By Elliott R. Morss, Ph.D.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A while back, I wrote
Energy DependencyUnlike Japan and China, the U.S. was at one time richly endowed with energy resources. Even today, it is the third leading producer of energy from oil, the second leading producer from coal, the second leading producer of energy from natural gas and by far the largest producer of nuclear energy. But because of its voracious energy consumption, the U.S. must supplement its own production of energy with imports. It now imports 63% of its crude oil, and this constitutes 21% of all crude oil traded globally. This is an extreme and dangerous dependency. The European countries and Japan have imposed heavy taxes on motor vehicle fuels so gas prices have been in the $6-$7 range for more than a decade. But the U.S. government policy has been able to keep the gas price as low as possible. The result? Per capita, the U.S. consumes almost four times as much oil as the other OECD countries. Is there a U.S. energy policy?
Foreign PolicySerious problems started in Vietnam: 55,000 Americans were lost, more than 2 million Vietnamese were killed, the U.S. pulled out and nothing was accomplished. The Cold War ended when the USSR economy collapsed. The Middle East: Most governments in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, hate America. And not just a little hatred. This hatred led directly to a new terrorism era with suicide bombers, plane hijackings and 9/11. Foreign policy that creates such hatred is not good foreign policy. The hatred came not only because the U.S. helped establish the Israeli state. Rather, it resulted from the U.S. arming Israel to be its U.S. policeman in the Middle East. Israel used its power to occupy and seize lands from its neighbors. Of course, there were provocations. But Israel has been condemned by the UN Security Council for aggressive acts 29 times, far more than any other country in the history of the UN.
Immigration PolicyThe U.S. used to benefit from its immigrants. Being "the melting pot" was viewed favorably. Now there are more than 10 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Rather than doing something about them, the U.S. tightens up on legal immigration rules so that now, universities like Harvard and MIT are having difficulties getting permits for their brightest foreign students to stay and work in the U.S. 10 million illegal workers are not going to be sent home.
Health CareThe U.S. spends far more than any other developed nation on health care, and its health outcomes are the worst of any developed nation. I am writing a series of articles on this subject. There is considerable opposition to the recently enacted Obama health care bill. I fear that much of the opposition stems from U.S. citizens who don't want to help pay for the health care of the poor. Most countries of the world, rich and poor, recognize health care as a right for all. Victor Fuchs quotes DeTocqueville on his view of the U.S. citizen mentality ("Government Payment for Health Care -- Causes and Consequences", New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 2, 2010): Each...living apart, was a stranger to all the rest -- his children and private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is not close to them, and sees them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone.
EducationAs I recently reported, the U.S. spends as much as any country per capita on education, but U.S. test scores on reading, math and science are low relative to other countries. Based on data from the Alliance for Excellent Education, other manifestations of the U.S. education problem include:
- only 70% of U.S. high school students earn a degree; 2,000 high schools, aptly called "dropout factories," lose 40% or more of their students between freshman and senior year; 14% of new high school teachers leave by end of the first year, 33% within 3 years, and 50% by end of 5th year.