“Attitude of Gratitude”

Caroline Baum finishes strong and I supposed I shouldn’t excerpt that part of it, but hey. It’s a wonderful column that just might save your weekend, that happens to have been put together upside-down. The final note is a perfect summary for all that came before.

For every number homegrown America-haters spit out to show our best days are behind us, there’s an offsetting statistic that points to our underlying strength. The solution isn’t a war of words or statistics. It’s the recognition that many of the characteristics that made the U.S. the envy of the world are still intact or begging to be resuscitated.

The naysayers don’t appreciate American exceptionalism and never will.

I was particularly surprised by the GDP per capita statistic, and even moreso when it was broken down further into GDP per employed person.

You know, it’s awfully funny how we think about this stuff. I doubt you’ll have any trouble at all finding an agreement across party/ideology lines that our country’s employment picture, in the near future as well as the distant one, is going to be affected in large part not only by how many of our children are educated, but by the depth and content of that education. Can they translate a hexadecimal number, can they refute from memory a quote Alexander Pope didn’t really say, can they name the thirteenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This concern is supposed to be driving a number of sympathies with the public school teachers’ unions, the skirmish currently taking place in Wisconsin being a case in point.

But nobody ever seems to stop and ask what our teachers are doing about this. There are a lot of pieces that have to be present and working in a child’s education before said child is given any kind of a boost in his potential to contribute to the country’s GDP. “Yay, he got a passing grade” or “Yay, he passed the state competency exam” isn’t going to get it done. I think, deep down, we all realize this…

So where are the follow-up questions? Especially from those who sympathize with the teachers. They, after all, are generally the ones quickest to spout off with the doom-and-gloom statistics Caroline Baum is offsetting here.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Washington Rebel.

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