The Five Worst Problems In America Today–Revisited

4/19/14: Update here.

 

Tomorrow will mark one year since I posted “The Five Worst Problems In America Today and the One Thing We Can Do About Them.”  It has been the most consistently popular post on this site; though it ranks second in total hits (after “50 Things New Teachers Need To Know“), the majority of those hits didn’t come as soon as it was published.  Rather, its popularity has actually grown over time, garnering most of its reads within the last three months.  It now accounts for nearly 10% of all traffic in the history of this site.

I think that merits looking back over the last twelve months and seeing what developments have occurred in the five areas I identified.

#5: Government Size and Spending

My worries of April 2008 seem quaint now.  For example, in the original post, I lamented that China owned “nearly $500 billion of our debt.”  The number today: nearly $740 billion.

And remember how I ended that section?  The big shock was the fact that the government was planning a bailout that could cost taxpayers up to…$25 billion!  Today, that sounds like the scene in Austin Powers when 60’s-era Dr. Evil tried to extort the 21st century United Nations for…one million dollars!

It’s actually difficult to pin down an exact number for how much the government has spent in bailouts since then, but considering that a list I put together recently put George Bush’s 2008 total alone at $1.1 trillion, and before he even took office, CNN was figuring several trillion morefor Obama’s plans, I think it’s safe to say that trillion is the new billion.

And does anyone think the bailout craze is over?  When will it end?  And when has the government ever done anything within budget, anyway?

#4: Individual Fiscal Irresponsibility

While Uncle Sam keeps burning through dollars faster than he can print them, the American people, on balance, may actually be doing better than they were a year ago.  I was greatly impressed by this story from MSNBC that shows us spending less and saving more.  That would be wonderfully heartening, and I hope it’s true.  I’m not aware of any major stories that contradict that possibility.

#3: Decline of Morality in the Media

Hollywood gave us some pretty awful stuff in the last twelve months, but I can’t think of anything that broke any bold new ground in depravity, especially compared with what the mainstream has been forced to put up with in recent years.

Perhaps the worst transgression of the media last year was its slobbering, worshipful devotion to Barack Obama.  2008 may well be remembered as the year that journalism truly died.  However, as much as conservatives love a good anti-media jeremiad, it’s also true that alternative, capitalist media are abundant and easy to find, and it’s also even true that there are some signs that the mainstream media may well report more fairly on Obama.

#2: Decline of Literacy and Education

While I didn’t read any new studies in the last twelve months that indicate bold frontiers in intellectual decline, there sadly don’t appear to be any ameliorating factors, either.  This stock is holding steady at two cents a share.

#1: Decline of the Traditional Family

I’d be hard pressed to say which category saw more “progress” downward in the last twelve months: #5 or #1.  While the government’s profligate spending ballooned to hundreds of times what anyone could have predicted, the assault on America’s homes made quantum leaps forward.

The biggest indicator here, of course, was California’s Proposition 8, which restored the normal definition of marriage after it had been briefly hijacked by countercultural activists, but did so by a fairly narrow margin.  Far worse than the controversy itself was its treatment across the nation, as defenders of traditional marriage were demonized, harassed, and, in some cases, physically attacked.

The single incident that best encapsulated the ongoing anti-family trend was June’s revelation that 17 girls at a Massachusetts high school had made a “pregnancy pact,” and planned to raise their fatherless babies together.  They even went to extremely dangerous lengths in order to get pregnant.  An extreme case, but indicative of the larger culture’s mindset.

Speaking of which, of course, there was also Octomom.  ‘Nuff said.

On the plus side, birth rates are going up, so much so that 2007 marked what could now be called another Baby Boom.  Now, if only more of those births weren’t happening to unwed mothers and teenagers.

Conclusion: The One Thing We Can Do

I remain convinced that the only path to civilizational renewal is a return to orthodox religiosity.  Unfortunately, reliable research shows that America has become less religious than ever.  (Perhaps this deserves its own category in my list of top five problems?)

Has there ever been a cultural restoration that wasn’t grounded in morality, frugality, literacy, and piety?

Still, the promises of God are sure, and as we come to Him with our weaknesses, we will be healed and saved:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 

 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

–Matthew 11:28-30

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70 comments on “The Five Worst Problems In America Today–Revisited

  1. Nin, of course I can. Why not?

    Seriously, I’ll credit you to a degree: it wouldn’t be an automatic panacea. I once read that the segment of society that is the most openly religious–Blacks–also has the most social problems, while the segment of society that is the least openly religious–Asians–have the fewest. It’s a valid point, and a cautionary tale about the translation of principle into accepted cultural mores.

    The problems that I identify as the most dire and pressing–hedonism, illiteracy, irresponsibility, etc.–have grown in this country as a direct result of the decline of traditional religious devotion. You may not like it, but until a few generations ago, America was a deeply devout society, in general. As I assert in my posts, a return to a culturally-endorsed, widespread dedication to living fundamental religious principles would ease the burdens on society and make the world a better place.

    And I didn’t specifically say that everybody should become Christian. I suggest that people “faithfully live the positive dictates of their religions.” That’s pretty inclusive.

  2. the actual biggest problem in america is people like you who dont have the ability or drive to have empathy or understanding of others. this is not directly your fault though but you do need to work on your ability to use your higher brain function and when you get that ability you will be able to understand how and why we have the potential to be the greatest country on earth

  3. Anthony, alas, I wish I could use my “higher brain functions” like you do, so I too could understand others. Since that’s the biggest problem out there, that would make everything better. If only I had more empathy, then the financial, legal, and moral problems of the nation would magically go away. We could all hold hands and sing Kumbaya under the rainbow while the fluffy bunnies have a picnic.

  4. Scott, I’d counter that the problem being illustrated here is yours: the erroneous perception that “separation of church and state” precludes the influence of religious people or organizations on public life. That’s not only wrong, but blatantly anti-American, inasmuch as our public life was thoroughly saturated by general religiosity for nearly two hundred years. The decline of private morality and community devotion may well have been the primary indicator of the decline of our nation’s strengths.

