Obviously it would be better if it were the other way around. Especially since everywhere you turn in the good ole USA you hear about “our institutions” being broken. All the politicians will tell you Washington is broken. They do not go on to explain what they will do (or even if they will do anything) to fix it, but vote for them anyway. Politics itself (themselves?) is/are broken. The Pentagon is broken. The V.A. is broken. Our cities are broken. Our infrastructure is broken. Our public transportation systems are broken. Likewise our public education system, to say nothing of our system of higher education. The book publishing world is broken. So is the art world. Likewise the music world. Hollywood is broken. Our journalism is broken. The NFL and Major League Baseball are broken. Our economy is broken. The free enterprise system is broken. The oceans, the climate, yea, the environment itself is broken.
All this, as well as all the other broken things too numerous to continue mentioning, goes to support the survey’s finding that we are 37th among industrialized countries in education. Educated people with good old American knowhow would not only know how to repair things; they would repair or rebuild them. And then they would make sure to maintain them.
But, given all this unabated breakage, why should we be Number One in self confidence?
Perhaps it is the new practice of rewarding our children for everything. Run a race, come in last and win a trophy anyway. Or could it be all those people who chant “USA, USA, USA!” and assure us this is the greatest country on earth though how would they know since most of them have never even owned a passport? Or maybe it’s the citizens of Lake Woebegone where every child is above average.
Whatever the cause or causes– and it’s fun in a pseudo-sociological kind of way to speculate — our national narcissism is a serious delusion. And patriotism among the ruins is surely not the cure.