A word to the president

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on spending the next four years in the Oval Office. There can be no doubt that half of the people in the country are very ecstatic and the other half are very pissed. These sentiments aside, I am writing to inform you of a few problems occurring here in the states that you are obliged to watch over.

If you have some time between national defense and an impending economic collapse, it would be very much appreciated if you could get to fixing a few things for “we the people.”

I would like to address this first problem by starting off with a little quote from a predecessor of yours, John F. Kennedy, who stated that “our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education,” and that, “the mind is our fundamental resource.”

Mr. President, when I hear of students dropping out of classes because they can’t afford to pay for their school books, when I see nickels and dimes being counted for a coffee, when I hear words like “trigger cuts” and “limited admission,” I can’t help but think that what once the golden heralds of education, public colleges in the United States, is starting to look a little less golden and a little more like a cheap bronze. I can’t help but feel that the “community” is slowly being taken out of “community colleges.”

I also can’t help but wonder what educationally successful countries like Denmark, Cuba, Germany and Brazil are doing that we in the United States are not? These are just four of the 24 countries that offer a free college, or post-secondary, education to all of their citizens, regardless of age, race or gender.

What does this mean for the good ole U.S. of A? Globally we rank #13 on the International Education Index, dropping from #12 last year. We are after all, a nation of winners.

I assume that all of this free education is the result of an absurdly high tax rate and that, for the most part, the people of these countries are miserable and impoverished. You couldn’t imagine my surprise when I discovered that Germany wasn’t slowly marching its way back to the Third Reich and Cuba hadn’t turned into some kind of police state.

You see Mr. President, the people in these countries have free healthcare too, and paid vacations! It’s a frightening concept I know, but students in some of those countries don’t have to decide on whether to take a class or get that much needed dental work. Some students in the world don’t have to worry about trying to find a second or third job to fit between their afternoon and evening class so that they can pay the rent, their phone bill or buy groceries.

Some college students, like those in Berlin, don’t have to worry about not finding a job in the field they want after they graduate; in fact most of them are already working in their specific field by the time they do.

After finding out all of this I turned to the last thing I could as a citizen of the United States, personal safety. There was no doubt in my mind that all of those other countries were violent and dangerous places where total governmental control was used to silence any who spoke against it. I thought that these countries must be really scary places. But after looking at the numbers and the charts I realized I was wrong. I realized what was truly scary.

Do you know what is scary, Mr. President?

A rack of shotguns and semi-automatic weapons at Walmart. A disgruntled youth who can purchase over 6,000 rounds of ammunition online and at his local gun store where, the day before, an office worker who just can’t do it anymore purchased his first 9mm.  The shop owner is a big fan of the second Amendment and is allowed to openly carry, to lunch, to dinner, to a school and to a post office.

The recent statistics show that the United States had 104,852 gun related injuries last year. That’s 270 people a day shot and injured, 87 of which do not survive. Oh, and I forgot to mention. Of those 104, 852 gun related acts, 18,735 were suicides.

Are we still the best and brightest country in the world?

I’ll leave it at that for today Mr. President. You have a lot on your plate and the next generation- your sons and daughters- are counting on you to help steer the ship away from the rocks. You can start doing that by saving community colleges and the students who attend them.

American citizens will expect and accept nothing less.

If however you cannot fix these problems for whatever pro-corporate political purpose or another, I don’t want you to worry.

After all, Germans have great food and I hear the beaches in Brazil are close to paradise. I’ll be sure to send you a post card.

Good luck and best regards,

Josh Slowiczek