Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 29, 2013

The U.S. Work(less)force

According to this study: the U.S. has some serious production issues. We have lots of people, but low skills, but somehow we’re still good at getting stuff done. In other countries, they have highly educated, highly trained people, but they’re underutilized.

And since it’s easier to utilize what you have (other countries) instead of building from nothing (U.S.), there is potential to leave the U.S. in so much world marketplace dust.

Here’s the long and short of it: motivation. If there was something life-changing and transformational about school (at any level), then the payoff would be huge by now. Instead, here are our results:

The United States was the first country to provide for universal high school education. Today, one high school student in five leaves without a diploma, a weaker outcome than in most O.E.C.D. countries. The math and reading scores of American teenagers in O.E.C.D. tests have not improved over the last 10 years. And our college graduation rates have slipped substantially below those of other rich nations.

While studies like this one are geared toward tracking results, they are not really set up to establish reasons for the results. Sure, they’re going to try to figure out what’s happening. But a data study can’t really define a moral problem, much less solve it.

And yes, education – be it in a school, on the job, or in other parts of life – is a moral issue. It’s about seeing a goal, desiring it, and doing what’s necessary to achieve it. Motivation for this comes from one’s worldview and belief system – your moral system.

But is the condition of the U.S. so mysterious? Americans at large want things handed to them. They want the checklist. They want the easy way. They’ve been taught to get a high-paying, do-nothing job with benefits. Materialism and chasing after one’s own passions have been given greater value than leaving a legacy, or helping your neighbor. We’ve been taught that we can be whatever we want to be, but have not taught people about how to wisely assess themselves and choose carefully what they want to be. The short term is glorified over the long term. Glamour and pretend is glorified over natural beauty and reality. Power and money are taught as the end game.

And the U.S. is precisely the type of country you end up with when you promote this lifestyle. Duh!

So…what…let’s get the government involved to solve the problem? All we’ll end up with is a system that taxes people for not participating correctly. Put another way, the government will tax fish for being poor tree climbers.

It’s time to wipe the slate clean. The last 100 years worth of “How To Do Life In A First World Country” knowledge is mostly meaningless now. We have traded God for Self, accomplishment for handouts, and freedom for slavery.

Do we need another decade of this to decide we don’t need that way of life anymore?

In pattern of history, we have had the most recent industrial revolution, but digital this time around. We’ve had the first wars of the century, like with World War 1 at the start of the 20th. We’ve had the new Wright Brothers moments with private spaceflight, signalling the complete and utter change of lifestyle that is to come.

And, of course, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that we’re going to hit a depression that will put the 30s to shame.

But if we continue to follow history, then there is the possibility that good things are on the other side.

What we need to hurry up and arrive at is the next “50s” moment. When goodness, hard work, and trustworthiness are all fashionable again, surrounded by incredible technological feats.

Of course, that’s only one possible timeline. The other, I’m afraid, is not so bright. And even to reach the 50s, we have to endure the 30s and 40s.

Now, with that backdrop, tell me what hope you have to offer someone that would motivate them from the inside out to do great things?

Answer that, and you’ll solve this – and most every – problem.

Or, continue to pretend that morality has nothing to do with it all, and continue this mode until there is nothing left but a scorched hole in the ground where it all crashed.

Either way.

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