Loosing The Battle To Save America: Part Five


Stopping The Wreck: Professor’s Research Builds A Case That We’re Losing The Battle To Save American Society

By Bob Caylor of the News Sentinel, Fort Wayne In., November 17, 1994

This is the continuation of the 1994 newspaper article explaining my research and theories on America’s decline

Part Five

ENTROPY

Now you see what he sees: Children comprise an ever-smaller part of our population. That means the foundation of society a generation from now also will be a smaller portion of the population.

Meanwhile, the elderly are increasing faster than any other part of the population. Today’s children are to become tomorrow’s working population, helping to support a larger number of retired people.

So much depends on this proportionately smaller group of kids, yet enormous numbers of them are living with unprecedented stresses: high rates of divorce among their parents. The pervasive availability of drugs, an increasingly violent world, both in reality and fiction; and widespread physical and sexual abuse, just to name a few.

What’s this country coming to? To answer that question, Mawhinney borrows a concept from physics: entropy.

Entropy is the amount of energy no longer available in a system to do work. It’s used more loosely, by everyone from science-fiction writers to creationists, to refer to the tendency of systems to run down: machines breaking down; stars dimming, cooling and winking out; living things aging and dying.

As Mawhinney uses the term “entropy” it means the amount of energy not available to maintain a social and cultural organization.

Maintaining such organizations, from individual families all the way up to nations, takes a tremendous amount of energy. On the other hand, neglecting them and letting them run down is quite easy.

Put another way, screwing up your kids doesn’t take nearly as much energy as raising them well. As more screwed-up kids grow up, they burden one layer of institutions after another: schools, public welfare agencies, charities, hospitals, police departments and prisons, for example.

As these institutions struggle under increased case loads and greater demand for their services, more people in need suffer. Schools must spend more of their energy catering to dull-witted or disruptive children. Charities are spread thinner. Social workers can’t do as much individual counseling as they’d like. Hospitals have to raise prices for paying patients to treat the indigent. And so on.

Beginning in their teen-age years, these children–neglected or abused themselves–start bearing or fathering children. Those children, in turn, start out life with the odds raised against them. An the cycle feeds on itself.

Sure, a lot of people are raising fairly healthy, bright, secure children while this is happening. But a greater share of their energy is being consumed by the widening wedge of the population that is maladjusted in one way or another.

Maybe their energies are tapped directly–if they’re teachers, police officers, for example. Or maybe this decay in society only drains them indirectly, because they pay more of their taxes or their charitable donations to treat it, or because they’re scared to go out at night, or because they leave a well paying job to live in an Idaho cabin and get away from the whole mess.

Mawhinney’s vision is this: At some point, the stress of trying to cope with an increasingly large share of dysfunctional people could cause the collapse of our culture and our society.

We might all finally see the urgency of change, and we could throw everything we have at the effort, but it will be too little, too late.

The species would no doubt survive. Some other culture, social organization and government would replace the one we know. But Mawhinney doesn’t see any reason to believe that what would replace a wrecked America would be better.

In the next, part six, the focus is upon the “closing window” of opportunity to save America

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 2/13/13

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