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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/14/10

Violence, Greed and Corruption: The Treacherous, Deceitful Side of America

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Not your father's kind of America is it? No, the America of years past was different; it had a greater sense of meaningful purpose that is missing in our current highly materialistic society. Many of us know this from personal experience, having lived in the "before" version and the "after" version. Sure, America was never the epitome of perfection, but in times past, ethics, honesty and morality occupied a much higher place in our society. Violence, greed and corruption have always been present, but they did not rule America.

Let's begin with the issue of violence, one that permeates this entire society. There are those who will point out that America is not the most violent nation in the world; that statistics show that certain other industrialized nations are equally as violent. That may be true, until we add to the equation the greatest example of violence against fellow humans -- WAR; that puts America into a class by itself.

There is no other nation on the face of the earth that has engaged in more wars since the end of World War II than the U.S. In fact, the industrialized nations of the world, collectively, could not come close to matching America's history of wars.

Besides our obsession with war, there is the other violent side of America. It is the violence that exists within our nation. Violence in America has been rapidly increasing, impacting all segments of our population, with the exception of the very wealthy who live in their own world. But that may change as our country slides deeper into this long-term recession and people at the bottom of the economic spectrum angrily react to their hopeless, dire situations.

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In this period of high unemployment, one of the steadiest areas of employment in America is a job as prison guard. Right now our total prison population is nearing 2.4 million. One in every 100 American adults is locked up and one in every 31 adult persons is either in prison or on parole or probation. That amounts to 7.3 million Americans and a cost that exceeds $68 billion annually. America, the "land of the free" is Number One in the world of incarceration.

The national media, not known for any form of real journalism, capitalizes on stories that involve murder, rape, child abductions, serial killers, school shootings and other violent actions. Viewers are bombarded with non-stop reporting of all forms of deviant behavior. Why are the network and cable TV channels so intent on portraying America in this way? Well, first of all because it is a true picture of the widespread violence in our society and, second, because this kind of sensational reporting brings high ratings from so many of us who have become hooked on watching these tragic events.

And now to greed. A common definition of which is, "an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth." Greed is everywhere in America, it has become embedded in our national fabric. And, in the words of Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) in the movie, Wall Street, " The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works." Well, Mr. Gekko was obviously right, for America is rife with examples of greed from Wall Street to Main Street.

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Greed and corruption go hand in hand. Greed inflames the desire and corruption satisfies it. Greed and corruption are running rampant in America; from the greedy, corrupt bankers who sold faulty sub-prime mortgages to greedy buyers who wanted more house than they could afford; from our corporate-controlled Congress to state and local politicians who find creative ways to embezzle taxpayer funds. Yes, greed is certainly good and it works beautifully in our American society. And, as we all know, it's always the other guys who are obsessed with it.

This greed and corruption blankets our society -- our government, our financial institutions, the corporate world -- it's pervasive and it's everywhere. Have you noticed that, in our Congress, our elected representatives blatantly and without shame, regularly pass legislation based upon the pressure and campaign contributions that they receive from lobbyists and special interests, not based on the needs of the American people?

Is there a better example of greed and corruption than that which exists in the collusive relationship between the military-industrial complex and our elected representatives in Washington DC? There is no recession in the massive defense industry that receives hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to create their weapons of war.

Our representatives have no intention of making any meaningful cutbacks in defense spending because one of their chief priorities is to maintain or bring defense manufacturing to own their particular states. That is a clear case of both greed and corruption because those in Congress feather their own nests while cheating the American taxpayers who need funding for domestic purposes.

Think about how our society is rife with all sorts of predators who use every conceivable means to illegally extract money from their fellow Americans. In America, especially in this deep recession, scam artists are everywhere, using every scheme imaginable to steal from others. You will be at great risk if you don't closely read the fine print in your next legal document, especially if it involves real estate, if you agree to buy anything on the phone with a credit card, or if somehow your identity gets stolen. These predators have declared domestic war on this fragile society.

So we are left with this question: Is there any way that America can rid itself of the iron grip of this three-headed monster of violence, greed and corruption? On the positive side, there is a well-known saying, "Things always get worse before they get better." But on the negative side, in the words of one disillusioned observer of current conditions in our society, "Things are going to get unimaginably worse and they are never, ever, going to get better again."

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This deteriorating situation cries out for radical change, a complete reversal of our current disastrous direction. But, right now, sad to say, there is no light at the end of this tunnel. Far too many in our society are now part of this dark side of America. This is an insidious societal disease that is approaching epidemic proportions, one that begs for an effective cure.

But, realistically, considering the depth and breadth of this problem, is there even the slightest hope of finding a cure for what ails this society?


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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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