"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion." ~ Thomas Jefferson
A Colony Again
I'm going to start a rickshaw factory. It's so our kids will have a way to make a living, now that America is pulling out of the First World. Maybe I'll put an iPod socket on the poles or a little tiny television, made in Japan. That way our puzzled offspring won't inadvertently start thinking. Tradition provides an anchor in the circumambient chaos. See, what's going to happen is, all the design work and programming are going to Mumbai, except the part that already has. Manufacturing is pretty much in China already, Mexicans do all the scutwork, and blacks work for the government or not at all, or both at once. That leaves whites as midlevel bureaucrats supervising each other. Thing is, whites are getting so they can't read either, so they'll need rickshaws to pull, in case the Chinese engineers want to go somewhere. It's over, I tell you. The United Steak has turned into a mess of pale-faced bushmen mumbling in pidgin English, the young anyway, with Orientals as missionaries trying to civilize us. Yes, friends and neighbors! Ain't it exciting? All the professors in America of anything practical are already Chinese or Indian. Or getting that way fast. You think I exaggerate? Ha. Checking the staff of the University of Central Florida's school of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering, I discover that most of Mumbai has already moved to America. Shanghai too. There follows an unedited list: Ranganathan Kumar, Linan An, Quanfang Chen, Ruey-Hung Chen, Larry Chew, Hyoung Jin "Joe" Cho, Louis C. Chow, Kevin R. Coffey, Ted Conway, Vimal Desai, Jiyu Fang, A. Henry Hagedoorn, Olusegun Illegbusi, Roger Johnson, Samar Jyoti Kalita, Jayanta Kapat, Aravinda Kar, Alain Kassab, Christine Klemenz, Alexander Leonessa, Kuo-Chi "Kurt" Lin, Antonio Minardi, Faissal Moslehy, Jamal F. Nayfeh, David Nicholson, Eric L. Petersen, Sudipta Seal, Yongho Sohn, C. "Sury" Suryanarayana, Raj Vaidyanathan, Quan Wang, Fang Xu, Richard Zarda. If that ain't a hotbed of Anglo-Saxon achievement, I can't imagine what might be. It's probably just what ol' Tom Jefferson had in mind. Who can doubt it? What we see now is backslosh from the Raj. Used to be, you had a bunch of Brits in India and China and places, trying half-heartedly to lift the benighted brown rascals from their slothly ways and make'm into Europeans. The White Man's Burden, all that. Of course, you couldn't really expect the heathen Chinee to do much more than dig holes and wash shirts. The darker races were, well, the darker races. All right in their place but'limited. Everyone understood it. Except, it would seem, the Indians and the heathen Chinee. Since they had limited understanding, it figures that they didn't understand that they had limited understanding, and so acted like they didn't, and so now they're doing computational fluid dynamics in their heads because they don't know any better. (A certain logical opacity informs sociological thought.) Today we have the Empire in reverse with Chandragupta Sahib teaching heuristic programming to the natives. Us. The problem is that since neither England nor the United States any longer has a school system, the Asians will have to teach us remedial counting, probably on our fingers, so we can work for them. (I'm from West Virginia. We'll have base-twelve arithmetic.) All of this is well-thought-out, like a military campaign of blitzkrieg endullment. We're returning to subhuman status in a pincers movement. While the Indians and Chinese and all are getting smarter, we're getting enstupidated at a hell of a pace. It shows that international cooperation is possible. There's this thing called the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, which just came out and said that Americans not only can't read but are vigorously getting worse. Here it is, from the Washington ever-loving Post, December 25 in the Year of Our Decline 2005: 'Only 41 percent of graduate students tested in 2003 could be classified as 'proficient' in prose'reading and understanding information in short texts'down 10 percentage points since 1992. Of college graduates, only 31 percent were classified as proficient'compared with 40 percent in 1992.' That's college graduates, brethren and sistern! They can't read simple stuff. 'See Spot run. Run, Spot'.' What you think them other scoundrels can't do that ain't graduates? Halleluja, dearly beloved, idiots are us. Am us, I mean. Now, sure, you can make excuses, and say, well, this dismal revelation counts all the Permanently Disadvantaged Minorities and affirmative-action nonstudents and all the other people who shouldn't be anyway in what ought to be colleges but mostly aren't. But you're supposed to be able to read when you get out of freaking high school, aren't you? If they can't read, how did they into college, much less out the other end? You reckon the Japanese are as dim as we are? I bet a better percentage of their graduate students can read English well than ours can. The Post goes on, thump, thump, thump. 'Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of [the] recent adult-literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation.' No obvious explanation? Oh no, not at all obvious'no more obvious than, say, advanced leprosy on a nekkid prom queen. How about: They can't read because our schools are in the hands of low-IQ social engineeresses with the academic inclinations of cocker spaniels? If this darkness is the result produced by 'literacy experts and educators,' what might we expect from them as ain't? I taught my three-year-old daughter to read phonetically in about a month of a few minutes a day. It's easy to teach kids to read (phonetically). It takes genius to waste twelve years of their lives, sixteen in the case of college graduates, and keep them from learning to read. People deserve what they tolerate, say I, which is a frightening thought. Actually I love watching it. I'd sell tickets if I could. I've heard of countries going tits-up because they got stomped on by some other country, or got their trade cut off, but most of them don't do it unless they have to. With us, it's on purpose. Meanwhile, you might be smart to get a wheelbarrow and fill it with cement and let your kids get a start on pulling it. Success after all goes to the economically adaptive, yet rickshaws may be trickier than we envision. Those who can't pull will clean toilets. Have your children memorize the names of the streets while they still have you to read for them'unless, that is, you aren't among the college graduates who can read. We must look to the future.