George Schultz was correct, of course, in his assertion that American education has fallen in the past 30 years, despite Don Rogers' attempt to make light of this sad reality in a recent column ("Smarter than we think").
The fact we are investing so much time, money and resources chasing green fantasies, alchemy and perpetual motion only proves how far we've fallen.
More than ever before in our nation's history, more people seem to believe it is possible to get something for nothing, that it's inevitable, that they're entitled to it, and if only those knuckle-dragging conservatives would get out of the way and allow more government subsidies to fund their Utopian visions, they would succeed (this time).
Idealists seem to believe their ideology alone can overcome the laws of physics to deliver us a future of abundant and clean unlimited free energy derived from unicorn flatulence.
Someone has to break the news to them that there are no unicorns, acquaint them with the laws of thermodynamics and explain that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
They should have learned these things in school ....
Speaking of school: One summer day late in the last millennium I was afforded an opportunity to engage a friend's teenage son in a discussion of astronomy and our solar system in which I referred to "our star, the sun."
This kid, a product of a Maryland's public school system, took exception to my description and proceeded to correct my errant assertion that our sun is just a star. He asserted that "our sun is a sun, not a star!"
I explained that in fact the sun is just an average main-sequence yellow star named "Sol" (as in "solar system").
He repeated his assertion somewhat angrily, so I asked where he learned this, and he said "from my teacher."
I handed the kid my business card and directed him to explain our disagreement to his teacher, and that if his teacher agreed with the kid, I asked that he give my card to his teacher and tell him that I said he's an idiot. I never heard back from either of them.
This is the same government school system that emphasizes self-esteem over actual results; the same government schools that misinform students by teaching that the USA is a democracy"when in fact we are a federal constitutional republic; the same schools parroting the political pabulum that science is formed by "consensus."
Today we receive science lectures from politicians and children just like my friend's kid, just as ill-informed, delivered with the same misplaced arrogance and defended with same self-righteous indignation.
Someone has to break the news to these folks that science relies on independent confirmation, not consensus, and that research and development in the real world must yield real results and a positive return on investment rather than warm and fuzzy, wishful thinking and a zero sum game.
Politicians are not elected to be venture capitalists or investment advisors, especially when they keep repeating the same failed behavior fully expecting different results.
Spending other people's money is not philanthropy. It is political psychosis.
Politicians have no skin in the game, they shoulder no burden and they force taxpayers to assume their foolish risks.
There's no accountability and no penalty for politicians' poor decisions and failures.
Government nurtures this dysfunctional behavior. The real world culls it.
The irrational undercurrent that tingled up the leg of Chris Mathews when he naively fawned over the prospects of the Obama presidency illustrated our national disconnect from reality, one driven by a bankrupt and failed ideology of which half the population still approves, which more than anything else proves that a least half of the voting population clearly is not smarter than we think.
Buddy Shipley is an Edwards resident.