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Is America Worth Saving? Part 3

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This is the third part of a three-part series aimed at focusing on the above question and the possible answers to it. In the first part, I focused on America's recent history. I presented the current events that the US helped create and change, the foreign policy of the US and its implications on the global stage, and the hypocritical human rights policy that the US uses to blind its own people while knowing full well that the rest of the world sees it for what it is.

In the second part, I focused more on the current domestic policies of the US, the involvement of Americans in those policies, and the daily diet of propaganda that has been spoon fed to Americans over this same period.

In this part, I will focus on the other important aspects pertaining to the United States, give a small recap of previously discussed topics, and provide what I feel are the most probable outcomes going forward, using the title of this trilogy as the guideline for my discussion. I will also add a few alternatives that could improve the situation here in the US on both an immediate and long-term level.

We must accept that the US is also ...

A one-party system with two party names. Gore Vidal said it best in an interview with David Barsamian in the August, 2006, issue of Progressive Magazine. "I have been saying for the last thousand years that the United States has only one party -- the property party. It's the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican." Vidal is very critical of the US and has even christened it, "The United States of Amnesia." And it's quickly evident how right he is.

On August 23, 1971, future Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote an historic memo that urged the Republican Party to move aggressively towards a pro-business and anti-citizen stance. Then, in 1985, the Democratic Leadership Council was founded by conservative Southern Democrats to do the same for the Democratic Party. Ever since, we have had an unchecked and growing governance by the country's oligarchs who have ensured that a steady stream of propaganda, fed to the American people through an ever narrowing number of media companies, would move the country in the following direction:

1. Americans believe that government is bad for the nation. Not that all government is bad, just that part which improves the general welfare of the citizens and protects them from abuse by greedy oligarchs.


2. According to many neocons, libertarians, mainstream pundits, and a large portion of the supposed progressive group, the only good part of government is the military. Americans need to spend more and more on guns, bullets, bombs, missiles, jet fighters, aircraft carriers, and anything related to killing people in foreign countries. For most Americans, that is the only positive purpose of the government, to ensure that we can destroy the world ever more quickly and efficiently.

We have been moving steadily towards a system of perpetual war and during the Bush administration it seems we have finally achieved it. If the US continues along this path, there is little hope that the US will change its policy of open-ended military incursions in several different countries at the same time and without support from any other nation, until the US economy finally collapses under the weight of tens of trillions of dollars of unmanageable debt and billions of people wanting our immediate destruction.

Currently, we are not only engaged militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, where several American soldiers were recently killed, in Yemen and in Somalia. At the same time, we have increased our bellicose rhetoric against Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and other nations with a possible goal of a future military role there.

And this is not a Republican admin policy vs a Democrat admin policy. Just a cursory view of American foreign and domestic policies since WWII has shown that there is very little difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Under the Dems, the US illegally invaded the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere. Under the Reps, the US illegally invaded Iraq twice, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Somalia and elsewhere. Under the Dems, the US participated in coup d'etats that toppled the legitimate governments of Indonesia, Brazil, Zaire, Greece, and elsewhere. Under the Reps, the US participated in coup d'etats that toppled the legitimate governments of Iran, Guatemala twice, Ecuador, Cambodia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, Haiti and elsewhere.

A closer look at the adbuster timeline of American aggression in foreign countries shows that the use of US military in other countries is nothing new, and the US is far from the only country to engage in this practice. The difference, however, is that nearly every other nation on the planet has stopped this practice, especially those who were the main offenders over the past few centuries.

It used to be that Great Britain would act whenever and wherever it wanted, alone or in concert with other nations. France would do the same, along with other European powers. But since WWII, only the US has continued this practice on a global scale. Oh, I'm sure others will quickly point out regional conflicts in Africa, or cross-border skirmishes in South America, but outside of the Falkland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain, there are few skirmishes and none with a global reach. Only the US has made it a practice to be engaged in war, alone or in concert with others, during every single decade since WWII.

3. Any part of the government that relates to stopping pollution or improving the living standard of Americans is bad. Over the past three decades we have seen the EPA become a useless organization with fewer inspectors and a diminishing role. The popular theme now is, "Hands off our industries." Companies are freer now to pollute to their hearts' content without fear of huge penalties. Selling guns on the open market to anyone and everyone, legally or illegally, is common practice. The ATF Bureau has fewer inspectors and a general mandate to turn a blind eye to this practice.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Americans are jailed annually for smoking or possessing marijuana. The trend here is, if you get high you go to jail, but if you sell a lethal weapon illegally, you are considered a model citizen. And this can even be presented as a pure class issue, since White kids snorting coke or taking crack at locally organized parties, and even in the presence of police, are seldom molested, but the poor and minorities who are found with less than a joint are often incarcerated and punished as a result.

