Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post: “Here in America we are descended in blood and spirit from revolutionists and rebels –men and women who dare dissent from accepted doctrine.” Dwight Eisenhower
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/01/2011 -- We were pleased our last column on “The Making of a Legend: Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice" was featured on “Silobreaker News” with offices in London and Stockholm. The graphics and visual content connected the University of North Carolina, Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice and Hollywood. Does this mean a film on North Carolina’s All-American football tailback, Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice is being planned? When it comes to global news, the 2011 State of the Union address with two rebuttals got the attention of global media around the world.
The State of the Union address has evolved. George Washington delivered his in the form of a talk to the U. S. Congress. The ever precise Thomas Jefferson delivered his messages in writing. President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, Congressman Paul Ryan’s rebuttal and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party views presented three distinctive visions of our nation’s future. Whatever our political affiliation, we all probably agree the United States has lost ground in trade, outsourced jobs, manufacturing, national debt and global leadership in education. Our rapid shifts in elected leaders signal that voters are looking for leaders with solutions. As Dwight Eisenhower indicated, we need dissenting views that move us beyond doctrine.
Dr. Mercer gave a survey to 49 students in his American Government classes at Western Carolina University following the State of the Union message. They were asked: “Can we recapture the future in trade, manufacturing, education and jobs?” Surprisingly 82 percent of those surveyed believed we could start trends going our way. Also, 18 percent were pessimistic, thinking we could not turn trends our way in the future. During discussion, students stated that creating this favorable path would take time and determination. Even the most optimistic did not see an easy path ahead.
Next students were asked to name three things the United States should do to lead the world in education, technology and trade. The most often cited areas were working to build up technology and manufacturing. Students recognized in a follow-up discussion that we had lost much of our manufacturing during a period we were the only nation practicing free trade. One student reflected that even Adam Smith, who was a proponent of a free market economy, realized trade could never be without some restraint. Another student pointed to Germany who refused to give up their manufacturing and currently has low levels of unemployment. The current generation realizes that strong service economies are based on technology advances and manufacturing.
The second most prioritized area by students was the need to balance the budget. Our debt stands at 14.03 trillion according to Wikipedia, which is about 95.6 percent of our gross domestic product. This is higher than any recent period except World War II. Students worry that debt held by other governments, including China, puts our nation at risk. Deep debt produces declining currency, higher prices, and less ability to invest in the technology, research and development required for us to be globally competitive.
A third priority of students was the need to overhaul education. According to “The New York Times,” The Programme for International Student Assessment found 15 year olds in the United States ranked 17th among other nations in science and 25th in math. We were once the leader in 25-34 year olds with college degrees but have dropped to 12th among developed nations. Students suggested that towering costs of college education were a barrier for students wanting to obtain a degree. Most thought we could regain our global leadership but it would require more quality and higher standards in U. S. education and new ways of implementing much higher standards.
According to students, a balanced budget, technological leadership, quality educational systems and wealth building through manufacturing and trade constituted the four-pronged approach to recapturing our nation’s future.
Finally students were asked about barriers to recapturing our future. It was striking how many mentioned “attitude” as the biggest barrier. Students hoped we possessed the will and “can do” attitude to sustain new programs. They worried about apathy and lack of knowledge in public policy.
We were impressed with student ideas at Western Carolina University. It is refreshing that students understand the vital importance of manufacturing and technology in global leadership. The students believe we can and we will recapture the future for the United States in trade, manufacturing, education and jobs. We are glad they are preparing for their turn.
Gordon Mercer is international president of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science at Western Carolina University (WCU). He holds a Ph.D. degree in organizational development, founded the Public Policy Institute at WCU in 1999, and has held the position of associate dean of research and graduate studies at the university. Marcia Mercer is a writer and published columnist with the Franklin Press. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Global Digital Post Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations.