America’s Billionaire-to-National-Debt Contradiction
In 1983, the Reagan administration published the now-infamous report, A Nation at Risk, a report that declares the American education experience is “eroding” due to “a tide of mediocrity.”
Here are the opening sentences of that report:
Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.
The report was published 31 years ago.
In 1983, the US had 13 billionaires.
(Inflation doesn’t even come close to accounting for the proliferation in American billionaires. One billion dollars in 1983 converts to $2.38 billion in 2014. 242 of the 492 2014 US billionaires still qualify as billionaires according to 1983-adjusted dollars.)
Interestingly, 13 of the now 31 who are under 40 years old are from the US.
In 1983, the US had 13 billionaires. In 2014, the US has 13 under-40 billionaires. (Four of the 13 remain billionaires according to 1983-adjusted dollars.)
When the nation was declared to be “at risk,” these 13 young US 2014 billionaires were at most eight years old.
Gates is not alone. A number of American billionaires are purchasing their visions of American public education, including Charles and David Koch, the Waltons (each billionaires: Christy Walton, Jim Walton, S. Robson Walton, Alice Walton), Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg— all of whom are worth at least $32.2 billion individually– and all of whom rank among the 2014 top richest 23 individuals in the world.
Contrary to the Reagan administration’s 1983 panic report, our nation has never been at risk because of deficient education of the masses. Surely if such were the case, we would not boast more billionaires than any other nation in the world over thirty years later. Surely by now, in 2014, this supposed education deficiency of the masses would have caused America to falter as a world power.
“Being overtaken” by “international competitors” has not happened–not in over three decades since the first public-education-damning proclamation.
This noted, I do agree that our nation is at risk– in ways that the Reagan administration’s 1983 report failed to consider.
One such risk involves the great danger that few obscenely wealthy individuals will purchase our democracy. Such is happening to American education. So-called billionaire education “reform” is purchasing its under-regulated, unproven privatization, and it is often disguised as billionaire “philanthropy.”
A second risk involves our national debt. I have written about our national debt, even as it compares to the national debt of other nations with which the US is supposedly in competition for the highest scores on international tests– supposed “proof” of international superiority.
This national debt clock shows the US national debt in real time. It also includes real-time accumulations of mortgage debt, student loan debt, and credit card debt, among numerous other real-time national statistics.
It is mesmerizing to watch. Take a look.
Our national debt is currently over $17.5 trillion. Paying it off would require the fortunes of 227 individuals as wealthy as wealthiest man in the world, Bill Gates.
News for those laying blame for American “risk” on the “mediocre” masses:
The publicly-educated “masses” did not “cause” the US to accumulate such intellect-defying debt.
If the American federal government really has “concern” for “our people which knit together the very fabric of our society,” as the 1983 report attests, it would do well to face the issues of a rapidly-increasing national debt and democracy-purchasing, ultra-privileged, billionaire minority instead of showcasing a fabricated, forced, test-score-based “race.”