Health care in the US, once the at the vanguard of world health care systems, was rated no better than 37th in 2000. Today, we have 50 million people without health care and the trend is for that number to increase. Patients in the US have longer waits than 40 years ago, have more costs to pay for the same service even after adjusting for inflation, and are being denied service at an ever increasing rate. And to top it all off, the US health care is the costliest in the world. Again, this is a class issue as well since the rich can afford the best services and the great majority of Americans must pay ever increasing rates for ever decreasing services until they are finally denied coverage altogether and put out to pasture. Even so, the US propaganda machine tells everyone that any modification to the current system would only worsen it.

Americans are told that Medicare and Social Security benefits for the retired, poor and handicapped are bad. We are constantly bombarded with propaganda that these are some of the main causes for our current deficit and that, by eliminating this help, we could reduce our deficit spending tremendously. There is little news on the importance of these programs and their raison d'être.

4. Americans are told that greed is good. They have been separated from the old definition of greed, "An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth." It is now fashionable to desire and procure that which others need to survive.

During the recent economic meltdown, many Americans blamed those who took out ninja loans to finance their home purchases rather than the banks and mortgage institutions who coerced them and approved their loans, knowing full well that these same home buyers were going to be thrown out into the street in a few years when the loans came up for review. US propaganda is to demonize the average American while deifying the role of the banksters who steal our money.

5. Americans are turning against other Americans. During this same meltdown the media tone was decidedly anti-American and pro-American big business. Time and again they would decry the treacherous lepers who preyed on banks and mortgage institutions forcing them to provide loans to unworthy buyers. The absurdity of this concept is obvious, yet many Americans believe that the banks are innocent and just unfortunate victims of other Americans' desire to cheat the system.

Americans who demand more control over pollution, gun crimes, greedy bank policies, and corrupt government practices are demonized, hated, and attacked in the press, on the internet as well as in real life. Those who flaunt their guns, especially when fully loaded, and who crow that they have stolen money from others through fraudulent practices are labeled "ingenious," "thinking outside the box," "forward moving," and "proving the American Way."

Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly is famously quoted from his February 26, 2003, show, "Once the war against Saddam begins we expect every American to support our military and if they can't do that to shut up." Yet, we have Thomas Jefferson who spoke of this as well, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

More and more we have the main stream media denouncing the wisdom of our founding fathers to replace it with fear mongering, lies and hatred towards anyone else who thinks differently. The Patriot Acts I and II removed habeas corpus protection for us, as well as other liberties now lost forever, yet there is almost no public outrage at this. It appears that fake "reality shows" on TV are far more important than the reality we actually are living on planet Earth.

6. Those in government are being forced to spend much more of their time fund-raising for their next election than governing the nation. Elections are becoming more expensive every year and these politicians are being forced to seek more and more money just to stay in office. As with everything, nothing comes for free. Every dollar supplied by a corporation comes with obvious strings attached. A company will not waste its money on politicians who do not send tax dollars their way. Such a company would simply take its money and support the other candidate. Thus, our politicians must kowtow to corporations who pay for their elections and not the people who vote for them. Benito Mussolini described this type of system by saying, "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

So what is the answer? Is America worth saving?

My triad here has brought up those points that are all too often ignored by Americans. The MSM feeds us a steady diet of, "America is the best. America is the greatest. People hate us for our freedoms. Americans are far superior to all other peoples in all other countries. We are not evil, just misunderstood. We own the world and no one can stop us." We are constantly bombarded with how great the US is around the world. While I have noted these analogies ever since my earliest days of recollection, I have never seen them so derisive, so malicious and so evil.

There is a definite split being created in the US and it is one of monumental importance. The very existence of the country is now in jeopardy. Those who would take up arms against other Americans are increasing in size, rhetoric and evil intent. We already have regular citizens on our borders who shoot Americans first, then ask if they are Americans or illegal immigrants.

But our movement towards corporatism and continual warfare has also hastened the day that the US dollar will no longer be the world's currency and the US will have to stand in line and pay for things just like everyone else. Our military is stretched far beyond the breaking point and is now almost totally useless in any other arena around the world that might flare up. Our economic meltdown has pushed the other major economies, led by China, to diversify their holdings of the dollar and to start creating trading pacts among themselves using non-dollar currencies. The writing is clearly displayed on the wall -- the US will not be the world's leader for very much longer.

