place.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:53 PM   #10
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We can work with the world and still be the shining light. There's no reason it can't benefit the whole world. America as a whole just needs to invest in something amazingly big that requires the best minds to accomplish. The point is you have to have a project beyond just making money that's far ahead of what we know how to do in order to stop this brain drain. It WILL be profitable for the whole country in the long term because you get that effect where the NASA people go build widgets when they retire. Make the best engineers and scientists in the world say "THAT is where I want to be, that is the cutting edge"
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:56 PM   #11
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And most annoyingly of all, American's have been known for years and appreciated for a self confident swagger filled lifestyle and attitude. Sure that annoyed some cultures, but winners are individuals-not cultures, and winners want to join the team that behaves like winners. We are being preached at to become more humble and sensitive to other cultures etc. People haven't been struggling to come to America for 350 years because they wanted to be a bunch of cowtowing pussies. People came to America because they wanted to sack up and make more of their lives.
You got that one right...
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:59 PM   #12
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We can work with the world and still be the shining light. There's no reason it can't benefit the whole world. America as a whole just needs to invest in something amazingly big that requires the best minds to accomplish. The point is you have to have a project beyond just making money that's far ahead of what we know how to do in order to stop this brain drain. It WILL be profitable for the whole country in the long term because you get that effect where the NASA people go build widgets when they retire. Make the best engineers and scientists in the world say "THAT is where I want to be, that is the cutting edge"
We aren't in an age of long term profits though- look at the economic cycles. Boom or bust. It's sad- but that's where peoples priorities are.
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #13
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And the fact that when Lil Johnny or Lil Susie doesnt win at something, they make up some BS trophy for last place. Seriously, where is the Drive to do better?? We are rewarding sub-par performances so that we dont hurt someones feelings.
I hadn't thought about that, but you're absolutely right. The sense of entitlement of our future leaders is staggering. Hope we snap out of it in time.
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Old 06-11-2010, 11:02 PM   #14
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We aren't in an age of long term profits though- look at the economic cycles. Boom or bust. It's sad- but that's where peoples priorities are.
Ya exactly. Unfortunately.
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Old 06-11-2010, 11:14 PM   #15
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Very well written. I agree. Your point is absolutely inarguable. I'd like to see someone try. It is a fact, and not just an opinion. And it's happening.



I see our sense of self entitlement as the biggest downfall and the underlying reason for the erosion or our leadership in technology and our shrinking GDP as well.


COMPLACENT, we have become as a nation.
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Old 06-12-2010, 12:26 AM   #16
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Complaceny and arrogance has been our worst enemy. The USA used to mean something to people outside our country. They respected and feared us and now that's just a story we tell our kids.

I'm proud to be a part of this country and to be able to take advantage of the freedoms our forefathers and veterans have provided but it saddens me that we are now in the state we are. We have become lazy, complacent and entirely to politcally correct. We are worried too much about not hurting someone's feelings rather than doing what's right. Why should we ban the pledge of allegiance in schools in order to bow to someone else's beliefs? Would they do the same for us? I think not. This country has always been the land of opportunity and the melting pot of the world, and that's what is so great about it, but too many people have taken advantage of that opportunity without doing their part.

We never seem to have the appropriate funding for education but there is always enough to send to Haiti or to Iraq to fight a war. We wonder why our children's education is lacking. Many teachers don't care anymore because of the lack of respect they're shown.

Things need to change but I fear things will get worse before they improve.
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Old 06-12-2010, 12:47 AM   #17
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Yeah, but if we were doing big things, creating new industry, then big government wouldn't get to take care of us all.
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Old 06-12-2010, 09:25 PM   #18
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Less laziness and less selfishness among Americans would do MUCH to improve the condition of our country and its position among the nations of this planet. That said, I have some improving to do. If I'm going to expect it of others, I had better get busy "practicing what I preach".
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Old 06-13-2010, 08:31 PM   #19
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Less laziness and less selfishness among Americans would do MUCH to improve the condition of our country and its position among the nations of this planet. That said, I have some improving to do. If I'm going to expect it of others, I had better get busy "practicing what I preach".
Agreed. There is a general sense of malaise that has swept over this country. We're fat, we're lazy, and the rest of the world mocks us for it due to our former success in so many fields.