    The threat to America today in terms of religion has nothing to do with the establishment clause of the first amendment, but the free exercise clause, which zealously intolerant secular bigots are sternly crusading against. What excatly is the goal there? A world with no discipline, tradition, or dignity, but at least the unfettered “freedom” of losing every shred of its Christian heritage?

  5. I don’t understand how we can blame our economic crisis to religion. What does our economy have to do with people turning to religion? Can we not blame our government for these atrocities? Yes, I agree that in the past, there were many more believers in God, than now. But we cannot compare past and present, mostly because people now are nothing like they were in the past.

    P.S. I apologize for skipping around from subject from subject.

  6. Derek, people now being nothing like they were in the past, is part of the problem. People often talk about how much our soceity has progressed, but that really seems limited to wider civil rights, and overall advances in medicine, economics, and technology. Only the first of those four has anything to do with our character as people. Besides that, we’ve become weaker and worse as a nation.

    How is religion related to the economy? It’s indirect, but easy. Religions inculcate the self restraint and discipline necessary for people to save, invest, and not overindulge (whether it’s an individual, a bank, or a government). The loss of a more widespread religious devotion and the loss of the maturity that devotion produces as, among other things, fiscal responsibility, is no coincidence.

  7. I think what Huston is implying is that the second coming of Jesus would save us all economically, technologically, and morally. But, lets face it. We’re too far in to return to the older, more religious ways. People’s belief has, in general, declined.

  8. “Milky,” yes, but I don’t refer directly to the Second Coming, just to a reformation of values and restoration of general faith that would return us to a stronger fabric as a society. Sadly, I share your pessimism: I don’t see any signs that it will happen.

  9. wow..inaccurate to the point of being uncanny

    5. Government spending-you hit the nail on the head, but you havent studied where all the money is going. The bank bailouts prevented the next great depression due to a lack of adequate regualtion…ir really laws which repealed new-deal legistaion. over 50% of all our money for the last 40 years has gone to defense spedning. we need defense, but we dont have to be bigger than the rest of the world combined.

    4. personal fiscal irresponasability- 100% agreed. The “pro-business” republicans will do anything to keep money flowing and keep people spending to keep the votes coming in.

    3. Decline in the morality of Media- again agreed. AS FOX is the largest and most powerful and influential news station in the nation, it should own up to its lies and half-truths that distrort reality.

    4. Decline in literacy and education- the best literacy and education in the world is in europe, we should study their model and learn from it. republicans won’t admit to this.

    5. Traditional family- is entirely invented and made up by religion and the right wing media to be beneficial. “traditional family” is not traditional at all..it is a very recent phenomenon in the last 100 years. Aren’t christians supposed to be tolerant?

  10. Dan, thank you for your comment. Your sarcasm serves to highlight how spurious your complaints are.

    5. I dispute your defense spending numbers and the idea that bailouts prevented another depression–in fact, it’s likely that they are heading us toward another one. History supports capitalism, not government intervention. Please cite some ources otherwise if you can.

    4. How in the world do you see a “republican” conspiracy forcing people to spend too much? It was Clinton’s sub-prime housing legislation that created the environment for the housing crisis to happen. That never would have happened on a conservative’s watch.

    3. What a strange red herring! I decry sex, violence, and swearing, and you take a jab at Fox News. How desperate. Don’t want to put liberal Hollywood under the microscope, do you?

    2. Actually, Europe isn’t that smart anymore, either. The smartest kids were Americans up until a couple of generations ago. If we want a model to look to for improvement, we should look to how they were raised.

    1. Hardly! The nuclear family is almost universal in every civilization in world history. The few exceptions are rare and often dysfunctional. I’d love to see you document exactly when and how it was “invented” by, apparently, Billy Graham and Fox News. Were they around throughout all of world history, where marriage ceremonies always bind a man and woman together to raise children? Did they invent it, as you suggest, around 1909? Where is that in the history books?

    Tolerance is a virtue as long as things are tolerable. Murder is intolerable. Rape is intolerable. And the purposeful destruction of the family is absolutely, undeniably, intolerable.

  11. Wow, you are not being very nice to people, and you certainly are not letting facts get in the way of your opinions…

    Q. When has the government ever done anything within budget, anyway?
    A. During the Clinton administration.

    I quote from you:
    I dispute your defense spending numbers and the idea that bailouts prevented another depression–in fact, it’s likely that they are heading us toward another one. History supports capitalism, not government intervention. Please cite some ources otherwise if you can.

    I can.

    I won’t even use Reagan and his ability to use “pure’ capitalism to triple the debt with supply side economics.

    I have graphs, but you will understand without them.

    The basic economic facts from the 1930s—according to the Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve, and other official sources—are fundamentally different from the unsupported claims put forward by Shlaes and prominent in popular myth. The monthly data for industrial production show a near three-year collapse under President Hoover, ending when FDR came to office in March 1933. Production rocketed by 44 percent in the first three months of the New Deal and, by December 1936, had completely recovered to surpass its 1929 peak. GDP, only available as annual averages, plunged 25.6 percent from 1929-1932, including by 13.0 percent in 1932. It stabilized in 1933, and then soared by 10.8 percent, 8.9 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively, in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Real GDP surpassed its 1929 peak in 1936 and never again fell below it. After-tax personal income, consumer spending, real private investment and jobs all reached or surpassed their 1929 peaks by late 1936.

    In case you do not know history these are the New Deal Government spending programs.

    and…

    The $787 billion stimulus package passed over the near-total obstructionism of Congressional Republicans is already paying huge dividends for the economy.
    To be sure, at 10% the unemployment rate remains dismal. But the impact of ARRA and other government actions extends well beyond the Obama administration’s claim it has created or preserved one million jobs to date. As was documented in August:
    After steep declines of 5.4% and 6.4% in the previous two quarters, gross domestic product fell only 1% in the last three months. And while the ARRA overall added “up to 3 full percentage points of annualized growth in the quarter,” President Obama’s stimulus helped precisely where it was needed most – rescuing devastated state budgets.
    Earlier this month, the reliably Republican Wall Street Journal agreed the Obama administration has helped stem the bleeding from the Bush Recession:
    Many forecasters say stimulus spending is adding two to three percentage points to economic growth in the second and third quarters, when measured at an annual rate. The impact in the second quarter, calculated by analyzing how the extra funds flowing into the economy boost consumption, investment and spending, helped slow the rate of decline and will lay the groundwork for positive growth in the third quarter — something that seemed almost implausible just a few months ago. Some economists say the 1% contraction in the second quarter would have been far worse, possibly as much as 3.2%, if not for the stimulus. “Without that extra stimulus, we would be somewhere around zero (growth),” said Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist for Goldman.