At the Chinese Olympic Games in August, 2008, the "leader of the free world" was reduced to the role of cheerleader for our swim team. Never before has a sitting president ever attended the Olympics held in a foreign country; yet President Bush stated that it would be an insult to President Hu of China if he didn't attend.

On the last day of the Copenhagen meeting, President Obama had to crash a meeting held by China, Brazil, South Africa and other nations who really did want to see something positive come out of the summit. Our constant, belligerent and bellicose political and economic policies have finally convinced the rest of the world that we are not capable of leading them much farther into this new millennium. We are the last of the empirical dinosaurs who only envision sustaining their way of life through war and economic coercion.

Any America that is salvageable will be so at a much reduced world rank than what exists today. After our economy becomes overburdened with the weight of servicing two wars, an ever increasing health care system that serves fewer and fewer people, and a public that has overused its credit cards to such an extent that they are completely maxed out, we will be reduced to the status of former superpower and will see our impact on other nations greatly reduced. The wheels are already in place and are forcing the issue globally. Iran, China, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and other nations are increasing their trading in non-dollar currencies with each other on a daily basis.

So why should anyone care? The US has demonstrated how bellicose it can be and has become, not the new and improved policeman of the world, but just another superpower bully pushing its weight around at every opportunity. What could possibly be worth salvaging in the US?

This is also the US:

We have an economy that has remained rather stable over the years, at least until recently. After WWII, there was only one economy that was available to become the engine of the post-war world, the US. Europe was completely decimated, The Soviet Union was equally in ruins, Between 1942 and 1945, UK's GDP contracted by 9%, French GDP contracted by 10%, Italy's went down by 35%, Germany's fell by 25%, Austria's tumbled by over 50%, and Japan's dropped by 27%. In fact, among the principal participants in WWII, only the USSR and the US had growing economies. US GDP grew by 20% and the USSR added 25% to their GDP.

But the major difference between the two superpowers is the size of their economies. In 1945, USSR's GDP stood at $343 billion only, while the US GDP had reached $1,474 billion. By the end of WWII, the US GDP was greater than the other six nations combined. China was in the midst of a bloody civil war that eventually saw Chang kai-shek deposed and Mao Tse-dung in power. No other region in the world had the production power to kick-start the globe after that horrible conflict.

With the Marshall Plan and other acts, we helped heal the geographic wounds in the war-torn areas and provided a first step for Europe and Japan. In reality, the quickness in which the US turned around their war machine, including GM, Ford, Kaiser, McDonnell Douglas, and other major corporations, was quite remarkable.

But, by 1951, through the massive $12 billion, four-year project known as the Marshall Plan, the UK saw its GDP rise 3%, France's grew by 130%, Italy's jumped over 100%, Austria's surged 140%, and Japan's rose 80%. Germany's GDP is the only one that continued to contract by 3%. But that is entirely expected due to the fact that the country was split into four parts which later became two parts. The German GDP post WWII was broken up between East Germany and West Germany, so comparing the data before and after is like comparing apples with oranges. The Marshall Plan had many flaws in it to be sure, but at a macro-economic level, the American taxpayer aid given to the other major combatants of WWII sped up the financial recovery process by several years.

Though we are as responsible as all the other Western and Eastern powers in the creation of a Cold War, we did take the lead in helping those in need in Europe and elsewhere. The Berlin Airlift is but one example of how we resolved some conflicts to help those engaged while avoiding a continuance or renewal of battles.

With the advent of the Bretton Woods Agreement, the US began a deliberate attempt at becoming the largest trading partner of nearly every country on the planet. This is a status that it still maintains with a large number of countries of all sizes some 65 years later. This has meant that from the very earliest years after WWII, other countries could count on a large market for their goods and services and one that was not likely to vanish or change major policies over the near- and mid-terms.

While there is plenty of abuse to be documented here as well, it is important to remember that having a large and secure trading partner like the US meant that at least a large portion of worldwide trading for most other countries could be counted on year after year. This has led to a rather stable overall world marketplace.

One manifestation of this is the recent upheaval in the horn of Africa where some Somalis have been forced to recreate the all but dead art of pirating. Long the scourge of international trading, pirating has become less and less necessary over the years and, since WWII, very little of it has existed anywhere on Earth. Even though sea traffic has never been greater, with oil tankers and merchant vessels crisscrossing the high seas with ever increasing frequency, the amount of pirating has never been lower. To wit, the haphazard and near-comical approach that the destitute Somali pirates have displayed on the world stage demonstrates just how abandoned this once lucrative industry has become. Whenever I watch one of these acts in progress, I can't help but visualize Beavis and Butthead at the helm of the pirate ship laughing and giggling in their adolescent way while pointing to potential victims and trying to assess their potential capture, "Wow! I bet that boat has chicks with real big t*ts. Hehehehe. Let's attack them."

