What should be the big national challenge of today?

Fifty years ago today, President John Kennedy announced a big national challenge: to land humans on the moon and return them safely to Earth before the end of that decade. Today’s Question: What should be the big national challenge of today?

  • Clark

    We are too far in debt, 16 trillion to afford any more grand challenges.

    Reduce spending including entitlements or we’re toast.

    I have no issue with some revenue increases, but given all democrats are lying liars, spending cuts must come first.

    One more thing, defeat our current clueless, math challenged president.

  • Gary F

    Greece is the word………..

    Let’s just watch how successful France is with “sticking it to the rich”.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Without doubt, the new challenge must be to transition into energy sources that don’t dump CO2 into the atmosphere. A failure to do so will no doubt result in severe damage to our agricultural productivity, as well as unpredictable impacts on human health and the natural environment.

    Of equal importance is the issue of the worldwide expansion of the human population, including here in the United States. If we don’t don’t tackle that problem, nature will do it for us.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The question is irrelevant. Sadly, we’re too polarized to rally around a “national challenge,” big or otherwise.

  • Larry M.

    It should be repairing and updating our infrastructure on a massive scale. This would create jobs and make us competitive into the future. This would need to be more than bridges and highways, although that is a good place to start. This would include an upgrading of our electrical grid to make it friendlier to alternative cleaner energies, improving efficiency and reliability. It would be updating mass transit in cities of a certain size with monorail, light rail, and other cleaner more efficient alternatives including hybrid buses. This would mean a high speed rail loop around our nation that would go along both coasts, a north loop hitting the major cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, and a south loop that included Vegas and Dallas.

  • Ann

    Face up to reality. Spending billions to study Mars isn’t going to help this country. There are many of us in our 40’s and 50’s without jobs. We won’t have time to make up for 2 years of no income.There will be a lot of poverty.As I have written before, it has been reported that German leaders worked with unions and companies to make concessions and get people trained for the right jobs.This is an example of the type of practical steps that need to be taken.Teacher unions are again spending a lot of money on commercials. It has been my experience that schools that spend more money aren’t always the best schools.The poor school I attended stuck to the basics. Unfortunately, I spent most of my years in a school system that spent a lot of money and did a poor job of teaching.I just saw a report on the news about Allen, Texas. They have a huge HS football stadum. If I heard the report correctly, $60 million dollars was spent.The town has 80,000 people.

  • Jim G

    Rebuild… Reform… Refocus…

    We must rebuild our nation.

    Our public infrastructure is crumbling and we must rebuild it to maintain our status as an exceptional nation These are in critical states of repair; fracture critical bridges, aging sewer and water systems, high speed Internet connection availability across the entire country, aging or nonexistent mass transit systems, and state of the art schools. We must rebuild the elemental structure upon which our civilization hangs.

    Reform the systems on which the welfare of our citizens depend. These would be:

    *Health care- no one should go broke if they get sick.

    *Dysfunctional governmental institutions- Start with the Senate and House rules. Make it functional again.

    *Dysfunctional economic systems and laws which unfairly distribute the wealth away from the workers who produce it.

    *Higher educational institutions built for the profit of no one but the privateers who run them.

    *Public education by training, treating, and paying teachers like other highly skilled professionals.

    Refocus on the American Dream of One Nation.

    We need the dream if not the reality of a country with a future for our children and grandchildren. We have a lot of challenging work to do to set our country on a path so that it will thrive into the 21st century. We are a fractious nation that must refocus on the dream of our founders to find ways to live together without giving up our vital differences. These are the national challenges that I’d fight to achieve.

  • Mary

    The answer is simple and not expensive. Our biggest challenge is to listen. Really, truly listen. To all sides. To everyone. To those you vehemently disagree with.

    Until we can listen, we can’t understand. Until we understand, we can’t compromise. Until we can compromise, we’re stuck in this world of polarity and everything that comes with it.

    We are much better at talking (or writing, blogging or posting) than listening. As I’ve just demonstrated.

  • jon

    I do believe that if we set our minds and wallets to the effort, we could be on mars inside of the next 10 years (though I don’t know if we’d be able to come back in that short of a time span.)

    While I know others would say we need to spend that money here on earth, I disagree.