    Journalism died when journalists failed to question WMD and allowed the Bush Administration to do as it pleased without question for fear of being “unpatriotic” in the wake of 9/11. Fawning all over President Obama was a result of hoping for a better, more open administration that was not afraid of the light of day. The secretive and fearful Bush Administration just fueled paranoia and distrust in the media. (You gave your opinion, I offer an alternative opinion) Right now the Right Wing media is using unsupported opinion as facts and misleading the public concerning the Obama Administration.

    The decline of education?
    The average IQ has increased steadily for decades, at a rate of about three points every ten years. The phenomenon is called, the Flynn effect.
    Almost every age group of students has shown increased scores over the last 30 years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Almost twice as many students are taking advanced math as were 20 years ago. In general, we are just better at solving problems. The huge leaps in IQ have come in areas such as pattern recognition. In
    the last five years of these allegedly anti-intellectual times, we’ve seen more scientific advancement than in 50 years of Enlightenment Europe.

    As for your number 1, The Decline in Traditional Family Values. Get real … pure speculation and opinion based on a conservative agenda. If you are an educator then you should recognize propaganda when you write it. Please do not stand and deliver opinion and act like it is fact. In research done for the book Freakonomics, the authors found no correlation between standardized test scores and families that were intact. By the way, marriage was generally considered a law contract, and was generally used as a way to strengthen empires and allow the rich to get richer… but I believe you already knew that.

    When it comes down to facts, your opinions do not hold water,
    and…
    please be nicer to people… As educators, we are all in this together. There is a place for decency and values… you might want to practice them if it is what you think will save the world. Be kind, be decent, and work to educate kids to think for themselves. Kumbaya!

  12. My tone was a bit harsh, and for that I apologize… I just dislike being bombarded with misinformation. I have read much of what you have written and have very much enjoyed those posts that deal with education. The ones that deal with religion and politics I did not enjoy as much. I believe it is because I try so hard to keep my bias away from students so that they think for themselves. I do not wish to indoctrinate and it is my hope that well respected teachers, such as yourself, follow the same path. When I found your site I was looking for education material to which to refer my workshop participants. I read many things I liked, then I fell into the political blogs. I cannot indoctrinate my workshop participants. I hope they find you on their own, I think you have much to offer them. I, again, apologize for the tone of my last post.

  13. James, I’m not sure what makes you think that I must be “indoctrinating” students–my views on demography and limited government don’t actually come into play very often when I’m teaching Mark Twain and sentence diagramming. (Although, as I’ve said before, when people accuse others of indoctrination, what they really mean is, “you’re sharing ideas that I don’t like.”)

    Don’t fret if you don’t like everything on here–the only person who is likely to is me–but please don’t barge in, fists flying, expecting a pleasant discussion.

    Yes, Clinton was much better fiscally than, say, Bush was. So what? He did it by cutting programs and government size. I don’t think that actually supports your apparently pro-big government, pro-intervention position.

    Your numbers are impressive, but you certainly don’t cite your sources, nor do you connect them to any specific New Deal programs. By the way, if small government and private innovation are so inferior to progressivism, then how did America create so much prosperity in all the years before FDR?

    Not that your numbers translate to much in the real world anyway. By the time The Grapes of Wrath came around in the late 30’s, after you say things were back to being fine, plenty of Americans still felt exactly the kind of suffering depicted there.

    You breezily toss aside Amity Shlaes with a passing reference, but that’s hardly a rebuttal of her work. Have you read her book? What’s your authority for pooh-poohing her conclusions?

    I love how last year during the campaign, liberals scolded conservatives for “being more concerned with Wall Street than Main Street,” but now that they’re in power, all we hear is crowing about the stock market, while unemployment and foreclosures are still at dangerous highs.

    Your perspective on the current recession is even more fatuous than your take on the Depression. How many jobs do you think have been created or “saved” (not that it’s possible to know that) by the stimulus? How many of those are just little government drone jobs? Do you know how much each of those handful of jobs has cost taxpayers? It’s a farce. You don’t even have to go to “biased, right-wing propaganda” for this one (as I’m sure you’d see it), it’s all right there on the joke that is Recovery.gov.

    Your comments about education are confusing, at best. What exactly is your point?

    Your last topic is by far your weakest. Freakonomics, while insightful and interesting, is flawed and hardly scientific–it’s been roundly criticized by professionals in many fields. Your claim that marriage has usually been a legal contract for political purposes could only be true if viewed in a very narrow time and place in world history, and even then it grew out of its larger, older, major, and original universal context–religious ceremony. Civil marriages are a fairly new innovation. You don’t even try to dispute that the nuclear family is natural and universal, nor can you gainsay the damage that its loss is doing to the world. You seem to love Europe; try looking at what the decay of the traditional family has done to Scandinavia.

    I appreciate your attempt to engage me, but please do not make accusations of “misinformation” and “indoctrination.” I do not take them lightly. I am glad, however, if you’ve ever found anything of value to you here. Good luck in your teaching work.

  14. Huston, your logic is lacking faith in people a a whole. You must believe that Jesus will save you. The traditional family is nothing without Scandinavia. So why are you judging them with your broods of that are natural for citizens?

  15. Sure, there are problems in America – of that there is no doubt. But your solutions to these problems are lacking. Religion will not save us as a nation, unless there’s a miraculous event just as Milky indicated. I believe we can still instill good values into our children for the future generations without worrying about religion or any nonsense like that. As for the government spending… Once again, we as a nation must do something to moderate this.

