In the first part, I reviewed the reason for the question in the first place, and the foreign and human rights policies that have brought us to this moment. Obviously, we have been far from the knights in shining armor we pretend to be. The continued disaster in Haiti is just one more piece of evidence on just how skewed and messed up we have become as a nation. The poorest country in the Hemisphere is hit with the worst natural disaster in 200 years which causes the deaths of 200,000 people. The entire country of 9 million is devastated. Every minute counts a new death. Rescue from the rubble and humanitarian and medicinal aid is of the utmost urgency. So what does the US do? It sends in 20,000 troops first and decides to build a green zone at the airport before beginning to help the citizenry. That is the epitome of international disconnect with reality. I guess the old adage is true even today, if all you have is a hammer, all your problems start looking like nails.
Flawed Domestic Policy
Our problems on the international stage are also reflected in our ever increasing surveillance-based domestic policy. As Naomi Klein so aptly points out in Shock Doctrine, the events of September 11, 2001, were exactly what the doctor ordered in order to strip away many of the freedoms we thought were guaranteed to us by the constitution. The Patriot Act was shoved through Congress when it was most vulnerable and susceptible to change. While the country and its lawmakers were dazed and confused about how to prevent a recurrence of events, the Bush Administration wasted no time at all in enacting those very measures that only exist in the most ruthless of totalitarian regimes.
As stated in the February 1, 2005, Baltimore Chronicle, in their article, "Freedoms lost under George W. Bush," This is but a partial end result of our rush to thwart terrorism in the US:
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigations.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records questions.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.
RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.
RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.
The most egregious of errors, however, is the fact that most Americans aren't even aware of this. There is almost no protest whatsoever anywhere inside the US to publicly condemn this new, fascistic curtailing of our freedoms. Americans seem quite content with losing this and more without worrying what that means to them and their children in the coming years.
The US has the largest prison population in the world. Even though China and India are four times the size of the US, their prison population is much smaller. In China, there are 500,000 fewer inmates, yet we consider China an evil Communist country with extremely curtailed civil liberties. What really bothers me is the fact that the few Americans who are aware of our prison population scoff at its meaning, stating, "Yeah, but most of those are for drug possession." Somehow I don't think that those inmates who have met jail time for drug use and/or possession look at their incarceration as a mere asterisk in their life that has absolutely no effect on them whatsoever. From job applications to personal horror stories, jail time affects a person for the rest of their lives and is not something to scoff at as if it were just another trip to the dentist or something.
Americans don't seem to want universal health care. It has become increasingly obvious that Americans don't care about improved health care services, universal coverage, or the cost savings. In 2000, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the US as 37th in the world in health care, just two places above Cuba. At that time we did not have 50 million people who were without health care. We did not have 10% unemployment where nearly all those suffering from the lack of a job also suffer from the lack of health care. Then, as now, the US health care system, for all its problems and injustices, is BY FAR the most expensive system on the planet in total and PER CAPITA. Americans have been spending more than anyone else for decades and have been receiving fewer and fewer benefits. Yet, most don't seem to be able to knowingly discuss any other system on Earth. Very often I find retorts like, "Yeah, but one person once had to wait four hours (or three weeks, depending on the country) for service. That's intolerable." Yet what seems perfectly tolerable is the fact that, at any given moment, there are 50 million without any health care. It's almost as if they are saying, "if you lose health care, it's your own damn fault." And the fact that an estimated 45,000 Americans die every year from treatable diseases doesn't seem to affect these Americans at all. Let them die, it's the thinning of the herd that's important, seems to be the current motto.
In President Obama's State of The Union speech, he proposed a spending freeze, except for the military and the two untouchables, Medicare and Social Security. I can agree completely with Medicare and Social Security and would even propose an expansion of those systems, but to take 50% of our discretionary budget and make it off limits to any freeze is ludicrous. Once again we see the US ensuring the Military-Industrial Complex while cutting more and more spending on Health and Human Services, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Homeland Security, Energy, Agriculture, Justice, NASA, Commerce, Labor, Treasury, Interior, EPA, SS Admin, Science, Infrastructure, SBA, GSA, and any other assistance that the public needs. We don't mind spending money on illegal wars, new and super-sophisticated military technology that has little, if any, possible use in the future, and a continued, growing and ridiculous arsenal of space weaponry that will most likely become obsolete before it's ever used. The hammer/nail adage is at work once again. We are spending trillions of dollars on a useless war on terror that only attracts more terror, and the president's solution is to spend even more.