Another example: a poor single mother in New York had landed a job interview, but no babysitter for her two children, ages 6 and 2, was available during the time scheduled for the interview. She had no choice but to leave her two children in the car for 70 minutes. After the interview, she was arrested for alleged child endangerment. And just recently, child protective services took the two children away from their mother for this alleged endangerment. To sum it up, a woman doing everything she could to earn an income to support her family was punished to the point of having her family taken from her, simply because she couldn't find a babysitter for 70 minutes.
We have an economy that rewards the rich for being rich, and punishes the poor for being poor. Is it any wonder that foreigners scoff at Americans who say their country is the best in the world?
5. We allow a rape epidemic on our college campuses to go unchecked.
On American college campuses, an average of 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault. And this is just taking into account the number of instances which are actually reported. The number is likely much greater, because reporting a rape and reliving the traumatic experience for campus authorities is itself a daunting task.
In one case of a student at James Madison University in Virginia, her assailants, who actually recorded video of their sexual assault, were allowed to graduate on time before being expelled from university grounds. The survivor of the assault saw her grades drop as a result of the trauma she suffered, and she lost her financial aid. She had no choice but to drop out.
Why should anyone take our claims of making their country safer at all seriously, when we can't even make our college campuses safe for women?
6. We send people off to die, and don't take care of the ones who come back alive.
While politicians reserve two months out of the year, May and November, to honor war veterans, they fail to back up their words with effective policies. After the recent VA scandal that culminated in General Eric Shinseki resigning as the sacrificial lamb, Congress has yet to do anything meaningful to address the years-long backlog that stands between veterans and the health care they earned through their service. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
On any given night, there are between 130,000 and 200,000 veterans sleeping on the streets, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. And every time Congress has had an opportunity to address the plight of veterans, it's been filibustered by Republicans. In 2010, Senator Patty Murray's bill to provide aid for homeless veterans with children was filibustered by Mitch McConnell. A bill that would have spent $1 billion to hire veterans for jobs in the public sector was filibustered by 40 senate Republicans in 2012. And just this past February, Senate Republicans once again blocked a bill aimed at providing health care and education to veterans.
The fact that neocons are once again clamoring for troops in Iraq, while they continue to deny returning veterans the help they need and deserve, proves that at least one of the two major parties sees our troops only as cannon fodder not worth a penny if they manage to survive the battlefield. I can't imagine any country seriously believes we care about their welfare given the way we treat our own war veterans.
7. We make it profitable to systematically incarcerate poor people and minorities.
In America, incarceration is a profitable enterprise. Counties in rural areas hard up for cash are willing to guarantee a certain percentage of occupancy for private prisons, meaning that law enforcement is working extra hard to fill the jails by any means necessary. Usually, this involves heavily patrolling communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, and busting young black men and women for negligible amounts of marijuana. Portugal has done the opposite with great results -- a decade ago, the country decided to approach drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a crime, and treated addicts instead of sending them to jail. As a result, Portugal's addiction rate has gone down by half in the last decade.
The drug war costs us an estimated $20 billion dollars per year from both federal and state governments, while drugs have only been made more widely-available in the process. The continued war on drugs has led to the United States having more black men in prison than there were black men as slaves in the Confederate South. And in a sad parallel to slavery, private prisons are now essentially contractors for major corporations, where work that once paid a livable wage to a unionized employee has been "insourced" to prisoners who do the work for pennies. It's laughable for the US to deplore slavery in other countries while allowing it to continue at home.
8. We cut our own public services while letting billion-dollar corporations dodge taxes.
Our infrastructure was given a "D+" by architects and engineers, who say our roads and bridges are badly in need of repairs. Our failure to invest properly in public education means our kids are falling far behind students in other countries who are learning much more than we are. And we've allowed the last line of hope for the long-term unemployed to be cut off permanently, as Congressional Republicans refuse to extend unemployment compensation for the hardest-hit victims of the economy, saying we "can't afford" the social safety net. Congressional Republicans also succeeded in cutting the food stamp program by billions of dollars in the last farm bill.
But while Republicans are running around screaming about the deficit, they somehow ignore the more than $100 billion in tax revenue we lose every year through corporate tax loopholes. Major corporations like GE, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Boeing, Verizon, and dozens of others have paid $0 in federal taxes for several years now, even getting tax refunds in the hundreds of millions instead of paying federal taxes. While there has been extensive awareness about the prevalence of tax loopholes like transfer pricing schemes like the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich," and while there's been plenty of news about corporations like Apple having more untaxed cash than the U.S. Treasury, members of Congress owned by these same corporations turn a blind eye to this hemorrhaging of funds.