The Far Middle episode 92 features a unique dedication to a group of professional athletes who showcased a tenacity for greatness while on the gridiron, diamond, ice, and hardwood. These include two greats to wear the number 92 jersey: Reggie White, aka the “Minister of Defense,” and former Penguins winger and current Canucks coach, Rick Tocchet.

Nick shifts from the subject of tenacity for sports greatness to America’s tenacity for scientific greatness. On the surface, America’s scientific prowess looks better than ever, but unfortunately, the data reveals a different state of America’s scientific efficacy. Specifically, Nick looks at Consolidation-Disruption Index data trends, or CD Index, which measures the impact of research once published.

Nick cites three root causes of why scientific research and innovation are declining in America—causes analyzed at length in Precipice.

Meanwhile, something not on the decline in America is government spending, “a crisis of simple math,” says Nick. Government debt has increased by $8 trillion since February 2020, and we now find ourselves in a brutal, self-inflicted cycle. Nick lays out the options we face: either raise taxes, dramatically cut spending and entitlements, or default on our debt obligations.

And to those who argue that the Fed lowering interest rates is the key to reducing the federal debt burden, Nick says that’s merely a delay tactic that kicks the can of much-needed fiscal reform down the road.

Nick next offers an example of federal fiscal responsibility and compromise, going back to President Lyndon Johnson and Democratic Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia who came together to cut taxes and reduce spending in the FY 1965 budget. Nick contrasts the $100 billion federal budget of the early/mid-1960s to today’s budget of more than $6 trillion—questioning if listeners believe government today is 60 times more effective than it was during LBJ’s presidency.

Nick concludes by bringing the episode’s connections full circle as he highlights another individual who had a tenacity for greatness and who enjoyed the apt nickname, “The Great One.” Nick reflects on the legendary career of Jackie Gleason in conjunction with the anniversary of his birthday, which falls on February 26.