  16. Sticky Tissues,

    First of all, what are you talking about. clearly scandinavia has nothing to do with the traditional family for it is the traditional viking savage rape monster like yourself. and our faith is not of any importance to this matter even tho scientology rules all earthlings mofo. and lastly, why are you posting on this if your gonna act like some fifteen year old. lol

  17. OK everybody, check this out:

    Sticky Tissues, Starchy Tube Socks, and Magical Unicorn are the same person. They used the same IP address each time, the same email address twice, and addressed each other while the messages were all still in my preview folder, unpublished. Whoever you are, you should wait until the first message is visible publicly BEFORE submitting a manufactured rebuttal. Duh.

    Why would someone submit three comments, arguing with himself? Who knows.

    Dani, thank you for the thoughtful addition.

    • If they Were the same person then why would they say something incorrect? Just to correct themselves because they have no life, I doubt it. they are probraby just friends using the same email instead

  18. I cant even begin to express my feelings over this article. Because you’re right. We need to be Christians, and your number 1 problem (with the “traditional family”) is so correct! It’s a good thing you’re following in God, because I’m sure she would LOVE your bigotry.

    News flash: the United States is not a theocracy. It’s not supposed to be based on some fundamental religion. So the fact that “America is less religious” should be immaterial to the nation’s overall success. If you are religious, then isn’t that what matters? Follow your own beliefs. That’s great. But why get mad at others for THEIR beliefs (or lack thereof)? Do what you can do, but save the judgments and the condemnation of others. Believe it or not, not everyone in this country wants to be a part of all your ridiculous Christian doctrines.

    Christianity itself is fine; I know many Christians, and many of them have my utmost respect. But it’s people like yourself that make me cringe. The “traditional family”? Really? What does that mean to you? The “nuclear family” you mean? Because that was only the most common family structure in the 1950’s. My definition of family is thus: FAMILY IS WHO YOU SAY IT IS. Period. You can have your traditional family, but you can’t define everyone else’s families for them just because they don’t fit into your close-minded standards. Don’t try to tell everybody else what his family should be, please. That’s just classic ignorance, it seems.

    It is fine if you think that things such as homosexual marriage and unwed mothers are “assaults on the American home” (because again, Jesus would definitely love the bigotry). But on the same note, it must also be fine for me to say this: if that’s an assault on America’s homes, then I will keep on assaulting. And I don’t care if I’m “assaulting America” if it means that I’m helping to give others basic rights to freedom, happiness, and love.

    P.S.– James, I’m glad to see that someone here likes facts, instead of ignoring fact in the wake of personal opinion.

  19. Audrey, so how do you really feel? : )

    OK, strip away all the hollow, trendy rhetoric from your comments (“Follow your own beliefs,” “Family is who you say it is,” etc.) and what’s left? Nothing. The problem with conveniently subjective ideas like those you express is that they’re ultimately self-contradictory: you say that there is no concrete truth, but your assertions themselves are given as a concrete truth.

    Scratch that: the problem with these ideas is that they are simply not true. The decline of religiosity in America–a fact which you don’t even seem to try to refute–has resulted in traumatic broken homes, educational degradation, fiscal meltdown, less liberty, and all manner of social breakdown…not the “freedom, happiness, and love” that you trumpet. How do you justify claiming that most people enjoy more of these things today than they did 50 or 100 years ago?

    You close with an apparent appeal to fact, yet you offer none (except for the wild assertion that the nuclear family was only the most common family structure from 1950 to 1959), and you do nothing to correct any flaws in the many facts referenced in my articles.

    I don’t want to be argumentative, Audrey. I’m sure you have the best of motives, and I hope all the best for you in life, but your attempt to debate me here has been totally lacking in logic or evidence. Please consider what I’ve written with an open mind. God bless you.

  20. I was just wondering what your credentials are, Huston. I can’t site you without that. Uh…did you study this just so you could post this on a website? Or did you not study this and simply put up the ideas that you had? And if you want people to take this more seriously I would advise that you take off the passage from the bible at the bottom, or else they will think you are some religous freak only trying to supress other religons. You are very charismatic in your writing, did you know that?

  21. Rexroy, why would you cite me? Cite my sources if needed; they’re far more authoritative than I am. My only “credential” here is that I am a literate, active citizen.

    As for the scripture quotes, it’s a sad example of our society’s debasement that anyone would think that that compromises my credibility. Our society used to be a place of general biblical literacy, which was a deep source of profound thought in our civilization until recently. Reading more of what people wrote in the past shows this. I think we’ve lost something by discarding it, and heaping superstitious steroetypes onto people who do become well versed in the Bible. I hope you don’t think this way; it doesn’t seem like you do.

    Thanks for the compliment about my writing, and I wish you all the best!

  22. One of the worst problems I have is with what the internet is right now. Its really not what it used to be. I work hard for my money and have in the past enjoyed the commerce on the internet. About 80 to 90 percent of the internet is completely shut down forever I’m sure. In the past one could find anything they ever wanted over the internet,as far as products are concerned. One could find products in other countries as a common person searching on the internet not anymore. Well you can as long as its american and bought from a distributer that will send the wrong product 80 percent of the time,and has a business name that make me feel like garbage when I read it let alone buy from them they think its a fad but they will learn people don’t have to deal with people they dont like. Of course thats where the internet comes into play funneling everyone dowm the same path only letting a american comsumer purchase items from american only and cutting off any websites outside the country offhand.
    I will probably end up flying to singapore or somewhere else go to the company that I wish to deal with just to get a business card with an exact website address fly back here type it in and get to the website to purchase the product I want. Its not the internets fault I just need to know what I’m looking for says the 20 year old. Well Did not used to be that way. Typing in general words on the browser would get the full spectrum of websites with that word.
    To end I say that I don’t play when it comes to purchases that are the fad or purchases that are from
    fad type businesses. buy from them they are a good lookalike of that famous person. Some people purchase a product because of the way that it functions,not who’s selling it,and sometimes products that are the same one is better then the other.
    One might ask what do I want to buy. It don’t matter if its not the only and only thing that popular at this point exactly in time then its the wrong thing and its no wonder I have a hard time with the internet. I need to remember to abide by the famous people,then there lookalikes, and then my own self preservation.(not)

  23. First off Romanseal I completely agree with what you have written, having had a five year break from the internet I returned earlier this year to find a completely different search experience, I can only presume it is the downside of Google’s search system which promotes good SEO at the expense of decent content.

