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The Stunning Collapse of Civilizational Competence

Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2023
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AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

the definition of competence
For most of recorded history, human society has become more efficient and productive over time. But Americans today now seem to be facing the alarming phenomenon of a culture where nothing works and basic competence is increasingly becoming the exception rather than the norm. Perhaps the most obvious recent example of this collapse in civilizational competence was the response to the wildfires in Hawaii that left over 100 people dead. As the flames raced toward the town of Lahaina, local officials refused to release water to fight the fires. We still don’t know exactly why – although it could have something to do with the person responsible for withholding the water believing in something called “water equity.” There were also reports that utility trucks blocked the roads out of the town, trapping people in the inferno. Afterwards, it was revealed that Hawaiian Electric, whose downed power lines likely sparked the blaze, had for years been preoccupied with renewable energy projects while neglecting to maintain existing lines. Then there was the federal response, which was also woefully inadequate. It took President Joe Biden days to even comment on the crisis, and over a week to put together a paltry offer of $700 checks to families that had just lost everything they owned. Such glaring ineptitude in the face of a natural disaster should have been a major national scandal. But most Americans seemed to quickly shrug it off – likely because it was exactly what they had come to expect from their government. After all, it’s now a rarity that Congress can even pass a budget without serious threat of a government shutdown. House Republicans have now gone three weeks without a Speaker. Just three percent of Americans say they have a “great deal” of confidence in Congress. Things are just as bad at the state and local level – most municipal governments can’t even do something as basic as conduct elections anymore without major screw-ups. As far back as 2000, who controlled the White House came down to debates over “hanging chads” and computerized voting machines that were supposed to make things easier but in fact created one of the greatest election controversies in American history. Nearly three years after the 2020 election, some counties are still conducting recounts of votes. Last year, one township supervisor in Michigan discovered hundreds of uncounted absentee ballots sitting in a storage unit. The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the fact that Russia and China have now surpassed the U.S. in hypersonic missile technology, and major recruiting shortfalls for every branch are also concerning signs of a decline in competence in the military – although these failures fall squarely at the feet of political and military leadership in Washington. But the fact that America can’t intercept and destroy hypersonic missiles shouldn’t be all that surprising given that the country’s infrastructure – once the envy of the world – is crumbling despite trillions of dollars allocated by Congress to fix it. Virtually every major project is significantly over budget and behind schedule. It’s not just the government that seems to be growing more incompetent. Various sectors of the U.S. economy and society itself appear to be breaking down. For instance, while the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, made headlines earlier this year, it was hardly the only one – the country now averages three derailments per day, and the overall number of derailments is on the rise after decades of decline. Despite the industry having access to more data and technology than ever before, air travel has also become more difficult and inconvenient. CBS News reported earlier this year that the significant increase in delays and cancellations in recent months could “continue for a decade.” The American manufacturing sector, a global powerhouse half a century ago, is now a shell of its former self. In 2019, after pledging to make a computer in the United States for the first time in years, Apple struggled to meet production quotas because American companies couldn’t produce enough specialty screws. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed just how much the country now relies on foreign imports and has lost the capacity to produce anything domestically. Many factories that are still open in the United States are now warning about a manufacturing “skills gap,” as they say they can’t find enough workers to fill open posts. There is also a general sense that people today are simply less competent than they were in generations past – a notion that can perhaps be chalked up to unwarranted pessimism, but perhaps not. Customers of fast food restaurants, for instance, have reported that service is getting slower and worse in recent years. While not exactly quantifiable, it seems fair to say that the average person today is simply capable of fewer basic tasks – whether it be changing a tire, balancing a checkbook, or keeping a household budget – than used to be the case. It’s worth asking how we got here – although the causes of society’s collapse in competence are likely as diverse as its effects. One obvious answer is the collapse in the values that lead to people living healthy, productive lives – namely family, faith, and patriotism. The university system bears a significant portion of the blame for this, as millions of young people graduate every year brainwashed to hate the very things that provide meaning and purpose. Another answer, particularly when it comes to government, is the growing preoccupation with “diversity” and “equity” instead of accomplishing the actual tasks that taxpayers rely on the government to complete. When the only thing that matters is filling a quota, competent people of all backgrounds get overlooked, and there is no longer any incentive for anyone to do a good job. The growth of government over time and the massive expansion of the welfare state has also encouraged people to become more dependent on others rather than themselves. Programs that were initially designed to help people get back on their feet during tough times are now abused to allow people to avoid developing any skills or work ethic. Another possibility is that, ironically, the extreme competence of prior generations has made modern life so easy that it could be breeding incompetence among future generations. Struggle and hardship fosters work ethic and wisdom, and most people today simply don’t have to go through the same struggles as their parents and grandparents. The internet and social media also undoubtedly play a role. Millions of Americans have now been turned into addicted, mindless consumers more fixated on likes and reposts than developing useful skills and making something of their lives. There are certainly many more reasons for the country’s growing competence shortage, all of which are worth considering. But the bigger question that American culture will have to answer is what, exactly, to do about it – because a society that stops being able to perform even basic tasks is a society that is doomed. Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.

