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What’s Wrong in America? Laurence Meyer ‘Nails It’

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 27, 2011 10:55 AM |

It is not often that I witness an individual pierce through the smoke and mirrors that disguise our nation’s central problems and state succinctly what Sense on Cents believes so strongly. I had the benefit of capturing the wisdom of just one such individual this morning.

I welcome sharing the wise perspective of one Laurence Meyer, as highlighted in today’s Wall Street Journal,


“I think [pessimism about the state of the country] has absolutely nothing to do with the current cyclical state of the economy. It’s not our budget deficit. It’s not China. It’s our education deficit. You can’t be 20th in the world in every field and be a competitive economy. 

We’re a declining economic power. And, I think, you should be worried about it. And the chances of things getting better, as opposed to worse, are limited by our dysfunctional government and ugly political dynamics.”

Laurence Meyer,

Senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomics Advisers

How is it that the supposedly greatest superpower in the world has an education system that generates such abysmal results?

In my opinion, the problems start at home in the form of dysfunctional family units but are then exacerbated by what Meyer describes as our dysfunctional government and ugly political dynamics. Regrettably the dysfunctional units on both sides feed upon themselves and then our nation as a whole.

Far too many of these dysfunctional units have proven themselves incapable and/or disinterested in protecting and educating the kids than in protecting their own self-interests.

Go ahead and take your shot at me if you’d like. I will merely point at our educational rankings which speak volumes and ask how we will fix that mess, especially in the urban settings of our country.

We ALL pay for the travesties and turmoil that abound from these dysfunctional realities.

Navigate accordingly.

With his bold and forthright statement, Meyer gains immediate induction into the Sense on Cents Hall of Fame.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.


  • Tom

    Are you talking about this?

    Let’s start with the problem: In Harlem (NY), according to the Wall Street Journal, at one elementary school, only 3% of the students perform at grade level English, and only 9% in Math. At the Columbus High School the graduation rate is an abysmal 40%, compared to a citywide average of 63%. These figures are from only two of 22 failing schools that need to be shut down.

    Yet, despite the horrific record, the NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers has filed a suit against the Department of Education to prohibit 17 charter schools from “opening, moving, or expanding” in the Harlem area and to keep 22 failing public schools open.

    This has many African-American parents aghast at the NAACP’s position.

    Parents To Rally Against NAACP Harlem:
    VIDEO: Parents To Rally Against NAACP Harlem:

    • LD


      Well,this would be a start.

      3% and 9% at grade level??!! There is not a lot more that needs to be said than that. There are people defending the institutions and schools which generate those results?

      We ALL pay the price.

      The NAACP and the teachers unions should both be ashamed.

      They have FAILED to protect and promote the well being of the youth in our cities.

      Case closed.

  • Sal

    I’m so happy to read the comments from Laurence Meyer and LD.

    I have been thinking the same for some time and discussed it with my friends. Now I see other people are recognizing the root of our problem.

    There is still hope that we will actually do something about it. And setting more stupid tests like SAT will not help. The problem is the “dysfunctional family units”. Nothing will change until this is fixed. We also should stop be be apologetic for our selfs and stop shifting the blame. Despite what every other commercial or celebrity on TV says, YOU DO NOT DESERVE ANYTHING, YOU NEED TO EARN EVERY BENEFIT YOU HAVE.

    Every problem starts from INSIDE-OUT, always!!!

    • Calvin

      It is true that we have terrible education results, and its true that we have dysfunctional families, but why is that? Doyle is only scratching the surface. Overwhelmingly, the strongest correlation of negative education outcomes is poverty. I’m not sure even the privatize-education-types dispute this, or at least Terry Moe, Hoover Institute fellow does not dispute that fact.

      Therefore, the problem of education in this country is really a problem of poverty. The US has among the worst income disparity and poverty rates in the OECD, despite the fact that we had the lowest income disparity and rapidly improving poverty in 1970. There is a mix of causes of this, increasingly regressive income tax, growth of the service sector, decline in industry, loss of unions, etc. but if we don’t fix poverty, we cannot fix education. Finland is often cited as having the best education system in the world (really the best education *outcomes*). Is it any surprise then, to learn that Finland’s child poverty rates are below 1%, and the US’s child poverty rate is over 20%?

      • LD


        Does the poor education system come from the poverty or does the poverty come from the poor education system?

        Is it the chicken or the egg?

        Perhaps it is “the chicken” AND “the egg”. Perhaps it is also “the farmer” at times!!

        • Bruce


          These are symptoms of a much deeper problem. How many people know what the Ten Commandments are? Or where they come from? What I’m saying is, the US is following all previous empires as good ethics and morals are replaced by bad ones. It starts at home.


      • Robt


        Absolute rubbish, and typical progressive / socialist nonsense.

        Answer this question:
        How do poor countries lift themselves up via education if their poverty is a marker for performance?

        Both my kids are in the public school system in NY City, and I can tell you first hand that the real poverty is cultural – kids being ‘raised’ (and I use the term loosely) by kids; absurdly low expectations of educational achievement combined with equally absurdly high entitlement expectations.

        A toxic mix if ever there was one…..

  • Barry

    Another bravo to you, Larry, and the root cause – political correctness.

    PC leads to the belief that equality and fairness are the same thing. People should be treated equally and given the same opportunity to excel in school, sports and at work.