    Secondly Huston you are spot on, though I am more of a Buddhist I have described the problem you point out as the excess of pandering to ego success, the satisfying of the ego to get bigger better more shiney things at any cost whoever, what ever is exploited. All at the cost of heart success that concerns morals, doing the right thing, accepting our responsibility, caring for and help building communities.
    To me heart success is the real lasting success of knowing one did the right thing, which has nothing to do with your car , your clothes or your marble top kitchen but everything to do with having a wholesome inner self, what ever ones beliefs or religion may be.

  24. James was right not being able to tolerate politics very well I agree. They are just there to line their pockets. And as those issues get more and more complex I come to relize that their still trying to line their pockets unbelievable. Then the illegal aliens what are we going to do about this! when a person can watch the border and see them coming accross. Its about like watching a politician.

  25. Stumbled on this site looking for other research materials. I agree with much of what you said until you came to #1. I also agree with ‘Concerned Party’. There is a reason for church and state. Its not the government’s responsibility nor the churches responsibility to tell others how to raise a family. Being religious also does not guarantee that a family will be ‘traditional’ by your definition (or by anyone else’s). In fact, I was raised by a catholic family and there are more problems, clinical depression, and more family fueds than many people I know who grew up in a more tolerant, agnostic sort of way. Just because your religious doesnt stop you from being a raging alcoholic and beating on your children, nor does being religious prevent you from working too much and seeing little of your children growing up. The decline in traditional family values has much to do with being the rest of your problems that you mentioned America is being plagued with. Through the decline in morality, and the inflated self importance both the media and the government like to give the average person’s ego is enough to make anyone think their time and their money are more important than their children. #1 is also the only ‘problem’ America is facing that you actually offered a solution to, and also provided the most explanation for, bringing in little quips about teenage pregnancy and unwed mothers for no other reason than- I’m guessing because you feel strongly about it and you want others to share your outrage for such atrocities of nature…(?) Thats what you made it seem like. Listen, Im all for better living conditions in the country. But to blindly claim (you even said your only credential is that your a literate, active citizen ‘comment reply # 27″) that a lack of religion causes (and I quote) “broken homes, educational degradation, fiscal meltdown, less liberty, and all manner of social breakdown.” Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There are so many fallacies in that statement I don’t know where to begin. Fiscal meltdowns and liberties are solely the governments realm, and again after the Separation of Church and State your argument is invalid. Even if we elected just and religious men (or women) into office that does NOT guarantee that they will not be greedy, corrupt, or make bad and uneducated decisions to have lead us down this same road. Broken homes and Social breakdowns have so many other factors that religion can hardly be taken into account. What about the failed war on drugs, the lack of funding for education, natural disasters, terrorist suicide bombings (you think 9/11 didnt break a few homes?), or perhaps the lack of support to and supporting abstinence programs (such as ALL religions do) hinders them more than helps? Also, reading between the lines of your article I see you disagree with gay marriage. And it is shameful. These people are normal citizens who think and want different things from you do. They are not any different from the rest of us and deserve the same rights as ‘regular’ people do which means they cant hijack anything from anybody. Their rights are being restricted from people who think they know better. <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2007-06-25/us/gay.adoption_1_gay-adoption-straight-parents-williams-institute?_s=PM:US&quot; title="Read this and see if you think different." I wouldve rather had two loving and happy mothers or fathers than a manic depressive Dad who I never really talked to and a abused and sensitive mother who never got over her problems because her religion told her that it was better keeping it in and waiting for 'God' to help find her way. Which she never did. My whole point it that being a good family is subjective. Having both a mother and a father whom are both religious doesn't necessarily mean you will be raised in a 'traditional' family sense, nor does it mean you will have a better life. Your argument for fixing the traditional family problem is weak and most of it is biased. The only way for the country to get better is to lead by example. Show others how to live a good life and they will naturally want to imitate you. That would be better than to tell others whats wrong, then offer hardly any solutions to fix it. That is more similar to complaining.

  26. I rarely respond to comments these days, and I know I really should put more time into that, but this one definitely demanded a retort.

    To the last two commenters, Concerned Citizen and Katie, you raise three distinc issues, and each are wrong.

    First, your invocations of “separation of church and state” are, like those of many other commenters here, grossly inaccurate. That unofficial doctrine took hold in the early republic to prevent the establishment of a single, official state denomination, which would be promoted above others. This really did happen in colonial times, even though our ancestors came here to flee religious persecution, and the Founders wisely eradicated it.

    “Separation of church and state” absolutely does NOT, however, mean the elimination of all religious influence from the public sphere. Such a wild exaggeration would have been laughable up until any point in the last 50 or 60 years, when the encroachments of secularists really began in earnest.

    I’m not advocating that the government somehow legislate Christianity, but merely that individuals return to the spiritual roots of previous generations and live them honorbaly. Government only needs to let that happen (the “free exercise” clause of the first amendment).

    Second, Katie, you suggest that I imply religious families are better than all others. Conspicuously absent from your comment, though, is the goal of two straight parents who are decent, involved, and good parents. That’s the vision, the standard, the ideal, and the norm which we have abandoned. It is what’s best for kids. I’m sorry your experiences have left you jaded on that point, but it’s true. Research and common sense both prove that the stable, nuclear family is what’s best for kids. Not everybody lives up to that, as you well seem to know, but it remains the goal nonetheless.

    Finally, you assert that I oppose gay marriage, apparently, because I don’t think they’re “normal citizens” or that they’re “different…and don’t deserve the same rights…” Nonsense! Why is it so hard for people to understand that opposition to gay marriage is not about bigotry or hostility towards gay people!? Calling those who disagree with you stupid and evil, which is what you do here, is a cheap slur. I don’t hate gay people, I only want to defend traditional marriage, for the reasons I’ve exaplained here.