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Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
7 months ago

This is a very important article Shane and by writing it you have done something to have a profound influence on the competence situation. It is important to take a stand, to defend what it right , and true , and honorable. So, Well Done , for your work here with this writing. I have been designing and making tools since the 1970’s , I wrote a work ethic for toolmakers a few years ago — So, here it is, I hope that it may contribute something of a positive nature to the competence situation. ” theA Work Ethic for Toolmakers — Making tools that are necessary to accomplish mechanical tasks ; to advance and increase knowledge by building things that are needed and thereby improving the economy ; in the support of public safety and the defense of freedom through the encouragement of craftsmanship and good citizenship ; contributing to the betterment of life through the development of mental and physical skills by designing , making , and using tools for good purposes. ” May God bless America , the land of the free and the home of the brave. The principles of Honor, Honesty, Integrity, Courage and Loyalty will help to keep things right. Praise for what you wrote Shane , the Right Spirit , the Faith, Family ,and Freedom spirit. Defending the quality of Competence – it is honorable and good for the United States of America.

S Ga
S Ga
7 months ago

Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.

William S. Klocek
William S. Klocek
7 months ago

In Omnipotent Government, (c) 1927, Ludwig von Mises warned of all of this. Too bad the university system ignored him, and now ignores Thomas Sowell and James Q. Wilson’s warnings and researches preferring to grant economics degrees to the likes of AOC.

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
7 months ago

Excellent Article! One could easily investigate these ideas in a university given course. However, our colleges are often controlled by ignorant, racist Marxists who are looking forward to the downfall of our Constitutional Republic. These weak incompetents ae full of ideas that are destroying our way of life. However, these evil misanthropes have no emotionally healthy alternatives to the free enterprise system. Tragically, many of the people who are in charge of our educational systems have themselves been brainwashed to hate America and think it is their duty to be cynical and distrustful of America First Patriots.

William Hodge
William Hodge
7 months ago

The democrats plans to hijack the education system in the 60’s and dumb down the citizenry has worked perfectly. We have AOC and the rest of the communists being elected by those that were informed in ignorance that are now attacking the country and protected by our degraded judicial system.

Peg Tracy
Peg Tracy
7 months ago

I’ve been preaching this very idea for years. It is endemic in the country now. Pure incompetence and stupidity! Inability to think! No spirituality! No moral! Just total selfishness!

Veteran
Veteran
7 months ago

“The Stunning Collapse Of Civilizational Competence” could be the title of a book about the 2020 election, and administration of Joe Biden under the tutelage of George Soros, Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, and Klaus Schwab.

Donna
Donna
7 months ago

Excellent article, Shane. I am sorry for the young people I come in contact with in various places of business. They seem to have no joy in work. They don’t seem to have any interpersonal skills. I wonder if they ever had anyone actually guide them and encourage them in their small accomplishments. I have on occasion thanked the stockers and baggers and housekeepers for their service to we the shoppers. Telling them how much their particular job is beneficial to the community. I hope that by acknowledging their efforts it will give them the boost to realize their value in society and maybe they will find joy in whatever work they do.

ref
ref
7 months ago

Is it any wonder to anyone why we have a culture and a government that doesn’t work. We have a demented, incompetent, immoral and ineffective leader in Joe Biden. He is without question the worst President in America’s history. The Marxist leftists coordinate his every move and control his very words. Remember, progressives destroy everything good; conservatives lift up everything good. Hopefully, the people of our land will wake up and defeat the progressives leftist agenda by electing a conservative as President next year. It our only hope.

Melinda
Melinda
7 months ago

This is so true. I live in a rural area, where people are more competent and self reliant, but I’ve noticed that young people are not unless raised in a conservative family. Many young ones don’t know much, it’s hard for business to hire competent, knowledgeable people who are willing to work. Cities are a disaster and I avoid them. I still have hope for the future, but sometimes wonder why.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
7 months ago

You left out China and the Philippines dispute in the South China Sea which will be a more likely flashpoint than Taiwan for a war with China.

lawrence greenberg
lawrence greenberg
7 months ago

I know there are many people who still do not want to believe what is becoming more obvious all the time, but all of what is being described in this article is the culmination of a decades’ long, multigenerational plan by the Left to take down this nation and destroy Western Civilization in order to be able to create a worldwide Leftist dictatorship.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
7 months ago

Coming Nuclear war will end ALL?

David Millikan
David Millikan
7 months ago

You have the democrats, Fake News, and Dept. of DUHMACATION to thank for it for the past 45 years. They don’t want you to think or think for yourself. Therefore, society pays the price at the cost of their livelihood’s and their lives.

amber
amber
7 months ago

There is also a widespread belief that people nowadays are simply less capable than previous generations.

bomer
bomer
7 months ago

There is also a widespread belief that people nowadays are simply less capable than previous generations. Geometry Dash Scratch

anna hubert
anna hubert
7 months ago

The result of the slogan we’ve been living We do it all for you

cam
cam
7 months ago

First, all the examples are worth noting. Mediocre is now a virtue. Wisdom and understanding the complexities of what is going on in the world should only be left to leaders, yet leaders are failing the constituents because, again, mediocre is now the norm. The educational system is captured by ideological nonsense baked in an indoctrination dish fed to students all over the world, no exceptions. 

Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
7 months ago

just say thank you democrats. nice job of phucing up everything.

gorsaun
gorsaun
7 months ago

WE have lost the historical proudness in America’s competence.

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