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State of the Union 2011: Opinion

The State of the Union Address was January 25th, 2011, ATC reviews the plans behind President Obama’s speech.

Transportation:

One issue we’ve always been open about at ATC is transportation in America. While traveling around the world, we found America to be one of the most difficult places to travel due to poor infrastructure in terms of non-air modes of transportation. Plans to expand the rail network

Previous articles on ATC about transportation include: Amtrak- An Open Plea to the Government. USA Travel Options- Choices in Futility. The Empire Builder. 3 Things I Didn’t Miss about America. Transatlantic Options. Across America by Land.

Education:

Traveling around the world has taught us something else. Americans are not considered to be that intelligent.  This seems to be a nearly universal opinion. Obama’s speech indicated that he might agree with those internationally accepted opinions. Education in America has serious problems that need to be addressed.  I think teachers should be required to have a masters in their field as well as advanced training in teaching methodology and technology. Why not aim to be the best? We have high unemployment and a strong need for teachers, this is a great time to require more education for 1-12 teachers and to reward teachers who went out of their way to get their masters degrees, or who have learned to use technology in the classroom.

Students in Europe are way ahead of US students in many regards. They speak multiple languages and have a firm grip on science, math and geography– three of American student’s worst subjects.  In the chart they US is ranked well after Estonia, which is ironic because the average American probably couldn’t find Estonia on a map, proving my point. American students need to learn a second language fluently by the time they graduate from High School. 12 years is plenty of time. Students in Europe study for around 8-12 years learning English and as a result sound like native English speakers. In China, students go to classes all day and then spend their limited spending cash on English tutors because they know education is key. That is a lot to compete with. We need full immersion schools in the US, and teachers who are bilingual. As Obama noted, the baby boomers will be retiring soon, and its a good time to enact new laws to better the education system. Next time I travel through Europe I would love to see a young American speaking the local language and causing people abroad to reevaluate their opinion of Americans.

Finances:

Americans have a spending problem. Nobody is debating this anymore. Our debt is out of control, our spending seems to be endless and yet our infrastructure can’t compete with that of Western Europe. We have a culture of instant gratification that has resulted in an acceptance of poor-quality goods and a lack of appreciation for high quality goods you have to save up for. I don’t think Americans should have to deal with a ‘credit score’ system that rewards people who buy before they have the money to pay for the items they’ve purchased. Paying in cash by saving up in advance should be rewarded, not punished by harming your credit score. the score means that you can put yourself in debt to a larger entity, you enslave yourself into a cyclical system. I think this system needs to be re-imagined to reward people who can plan ahead, save ahead and can live without the companies that charge ridiculous filing fees, high interest and who hold the deed to your home like a mob boss until you pay up. This system needs to be re-imagined as well, so another housing bubble doesn’t result in more people losing the homes they can’t afford. I think this should have been better addressed in the 2011 State of the Union Address.

Articles ATC has posted on finances and money include: Poor Journalism & American Debt. Should you Look for Work in China- ATC Responds. China versus America: A Conversational Comparison. Why I Hate Wal-Mart.




One thought on “State of the Union 2011: Opinion

  1. Lorne M.

    Yes. I agree with all the points you are making here. I wonder whether at least some of the positive changes you are proposing could be implemented under the current administration. I am afraid if the measures are not taken now as the conditions are largely favourable, the US might miss the train.

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