Polity: A particular form of political system or government
It seems to me that the best so-called “think tanks” on the planet cannot compare with the great ideas conjured up at an after-hours office gathering while enjoying a chard or three. Or at least so it seems at the time. In point of fact, a couple of friends and I, while attending just such an event, were discussing how naïve many of our fellow Americans seem to be regarding the globalization of economies and politics that has occurred over the past ten years or so, primarily due to the expansion of the worldwide web. Essentially, we posited that: a) America is no longer protected from its enemies by its two coastal oceans; and b) we as a nation under-estimate the economic inter-dependency of the global community of nations at our peril. The consensus among this trio was that if the American public doesn’t start paying attention to what is going on around us, there is a very real possibility that life as we know it here in good ol’ America may be irretrievably changed for the worse, if for no other reason than that we were simply not paying attention.
Case in point: these interesting facts, organized in the order of the title of this article. They include some “astounding misconceptions” Americans have regarding global issues, as reported by Uri Freidman, Associate Editor at Foreign Policy Magazine on October 16, 2012, bracketed by “fat” and “happy”:
• We are fat: Obesity rates in the U.S. are the highest in the world: nearly 60% percent of Americans are obese (not just “overweight”). Of these, about 25% are considered morbidly obese.
• Fifteen percent of Ohio Republicans believed Mitt Romney deserves more credit than Barack Obama for killing Osama bin Laden (there’s a head-scratcher…).
• Forty-one percent of Americans believe China is the world’s leading economic power (the correct answer is the U.S.).
• Seventy-three percent of Americans could not identify communism as America’s main concern during the Cold War.
• Nine percent of Americans frequently worry about becoming victims of terrorism (chances of being killed by a terrorist are roughly one in 20 million. In the “…last five years, you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning.” The chance of winning the Florida Lottery is one in 22 million).
• Nearly 25 percent of Americans don’t know that the U. S. declared its independence from Great Britain.
• The average American thinks that the U.S. spends 27 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid. The figure is more like one percent.
• Eighty-eight percent of young Americans could not find Afghanistan on a map.
• Seventy-five percent of Americans could not locate Iran or Israel on a map, and 63 percent could not identify Iraq on that same map.
• But, we remain happy: The General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center has found that 86 percent of Americans in 2010 were either very happy or, at least, pretty happy, as compared to 83 percent back in 1972, the first year of the survey.
For those of us who are familiar with human history over the millennia (Rome, in particular, perhaps), George Bernard Shaw offers this: “If history repeats itself, and if the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”