Want to send this page or a link to a friend? Click on mail at the top of this window.
bluebullet.gif (326 bytes)
More Editorials
Posted February 19, 2011
nytlogo.gif (3067 bytes)
ny editorial op-ed.gif (1372 bytes)
Empire at the End of Decadence


It's time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country.

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures - some of which are shown in the accompanying chart - we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 - "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" - we are among the worst of the worst.
charles blow
Charles M. Blow
Yet this reality and the urgency that it ushers in is too hard for many Americans to digest. They would prefer to continue to bathe in platitudes about America'ss greatness, to view our eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur.

Republicans have even submitted a draconian budget that would make deep cuts into the tiny vein that is nonsecurity discretionary spending, cuts that would prove devastating to the poor and working class. At the very time that many Americans - and the very country itself - are struggling to emerge from a very deep hole, the Republican proposal would simply throw the dirt in on top of us.

This cannot be. Financing for education and social services isn't simply about handouts to the hardscrabble, it is about building an infrastructure that can produce healthy, engaged and well-educated citizens who can compete in an increasingly cutthroat global economy.

One of President Obama's new catchphrases is "win the future," but we can't win the future by ceding the present and romanticizing the past. Below look at how the United States compares with other advanced economies.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytimes.com.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: February 19, 2011 A previous version of this chart shaded Italy's and Spain's math scale scores incorrectly. They should have been included among the "worst of the worst," not only among the "worst."

© 2011 The New York Times Company. Reprinted from The New York Times. Op-Ed, of Saturday, February 19, 2011.
american shame 1
Wehaitians.com, the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
More from wehaitians.com
Main / Columns / Books And Arts / Miscellaneous