    There are a lot of good reasons to oppose gay marriage. Consider these arguments:

    From the LDS Church: http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

    From National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/245649/case-marriage-editors

    Thank you both for commenting, though; I always enjoy respectful, spirited exchanges of ideas.

  27. First, let me preface my opinion by saying it’s my opinion. I’m certainly not the smartest, most educated person to respond to this line of debate, but I feel strongly about patriotism and other things associated with America therefore I feel qualified to comment.

    First, religiosity. I like this word. It reminds me of the phrase “mumbo jumbo.” I want nothing more than to return to the type of religiosity past generations embraced. I often lament that I was born in the 20th century and missed out on the great religious societies that existed in the 12th, 15th, and 17th century. When I see a group of emo, goth-dressed teens hanging out at the mall I want to declare them heretics and hang them from tree limbs, much like our devout Puritan forefathers. Speaking of heretics, as a Catholic I yearn for the Inquisition eras, when people who failed to measure up to Catholicism were tortured and murdered, all in the name of God. Man, these were good times.

    Traditional family values were abundant back then. In the 1950s, about thirty percent of adult women held jobs. Traditionally, their role was to stay home, raise kids, clean, cook, and service the husband in any manner required. Even educated women accepted and embraced this traditional family system, most dropping out of college when the prospect of marriage surfaced. We give women too much power and freedom to do things they want, like letting them out of the house and giving them opportunities to work interesting jobs and make decent money. This has got to stop. We are destroying family values and, therefore, are ruining the traditional family value system in America. Having two working parents is a disease in America because its allowing the educating of our kids to the education system, specifically schools, and daycares. And teenage babysitters. And the internet. And X-Box.

    I don’t hate gay people; I just don’t think they should be allowed to marry each other because it’s bad for the marriage and religion business in America. Also, I don’t hate Mexicans, I just don’t want to see them working low-paying farm and factory jobs traditionally awarded to hard-working Americans who would rather work anywhere but in low-paying farm and factory jobs.
    Of course, most of these jobs aren’t in America any longer so it’s a moot point. Outsourcing is good for the United States because it means that we can buy large, flat screen televisions and video game consoles much cheaper, and this allows us all to enjoy family gatherings playing John Madden and Call of Duty. Also, Punk’d is way cooler on the big screen.
    “And does anyone think the bailout craze is over? When will it end? And when has the government ever done anything within budget, anyway?”

    When has anyone done anything within budget? When I was 10 years old I once made a budget for my parents. My mom could only spend $50 per week on cigarettes, booze, and pain killers, while Dad had to reduce the money spent on Ms. Fisher, his secretary who stayed late at the office and helped him on projects until midnight. As a traditional American family, we often argued over money together, and sometimes we took separate vacations, which was nice because Dad often stayed at this really sweet hotel in the city while Mom stayed home and cried into a half gallon tub of ice cream and drank vodka.

    A trillion dollars is a lot of money. That’s like Bill Gates money. I wonder how much money has been paid back. Maybe it’s only $18, but that’s something, right?

  28. And here I thought it was

    1 – a terrorist occupational government that kidnaps, tortures and murders people

    2 – a pedophile cult that enables and defends child rapists

    3 – a massive counterfeiting ring that controls the money supply

    4 – a congress of whores

    5 – hyperbolic discounting

  29. Well, im about a year or so late in finding this site, but hey at least im here.

    Im a 17 year old senior and have no real knowlede on these subjects, and im sure everyone has forgotten about this site anyway, so im not gonna post political stuff.

    Just want you, Houston, to know that if there were more people like you, this world would be a much better place. You are calculated with what you say, not like most people who posted here, and democrats i know, who just get angry and hatefull when posed with ideals that they do not agree with.

    Also, you are not afraid of speaking your mind about God in general, which is pretty cool. I hope you are not brought down by the world around you and keep your faith.

  30. I agree with Justin. I am also late in commenting on the post but I couldn’t agree more with what was said. I came across this site while doing research for a few essays I’m writing. I’m writing mostly about the fact that the more we remove God from our society, the more horrible and corrupt it becomes. I couldn’t help but notice everyone bashing your opinions but I am thankful for them and for people like you. I share the same beliefs and opinions on every topic you addressed and its so nice to see that I’m not alone. It seems like citizens with views like ours are limited these days and thats a shame. I commend you on stating your beliefs and not backing down. Our country needs people like you in Washington:)

  31. I would also like to point out that the Clinton “balanced budget” was smoke and mirrors. Those surpluses were projections, not actual money sitting in Treasury accounts. And it only lasted a couple of years. Do you really believe Clinton would have gone on a government diet without losing the Senate and the House to the GOP? The answer is no. During Clinton’s first two years in office the size and scope of government expanded drastically with a Democratic Congress.

    Those are facts. Stubborn little critters.

  32. i hate america, everyone there is really stupid. as a american, i feel embarrased to be associated with people who make us look very bad and stupid. furthermore, cant we all just get along in this world. when i was young, 60 years ago, we all were friends. No one hated anybody. Now everyone just rabbles at one another. And that, random website, is what really grinds my gears. Yea See!!!!

  33. Love one another. We’re family. No difference. At the end of the day we should work together. Work around the government, with love. See through fear cause fear is only an illusion that tries to stand in the way. It will have a harder time as we move back to what matters, you and I. Sorry if I ever hurt you before. I love you.

  34. All those problems are symptoms. The real problem is that the social hiper articulate hiper social critics have succeeded in discrediting the traditional american values of hard work and sex within marriagd. Hollywood and the liberal media have acted as loudspeakers gor the social critics. If america does not succeed in deeply discrediting the hipercritics and change the collective mind set america will steadily go down. Eventually we will reach a pre-wwII germany situation where anything can happen, including persecution of all jews by frustrated angry white, black and hispanic mobs

  35. Victor, interesting, if I get your drift. While I absolutely believe that anti-Semitism is on the rise again in the west, I don’t know that Jews will become a universal scapegoat here, as the target of unified hate by all other groups. If so, it’ll be because they’ll get lumped in with Christians as the symbol of rules, repression, and tradition. So, Victor, I’ll get your back and I hope you get mine!