    If you ask my fathers generation about the space program when they were younger, they will tell you about patriotism, and every one watching it on a black and white TV, etc.

    Yesterday we were reminded what my generation came together for to watch on TV, two towers falling to the ground. My generations patriotism? Doesn’t revolve around accomplishment of science, or saving lives of astronauts on Apollo 13 we remember the Challenger, and Columbia, we remember towers falling down. At best we remember Bin Laden reported dead. Death, and carnage, that is what is driving us now… partisanship and bickering (though I’m told even JFK put up with that to some extent)

    Lets do something (anything?) we can be proud of even if some might think it is a waste right now.

  • James

    Energy self-sufficiency with CO2 emissions not to exceed current levels. Meaning it will be much more than “drill baby, drill.”

  • Mary

    I agree with Mary and Steve. We need to get rid of the vitriolic speech and behavior towards those who don’t agree with us. Open our minds to the ideas of others and realize we are not always right. Our Representatives ans Senators really need to lead on this and start working for the people they represent and not for the party they are from. We are too polarized as a nation. This is our biggest challenge. If we don’t fix this, then our nation will never move forward and maintain the leader of the world status we have enjoyed in the past.

  • Leonard

    The National Challenge has been spelled out months a go…it was clear at the GOP debates. Restore America, restore adherence to our republic, our Constitution, understand we are not a country where 51% dictate to the other 49% as majority rules in other democracies. our USA is a Republic but Congress and the president seem to have lost sight of that. How else can one man, Harry Reid, the leader of the Senat,e act alone to prevent Congress from passing a budget..he refuses these past 3 years to allow a vote to even occur in the Senate, in spite of the House having passed over 20 job bills and a budget that Harry Reid refuses to allow senators to vote upon.. THE NATIONAL challenge is to restore our Republic.

  • Fred the Mayor

    Get back to being innovators, creators, and producers of durable goods. We have become the nation of all things cheap and consumable.

    If the manufacturing ship has truly sailed, we are doomed.

    It starts on a personal level. Buy American goods and reject cheap Chinese products destined for the landfill.

  • David Poretti

    Three challenges:

    An environmentally sustainable and economically viable energy policy. All the politics won’t matter if the planet is uninhabitable.

    Reinvent and rebuild our infra-structure from top to bottom, preparing our country for the next 100 years.

    Acknowledging and acting as global citizens – we must live in harmony with the planet and our fellow inhabitants. Lead by example and live as though we are all brothers and sisters on Mother Earth – which we are.

  • NeilC

    I would suggest that some contributors are confusing the notions of “big national challenges” (like going to the moon) and “must win battles,” or some similar term, referring to things we need to accomplish to return America to its former glory.

    Energy self-sufficiency at current or lower CO2 emission levels is moon-shot like in its complexity and importance. The elusive fusion reactor is part of the answer and would change our world forever.

    A manned Mars landing would be quite the national challenge but in my opinion is something of a stunt. It is not that different from going to the moon, except the rocket needs to be bigger and the astronauts will have to endure horrible conditions much longer. And when we get there, we will find, no surprise, a barren wasteland.

    Proving or disproving the existence of God would be an interesting project. As would curing cancer.

    Unfortunately, the list of must win battles is long, and probably needs to be tended to first. Many have already been mentioned today. My list would include:

    – Getting health care costs down to 10% or less of GDP

    – Raising our education standards so that the US is at least in the top 5 in academic achievement at all levels

    – Reducing our national murder rate to some negligible number

    – Reducing our highway death rate to some negligible number

    – Getting national defense and security costs down to 4% or less of GDP

    – Balancing our federal budget

    – Reducing our federal debt to 50% or less of GDP

    – Bringing 10 million manufacturing jobs back to the US

    – Reducing the number of people living in poverty to less than 5% of the population

    – Fixing what ails Washington, so that we can get on with the job of dealing with these and other must win battles

  • joel w blanchfield

    I have been waiting for over 20 years to have our president follow President Kennedy with a message like this ” By the end of this decade the United State of America will be free of foreign oil, we will have developed efficent fuel cells, promoted and established “green energy” and research and develop new ways of creating energy”

    We do have a large coal and natural gas reserve but most people and government officials do not look at the collateral damage that occurs in the mining and use of these fuel sources. Just look in the Mn fishing rules book at all the lakes and rivers where there is a mercury warning – where is that mecury coming from and why are more and ore lakes listed – Coal. Lets stop the supseies of big oil and coal and put it into renewable energy. Both in research and implementation

  • Surley the Synic

    Next big challenge……..

