Monday, December 21, 2015

Zombie America - Installment 6

Four years ago, while thinking about conditions in the U.S., the phrase "zombie America" popped into my head. What is a zombie? The original use of the word is for a dead body, devoid of real life and soul, that is reanimated and caused to walk around by witchcraft or dark magic. In the ever popular science fiction of recent years, the concept of zombie has evolved to mean a person who has as the result of infection or exposure to unspecified substances been robbed of their humanity - of their personality, intelligence, soul and will - and transformed to a monster that kills and feeds on uninfected humans (especially their brains). Those that are not killed are also infected and become zombies themselves.

Zombies are variously referred to as the "undead" and the "walking dead," phrases that I think can be applied to American economy, politics and society at large. The nation is still lurching and weaving about, animated but no longer truly alive, dead (or dying) but because still animated, so that many observers still imagine it to have life. 

New evidence that American society is "walking dead" is constantly presenting itself. Through out the month of August 2015 stories about teacher shortages have popped up almost daily as many states struggle to put teachers in front of classes with the beginning of a new school year ( ). Thousands of veteran teachers are leaving the classroom every year and no where near enough new teachers are coming up through the pipeline to replace them.  Veteran teachers are deserting the profession due to low pay, lack of classroom resources, schools obsessions with testing, proliferation of regulations and paper work, and lack of real instruction time in the classroom.  This is just one of the ways in which the American educational system is being hollowed out. 

The former center of automotive manufacturing in America in Western Michigan has become the canary in the coal mine for the rest of American society.  Flint, Michigan has recently (December 14, 2015) declared a formal state of emergency as the result of a wholly man-made disaster: the dramatic increase in lead in the cities water supply. Substantially increased levels of lead are showing up in blood tests of the cities children.  The increase in lead poisoning came when the city switched to the Flint River as a water source. Lead exposure in children is irreversible and impacts intelligence and general mental functioning, creating long term educational issues for communities with declining educational resources, not to mention the human tragedy involved. 

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