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Will America Have To Hit Bottom Before It Can Resurrect Itself?

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Bottoming by

America was once the bedrock of stability. The decades immediately following the end of World War II, though sometimes problematic, were still among the best of times as our economy and our society prospered because the people of this nation had the strong desire and the motivation to work together to build the nation. That was then and this is now; how radically things have changed.

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The American people should be very alarmed over this country's sharp downward turn, especially over this past very tumultuous decade. They are quite aware and gravely concerned that this nation is rapidly going in exactly the wrong direction; but they feel totally powerless to do anything about it. What happens when this downward spiral intensifies and can't be brought under control? The country undergoes extreme instability and it bottoms out. We are on that path.

Many signs and much concrete evidence points to that very conclusion. By hitting bottom, I mean to say that America is edging ever closer to losing its way in the world, its sense of direction and purpose, no longer adhering to the ethical and moral principles it once championed, rapidly becoming a nation in which money, power and influence have become the dominant, driving force. It's like a ship without a rudder or compass.

To illustrate what's happening to America let's talk about addiction. Consider an individual that is hooked on heroin or cocaine, that has been given counseling and treatment but cannot and will not give up these substances. We might say that America is under the influence of dangerous substances; addicted to an agenda of war on the one hand and under the control of corporatism on the other. Constant warnings about the dangers that will result if these two addictions cannot be controlled continue to go unheeded.

An individual who continues in the throes of a dangerous addiction will, quite often, arrive at a point where he hits bottom and can go no further until he changes his life. That's where America is today. All signs indicate that this government has no intention of trying to rid itself of these two serious addictions on its own and that it will have to, in effect, hit bottom before it can start on the road to recovery; and when it bottoms out and realizes that it must change radically change its direction, then it may have the opportunity to embark upon the long and painful process of resurrecting itself.

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Suppose that this bottoming out becomes reality. During the process of recovery and rehabilitation here is what America and its government would have to do to fully heal itself and enter a new, enlightened era. It would have to:

*Stop the rampant spread of violence across this society. It can no longer be tolerated. There must be serious initiatives launched to address the root causes of this problem and specific actions taken to bring this situation under control. Certainly, reasonable, effective gun control legislation is an answer but that's not enough. We also must create millions of more jobs across this nation, and in our inner cities, give people meaningful employment, rather allowing their frustrations to erupt into violence.

*Heal the deep divisions within this society. Concentrate on eliminating the great inequities of wealth and income that allow a tiny minority of Americans to live in opulence, lacking for nothing, while many millions of their fellow citizens live in poverty and others can't even find a decent job. And how very shameful is this? America has the largest prison population in the world, both in total and per capita, far larger than Russia and China. And these prisoners eat better and have medical, dental and other benefits that far exceed those of the 45 million Americans who live in poverty and must rely on food stamps. Can anyone explain this bizarre disparity in rational terms?

*Completely reject the doctrine of perpetual war and the expansion of the military empire. Use diplomacy and peaceful negotiations to solve differences and conflicts instead of pre-emptive military strikes. Make significant reductions in America's network of over 100 military bases and installations in 63 countries around the world. Transform an aggressive military machine into a positive force whose primary objective is keep Americans safe and secure, not one being wasted on reckless, misguided invasions and occupations.

*Bring corporatism under control. Initiate campaign finance reforms to end the greed and corruption that is contaminating the Congress and our political system. Initiate legislation to severely restrict the personal interaction between special interest lobbyists and our congressional representatives. Make it illegal for anyone in Congress to accept any kind of gifts or business sponsored foreign trips paid for by lobbyists and corporations. Develop the means by which to reverse the Supreme Court's decision that allows unlimited corporate contributions to election campaigns.

*Significantly improve and adequately fund our system of education; make it, once again, the best in the world. Knowledge is power. Immediately address the deplorable situation in which the youth of our nation are being weighed down by monumental student loans, now approaching $1 trillion dollars; that is a national disgrace. Stop treating teachers like third rate citizens and give them the respect and pay that they truly deserve.

The youth of our nation are wasting their minds and damaging their bodies on heroin and other dangerous drugs; this situation is developing into an epidemic across America. We are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars on the fabricated War on Terror but when are we going to come to our senses and to the aid of our children when they desperately need it?  

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*Significantly reduce our national deficit now nearing $16 trillion by winding down the war in Afghanistan and the network of military bases. That will substantially reduce the continued need to annually borrow hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that we have no ability to repay. It is imperative, to get this deficit under control, not by eliminating America's most important social programs, Social Security and Medicare, but by instituting reasonable, effective tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and reforming the entire tax code.

If you want to be really shocked and, perhaps, made very uncomfortable, go to this link to the U.S. Debt Clock. This site clearly spotlights America's massive deficit problems; the obscene amounts being spent on our wars, the costs of Social Security, Medicare, interest on our debt, incoming tax revenues, and a wide array of associated data that illustrate the depth of America's precarious financial condition.

*Develop a single payer health care system modeled after Medicare or the best systems found in European nations. Our system of health care for the wealthy can't be matched but, for ordinary, average Americans, it's ranked as one of the world's worst. America has to get to the point that we consider equal health care for all Americans to be a right of citizenship.

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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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