Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, I had the opportunity to work in Senegal, Africa, for several months. My very first experience in-country was that the rental vehicle wouldn’t start. While the friendly and talkative mechanic was repairing the jeep, he inquired if this was my first trip to Africa. “No,” I said. “Ahhh!” he said. “Then I don’t have to explain the meaning of ‘TIA’ to you.”
But I’d never heard that term or what it meant. When I asked, he explained, saying, “This is Africa; nothing works!” Indeed, in my travels, it was much the same in Latin America and other places I have lived worked, or visited back in the day. When I returned to the USA, it was a joy to drop a quarter into a payphone and hear a dial tone or flush the nearest toilet that always had toilet paper at hand.
Today’s article is not about reminiscing but rather about what someone said to me last week when my wife’s car wouldn’t start, and the dealership couldn’t figure it out even after several return visits. The service tech apologized and said, “It’s TIA.” I asked him what that meant, and he said, “This is America; no one knows how to fix things anymore. “Talk about a reflective moment.
Consider recent news items telling stories of unusual events that did not happen as often as today. With the technology and knowledge developed over decades, stupid stuff shouldn’t happen nearly as much as it does.
- A United Flight loses altitude rapidly after takeoff, narrowly avoiding crashing. Why? The pilots were momentarily distracted at a critical moment.
- A railroad derailment in Ohio caused toxic gasses to sicken hundreds. Railroad knew they had a “hot box” situation with the car’s journal bearings discovered by trackside devices just before the accident.
- “Balloongate” raised the specter that China or Russia could have been floating nukes over the U.S. for years because someone manually changed the filters on U.S. radar displays to exclude balloons.
- Ford halted production of their newest E.V. vehicle due to battery problems.
- Southwest Airlines stranded thousands of passengers because outdated scheduling software was not equal to the tasks at hand.
- An outside hack crippled Florida’s Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Surgeries were canceled, manual record-keeping returned to use, and general chaos ensued.
- Fabled Boeing Aircraft hasn’t built a ‘clean sheet’ – i.e., newly designed aircraft – since 2003. They recently announced that another new plane would not be built until the 2030s. This follows a series of major snafus, including crashes of the Boeing Max and problems with almost all other civilian and military contracts. Boeing is now a distant second to European upstart Airbus.
- mRNA Vaccines may not be vaccines at all? Traditionally, vaccines provide immunity from a disease. Today, we understand that the primary value is not immunity but rather a reduction of symptoms and death. This is not what was asserted to the public by the CDC, which continually appears to redefine the intent of the shot.
- Approximately 9 million Americans receive Federal Disability Benefits, and another 5.5 million former military receive full or partial disability. An additional million plus receive private disability. These numbers are the highest in history and call into question the legitimacy of the process, which seems to offer government-funded disincentives to work.
- Is our education system failing? Today, 65% of children can’t read at grade level. Reading ability has been on a downhill trajectory since 1992, but the government and teachers’ unions underplay that obvious and disturbing failure all too easily.
Four issues help us understand how these sad scenarios came to be:
- Lack of competency
- Disincentives to success
- Workarounds to working
Lack of Competency—Whether we are building something new or repairing something old, too often, we can’t seem to match our accomplishments from the ‘old days.’ For example, the new Artemis rocket ship uses old 1970s space shuttle engines because of an inability to replicate the technology today.
The competency issue is vital because, without competent people, there will be fewer breakthrough technologies. Competency is exceedingly crucial because it has the capacity to make our lives better. The speed of breakthrough products has slowed in recent years, with a focus on incremental improvement rather than embracing the inherent risks of novel technologies that made our country wealthy and successful.
Disincentives to Success—Eliminating the trend toward mediocrity is likely the most crucial nugget we should glean. We have gone from a culture of highlighting our best and brightest rock stars to flipping that winning strategy on its head as we hold back our geniuses in myriad ways. Our capital system, taxation, government policies, social media, and even our educational systems no longer reward risk, instead insisting on playing it safe and leveling intellectual levels in the name of social justice and white privilege. The downside of the promotion of mediocrity is that the risking and striving by the many, which was so much a defining aspect of America, is becoming all too rare. Why? Because the promotion of self, i.e., individuality, particularly if they are white, is actively discouraged and considered anti-social and anti-progressive in today’s new vision of America.
Workarounds to Working—Living off of family money, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, government grants, friends, subsidized homelessness, becoming a perpetual student, and/or working off the books all come together to allow an unprecedented number of people to fail to contribute to the continuing success and financing of our country.
There is a monthly government statistic called U-6 and another metric called Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate. These two stats, added to the official Unemployment rate, reveal another 12+- million unemployed or underemployed individuals over and above the official stats. Another critical metric is people who could work but choose not to. Yes, the government keeps that number as well.
When you combine all these numbers, you approach 100 million people who don’t work for a variety of reasons. That number has risen by about 35 million in the last ten years.
Wokeism—Ostensibly about fundamental fairness, “Wokeism” is a destructive force aimed directly at everything that made America great. No aspect of Wokeism is productive, fair, or a natural evolution of who we are, and it contradicts family values, a strong work ethic, good race relations, and essential capitalism. Wokeism is death, and Wokeists walk off a cliff called Misdirection all too willingly.
I don’t want to live in a country where TIA, once ascribed to a dysfunctional Africa, is now used to describe us as we descend into economic and social oblivion. This may be where the enemies of America desire us to go, but it is up to the few to triumph over a victory of Wokeism, which seems close to actualization.
The new version of TIA is slavery in the making. How ironic that the left’s primary tool, if realized, will inevitably bring about the enslavement of us all. We must fight and not let that happen. Like everything in life, we have the choice to live standing or die on our knees. What will you do?
God Bless America.
Allan J. Feifer