Opportunity?

HEADLINE: Taliban Minister Defends Ban On Women’s University Studies (click here)

HEADLINE: Overcrowded ERs, Nursing Shortages Hammer Hospitals (click here)

Is it just me, or does this scream “Opportunity!” to you too?


Look, I’d love to fix the world’s problems. Like a lot of Americans, my immediate reaction is to react to something horrific, like Afghanistan kicking every woman out of school, by taking my personal morality and forcing it on a foreign country. After all, if the entire G7 can agree that what they’re doing is a crime against humanity, wouldn’t I be justified?

But we tried that. We spent twenty years in Afghanistan, and all we got for our trouble was twenty years of weekly casualty figures and a massive drain on the budget. The United States was there long enough for a new generation to be born, educated, and enter society, and our only legacy — the only thing we left behind — was a ton of modern military equipment, most of which is now controlled by a tyrannical government of radical religious fanatics.

So, yeah, I might be willing to consider a military approach — except that the last time we did that it didn’t work, and there’s no reason to suspect it would now. (Yes, there are ethical reasons to avoid conquering every country that has a different view of human rights than we do, but that’s for another article. “It wouldn’t work” is enough for this one; let’s move on. -Editor)

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, the United States is bracing for yet another year of hospital overcrowding and staff shortages. We’ve got more than enough administrators — more than a third of our ballooning domestic healthcare costs are management and that number is rising, as opposed to a stable rate of under 20% in Canada. What we lack are doctors, nurses — care providers of all kinds, really.

So let’s go get some, shall we?

Afghanistan doesn’t want educated women; presumably, they’re afraid of the sort of changes they’d make in their stone-age culture. While I find that idea abhorrent, I say we humor them for a few generations. All the freedom-loving, independent-minded women they want to repress, we’ll take off their hands, teach them English, train them for high-paying jobs, and integrate them into our own society. (Trust me: They’ll want to come.) The Taliban will have less repressing to do and we’ll have more professionals and a higher tax base.

Speaking of our tax base: When we combine all our government’s annual expenses, they total half again more than its income. It’s so bad that, if we somehow managed to eliminate our entire defense budget, we’d still have a deficit. The reasons are simple enough; our workforce is steadily shrinking while the retired population continues to grow (and need increasing amounts of medical care). Medicare alone accounts for nearly $800 billion annually, only half of which is paid for with the associated tax, and the situation is expected to only get worse.

Folks, we’ve got a problem, and trimming the fat on welfare checks or slashing the National Endowment for the Arts isn’t gonna help one little bit. Increasing our tax base? Now you’re talking.

While we’re at it, we could do something similar at the Mexican border. Want to migrate to America? Great! Here’s your English As A Second New First Language class; from here you go straight to the Certified Nurse’s Aide course. (First taste of education is free; if you want to be an R.N., you can pay for it yourself. This isn’t a charity. -Ed.) Don’t want to work in healthcare? Here’s your bus ticket back to Guatemala; thanks for visiting.

Again: There are moral arguments to be made, but I’m not gonna bother. I’m here with sound financial planning, discussing the bottom line — and make no mistake: Our bottom line in this country is so far in the red they’re gonna have to invent a new color. We’ve dug a hole in our national pockets so deep, we’ll be coming up in China soon, and they don’t like us so much. This is a problem that will never fix itself — people are killing themselves, swimming rivers and crossing oceans on rafts begging to fix it for us, and here we are spending billions on I.C.E. and Border Patrol to tell them no. That’s billions we don’t have that we’re paying to make our problems worse.

The problems are dire; the fix is easy. Let’s do this, America!


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NOTE: Photo used courtesy the World Bank, taken from their Blog on the topic. Read what they had to say here.

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