I'd like to think that we're realizing what we've done to ourselves, and we're working to change things. Every time I flip though the channels, I see "get fit" infomercials and new stories about how we screwed up this war or that war. Media reports whatever makes money, and right now it's reporting our own failures as Americans. Perhaps we're ready to own up to them, take responsibility, and get back to changing the world for the better. It's what we do best.
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Old 06-14-2010, 12:05 AM   #20
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I would just like to add...

First... I love Camaro5

&

America... what does she stand for? Well, for me it has always been the line from the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the persuit of Happiness."

This is AMERICA, everything that the OP was talking about... exactly why people came/come here. This is also why a 'New World Order' will never work. America stands for personal success and failure, but the rest of the world doesn't work that way... their Governments decide who succeeds or fails.
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:37 AM   #21
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I agree with the OP, 110%!

I'll take it to the next step, Go to the supermarket, we are even outsourcing our food supply.

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Old 06-14-2010, 09:59 AM   #22
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Very good and thought provoking post OP! As a former Engineering Tech in consumer products I sure hear you. First it started with manufacturing being shipped out becaues it was SOOO much cheaper, all the while they/we were building up their skills overseas until eventually they could do all of the engineering and design. At least I didn't have to go over and train my replacements like some of my colleagues had to do before they shut us down. Hey they have got to save very penny they can, how else can they pay all those executives eliminating all the decent paying manufacturing jobs those 7 and 8 figure yearly compensation packages. Seems they're not too concerned that when no good jobs are left, who's going to buy their stuff? I know it sure concerns me. I saw a documentary on the History channel a while ago that said after WWII over 70% of the worlds goods were designed, developed, and manufactured in the USA. I don't think I want to know what that percentage is today.

Also the point Qwkss bring up is a big concern of mine. With many schools no longer giving acheivement awards for excelling in reading, or spelling, or math, etc., because it hurts the self esteem of the students who don't get them. Or when children participate in sporting events where they don't keep score because it makes the losers feel bad. Or as he stated where everyone gets a trophy because it makes those that don't get one feel bad. All that type of thinking just scares the heck out of me. What is going to happen when all these ill-prepared and overly coddled children grow up and go out into the REAL dog-eat-dog world?!?!?! There are going to be some real unhappy people out there that are going to expect someone to make everything all right for them, and who do you suppose they'll expect that to be? IMO I fear it will only worsen the trend of the direction that this once great country is taking.
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:49 AM   #23
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What is going to happen when all these ill-prepared and overly coddled children grow up and go out into the REAL dog-eat-dog world?!?!?!
Nailed it right there!
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Old 06-14-2010, 12:34 PM   #24
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I agree with a lot of what people are saying. However I still think we have the kids in this country who could kick it into gear if they found a big enough dream to use their brainpower on.

Right now as a country, there just isn't anything amazing the world looks to us for. I don't want to belabor my point, but a couple more examples. In 1969 they estimated that 80+% of all television sets that existed on the entire planet were tuned to the moonlanding. In the 80's viewership of Reagan's speaches as he was standing off against Gorby was in the 70% range. That last 2 Presidents have struggled to break into the mid 30% viewership (except immediately after 9/11) because they don't have anything of real direction to offer. After 9/11 there was a sudden rush of people inspired to charity or to the military to try to make America safer. Then for the next 7 years I watched as various people did everything they can to delegitimize people's efforts to do right after that event. The only 'doing better' that counted was recycling.

It's all tax-cuts or health care or the crisis du jour. I'm not saying those debates aren't important, but they're hardly the things that inspire the young or the brilliant to step up their game or move here. There are coddled kids to be sure, but it's a coddled spoon fed country- what do you expect out of the kids.

I was a teen in the 80s, so the things that defined my world view were making money and kicking commie ass. A teenager today is going to have the defining world views of cultural integration and green-ness.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:07 PM   #25
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Fusion power I'm tellin ya! Get someone to give a fiery speech on how it will change the world (cuz it will) and launch this country into a new Golden Age!!! (cuz it will)
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