In fact, our twin pillars that form the foundation of the US superpower, GDP and military capabilities, have been severely eroded over the past few years. While our abuse of them is clear for all to see, there is also ample evidence of how they have proven to be helpful over the same period. Stabilized world sea commerce, increased and steady improvements in technology that shorten the transit time, lengthen the shelf life and improve the quality of products moving everywhere, and an ever enlarging group of users have all been very beneficial for commerce since the last world war.

We have pioneered advances in hundreds of different industries, sometimes even creating them as we go along. The computer industry has been driven by US ingenuity ever since the earliest times. The Eniac, one of the world's first major computers, was made in USA. Advances in both hardware and software are overwhelmingly American. Just a casual review of computer terminology used in other countries reveals the overwhelming incorporation of English words. To this day Microsoft leads the world in PC programming, Intel leads the world in chip technology, Google is the daddy of search engines, and Apple leads the way in graphics and gadgetry. The US has led the world in computers since the very beginning and its status has never been threatened.

I remember early on in 1997, having just recently connected to the internet, that the French sites were using a word I had never seen before, "Ouaibe." I looked at all the dictionaries I could find, both at home, at the library and on the internet, but I couldn't find a definition of it anywhere. I remember being extremely perplexed and confused at this new find. I knew, for example, that "Ouais," is sometimes used in French slang to mean, "Oui." But I'd never seen "Ouaibe," before. One day, I decided to conquer this word and began to pronounce it very slowly. "Ooo" (as in the word, "food") - "Ay" "Beh." Then, "Ooo - ay - beh." then it donned on me, "Web!" The French were taking the word, "Web," and writing the sounds using French phonetics.

Another area of high-tech accomplishment is in medical equipment. The US is not alone in its ability to improve health sciences, but it is among the elite in nearly every category. State-of-the-art facilities can be found in nearly every state and the doctors who graduate from US universities are among the best in the world. We have pioneered new technology from the micro to the macro level and have the educational infrastructure to teach modern medicine using the latest in equipment.

We were among the first to explore outer space and have been instrumental in the innovations across that industry. This was perhaps one of the healthier competitions between the US and the USSR. Both industry and science greatly benefited from the Space Race, as it was named.

Let's not forget the entertainment industries. Though it is true that Hollywood has long been the cheerleader for our illegal military incursions, it is just as true that Hollywood has produced some of the biggest and most memorable movies in the history of cinematography. During my years in Europe, I was always amazed how revered many of our actors were. In fact, almost every time a French TV station aired a movie from the US, they would spend an hour or more afterward discussing the film's underlying message, as if it were a product from Aesop meant to enlighten others. Jazz and Blues are both American made. And from the Blues we get Rock and Roll. We may not be alone in creating new sounds in rock, but no one can deny our presence. The many innovations in the past few decades have inspired a lot of others around the world to create their own versions in these same genres.

For more than 100 years, the US has pioneered the creation and uses of carbon-based polymers in everyday life. The US is far from the origin of plastics, but its huge domestic economy, coupled with the many R&D facilities in our universities and major companies, has given the US a very prominent position in the development of all things plastic. We brought out nylon for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair in NYC. To this day, the US is at the vanguard of new creations and usages of plastics.

The US is also known for its ability to allow anyone to follow their dream. In European countries, one must often decide by age 12 whether or not they want to go to college. Only in America do you hear about nonagenarians graduating from college with a bachelor's degree. Likewise, the US is more conducive than other nations to allow one to start up a business.

When I decided to leave my job at Swissair at the airport of Geneva and return to the US in 1979, I was approached by one of my coworkers with an unusual proposition. He told me he was willing to pay me $50,000 to start a business for him in New York state. Apparently, he had created a new version of the white board which was resistant to rain; that is, whatever verbiage was written on them would not run or wash away due to rain. This is extremely important in European countries because most small restaurants, as well as other retail industries, would often write their menu or their sales offers on white boards that they displayed outside their boutiques. When it rains, the water would destroy whatever message was written. But with his invention, that would be a thing of the past.

I asked him, "Why would you want to give me $50,000 to start up a company in the US when your major clientele seems to be European shops and restaurants?"