    Dealing with radical Islam and its refusal to live peacefully in a modern world with personal and economic freedoms.

  • georges


    The president is speaking. Sit down and listen up.

    “There is a giant clamor arising in the Northland. I hear ya. I am there, man.

    Therefore, before the end of this decade, the United States of America will put a president, of the Republican persuasion, in a condensed Tomato Soup can, and blow it to hell, using only a large container of compressed hot air, and spare parts that are lying around, and tools found in any normal middle-class home. To the achievment of this National Goal, I pledge and commit the entire wealth of myself and my fellow Americans. Well, I mean, the EXTRA wealth, the stuff we haven’t already found a home for in one of our off-shore accounts. The leftovers, so to speak. We are Americans, dammit, and we are going to prove it once again. We have more money fall out of our cars every day when we open the doors than most countries will ever see in a lifetime. Dammit.

    I am the decider. I have spoken. Now, go about your business and leave me alone.”

  • Janet Rose

    Upgrade the infrastructure before it’s too late.

    I’d love it if we went to Mars but I’d rather have safe bridges, roads, pipelines, etc.

  • Ben

    Cheap, eco friendly electric power and lots of it.

    My suggestion, Space Based Solar Power Satellites.

    This could cut coal use to almost ZERO.

    and need for gasoline and diesel to almost zero.

    We could easily do it for the cost of an Iraq War.

    A lot of problems go away when you have some place to plug your stuff into and its ‘too cheap to meter’. 😉

  • Jonathan

    Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere! – George Washington, First U.S. President

    “What was done with the seed saved from the Indian Hemp

    last summer? It ought, all of it, to have been sewn again;

    that not only a stock of seed sufficient for my own purposes

    might have been raised, but to have disseminated the seed

    to others; as it is more valuable than the common Hemp.”

    – George Washington, First U.S. President

    “The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our nation’s marijuana laws.” – Barack Obama, January 21, 2004 debate

    Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

    “I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis (and probably with other drugs) which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, unavailable to us without such drugs.”

    ~ Carl Sagan

    The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world. – Carl Sagan

    “The best hemp and the best tobacco grown on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful and sometimes pernicious, derives its estimation from caprice.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Jefferson’s journal entry / March 16, 1791

    “the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it’s culture; especially a bread grain. next in value to bread, is oil.”

    – Thomas Jefferson Memorandum of Services to My Country, after 2 September 1800

    “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” Thomas Jefferson

    Some of my finest hours have been spent on the back of my veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as the eye can see. – Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

    If the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.

    – Terence McKenna

    We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption. – John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

    “Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.”

    Henry David Thoreau


    End the failed War on Drug … return to education/exploration and inquiry into life and the universe on all levels.

    End the Prohibition of Cannabis … make the most of the hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!

  • Leonard

    The National Challenge ought to be something that really matters. Something that will save our country, not do a radical transformation as Obama said he would do.

    We need a Congress that works and can’t be stymied by one old man named Harry Reid..the big shot democrat Senate Leader has stopped all bills from being voted on, he has stopped most efforts to get our country out of a recession and Obama allows that with none of his ” power ” to influence the Senate.

    Recall it was the Democrat appointees that said the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular group and we supported them by our President meeting with two of their most entrenched radical terrorist supporters, right in our_ yes OUR own White House.

    Our embassies are not well defended. Today’s news is further proof of what happens when a Nanny state socialist mentality gets in the White House. Weak leaders bear weak outcomes and that is where we are today. Never forget what Clinton said in 2008, ” Obama? Now that’s a fairy tale.”

    I guess a career spent handing out flyers as an ACCORN lackie community organizer doesn’t really prepare one to be President.after all.

  • T.Day

    Until we get money out of our elections, there is no more important task for this country to work at. Nothing short of a Constitutional amendment will prevent this Extreme Court from doing everything it can to destroy democracy. Until we’ve resolved our political system disaster, we’re headed downhill on a rocket sled.