    If you can’t cut it at least you were treated equally – that’s fair. Fair is not advancing students who don’t pass, fair is not giving everyone a trophy and fair is not redistributing income through the tax code.

    We are losing because our society has become a place where losing has become acceptable.


    Dearest Larry, how can anyone disagree with you and your thoughts on our country’s economy and socio/educational disfunction? Your outrage is our outrage, it just takes some time to get people’s attention drawn on certain issues.

    It seems that only when something hits us at home that we begin to notice, but more and more people are becoming aware of the many issues that plague our country.

    It’s true what you said that education begins at home, but it’s also true that the problem lies within many sources. it almost seem like the system did not want to educate the majority of the children especially those within the urban communities. Because they think if they educate everybody who’s going to be their slave?

    I speak only from personal experience, I have two grown children now who had their share of bad and good education depending on where we lived at the time. The behavior of the students depended on how the school was run, where it was located and how much money it had to allow for extracurricular activities.

    When we lived near Oakland CA, the schools were terrible in every way, especially for boys. There was not enough activities to get the students busy with, and the teachers were not the best and no one cared. When we moved to an upscale community, everything was different, more money more activities more parent involvement, etc, the better the students performed.

    Now with our bad economy, things can only get worse, for the students education and health wise as well. That means even the food in the schools are different with the different locations and allocations. Unfortunately for those students of parents who themselves had had no formal education or of lesser economic background have not the ability to add to their children’s education or health. If the students don’t get the proper nutrition how can they grow and prosper mentally and physically, and both of those go hand in hand!

    Yes Larry, I am outraged in more ways than you can imagine and so is every person around me. There’s just so much injustice and political filth that we don’t know what to tackle first.

    I as you may already know am still fighting on all fronts, with the people who stole my money to the banksters who are trying to steal my property, to worrying about my grand children’s well being and education, etc. Meanwhile I work 120 hours a week so I can stand on my own two feet, and I am one of the lucky ones, imagine those who are less fortunate than I, or those who don’t have an understanding of what’s happening around them, and those who are stuck in the system and don’t know how to get ahead!

    I imagine them every day and night, I pray for them and I try to inform them. Each and everyone of us who understand and have the knowledge and the experience and who cares enough like you and some of your readers, and the many true warriors out there bare the burden of informing, teaching and giving of ourselves in the efforts to improve our schools and our home towns and that includes our political arenas and our judicial systems.

    The government had proved itself to be incapable and there’s no true justice in this great country of ours. Good power is not only in how much money a country has, it’s how much heart, knowledge, wisdom HONESTY and true freedom, and right now we have none of that, that’s why we are not the super power we once were.

    Larry, you know it’s people like you that keep reporting on the issues that matter, and people like Amar Bhide’, and Laurence Meyer and the average joe who is speaking out on behalf of the rest who cannot or would not; you are all the teachers of our future generations.

    The American people will rise once more and take back their country one day, because we cannot rely on the institutions to do it for us. Unfortunately we all have to fall before we rise, the more trouble we have the better for us, we learn from disasters, otherwise, we tend to sleep things off!

    • LD


      Your words are powerful and your message is exceptionally well delivered. I truly empathise with you and all those who work so hard to help move your families forward but face such headwinds on so many fronts, many of which are certainly not fair.

      You are truly ‘fighting the good fight.’ I commend you because you are a true American hero and speak with a great deal of ‘sense on cents’ as well as ‘sense’ about courage, family, and virtue.

      Thank you for caring enough to write and sharing your story.
      I firmly believe that there will be people whom you will truly inspire. That is a good thing.

      Let’s keep punchin’!!

      With my deeepest sincerity and ultimate respect…


  • Bruce

    Hi Larry,

    I consider the education problem to be both the chicken and the egg.

    Students do not learn to save and buy. They learn by example to buy and pay (many times the original price due to interest on the loan(s).

    Our exorbitant debt levels are crimping the ability to spend on education, so the problem will only grow.

    To get people’s attention, there is nothing like a crisis. We have had a shot across the bow (the financial crisis). Now it is time for the real deal, full default on the debt while defaulting on the trillions of derivatives. It is somewhat like pushing the reset button on a flight simulator after you pushed the fire buttons in two of four engines (on one side) and you are diving for the ground with all sirens wailing. Bingo the computer resets and you are back at the end of the runway ready to take off again.

    Ok, it is unlike a flight simulator because you crash and burn. But, the economic system is reset. Uh, come to think of it, those with the fortitude to go into cash and gold did not crash and burn, so the metaphor is apt.


  • D. Coulson

    It starts with the family unit. I am so sick of the blame game! I grew up in an environment of verbal & physical abuse all my life! I am not A VICTIM of my upbrining!! We all have choices! Break the cycle or repeat the cycle within our families (I had choice & broke the cycle I lived with growing up!). Those in our government are not exempt from this! They hide behind this!! We all have our issues with our upbringing! If you choose to carry those experiences into your adult life that is your choice! We all have the capability of making a change! I have a very loving son which I chose to not repeat that negative cycle within our family unit & yes I was a single parent throughout his enitre upbringing!! He is a respected law enforcement official & his loving wife is a respected principal in one of our promnent school district’s in our State of Texas! Yes our government in Austin lacks credibility just like Washington!!! STOP THE BLAME GAME!

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