This nation has lost its focus on what made us great. I read today about Norway’s current ranking as the most mother friendly nation. As I delved deeper into the issues, I began to think about the tragedy of America’s biggest and least talked about waste of national resources, that of our people. In a country of more than a quarter billion people it is more than a statistical probability that there are a lot of very smart people in all avenues of the nation.
Many of these people would be destined to be quite successful given reasonable opportunities. A smaller percentage (but still a large number) might be destined to be the nation’s, or the world’s, greatest scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians (as in leaders, not today definition), artists and philosophers. However, such potential can only manifests itself when the individuals obtain the education and social support needed to learn and mature.
We often talk of how great America is, and the huge accomplishments that have been part of our history. A closer look at the successes in the 20th century reveals that we produced much of those achievements after large scale education of the population. Support of public schools became the rule. The GI bill after WWII resulted in a heavy GOVERNMENT investment in education and unleashed a wave of technology that drove our nation forward.
The labor movement brought millions of Americans up to the middle class and raised middle class family standards to a level that made it possible to send their kids to college. Even if our parents could not quite afford to send us, low interest student loans applied toward tuition at heavily subsidized state universities made college financing quite manageable.
A look at the civil right movement is another clear example of bringing more of the population along with it’s locked-up talent into the mainstream though education. Absent the advances made during those years, it would likely be a rare sight to find an “intelligent” (educated) person of color either in middle or upper levels of society in America. All the current success stories could be just a list of wasted minds and lost productivity.
Every time we educate a population, we release its previously hidden “people resource”. It is kind of like mining. If you want to release the buried treasure or energy resource, you have to painstakingly mine it and separate it from the lower value resources. The only way to mine the American population for our national treasures, our best scientists, leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, etc., is to cast a broad net of education over them so the most important, and currently most wasted American resource can be recovered before it is forever lost.
If we could turn the conversation to this kind of mining, you would have my support for “drill, baby drill”.