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Why America is Dying...and What to Do About it (abridged)

By Marty Nemko

Politicians may claim America is on the upswing, but in fact, it’s in freefall.

People are working longer and harder and aren’t staying afloat. This year, 1.6 million families will have filed for bankruptcy, an all-time high.

Among the ten wealthiest nations, despite a record 2.1 million people in our prisons, the US has the highest violent crime rate. If our children are our future, prospects are bleak indeed.

Despite spending more per capita on education than any of the 25 leading industrialized nations, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that fewer than 20 percent of US 17-year-olds read at a "competent" level.

The question is, “Why is America in freefall and what should we do about it?”

Differential birth rates

The people with the least ability to be good parents have the most babies. According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the average number of children born to US women is 71% greater for high school dropouts than for college graduates. The average IQ of the dropouts is less than 96. Study after study show that low IQ is a powerful predictor of poor employment, drug abuse, and crime.

The effect of the differential birthrate is geometric. Over five generations, high school dropouts produce 11 times(!) as many babies than do college graduates.


High schools, especially those with high teen pregnancy rates, should provide full and open sex education. This should include, for example, role playing of how to respond when a boy says, “If you loved me, you’d let me.” or “I don’t need to wear a condom.” That sex education should include in-school birth control counseling and distribution of contraception, free, including long-term but reversible contraceptives such as Norplant.

Focusing on those with the greatest deficit rather than the greatest potential to benefit

Schools reallocate ever more resources from the high achievers to the low achievers, from the students with the greatest potential to profit and, in turn, contribute to society, to the students with the least potential. The massive No Child Left Behind program, which the Democrats would fund much more richly, is a perfect example. All its carrots and sticks are for helping the lowest achievers.


We must reassess the balance of how we spend education resources to ensure we don’t shortchange the students with the greatest potential to profit from and contribute to society.

Uncontrolled immigration

According to the cover story in the Sep. 19, 2004 issue of Time magazine, 3 million illegals entered the US in 2003 alone! And many of them quickly obtain phony ID to obtain a wealth of services compliments of US taxpayers: subsidized housing, welfare, social security, etc.

Exacerbating the problem, illegals’ birth rate is more than double the US average, with each offspring, from birth, eligible for the myriad government programs available to full citizens. A new study by the Center for Immigration Studies found that illegals cost the taxpayer $10 billion dollars more than they contribute, each year.

But Illegals cost legal Americans far more than money:

Overwhelmed by illegals, hospitals are closing, health care insurance premiums rising, health care providers overwhelmed, endangering our lives. Already, over 100,000 Americans die unnecessarily because of errors by health care providers. The Centers for Disease Control report that illegals are vastly disproportionate carriers of communicable diseases in the US including 16,000 cases of drug-resistant communicable(!) tuberculosis.

Current US law requires us to educate illegals for free, K-12. Illegals are overwhelming our school system because of their numbers and their leaders’ insistence they be taught in the same classes as Anglo students and that those classes be taught part-day in Spanish! The education of Anglo students is, as a result, dumbed-down.

Illegals’ crime rate is astounding, accounting, for example, for 2/3 of felony warrants in Los Angeles County.

Uncontrolled immigration means increased terrorist risk. All 19 of the 9/11 terrorists were in the US illegally. Peyton Knight, Director of Legislative Affairs for the American Policy Center, a Virginia think tank, writes, “At a time when America is under attack by Islamist holy warriors, the Census Bureau estimates that as many as 115,000 illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries are living in the United States.”

We ignore illegal immigration because of their advocates’ false assertion that illegals do the work that legals won’t. Fact is, if employers paid a good wage, say $15 an hour, the many un- and underemployed legal Americans would do the work. Ignoring illegal immigration is corporate welfare at its worst.


We must penalize large employers of illegals severely enough that they won’t hire illegals. That would force corporations to improve wages and working conditions to a level at which legal residents would do the work.

In addition, we should work with the Mexican government to improve conditions for their citizens so they’re less motivated to come to the US illegally. The US must use its influence to improve the notoriously corrupt Mexican government. In addition, we should use our Peace Corps to teach entrepreneurship to residents of Mexico, offering microloans as appropriate.

Reverse discrimination

In practice, "affirmative action" is often reverse discrimination. For example, at the University of California Berkeley, the average SAT score for Asians and Whites is 1400, for Blacks just 1170. And you get 400 points just for signing your name!

Reverse discrimination, of course, results in less qualified people getting slots in our prestigious colleges, which are launchpads to leadership and important positions in the professions.

Lest you think the reverse discrimination ends after admission, as a former faculty member at four universities including Berkeley, I know that my colleagues and I were pressured by minority activist organizations and administrators to give passing grades to minorities who did not deserve them. That pressure even extends to life-critical medical education. Nine UCLA medical school professors urged that an African-American medical student be expelled for poor performance. But the student filed racial discrimination claims and to avoid a long, expensive lawsuit and race-card media campaign, the medical school allowed the student to return.

Dr. Bernard Davis, when he was department chair at Harvard Medical School saw, first-hand, the reverse discrimination toward African-American students. So, he told his wife, “If I ever need surgery and I’m looking up at an African-American surgeon, wheel me out.” If there’s that much incompetence among African-American medical students at Harvard, imagine the situation at the vast majority of colleges, which do not get cream-of-the-crop students.

While less obvious, reverse discrimination is equally severe in the workplace. In the confidentiality of my office, many senior employees lament that “underrepresented” minorities are hired and promoted over much more qualified Asians and whites. Not infrequently, they’re given plum positions with fat salaries and fancy titles, but placed where, as one famous executive put it, “they can do no harm.”

In short, our racial guilt is causing less qualified people to become our doctors, lawyers, airplane pilots, and executives. As a result, the quality of everything from our telephone service to our health care is lowered.


We must restore affirmative action to its original intent: full outreach to ensure that all candidates are judged on merit. The notion that whites and Asians still must be discriminated against in college admissions and employment 140 years after slavery, after a half-century of the Civil Rights movement, and after literally trillions(!) of dollars in government, university, and nonprofit money targeted to “underrepresented” minorities, is simply not fair to whites and Asians, nor to all of us because of the worse services and products we must endure as a result.

Offshoring of jobs

Corporations have long offshored manufacturing jobs. Now they’re doing it to white-collar jobs. And it’s understandable—getting a qualified Indian or Chinese person to do the work for 20 cents on the dollar—with less threat of the rampant illegitimate wrongful termination race- or gender-discrimination suits, is compelling.

The solution is not protectionism. That would result in US companies having to pay much more for its workers than do companies in other countries. As a result, the US companies would have to charge more for its products. That would mean higher prices for US citizens and that US companies’ products will be priced noncompetitively and so most of these companies will, sooner or later, go out of business—resulting in a far greater job loss than that caused by offshoring.


The best solution is to train more of our students and adults in the art and science of entrepreneurship. Innovation, not protectionism offers the best chance of preventing America from declining into a giant third-world nation. Our high schools should replace non-critical parts of the curriculum—for example, the Peloponnesian Wars—with courses in ethical entrepreneurship. A nation rich with entrepreneurs will create businesses that will boost our economy more permanently than punishing corporations for providing their products and services cost-effectively.

This will be China’s century, with America descending toward third-world status, but these recommendations, I believe, offer the best chance to slow or even stop America’s decline and fall.

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