Duck Soup: Declining College Standards
During this summer's Republican National Convention I heard an interview that confirmed my dark suspicions about college standards. It appears that simple mathematics and logic are no longer required. As I have noted in the past, reading and writing were dropped from compulsory curricula years ago -- so this makes it a clean sweep.The bearer of this dismal bit of news was a college senior who told her interviewer that she supported the Republican party because, "I want to know that I can have everything my parents have." She paused to give listeners time to swallow hard, then added, "I want to have more than they do." Whoo boy! Are we having fun yet?Now I am not going to split hairs about the finer points of logic here -- like observing that if her parents "have" something she obviously cannot also "have" it. That sort of either/or disputation is much too esoteric for a young mind to grasp. No, I will snatch up a big brush and tackle the larger picture.Math, my dear child, is your friend. Malthus, a mathematician, whose name conveniently contains anagrams for "math, sum, lust, last," and "halt," was right. His timing was a little screwy, but his observations were dead on. We are outgrowing our food supply.Simple math indicates that the material goods you lust for will not be available. It doesn't add up. Or, to put it another way, because of lust we are adding up too fast, and barring a massive die-off of human beings, your generational slice of the big pie is headed for skinny. In sum, we need to halt runaway growth if we want to make this journey last.Do you know that America the beautiful, the wealthy, the free, and the former breadbasket of the world has become a net importer of food? People are starving to death in countries that ship us munchies to pay off their government's debts to our banks. Are you aware that over half the liquid fresh water on earth is now diverted to human use? There are wild and scenic rivers in this country that no longer reach the sea. Did you miss class the day they were talking about global warming?There is nothing either the Democrats or the Republicans can do to expand our planet's resource base. Human beings compose the majority of protoplasm on earth these days. If biology were still a required course you would know that in normal living systems there are relatively few members of species at the top of a food chain. That is, it takes a lot of bunny rabbits to feed one bobcat. Even if we were all vegetarians, humans are clearly at the peak of the resource use pyramid and when the top of a pyramid is larger than the bottom it becomes very unstable. Note that all of the old ones in Egypt have their pointy ends up.Republicans encourage population growth with higher tax credits for kids, and banning termination of unwanted pregnancies. In addition, Republicans got us into NAFTA which ensures that when you do buy the trinkets you lust for, your money goes to workers where wages are lower because they make even more babies than we do. These policies guarantee you will have less goodies than your parents.Solar and wind power could help us stretch our energy budget, but Republicans killed alternative energy research, raised the m.p.g. rating on new cars and upped speed limits -- all of which will make your piece of cake smaller. The only alternative fuel they have subsidized is gasohol which by some mysterious coincidence is made from corn sold by midwestern mills on Bob Dole's home turf.Come to think of it, turning food into auto fuel while people starve qualifies as a population control policy, of sorts. So, don't expect Republican policies to make you richer than Mom and Pop. We are wedged between a resource rock and a hard place. I dearly wish I could tell you that Democrats have done more than a teeny bit better. But, returning to simple math, note that teeny is a weeny jump ahead of less than nothing.