09/13/2010 01:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

America in Decline: From Making It to Faking It

If you're born into it, you may not recognize it. If you're not born into it, it's a glaring phenomenon--the transition in the last fifty years from individual striving for truth and excellence to individual striving for baloney and mediocrity.

What has apparently happened is that the 19th century business model--fake your customers into believing your product is better than the other guy's product--has in many forms seeped into and become a fundamental part of America's culture.

Lying and cheating have become the modus operandi of the young--the idea is to get where you want to go no matter the means. Get a degree in something easy, never mind the education. Bluff your way into a job--it's not what you know, it's how you present yourself. When experts talk to you, keep saying, "I understand,"--and they will soon think you do understand. Remember, what counts is not what you know but who you know, not making it but faking it.

Who is to blame for this dismal culture that in hard times leaves 20 percent of its young people unemployed because they essentially know nothing and have no real skills and knowledge to secure a steady income?

* The business community for adopting the strategy that the way to succeed in business is to fool the public into believing that your product is better than the products of your competition--when you know the products are all pretty much the same stuff.

* The advertising community for supporting the business community in its general strategy of corruption and for transforming fakery into a profession.

* Affluent parents who never read serious books and who raise privileged children who never read serious books, who in turn become affluent parents who raise privileged children who---"Darling, this is a good martini."

* Commercial news media for the idea that their job is to avoid stressing the fourteen-year-old mind with too much substance or complexity. Get the mass audience to get the sponsors and the hell with the public interest. ("What public interest? How do you spell that?")

* Public television news for the attitude that every idea--no matter how crazy or dangerous--deserves respect and a platform. Imagine Judy Woodruff interviewing Adolf Hitler: "Some people say your euthanasia programs are extreme. How do you respond to that?"

* Professional "educators" who were mediocrities as students and are mediocrities as bureaucrats, and whose knowledge of child development is nowhere to be seen.

* Politicians who talk about principles when they lost whatever principles they had the first time they ran for office. Of the 600 or so politicians of national status, can we find half a dozen seriously committed to the public interest more than to their bank accounts?

Where are we going? The bottom line is that if you sell enough snake oil, many people will drink it and get sick. If too many people get sick, the system breaks down and the crazies come out of the woodwork to take the wheel.

Heads up, folks.