HAFTR Highlights: Talkin’ ‘bout my generation


Look at the news today. Whether it’s turning on the TV or your computer, the news is all the same. From headlines such as “Manufacturing Giant Shuts Down Plant Following Bitter Labor Dispute” to “Stagnant Middle Class Feeling Pressure of Rising Tuition Cost,” millions of Americans have been forced to cut back, only spending their money when they have to.

Meanwhile, in Washington, while the government has taken action in trying to jumpstart the economy, gridlock has caused such action to only have a limited effect. The $787 billion stimulus package has barely had an effect on the state of the economy, while the national debt has increased to over $15 trillion. At the same time, interest rates are so low that banks can literally take out money for almost nothing. The Fed is essentially just printing money and infusing it into the economy. While the bureaucrats in Washington may have proper justification for taking such action, they seem to do so without regard for the next generation. While they raise the national debt and devalue our currency, they do so without realizing the future consequences. It seems as though they just “push it off,” waiting for someone else to fix the problem. And it’s not only limited to Congress and issues relating to the economy. Just look at the Obama administration. For example, under heavy pressure from industrial corporations, the president chose to override a plan produced by his own Environmental Protection Agency to tighten the lax Bush administration standards on clean air to prevent toxic smog. The president, who had campaigned in ‘08 on restoring the role of science in decision-making, overrode the judgment of a unanimous panel of scientists, suggesting that he wanted to “study” the issue further. But until when does he want to wait? Will we have to wait until another environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez oil spill occurs for proper action to be taken?

And how is my generation going to be able to fix these problems effectively? According to the PISA Exam, one a of a handful of tests that compare education levels across nations (and considered to be the most comprehensive), the United States ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math, placing us behind countries such as China and Canada. Additionally, between 1995 and 2008, the U.S. fell from second to 13th place in college graduate rates, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Furthermore, according to CNN Money, the average cost of college tuition at a public college had risen from $2,800 in 1988 to $6,500 in 2008. And that’s just in public colleges. At universities like Columbia and Northwestern, tuition rates are soon estimated to exceed $60,000 per year. How are parents and their kids expected to pay for this? People are barely making ends meet, yet tuition keeps going up. What meaningful action has the government taken to rectify the situation? How can our nation remain competitive in today’s globalized economy when most of our nation’s students are only able to afford state and local educational institutions. Don’t get me wrong -- some public colleges offer outstanding educational programs (just look at California’s state college system as well as New York’s outstanding SUNY program), but compared to rest of the world, we are beginning to fall behind.

And again, the government has yet to do anything substantial to help the country “gain ground.” Instead, we only act in the short term, not the long term. Politicians stay in office, acting only when they need to and waiting until they pick up that Congressional pension. Additionally, in the current presidential race, there has been never a mention of how the candidates would balance their proposed plans between the long term and the short term. People need to wake up. The country can’t stay on its current course. Political leaders need to wake up and realize that there are consequences to their actions. Neglecting the effects of these actions will only harm future generations.

Our nation’s leaders need to talk with college deans to find where colleges can cut costs and make themselves more affordable to all Americans. Additionally, we as the American people must be more aware of the way bureaucrats in Washington spend our money and what they are doing to ensure the continuity of this great nation. There needs to be accountability -- not pushing blame from one side of the aisle to the other. We as a nation need to think, act, and live smarter. If we don’t, all that we have worked hard for over the past 236 years could be lost forever.