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Posted on on April 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Watching on CNN/GPS today – the intelligent  Fareed Zakaria Sunday show – I heard from such disparate sources like TV evangelist Pat Robertson, astrophysicist Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson,  and libertarian author Charles Murray – that there is evidence that America is Coming Apart. There were others on the program and the same sort of critique could be heard from them as well.

Pat Robertson pointed out that 25% of  incarcerated people in the world are in American jails – to be exact – 7.1 million people in the United States are under some form of mandated supervision. it is 750 people per 100,00 that are actually in jails, or 7 times the rate of the European Union average, with four times the rate of Brazil and Poland that are considered to be at the high end.

The jail-industry is probably a high contributor to US GNP and the prisons get 9 times as much funding in the US as the Higher Education programs. A student costs $8.667/year while a prisoner costs $50,000/year.

The prisons are privately owned and the owners have pretty much captured State politicians as well, as this is such a monetary rewarding enterprise. What Robertson did not say is that prisoners count as residents for census purpose while they do not have the right to vote – so they became a valued possession in gerrymandering procedures. The more prisoners you own the better assured becomes your elected seat …

How did we get there? Robertson has a clear answer – it is the WAR ON DRUGS. All sort of offenses – minor as they might be, feed the US  prisons and decrease spending on education. What Robertson did not say is that the majority of those incarcerated are black males.

Pat Robertson unsuccessfully campaigned to be the Republican Party‘s nominee  in the 1988 presidential election. As a result of his seeking political office, he no longer serves in an official church role. His media and financial resources make him a recognized, influential, and controversial public voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.
He is thus an independent outspoken voice that does not represent any present stream of Republicanism.


Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who happens to be black, is the head of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2006 he has hosted the educational science television show NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, and has been a frequent science guest communicator on TV.

Dr. Tyson reminded us that after the Soviet Sputnik, under President Kennedy, a National program was set up to put a man on the moon, but when the Russians retreated from space activities the US also cancelled its Mars program. Now with the Chinese flexing economy, muscles, and science, the US is in no place to compete. All what the US does is put on bandages on immediate problems but has no more long term goals with targets like Space Science.

Dr. Tyson told us of discoveries of Space science and technology in areas that the original scientists had neither knowledge nor interest. One such example was when the Hubble Space Telescope did not function well because of a mistake in its construction, but in order to save the information that it provided nevertheless, though with fuzzy pictures, technologies were developed to answer this peculiar need. A medical doctor realized that the picture with lots of fuzzy points in it is like what he has to deal with when analyzing a mamogram picture in search for beginning cancer. Out of this observation resulted technology that helped two such disparate causes. That is something that investment in science can bring – and that is what the US retreated from!

Dr. Tyson seemed desolate – IF NASA DEPENDS ON A PENNY FROM YOUR TAX DOLLAR – go ahead – DOUBLE IT      TO 2 PENNYS, he said.


Charles Murray studied the class division in the United States – the division into an Upper Class and a Working Class.

He is an American libertarian political scientistauthorcolumnist, and pundit currently working as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC. He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve, co-authored with Richard Herrnstein in 1994, which argues that intelligence plays a central role in American society.

He first became well known for his Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 in 1984, which discussed the American welfare system. Murray has also written In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1988), What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1996), Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (2003), and In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State (2006). He published Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality in 2008.

Murray’s new book is “COMING APART” and it clearly is again being attacked by pundits that believe we should solve problems rather then talk about culture. Being hounded by wayward dogs is unpleasant, but it should not frighten brave people into submission.

I say this after looking up googles before writing my posting, and what I saw there is the same thing as keeping people in prison because we disagree with the behavior that we imposed on them by our own crooked socio-economic rules, or by not seeing that by following issues we should have followed anyway, we imposed on ourselves the losses in science that will submit the US to a world ruled by China. Where are those bright Kennedy people that knew to outperform the Soviets? Charles Murray is a man of right-wing think tanks but it seems that he neither manages to influence them as he did not show success in his dealing wisdom to the left.

