The USA Is A Failure
As I look around me today, I see the United States of America as a failing country. There are just too many things going wrong with our country today. The United States of America is failing. Failing to adequately tackle the problems in our economic system. Failing to reflect on the deep flaws in our system of government. Failing to repair our image abroad. Failing in education, in healthcare, in human rights, in religious tolerance, and especially failing morally due to the multiple military and “black ops” escapades overseas. This moral failure, which is a failure of leadership, has turned the most Christian country in the world into the world’s most insidious and belligerent military aggressor.
But there is an underlying failure in the entire Western world that is emanating from Washington, and that quite simply is the ongoing implosion of the Capitalist economic system due to an explosion of unsecured debt. Capitalism’s best old friend, compound interest, has become its own worst enemy. In days of old, compound interest was the key to profitability. The problem with this is that so much interest has now accrued with the world banking system that the interest is being compounded faster than the principal can be repaid. In other words, the world banking system has the entire financial world in a bind from which there is no escape. So, in effect, the capitalist fat cats on Wall St., together with their minions in Washington and their armies of lobbyists, have conquered the world without firing a shot. Why wage a military campaign when an economic conquest will accomplish just as much, if not more? In fact, we look a lot like the USSR just before 1990 – except with more big-screen TV’s. And we all know what happened to them.
You may take issue with my central contention. You may say that we are prosperous because our GDP is so large. Or that our government works just fine the way it is (though I don’t expect many of either political persuasion to hawk that notion too hard) or even that we have a great healthcare system and that since most of us are Christians anyway, who do we have to tolerate? I respect your right to those opinions – freedom of expression is one of the few things our country hasn’t managed to screw up in the last couple of hundred years. But in every case, the data back me up. I will try and substantiate my claims first, before suggesting a few solutions.
The economy: in 2009 alone, 131 banks failed. The bailout granted billions of dollars – with strings attached – to private companies who then used the money to short-sell the market, make countless billions more, hand the government back its money (removing the strings) and payout lavish bonuses while Americans lost their jobs. It is estimated that in 2012 our national debt will exceed one year’s Gross Domestic Product. Meanwhile the median family income is less today than it was a decade ago. Our government, meanwhile, is no longer run by competing ideologies but by corporate interests (I include both parties in this category – both are moneymaking enterprises). There are good Republicans who would prefer that your cancer-stricken child had health insurance. There are responsible Democrats who are horrified by our country’s spend-now pay-later approach to finance. But since they are beholden to a higher power – money – they have to vote with their wallets, not with their hearts. At the Federal level, AT&T and Goldman Sachs have contributed over $75M over the last 20 years, and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees plus the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers aren’t far behind.
Across the world our reputation is tarnished, perhaps irrevocably, and yet we find our President – in the words of Dick Cheney – following the ‘Bush Doctrine’ of a surge in forces occupying a foreign country with seemingly little chance of categorical success. We are seen as an economic and religious bully, and we don’t seem to care. We vilify our political enemies for their human rights records, and import cheap goods from countries we know to exploit child labor. We are, to much of the world, intolerable hypocrites. Healthcare apologists will continue to defend our system at all costs, claiming that so-called socialist states such as England, France and Sweden (which, incidentally, is actually a constitutional monarchy governed by a center-right coalition) kill their citizens at will in order to save money, or make you wait thirty years for a kidney transplant. Deflecting (especially with such utter garbage) doesn’t make our system any better. When kids can’t get healthcare, something is wrong. Any anthropologist will tell you that we took care of our young when we were Neanderthals – so what’s changed? For one in six of our citizens to be uninsured is a national disgrace. We deny basic human rights to our own people. Whom you choose to marry is not a matter for government, it is a matter for the individual. As is what religion to follow, if any. As is whether to change your underpants every day, or whether to carry a fetus in your womb. Some may not like your choices, but they are inalienable rights and you should be free to exercise them as you will.
As far back as 2005, statistics showed that hate crimes against Muslims were increasing 50% year-on-year (although one recent report shows that the numbers are falling again). Even so, the FBI reported that in 2008 hate crimes against homosexuals had increased 9% from 2007, and those motivated by religion had risen by 11%.
This is discouraging in the extreme. The track we have taken over the last fifty years has been the wrong one (I use that figure deliberately – the USA in the ‘fifties was probably the happiest and most prosperous state that ever existed). We have let corruption, greed, fame, intolerance and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge our problems almost ruin our nation. We are failing to live the American Dream, and if we don’t start now our children will never even know what it was.
I have several fairly radical ideas. I’m sure you have some of your own, and I welcome your comments. I have chosen not to expound on what I personally think the consequences of these actions would be, as I would be diving headlong into speculation that could easily (and should be) challenged. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve got some real good starting points for this necessary national conversation.
1. Immediately and totally stop all corporations from giving money to political parties.
2. Acknowledge that politics and religion do not mix well, for good or for bad. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law establishing any religion…….”. Those who wish to merge Christianity and government are actively trying to subvert the Constitution. Speaking as a pastor and a patriot, that makes them criminals. Enough said.
3. Make a promise to our children: you will be well-educated, and you will be treated when you are sick. Good healthcare and quality higher education are basic fundamental human rights. Squeezing profits out of sick people is nothing short of barbaric.
4. Change the game. Capitalism is broken. It’s time for a new economic system to be put into place. I’m all for private ownership and free enterprise, but not if they exist at the expense of the many while the top 1% gorge themselves with “profit”. Get out in the streets and start protesting. Join Occupy and the 99% Movements. Get involved in local or state politics. There is tremendous power in numbers, as events in the Middle East and Europe point out. Do something for your country, and it will do something for you.
5. Take a leaf out of the good book and just treat everyone else with respect. If it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for you. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you. Leave the gays alone. Leave the blacks alone. Leave the Muslims or the Christians alone. When respect departs, enmity is the next train along.
6. Pay for it. Child labor is inexcusable. If it costs an extra ten bucks, or extra hundred bucks, to buy something that was made by willing workers, pay it. And the same goes for government. You want healthcare? Pay for it. More troops? Pay for them. Tax breaks for corporations? Ditto. If you have to raise taxes to pay for it, raise taxes. Stop acting like giddy schoolkids with mom’s credit card, and damn well pay for what you consume.
7. Form coalitions based on issues, not parties. Not every NRA member is anti-abortion. Not every tree-hugging hippie thinks that owning a gun is wrong. When a party tells you how you should think, and what issues should be thrown together into what bucket, you’re a lot closer to communism than you think you are.
8. Buy American. From what I can tell, the great empires of yore – from Egypt to Rome to England – were ‘first-to-market’ with some manufacturing innovation or other, that led to more innovations, and greater strides, that in turn led to them becoming the largest producers of goods in their region. This happened to the USA from the dawn of the twentieth century until the ‘fifties. Then we began to transform into a service economy, just as those others did. Producing goods is what is making China become a world powerhouse, and if we are to compete, we must produce our own. American isn’t always the best, and it’s almost never the cheapest, but if we are to reinstate our status as the world’s greatest country, we need to start by supporting our own businesses and workers.