His answer echoed the sentiment of most Europeans, "For every white board I sell here in Europe, I could sell 1,000 in the US." He was convinced that any good innovation would be a thousand times more salable in the US than anywhere else. Even more recently, I was asked by my good friend Pavel to begin distributing his innovative rope magic tricks in the US. Pavel is renowned worldwide. He was on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1968 and has been on many different shows around the world. His mastery of all things magical with rope has earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award at the famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles. His sentiments echo the same belief, the American economy is just that much bigger than anywhere else.

They also believe that Americans embrace change more than any other country. After all, we have the reputation of being the world's gadgetland. We also have a reputation of innovation and experimentation that isn't equaled anywhere else. While in Europe I vividly remember coworkers coming back from their vacations in the US completely marveling at how big the cars were, how wide the streets were and how people had little qualm in building things differently, doing things differently and following different paths. After all, one of America's most famous poet and civil disobedient, Henry David Thoreau, once said, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Our agricultural output climbed tremendously after WWII, allowing us to help feed many countries. Through our research in plant hybrids we've been able to modify many of our crops to increase production as well as their natural defense against other diseases.

Conclusion:

As I have stated previously, the US domestic and foreign policies are far from ideal. Since we became a superpower we have abused our position time and again. Although this is nothing new from an historical viewpoint, it still remains a sad legacy that will never disappear. We can't change history even with all its ugliness, but we can alter our present course going forward and begin adopting the same policies we force down the throat of the rest of the world. We can begin to hold our own leaders responsible for their actions as we do many foreign ones. We can start holding our industry giants' feet to the fire and force them to perform in the public interest and not their own, as we do with foreign industry leaders.

If we merely reduced our military to an appropriate size we would immediately save up to $1 trillion per year. By holding our banks responsible when they destroy people's lives, by holding our elected officials responsible when they merely follow corporate needs over citizen needs, and by curbing our own wasteful and gluttonous lifestyles, we could bring about a level of change seldom seen in man's history.

Without US bellicose rhetoric to scare other countries, the need to build terrifying weapons of mass destruction will be greatly reduced. By forcing banks to perform their function properly of keeping their clients' money safe and investing it ONLY in wise and prudent ventures, we will be able reduce the negative impact of their casino-style of theivery.

When our elected officials realize that they won't be reelected if they only serve their corporate masters, they will think twice before quoting industry opinion verbatim.They will hesitate before allowing big business corporate officers to move between US administrations and corporate boardrooms with ease and impunity. By buying prudently, eating logically and living within our means, we can reduce our nearly insatiable desire to throw away more food than we consume, purchase products we don't need or spend money we don't have.

The worldwide image of a fat, angry grownup brat can be removed and a more gentle, prudent, and wise citizen placed in its stead. Before WWII, America was known as a place that used only what was necessary, when it was necessary and how it was supposed to be used. We did have a reputation as a non-quitter, but not because we started atrocities and wanted to see them through to their bitter end, but because we were on the edge of planetary exploration and were determined not to let Mother Nature keep us from our quest. Yes, we also abused those we trod over to get there, and that's to be regretted, but the spirit of never giving up is a good one, and one that will serve us well far into the future. What we used inappropriately, we can always use appropriately.

It really isn't just up to the US anymore on whether this country will continue to survive into the next century or not. Our trading partners, our geographic neighbors and our post-superpower role will have as much a determining factor as our own reaction will. But much is still left up to us. We don't need to continue the lie that others are out to get us. We don't need to pretend that we're the best at everything and everyone else is just jealous. We don't need to continue to shoot first, ask questions later -- perhaps, and then spend the next several years explaining our mistakes and apologizing for our wrongdoings. The choice is ours. We have a lot of good and a lot of good people here and we still have a lot of good that we could do for ourselves and others.

But, I'm afraid that if we continue down this road of self-isolation, world-denial and self-destruction, we will leave the rest of the world little choice. At each stage of the way, we have to escalate our rhetoric to keep the same balance, and there will come a time where we will be forced to commit fully in our hegemonic pursuit or capitulate under the rising tide of opposition from the rest of the world. That part is still in our hands, and we still have a chance to remedy the situation.

It will take a hearty stock of American forthrightness to see the light and mend our ways, but I think it's one that our forefathers would be very proud of. They might be able to finally heave a sigh of relief that they didn't create another empire monster to torture the world after all.

 

57 year old Californian male - I've lived in four different countries, USA, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela - speak three languages fluently, English, French, Spanish - part-time journalist for Empower-Sport Magazine. I also write four newsletters.

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An excellent summation of what's wrong and right i... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 10:31:09 AM