Two Reassurances of American Greatness

All the negative economic news and the never-ending media parade about the "Chinese Century" can get a patriotic guy down from time to time.  Tonight on the drive home I heard, on NPR of all places* a couple of news stories that reassurance you that the good ole USA remains that shining city on the hill.

(In my defense, I was flipping between NPR and Mark Levin.  So don’t go getting any ideas about me one of those ‘stablishment Republicans.)

We are still THE World Ideal

The first was on the daily wrap-up All Things Considered .  The story was about the lottery that the US State Department runs annually that chooses, at random (as lotteries are apt to do) recipients of a green card and a path to naturalization.  The lottery focuses on people from countries that otherwise would not fall high on the immigration list (i.e. Indian and Mexican nationals are not eligible; the story featured a gent from that hotbed of terrorism and Polish Plumbing otherwise known as New Zealand . . . joking Zealanders).  Well it seems the a computer glitch caused 22,000 people to be notified that they had "won" in the lottery when they really had not (no word if traffic from Rep. Weiner’s Facebook account caused the glitch, but it is curious . . . I’m just saying).

What was truly remarkable to me – in both that this characterization was reported and actually came from NPR – was that this mistake was top-line in the rest of world.  Barely a blip in the domestic media, but the outrage it caused resulted in front page headlines from Kenya to Nepal to even Ireland.  Apparently somewhere around 20 million people worldwide enter this little-promoted lottery every year.  The outrage generated over this mistake betrays something that we are all too apt to forget – we the USA are the last best hope of mankind.  We remain the Eden on Earth, the bastion for those yearning to breathe free.  I feel for those who got their hopes up just to probably have them dashed.  But I must selfishly confess, it did my heart good to hear this story.

No Child Left on Steroids

My second bit of unlikely public radio uplift came from the financial show Marketplace , which I actually think is a well-done program (that could easily compete in a publicly de-funded Marketplace . . . hint hint GOP Congress I’m looking at you).  In a media environment fawning to crown China the greatest thing since Chopped Suey, this story was about the focus of the ChiCom education system on an end-all-be-all test called the gao kao (pronounced gow-cow).  Basically the direction of the entirety of the remainder of a China guy or gal’s life (assuming the latter hadn’t been aborted, of course) is decided by the performance on the gao kao.  For those who do well on the test, its off to university and a more sophisticated degree of indoctrination.  For those who don’t do well on tests (you know, like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, or Rush Limbaugh), its a trip to the Nike factory sweat shops and a cog in the new Chinese economy.

What was remarkable about this was the position the story took on this system.  Rather than praising Chinese forced labor work ethic and efficiency, the featured characterized Chinese secondary education as glorified test prep.  The reporter actually said – paraphrasing – that there is no way an Apple or Google would come out of this system, and that China wouldn’t be able to compete in the area of intellectual capital.

Amazing.  How often can you say "yes, NPR is SAYING what we’re all THINKING."

Just goes show that in a country full of wonders, wonders never cease.  At any rate, these were two little reassurances that brightened my evening.

– Your Tavern Keeper

*I remember reading a study a while back that determined that more conservatives that liberals watch Fox News, but also the audience for NPR news consists of more conservatives than liberals.  This just reinforces what we already know – conservatives are more informed than liberals.