  36. Religion can make a society better, but perhaps with all the changes Christianity has undergone over the past thousand years perhaps it would be more wize to look at a stable religion where change in non existant, like Islam.

  37. America’s problem is that we have turned our backs on God. This is one nation under God, and with the self discipline and morales of people today it’s no wonder were slowly going under. If only non believers knew what they could have on the Christian side all the problems in the world would fix themselves.

  38. #44, Islam has a great deal of good in it, but it has hardly been completely static in all times and places.

    Sammy, amen.

  39. ummmm…..defenders of the traditional family are physically harmed? How about all the gays that are beaten dead then just forgotten about?

    • Violence towards anyone is awful, even if it’s only verbal, but you seem to be just jumping on a bandwagon here. As I’ve said elsewhere, our current witch hunt for bullies may well result in more bullying and violence towards innocent people. Where are these crowds of physically abused gay people, and “forgotten” deaths? If you know about them, how are they forgotten? These things would be terrible if true, but I don’t think today’s situatiuon is as dire as some would like us to still believe. Shouldn’t that be a good thing?

      • I initially was not going to post, but I really do have to comment here. As a high school junior who isn’t very religious, I would like to say a few things to refute a couple– and not all, because then I’d be up for another three hours and losing precious sleep/work time– of your points that I disagree with.

        I’ll begin with the point that inspired me to respond. Gays were actually a target of the Holocaust; Hitler’s aim was to eradicate primarily Jews, but gypsies and homosexuals as well. He killed anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men, but few people remember this because of the greater impact of the amount of Jews killed. (And since it seems you like to have sources, this is mine: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/hsx/) I do agree with you that they can’t be “forgotten” if we know about them, but I believe that OKThen was only using loaded words for an emotional appeal.

        I also would like to refute your point that the “nuclear family” is in danger… in fact, it has been in decline since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Children in Europe were often sent away from their homes at a young age to work in factories, away from their families. This resulted in the reduction of the “nuclear family” to more of a broken state. (Kagan, The Western Heritage AP European History textbook)

        And while I’m at it, I would like to comment that I see little to no correlation between religion and the solutions to the problems you present to us. While I do believe that the world would be a kinder place if people subscribed to the same religion, the fact is that we don’t. Even if we were all religious, I doubt it would make much of a difference because of different values in different religions… There are other religions aside from Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and Buddhist religions. How do we define what a “religion” is? It is defined at Dictionary.com as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Could I not say that an invisible pink unicorn is a god and that the purpose of life is to spend it searching for her? http://www.theinvisiblepinkunicorn.com/

        While I do see how your claim that a return to religion might be effective, I believe it is only going to be effective if we all return to a set of religions that have similar moral codes– which is unreasonable to expect from human beings because it is impossible to get the 300 million people in America to cooperate without forcing them through laws. However, this violates the Establishment clause of the First Amendment; if we attempt to return to a more religious view, as you suggest, we would have to make it a law to follow one of the religions that would be most beneficial to the cause (because obviously, being a believer of a religion that says polygamy is okay isn’t going to help your case)– this would result in the violation of the Establishment clause.

        I do see why reverting to religion is an ideal, but sadly, in our country it should probably stay an ideal. Many people have been disillusioned with religion and are probably very unwilling to revert to it.

        However, I feel that the answer to our problems lie not in religion but in the media. I feel that the media has taken a chokehold on the lives of my fellow high schoolers. Many of my generation are brainwashed by the lives of celebrities or the misinforming campaign ads of presidential candidates. Instead of forcing a certain array of religions upon everyone in America, I think it better to promote the morals– not the religion itself– of desired religions through the news and media. I personally am agnostic, but I subscribe to the moral codes (and NOT the god, creationist, etc. aspects) of Christian religions and of the Buddhist religion that my grandmother was heavily involved in. Instead of promoting the religion itself, I think most Americans would stomach it better if the government and media were to advocate certain morals presented by religions.

        • Sarah, thanks for the great feedback! Here’s some of my own:

          The difference between our time and the period in Europe’s history to which you refer is that they *valued* the nuclear family, and we don’t. In fact, that work away from home you mention was intended to support and strengthen the family physically–the whole system was built on assumptions of loyalty and obligation to family. The absence of constant presence at home is itself not evidence of family decline–it’s more about attitude. For example, families that are fractured by the death of a parent due to disease or service in war typically don’t manifest the kinds of delinquency we find with divorce and single parenting. But don’t take my word for it–there’s decades of social science research behind this. Please look it up.

          Also, I never said that everyone has to practice the same religion. However, it’s undeniable that the success of civilization was built by societies operating under traditionally religious worldviews, which can be categorized into the major systems you named. The things they share–demands of private and public morality, inspiration to improve the world through serving others, detachment from material pleasures–would surely help ameliorate the problems among us today. Certainly, I don’t suggest using any kind of law or force to “require” people to do these things–indeed, I explicitly wrote that I don’t believe any such societal reform will actually happen, because it would have to be voluntary. (However, like a lot of secular young people, you seem to have far too broad of a concept of what exactly the establishment clause forbids.)

          Your final paragraph is excellent and I strongly agree about the media. That being said, I think you overestimate the power of moralistic teaching completely apart from concrete belief systems. Such watery, anemic attempts to manipulate populations have always failed. Everybody today likes to criticize organized religion, but few are brave enough to admit it’s supreme place in motivating and shaping the world. That’s why I encourage people to return to those roots–our places of worship are the only thing left with sufficient strength to effect realistic change.

          You’re clearly very bright and have a fantastic future ahead of you, though. Thanks again for commenting!

  40. Its true that America is facing a lot of challenges including the ones you have listed but not offend anyone we had it coming in the way we turned our back on our values, ignored history, embraced Progressive fascism, Xenophobia and intolerance between the left and the right, we have two clear choices we can chose to follow are road we have started to set out on and see where it leads us ( most likely to follow the path of Rome) or to reexamine our values and what we the people want and perhaps elect non career politician (if we can find them) have a nice day God bless

    • Glen, I can’t argue with you…because you’ve given me nothing to argue with. People who leave nothing but insults on blogs are trolls. Sorry. Frankly, if you think religion is worthy of nothing more than a laugh, then you really are not as conservative as the next guy.

