One of the common bonds that most parents share is the desire for their children to have a better life than their own -- or at least as good. I am concerned that this desire is becoming more of a dream than a certainty. How can we change that?
In 1956, President Eisenhower signed The Federal-Aid Highway Act. The government recognized the economic and civil defense importance of an extensive network of highways. Today, you can't go for a drive to the supermarket, or take your kids to school, without dodging potholes and disrepair. Driving over a bridge in the U.S. is taking a gamble.
Over two hundred million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation's 102 largest metropolitan regions. One in nine of the nation's bridges are rated structurally deficient, with the average bridge age of 42.
Our aging water delivery infrastructure is in equally bad shape. Each day there are about 700 water main breaks across the country. Leaking pipes waste 7 billion gallons of precious water each day. A lot of the system is 40 to 80 years old, but older cities have even older pipes.
The total number of U.S. high school dropouts annually is over 3 million. Fifty percent of our adults read below the eighth grade level, 46 percent can't understand the labels on their prescriptions, and 42 percent of college grads will never read another book after graduating.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the financial benefit of education is clear. Without a high school diploma the median weekly earning is $471. With a high school diploma (or GED), that number jumps to $652. An Associate degree brings the median salary to $785 and a Bachelor's degree to $1,066. A doctorate degree comes in at $1,624.
The average cost of college tuition continues to rise at a rate of 4.5 percent at private universities and 8.3 percent at public colleges. Paying for college becomes more and more difficult. Our kids graduate with an overwhelming amount of debt.
Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. The program is currently a victim of the government shutdown.
Schools are cutting programs and laying off teachers.
According to Wunderground, Science says 97 percent of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming, global change is happening too fast for the ecosystem to adapt and satellites measure Antarctica is gaining sea ice but losing land ice at an accelerating rate, which has implications for sea level rise.
A new study, which integrates prior accepted research, projects that climate change will produce catastrophic consequences which will begin to touch our part of the world in less than 40 years.
In many instances, it seems as though the priorities of politicians are upside down. There are fights over maintaining low taxes on the uber-wealthy, while attempting to cut or even eliminate modest food subsidies to the neediest. In the middle of the recent recession, and accompanying high unemployment, there were battles over the extension of unemployment benefits. Programs to protect the aging and ill - medicare, medicaid and social security -- are derogatorily referred to as "entitlements," and are always under threat of weakening.
The government is in turmoil over the Affordable Care Act -- as though the health and welfare of all citizens is an outrageous idea.
So what can we do for our kids' future?
- Today's family may not look like the family of yesteryear, but it remains the core of society. Have well defined family values and instill them in your kids. Teach your kids personal responsibility, the importance of education, and a strong work ethic. Teach by example.
- Expand your concept of "family" to include the world at large. Increase your consciousness that the earth is our community and we have a duty to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate.
- Live below your means. More is not better. Bigger is not better. We are not what we own. Teach your kids what is really important: self-reliance, compassion, and charity.
- Find your voice. Get involved in government, causes, and charity. Vote! Vote for those who share your vision of the future. Contact current officeholders and urge them to do the right thing. Write to President Obama, your senators and your congressperson.