What Happened?

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The United States is headed toward oblivion.  Rapidly.

It is impossible to overstate both the speed and the extent to which the United States as a) a home to democratic institutions and b) a safe environment has deteriorated into a true have-not country in which the spoils go ONLY to a small percentage of the population and in which fairness in any context is an alien concept.

Donald Trump is the emblem of this catastrophic collapse but he is by no means its only architect.  For that we must point to the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the white racist, poorly-educated minority and a manipulative corporate world.

How precipitous was this fall from grace?   Consider the following sad facts about the country we loved:

It’s entire infrastructure is crumbling – bridges, roads, water works, utility grids all are well past their prime.  Legislators behave as if there was no funding available to address these problems.  Yes, well over 50% of federal tax dollars go to funding wars and defense industries rather than ear-marking any portion for maintaining a domestic battle against deterioration and neglect.

The health care system is the most expensive in the world, is run by the pharmaceutical companies and their corporate cronies, and excludes a large portion of the population while placing the rest in mortal fear of a bankrupting health issue. No country in the world has anything close to this usurious and inhumane practice imposed on its people.

The country is a police state.  People are rooted from their homes and arrested without due process. Minorities are beaten and killed for merely encountering the police.  The police are now armed like the military and behave all too often as an invading force. With a police culture that will vigorously defend almost any transgression by its members, it is a very difficult task for any policeman who does want to serve the community    Meanwhile, the prison system has become a profit centre and with the help of a punitive court system, cells are filled to capacity, usually by minorities.  The rate of incarceration is the highest in the world and the absolute numbers have risen by a factor of 6 since 1970.  The US prison system now represents 24% of ALL imprisoned persons in the world.  How could this happen in a supposedly civilized country?

The school system is grotesquely uneven with too many graduating high school still functionally illiterate, challenged by the simplest mathematics, and woefully unaware of the world they inhabit.  Under-funding is epidemic and reveals a high level of disdain for the value of education beyond turning out a consumer.  This has always been true of the North American public education system but with the rest of the world concentrating more energetically on turning out a literate high school graduate (literate in many ways), the lethargy and disdain for American public education is an invitation to weep. What can anyone say when someone as unfit for ANY position of responsibility as Betsy DeVos is in charge?

The preposterously high cost of secondary education speaks to a vicious trap for young people who can think.  Gulled into believing they must have that degree in order to land a decent job, they incur a back-breaking debt load that, in effect, renders the majority of them helpless to do anything more than try to keep from starving.  Universities have become trade schools for the corporate world, young people likely to be pliant in a corporate world of rigid rules and zeal for profits above all else.

Low wages have delivered millions into a world of poverty and  destitution.  Unions are non-existent, job security is precarious, hours are erratic, and benefits illusory.

The entire political system has been hijacked by the wealthy and elections have become farces in which any voters are excluded, results are tampered with, and no skullduggery prohibited.

The wealth of the country now goes almost exclusively to the wealthy, leaving the majority as modern-day peasants. 

An obscene percentage of the GNP goes to the war machine with the result there is a) a state of continual war somewhere and b) little money left over for anything else, an unfair tax regime not withstanding. 

A wholesale assault on the environment, fueled by greed and shortsightedness has increased the danger to every living organism on the planet and reduced vital climate change discussion to coffee houses and the occasional classroom.

A campaign of misinformation has been conducted for several decades now with the result a discouragingly high percentage of the poorly-educated now live in a cocoon of lies and fabrications.  Brainwashed as they are, these people – who firmly believe the “outside world” is against them, can be used to physically stifle opposition. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out when asked about the growth of membership in “flat earth” societies, it’s what happens when you combine free speech with a terrible education system.

Make no mistake – this as all come about by a deliberate campaign to demolish the state as we knew it in the1970’s.  Its perpetrators, including Mercer and the Koch brothers, are a cabal of libertarians and free-booters who want the playing field open to them only. Trump is a useful tool for them as it focuses our anger at a public buffoon instead of the real criminal in America, the arch-criminals who work to monopolize the country’s wealth and impoverish everyone else.

The propaganda spread by these ruling elites guarantees every attempt at a reasoned dialogue devolves into a bitter left-vs-right ad hominum attack. It’s as if 2 languages were being spoken, neither of which is understood by the other.  It goes beyond this left-right divide.  Thanks probably to social media, you cannot conduct any conversation on any subject without arousing pockets of opposition. Think about that.  It means, for one thing, there is no “objective” truth, such as, so help me, the earth is a sphere.  In a functioning democracy, there are winners and losers at the polls.  The losers act as an opposition to the winners but, to varying degrees, keep their eyes on the overall welfare of the state and will cooperate when issues of national emergency and safety arise.  Not so with the present political divide and the tragedy is compounded by a two-party system that doesn’t allow for a third voice.

Finally, it is hard to argue now that the US has not become a rogue state all its own. It values nothing but corruption and profit and cares not at all for its citizens.  All those noble myths that helped build the country now are expressed only in irony. The millions upon millions of hard-working honest people who still believe in the country have been isolated by an angry racist minority on one side and, on the other, by the machinations of a bunch of oligarchs and mega-corporations who own governments at every level and don’t want anything except more profits.  The media seems content to perpetuate this tragedy.   If there is hope it lies with the youth, like the ones now fighting the NRA.   But they need to widen their vision to first absorb and then combat the terrible corruption that has overtaken their land.  I wish them luck.  Living up to those myths would have been nice.   

Our families deserve better; our communities deserve better; the nation deserves better; and the planet deserves better.Robert Alan Davidson

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