If it had not been for the worship of money which underlies all other values in the United States of America, it would have been impossible for Wall Street to act with such total impunity in their shameless scheme to con the U.S. citizens out of their savings and modest wealth.
Add to this poisonous brew of intolerant, fundamentalist religion and the puritan worship of money, the unrestricted faith in the country's superiority over all other countries, that is their unquestioning patriotism, their second religion, the die-hard belief that their country can do no wrong, and you get to where the country is today.
Deregulation and the silencing of the opposition
The superficiality of the U.S. citizens in accepting a man like George W. Bush as the President of the country seems perfectly unbelievable to most people outside the U.S. We know now how this was brought about, however, and it was not achieved from the superficial image of Bush as a man you'd like to have a beer with, the man with the friendly smirk, the popular appeal. No, it was much more carefully planned. And the sine qua non was to get a harmless president 'elected', that is get him parachuted into the White House so speedily that people wouldn't have time to react. We know how the neo-conservatives were all maneuvering to grab total power ever since the 1980s. The two essential preconditions for getting their scheme to succeed were the complete submission of the media and the buying up of the Congress via the lobbies. They succeeded in both enterprises beyond belief.
The deregulation movement got started under Ronald Reagan who instigated laws in favor of Big Business, which made it possible for this psychopathic set of neocons to scheme their way to power. This continuous trend in economic policies towards the Milton Friedmanesque  free market as the gospel for 'progress' killed off all the humanitarian laws that had been instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the New Deal after the Great Depression. Now we are regressing towards tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of the savings and loan industry. Opening the floodgates for increased media consolidation and the war on Labor were also some of the major features pointing towards the radical take-over of the wealthy elite during the Reagan presidency. These deregulating trends were followed up faithfully by the succeeding administrations. This very much includes Bill Clinton who signed the horrendous NAFTA agreement declaring that "NAFTA means jobs, American jobs, and good-paying American jobs." (It is also pure nonsense that Reagan should be in any way credited with bringing down the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War, but that is the subject for another essay.)
The neocon gospel
This more or less underground neocon set of power-hungry lunatics was determined to achieve complete domination over all aspects of the United States, have total command over the three branches of government and, finally, most likely install a police state where elections and a government would not be needed any more. Democracy had become an empty word and unfettered capitalism was going to rule the world. The multinationals with their financial center in the United States were going to have complete economic control over the world and they managed very well with the major Asian economies during the Asian financial crisis, beginning in 1997. This severe crisis that threatened to bring about a global systemic financial meltdown was enhanced or, as some claim, even brought about by the "fast-track capitalism" methods of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 
And what about the working people and the middle class who were going to see their comfortable living conditions disappear? Don't worry, said the neocons. They won't know what happened until it's too late. All the money goes to the clique that runs the corporations and the little people will be left with their religion. Drive up the hysteria and the coming of Armageddon to the boiling point and the fundamentalists will be so convinced that they are the ones who will be saved on the Day of Judgment they won't even worry about their money and their good lives trickling away. They are the ones who will go to Heaven, they and the good men and women in the government who believe, the way they themselves do, that God is with them, the people who pray for the country, for victory in the morally right wars and for all those who are convinced that the United States will always be the unrivaled leader of the world.