The Coronavirus illustrated that the United States was unprepared for a pandemic on the scale of COVID 19. But sadly, this narrative has been going on for over 20 years. We were caught off guard with 9/11 and the Katrina Hurricane. In the World Trade Center assault, which includes the attack on the Pentagon and the downed jet in a Pennsylvania field 2,977 people were killed.
However, instead of having safeguards in place to protect Americans from hijackers. We blamed radical Islam and Osama bin Laden when we had knowledge that such an attack was pending against the homeland. In Katrina that took the lives of 1,836 we scolded God/Nature for the event.
However, the levees that folded and put 80% of New Orleans underwater were poorly maintained and were built to only withstand a category 3 hurricane: instead of a category 5 as Katrina. As the wealthiest and best equipped nation, according to our politicians and bureaucrats—I expected better. Whatever the challenge, America supposed to be ready. At lease that is narrative that is pushed down our throats from the first breath that we take as Americans.
Tonight, I listened to an extended rendition of President Donald Trump blaming the World Health Organization for our retarded response to the coronavirus. Our president whined that the WHO did not warn us in time to prepare. Instead, they covered up the Chinese error of the virus being released in the Wuhan province of China. Now, since they did not tell us about this deadly disease, we are going to withhold our contribution of $281 million dollars. To follow this trend Republicans and many Democrats are retweeting the bellyaching of the President. These intellectual gnats have fallen into the trend of name calling and insults. Such as—”The WHO is China-centric,” while renaming COVID 19—”the Chinese Virus and Kung Flu.” In fact, Senator Tom Cotton in McCarthy like rhetoric said that the Chinese had attacked the United States with a “bio-weapon.”
There are three reasons why the United States were unprepared. 1. Outsourcing of American production; 2. A terrible health care system; 3. The failure of the public-school educational sector. In 1972 the Richard Nixon administration opened China up to the western world. Within a flash the Chinese took the best from American capitalism and refined it within their structure to create the world’s fastest growing economy. Because of their juggernaut financial system that they developed. The Asian nation now has more millionaires than our entire population. In addition, China has passed the United States as the supreme power in technology, industry, and medical/health development.
In many ways they have won World War III without firing a shot. They build our trains and subway cars (NYC, Boston, LA., to name a few); computers and televisions; kitchen tables and living room sofas. But most troubling—they supply 80% of our pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies. In this light—China controls the health and physical destiny of the United States; paraphrasing my son as a toddler, “China has become the boss of America.”
The health care system of the United States was once the envy of the world. That is, we had the best doctors, hospitals, and equipment imaginable. Millions of people from around the globe traveled to America for treatment. Not only are the Chinese producing pharmaceuticals that we desperately need; but also, 90% of the over the counter medicines that are in your local CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart stores. They also produce the medical supplies from high tech machinery to simple mask and gloves. In reference to health care. And now, Chinese doctors and hospitals are considered to be among the best on the globe.
The United States’ ranks 11th or last among industrialized nations in providing adequate, reliable, and affordable health care to its citizens. Even Canada—our northern neighbor has a superior health care system that makes it the best among advanced nations. Also developing nations like Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia are creeping up on the United States in providing proper and affordable health care to their populations. How is it that we spend more money on our heath care system than any other nation in the world and we show third world results? For example, the infant mortality rate among African-Americans is the worst among industrialized societies.
Perhaps, we should look at our educational system? Like our health care system, we are bottom feeders. Among industrialized nations, along with several Asian countries our students are failing in mathematics and science related courses. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an examination that compares students of various nations; gave American students a failing grade. Thus, our students graduating from high school and entering college are not prepared to tackle courses and programs that are based on science, mathematics, or engineering. Instead, our students are primarily majoring in entertainment (music, dance, football, track, basketball) or business or legal centered classes. Relatively saying, they are training to become entertainers, high level salespeople or manipulators of the law for future professions like politics.
Therefore, we are not producing enough people to handle issues like the current pandemic or future adventures like Space Travel. Simple questions: How many scientist, engineers, physicians, and holders of a Ph.D., do we have in the US Congress or Senate? Very few. How many lawyers? Too many. To compare that with our greatest rival—China. Most members of the National People’s Congress have advanced degrees in the Sciences and Humanities; while there are no attorneys as members of the assembly.
Chinese representatives are cerebral, deliberate, and precise in their logic and direction. On the other hand, our leaders are entertainers and celebrities who pose as thinkers. Thus, when there is a crisis—quick thinking and clear direction is void in the decision making. This is a direct result of our educational system.
Of course, the last blame goes to the Blackman. Its Obama’s fault. His policies, according to President Trump, put us in this mess. In many ways the blame game to Obama is retribution. When Mr. Obama became the Head of State—he immediately, pointed his finger at former President Bush for the ills of the nation. The bickering, and juvenile arguing among our leaders is a sign of degenerated thinking. It is not a sign of an advanced and matured society.
We must stop the tradition of blaming others. We are in this fix because as Americans we did not think about a changing nation and world. We were too complacent beating our chest and saying we are the best. Well, COVID-19 occurred that illustrated that we are not superior; but, merely average. To get back to the top of the mountain and show the world again that we are the torchlight of humanity. We must be humble, hardworking, and diligent in the rebuilding of America when the plague recedes.
Dr. Issa Muhammad (Vibert White)
Professor, Scholar, Activist, Talk Show Host