Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The demise of the American dream

I see a perfect storm coming.

Fiscal irresponsibility by the current administration in the form of unproductive tax give-aways to the rich

and a morally irresponsible war

has turned a record surplus into a record deficit in record time.

My grandchildren will be burdened with this debt.

We incarcerate the largest percentage of our citizens of any developed country. Those incarcerated cannot pay taxes, and society is thus doubly burdened.

We fail to educate our children, and these failings are growing worse. More parents who can afford to are sending their children to private schools, and these very parents would be the ones who would otherwise push for better public schools. The consequent dumbing-down of the electorate means that the coming generation will be unable to (1) compete with those in other countries for jobs or (2) decide for themselves about important issues of public policy.

Today's young people spend more of their time plugged into their Ipods, cell phones and computers instead of becoming informed about important issues.

America is rapidly losing its productive capacity. More and more jobs are going overseas, thus creating a burden for society to support more and more people who cannot support themselves. The employment rate doesn't tell the story. We can't support a nation on burger-flipping.

Global warming is real. The recent two hurricane seasons are just the beginning. More of these killer storms will decimate our coastlines and further burden society with homeless people and the need to rebuild damaged infrastructure.

Our transportation system is too dependent on oil and rubber tires. We've let our railway system slide into disrepair; we transport too much by truck instead of train.

Many interstate arteries have already been built to the limit of the rights-of-way, and before long there will be nowhere for the road builders to expand. Too many cities like Nashville are putting off the building of commuter rail systems, so that when it becomes inevitable, the costs of building them will be prohibitive.

Many of our cities and states are verging on bankruptcy. They cannot raise taxes, and yet unmet needs increase every year. Privately, Americans are deeply in debt. We don't save; we are borrowed to the hilt. When the housing bubble bursts, many folks will simply be out on the street.

American political discourse is becoming increasingly shrill, dominated by non-issues like gay marriage and abortion instead of real issues like education and health care.

Media monopolies make more money putting on shouting matches that pass for political discourse.

Public radio and TV is now our only source for unbiased information. If this outlet is ever silenced (which has been attempted), we will be completely blinded to the truth. The Pentagon Papers would never be published today, and Edward R. Murrow would never take on Joe McCarthy today. The Age of Giants is over.

Did I mention health care? We have the most expensive and least effective health care system in the developed world. Where does the money go? Certainly not to patient care or to preventive measures. The system is rigged so that the big corporations get what they want; the patient is at the bottom of the food chain.

Politics is dominated by moneyed interests. Politicians at the federal and state level are increasingly beholden to the big interests that pay for their increasingly expensive campaigns. And why are political campaigns so expensive? Because air time is purchased, of course, from the mega-corporations that control the media. Increasing consolidation in the media has created a virtual monopoly, which these corporations can exploit to extract maximum profits.

Deregulation is touted as the solution by the neo-cons.

But people easily forget that regulations were created for a reason - because monopolies will naturally act like monopolies. Human nature never changes. When you remove the public's control over these behemoths, don't expect them to act any differently than the robber barons of the 19th century.

Our standard of living is eroding badly. My father was able to raise himself up from blue-collar to middle class status within his own generation. I was barely able to hold onto middle-class status and send my children to college. However, I despair that my children will never be able to afford to send their own children to college, and so our family will slip farther down the socioeconomic ladder, along with the rest of our society.

American society is becoming increasingly polarized along economic, religious and political lines. The underclass is growing while the few very rich become obscenely richer.

The values that made this country great, including our heritage of freedom of speech

and freedom of religion (which includes freedom from religion)

are being steadily eroded by the increasing centralization of the media and a stifling of public debate, as illegal wiretaps and warrantless physical searches become commonplace.

We are becoming just like our old nemesis, the Soviet Union.

Except that control is being vested, not in the central government, but in an unelected tyranny of rich monopolists that buy and sell the lawmakers who are supposed to represent US.

The American Dream is turning into a nightmare.

Thomas Jefferson must be turning over in his grave.

However, history teaches us that all societies have their rise and their fall.

We had a good run, but we just didn't have the balls to maintain it.


obxbill said...

I hear you loud an clear! That's why someday, I think I'm going to have to leave the BIG sinking ship and go to Australia. How else can I survive when it's nearly impossible to change your social class to get to that next level. I want to be able to send my kids to college, but the truth is, I probably won't be able to afford it by the time they're ready. I'll be finishing school myself within the next 2 years and it's going to cost me a minimum of 27K. I'm hoping that my employer will assist, but what happens if they don't? I'm stuck with the big school loans. When I'm done though, I'll be that much more marketable. The American Dream is now just that...a dream.

RunAwayImagination said...

It's so sad, isn't it?

Wrkinprogress said...

The additions of the pictures really makes this story POP! I love what you've done and I wish you could publish it somewhere that more people would see. It's SO RIGHT ON!

C in Knoxville said...

RunAway, that is all so true and so sad! The pictures really do drive your points home. I agree with WIP - more people should see what you have to say.