The dumbing down of America

Posted: May 28, 2004 12:00 AM

After 35 years hosting a talk radio show I?ve become habituated to being labeled as everything but a child of God.  Offensive?  Certainly, sometimes.  Insensitive? You bet!  Guilty as charged.  Life is insensitive, so is the truth.  I don?t hide from either.

Well, this column ought to certainly stir the puddin?.  I wish to make an observation that I dare say most of you are going to find both offensive and insensitive.  I really don?t expect to make any friends here, but I may just cause a few people to think for a few minutes.

One day in the late 1970?s I asked my listeners to call and tell me what they thought was the most important thing that they had learned listening to talk radio.  At some point during that show a caller turned the tables.  He asked me to share the most important thing I had learned hosting a talk show.  My self-editing mechanisms were on the blink that day ? not an unusual situation ? so I immediately blurted out the first thing that came to mind.  I told the caller that the most amazing thing I had learned was how truly stupid the American people are. Sorry folks.  It?s was just the first thing that came to my mind.  Maybe it would have been better if I has said ?obtuse? instead of ?stupid.?  At least then the truly stupid ones wouldn?t have understood, and I might have kept a few listeners.

Well, sad to say, not much has happened in the twenty-something years since that particular program to change my opinion.  While it?s no longer true for the bulk of talk radio listeners, I?m afraid it still stands as true for the rest.  The majority of Americans can?t tell you who the vice president is.  Not two out of ten Americans could tell you the name of their two U.S. Senators and their congressman.  Examples are plenteous.  Most Americans, for instance, actually think that the United States is supposed to be a democracy.  It?s not.  New Mexico, by the way, IS a state.

My opinion was reinforced last week when I heard that a Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll found that a huge majority of Americans think that our economy is growing worse.  What have they been smoking?  Our economy grew at a 4.4% rate during the first quarter of 2004, and these people think it?s in the tank?    Employment numbers are up.  Manufacturing is up.  Government revenue is up.  Incomes are up.  Home sales are up.  Home ownership is at record levels.  Poverty is down.  The truth is that our economy is doing amazingly well ? and poised to do even better; yet the majority of Americans don?t realize this?  The forecast for economic growth for the current quarter is between 4.5 and 5%.  With these numbers, how do you say our economy is doing poorly?  Maybe it?s because so many of these people rely on Entertainment Tonight for their daily news.  You do know, don?t you, that more Americans get their news from Entertainment Tonight than from any other single news source. 

Let?s cut to the chase.  I?ve come to the reluctant but inescapable conclusion that about 50% of the adults in this country are simply too ignorant and functionally incompetent to be living in a free society.  They have enthusiastically abandoned their sovereignty to the lure of the welfare state.  They are, in fact, afraid to be free. They have no working concept of the responsibilities of individuals who would live free of government tyranny or mob rule.  Their ignorance renders them incapable of coping with the responsibilities of liberty.  These are people who cannot exist at anything other than a basic level without someone else stepping forward to take care of them.  They?re adult children.  They need to and deserve to live in a dictatorship, hopefully, for their sake, benevolent.

The real problem here is that the rest of us are constantly suffering encroachments on our own freedoms to provide for the survival of the ignorant.    We?re forced to invest (if that?s the word) 15% of our paychecks into a disability insurance and retirement plan that would constitute criminal activity in every one of the 50 states were it not run by government.  We must do this, we?re told, because there are just too many people out there who aren?t bright enough to do it on their own.  We?re facing the inevitability of socialized medicine.  As soon as the social Democratic party gets its way, with no small amount of help from the Republicans,  Americans will be waiting months -- if not years ? for basic elective surgery.  Private citizens will be sent to jail for trying to find a private doctor to treat their ills outside of the approved and official government plan.  Freedoms are being lost because of political pandering to those unable to cope.

Solutions?  You want solutions?  Look, I just came here today to grumble.  I?m just tired of seeing rampant widespread stupidity tear down the greatest attempt at self-government in the history of world civilization.  Maybe a separation of government and education might help.  Perhaps we could restrict voting privileges to those who have a clue.  There?s certainly nothing in our Constitution that would prohibit that.  One thing is for certain, as the ranks of the clueless increase,  as more and more Americans opt for security over freedom, as more people surrender their individuality for the ease of running with the mob,  the erosion of the liberties, social and economic, that made this country what it is will proceed apace. 

Maybe it?s just time for a good escape plan.