Charles Murray says clearly that it is the fact that the American Working Class is falling further behind in his study of the 50 years 1960-2010 is what has depressed the United States.

“Is America falling behind?” asks Fareed Zakaria and is treated to a revised Bell Curve of 20 years ago. We are told that now only 48% of the working class are married. In 1960 all American adults were supposed to work or look for work – now young women raise children by themselves and ask – “why should i marry those losers?”

The Murray basic proposition is that  “WE HAVE A CULTURAL PROBLEM THAT WE CAN CHANGE ONLY BY CHANGING CULTURE. ” That – in a nut’s shell is why we are falling apart – it is our expectations that have changed – our work ethics have changed – we transferred our funds, will and brains from the working class to the elite.

The clencher was in the advertisement that seemingly helps us get such good programs – it was a Qatar Foundation advertising itself and the Ally Bank.

Others on the hour-long program include – Andrew Sullivan,   Jon Meacham,   Sally Quinn and the topics dealt with SEX, RELIGION, and POLITICS. We heard about Mr. Santorum’s campaign and how the US is most religion hunted country outside the Arab World – but we are still lucky that it is only a minority that captivated one of the two parties, and that they have no chance in the general election. Allegiance to religion was always a political force in the US, but now it has become a Partisan Force – we got POLITISATION of religion – and that is a new thing. Those that hate Romney’s Mormonism also hate Obama’s Islamic background as they wish to define him. This is actually a new form of enlarged racism.

And less I forget – Sally Quinn reminded us that 99% of all American Women use contraceptives, and the percentage among Santorum’s Catholics Target is 98%. He runs now in the primaries for the votes of a Conservative Base that in the best case could amount to less then 15% of the total electorate, but how can he imagine victory in the general elections with this stand on sex?

Hatred is the wrong attitude of a country in decline – US beware! Some of the brightest Americans these days are no-more White males – but they come in all stripes, forms, sex, and colors – that is what I learned this April’s Fools’Day – the New Year Day for the 2012 election campaign.


Interested in some more?

Please see:


Zakaria: Incarceration nation.

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Something caught my eye the other day: Pat Robertson, the high priest of the religious right, had some startling things to say about drugs.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in a recent interview. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think. This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

The reason Robertson is for legalizing marijuana is that it has created a prison problem in America that is well beyond what most Americans imagine.

“It’s completely out of control,” Mr. Robertson said. “Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties – the maximums – some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all.”

He’s right. Here are the numbers: The total number of Americans under correctional supervision (prison, parole, etc.) is 7.1 million, more than the entire state of Massachusetts. Adam Gopnik writes in the New Yorker, “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America…than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”

No other country comes even close to our rates of incarceration. We have 760 prisoners per 100,000 people. Most European countries have one seventh that number (per capita, so it’s adjusted for population). Even those on the high end of the global spectrum – Brazil and Poland – have only a quarter the number we do.

If you say this is some kind of enduring aspect of America’s “Wild West” culture, you would be wrong. In 1980, our rates of incarceration were a quarter what they are now. What changed was the war on drugs and the mindless proliferation of laws that created criminal penalties for anything and everything. If you don’t believe me, listen to Pat Roberston again. Here’s a quote:

“We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners….We have now over 3,000 – the number must be might higher than that – but over 3,000 federal crimes, and every time the liberals pass a bill – I don’t care what it involves – they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don’t feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail…. So we have the jails filled with people who are white collar criminals.

In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education. Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it’s built 21 prisons. The state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year.

Why is this happening? Prisons are a big business. Most are privately run. They have powerful lobbyists and they have bought most state politicians. Meanwhile, we are bankrupting out states and creating a vast underclass of prisoners who will never be equipped for productive lives.

I never thought I’d say this, but God bless you, Pat Robertson.


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