The Canaries In America's Coal Mine

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Mar 26, 2024 - 07:25 PM

Authored by J.Peder Zane via,

Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump is not the race America needs, but it is the one we deserve.

A political system that has spit out a race few voters want is the perfect symbol of a nation – and a people – bent to the point of breaking.

Biden vs. Trump appears to be a welcome diversion in a country whose government seems unequipped to face its biggest challenges and whose people are increasingly unwilling to take responsibility for their own problems. Eight months arguing about two angry old men – hearing our own side praise us to the hilt while blaming every woe on the other – is time we don’t have to spend confronting our own difficulties.

Historic declines in life expectancy, jaw-dropping rates of obesity, and rising truancy among students are just a few of the ways we the people are running off the rails.

A few others include:

  • In a Wall Street Journal commentary about post-COVID America, Yale University’s Nicholas Christakis observes how “reckless behavior” is becoming epidemic. “Americans gambled a record $66.5 billion in 2023. Compared with 2019, there has been an 18% increase in fatal accidents involving alcohol and a 17% increase in those involving speeding. Over 500 Americans are dying every day from alcohol-related deaths, a 30% increase. Sexually transmitted diseases are rising across the nation, too.”

  • Jonathan Haidt reports in the Atlantic that “rates of depression and anxiety in the United States – fairly stable in the 2000s – rose by more than 50 percent in many studies from 2010 to 2019. The suicide rate rose 48 percent for adolescents ages 10 to 19. For girls ages 10 to 14, it rose 131 percent.” A CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation poll published in 2022 found that more than 20% of adults described their mental health as “fair” or “poor,” and about one-third of adult respondents said they feel anxious much of the time.

  • A 2021 study by the Survey on American Life found that 49% of Americans said they had fewer than three close friends – in 1990 the figure was 27%. That same year 33% of respondents said they had 10 or more close friends; in 2021 that number fell to 13%. The birth rate and rates of marriage – which, when done in tandem, producer happier and more stable parents and children – have long been in decline.

  • Unable to meet its recruitment goals, the Pentagon has repeatedly lowered its standards for physical fitness, mental health, and academic achievement to meet its numbers. “America’s youth are less qualified for service than ever before,” Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis, commander at Fort Jackson, S.C., was quoted as saying in a Stars and Stripes article published last year. Added Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, “We have a lot of young men and women who want to serve – and they can’t pass the academic requirements or they can’t pass the physical requirements.”

  • The New York Sun reports that many citizens are no longer part of the workforce. “Jobs held by native-born Americans decreased by nearly half a million between January and February of this year, while jobs held by foreign-bornAmericans (both legal and illegal immigrants) spiked to 1.16 million. Looking further back, since January 2020 — just before the pandemic — there has been no growth in native-held jobs, while jobs for foreign-born employees have skyrocketed by more than 3.9 million. … The native-born workforce participation rate of 6 percent is also less than the foreign-born participation rate of 66.6 percent.”

  • The liberal Vera Institute has reported that “the number of women incarcerated in the United States has skyrocketed in the last four decades, increasing 475 percent in 40 years. In 2019, there were more than 231,000 women and girls held in prisons and jails across the country. … 50 years ago, almost 75 percent of counties held not a single woman in jail.” In a similar vein, news reports now routinely carry articles about female teachers accused of molesting students.

These are just some of the canaries in the American coal mine. Together they suggest how – despite the many strengths our nation still possesses – we are unraveling. The government cannot fix most of these problems, which may be why politicians largely ignore them. Such issues must be addressed at that most local of levels – the individual and the family.

It may feel good to complain about the other guy for the next eight months – and heaven knows we have plenty of reason to. But after the November election, all of our problems will remain. It’s long past time we recognized that much of the fault for our deep-rooted challenges lies not in our political stars but in ourselves.