Since coming back to the United States after three years away in China, I have been asking experts around the country whether America is finally going to hell.... [T]he question wasn’t simply a joke.... I spoke with historians and politicians, soldiers and ministers, civil engineers and broadcast executives and high-tech researchers. Overall, the news they gave was heartening—and alarming, too. Most of the things that worry Americans aren’t really that serious, especially those that involve “falling behind” anyone else. But there is a deeper problem almost too alarming to worry about, since it is so hard to see a solution.... We could correct all these problems—and that is the heart of the problem. America still has the means to address nearly any of its structural weaknesses.... We know that such an investment could happen here—but we also know that it won’t. That is the American tragedy of the early 21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke.... America the society is in fine shape! America the polity most certainly is not.... Our government is old and broken and dysfunctional, and may even be beyond repair.Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here. Read this tag to see all of them.
—James Fallows (2010)