  41. seriously people here’s a grand idea, first let’s ask each other where do we want the country to be. Second let’s figure out how to get it there inspite of the ever so helpful gov’t cause they get in our and their own way the better part of the time. What i’m saying is we need a goal, not to just debate endlessly with no end to it. Without a goal we will just tirelessly point the finger and keep failing. If no one has noticed all anyone does is fight and debate and it does nothing but create a new fight and debate. Pick an end and lets argue about how to achieve it and then do something about it

  42. Amen to that, Aaron! We might do well to discuss what it is that conservatives are conserving, and what progressives are progressing towards.

  43. I petition to make education the priority and goal of this nation. Not under the joke of the current public system, let us fund public education under the model of the private system. Customize the role of each individual student towards their own interests providing opportunity to learn in various ways.

    While I appreciate your opinions Huston, I have come to a different conclusion of the top 5 problems of America. (Education is the most common ground)

    5. A healthy diet

    4. A reconfiguration of government spending (this means cut war effort, not education and welfare)

    3. Religious fanatics dominating airwaves, mercenaries replacing the military, lobbyist entitling the wealthy on the backs and misfortune of the poor and commercialism redefining values

    2. Education, (not specifically literacy) career development & placement (not a capitalistic business venture, exploitation and mockery of what we call higher education)

    1. Corporate injustice, citizen inequality & lack of social mobility

    • Noone, I’m not sure I understand your thoughts–some of these seem like problems, and some appear to be solutions. Still:

      * why do you support continued spending for education and welfare? These programs have produced nothing but unmitigated failure. We did far better before the federal government became involved with either. Are you familiar, for example, with the numbers for Head Start?

      * How in the world do fanatics “dominate the airwaves?” How many channels of filth do you have to flip through before you find anything moderately religious? And mercenaries fill the military? What do you base that on?

      * Our recently derided “income inequality” is actually little more than an urban legend: http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2012/01/i-know-the-feeling.html

  44. I think religion has a lot to do with the the current state of America. I might be young and not know a lick about politics or the stocks or any of that boring crap, but from a kids perspective I thin the first and best place to start with religion is TV. We could take out Jersey Shores and put something in to TV that actually shows people the right thin to do. For instance, the new show called What Would You Do. The only thing kids see on TV anymore is junk about drugs, sex, alcohol, fighting(like wars in the middle east),……and the list could go on and on. That’s my POV.

    PS I’m just a teen.

  45. Teen: good call, but TV is just a mirror. It serves the demands of the public. The media won’t change until we change ourselves.

    • Really?! Out of wedlock child birth? I would have to disagree totally on that point. If your trying to make the case that out of wedlock child birth causes the greatest amount of poverty lets just image that the 2 tied the knot. They together are providing a home for the child and food to eat. How is that any different than a single parent providing the same with child support. The problem is American laziness. Hard work … pfft. Who does that anymore. I’ll take this job and find a away to get fired or fake an injury so I can sit around and watch American idol while the government pays my house payments, cable, electricty, gas, feeds me, clothes me, puts my 8 kids through grade school and since I have no income my children will get government grants to show up at college and drink excessively because that’s the American way and the American dream. The dream that I and every generation after me can be lazy and worthless. How are we to pay for something like that? Print more cash, inflate the dollar. Poverty exists because we are tolerant of lazy jerk wads. No wonder congress can’t decide one way or the other. Looks bad if you don’t care and turns out bad if do. There is no solution and sitting back hoping “God” fixes the problem is ridiculous no matter what issue is in question. That is the apitomy of laziness. Bail on “god” fixing any issue for you and fix it yourself. Find a job, any job, and live within your means. That will do the most good. Also why should we expect the government to be fiscally responsible if we aren’t. A large reason why the government isn’t fiscally responsible is because we aren’t. Big government or small nothing works on credit. End of story.

  46. Today the American society has become a prototype for other societies, it is very crucial that it’s government checkmate the countries actions and inaction to avoid global Social- economic and political decay.

  47. you are a simple minded religious bigot that needs to be shot….enough said. congratulations for being the perfect example of the type of person we dont need in this country. another problem added to your list

  48. Huston your an idiot everyone who commented says religion has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ENCONOMY. Tell me one thing religion has to do with taxes, education and wars in other countries. Give me ONE good example of becoming a Christiain is gonna solve americas problems. Im a Christian and even I think thats a bunch of BULL!!!

  49. Huston we have a problem here! Seriously people are you really looking around yourselves? He never said that anyone had to become a Christian he merely said that the lack of any type of religious belief system has brought this country to its shameful state of being. Why would anyone want to have anything in their lives that might hold them accountable for their actions? This is why most people have turned from God they do not want to be responsible for themselves and what they do. That is why that new age crap is so appealing these days; there is no accountability for anything nothing is our fault it all fell from the sky. God does not like nor has He ever liked ugly and this is what our country and our leaders and in many cases the citizens are is ugly in His eyes. Personally, and this is an opinion, much of this started when prayer was removed from the schools, thanks to Madeline Murray O’Hare, who of course had her rights to not want to pray, however, it was a massive turning point in the history of this country. An innumerable amount of single-parent homes, unwed teenagers, drop-outs from school, a major decline and almost extinct nuclear family. Once the accountability factor is removed the line between good and evil is blurred and sometimes completely removed. People are selfish, self-serving, and for many there is no room for anyone but themselves. As I said Madeline Murray O’Hare died a horrific death (if you do not believe me check the info for yourself). God does not like ugly and the price for turning your back on Him is costly just ask her. She was a catalyst for many of the things that are going on today. Remove yourself for a minute and pretend that you are not a citizen here, look inside this Nation as an outsider and see what you see. It might just surprise you.

  50. Well said shari! There is no need to be accountable in a world without authority. Make the decision to be accountable and you will at least have control over that.
    If we all would “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” then the world would be like heaven.

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