Tuesday, May 22, 2018

America's Steady Decline

There is mounting evidence for the decline of the United States of America.  This evidence manifests itself in a number of particular ways.  The following examples provide ample evidence of this reality. 

At the current point in time (circa 2018) the national economy seems to be thriving.  This propitious overview, however, is quite misleading.  In fact, there is a profound divide between the minority of the population that is doing exceedingly well and the majority of individuals and families that are in the margins and experience a day-to-day struggle with maintaining their precarious position within the economic strata.  In fact, many find themselves in an economically desperate situation requiring public and private assistance in the areas of health, nutrition and housing.

The ubiquitous presence of racism permeates the fabric of American society and culture.  The evidence of this abounds in spite of the strides that had been made in the latter part of the twentieth century especially as a result of the civil rights movement.  Many populations are at risk in the current climate including Blacks, Hispanics and American Muslims.  This reality is evidenced in many facets of society and has been exacerbated by the apparent racist policies established by the current federal administration formulated under the guise of national security.  The statistics are quite clear in this regard and can be seen in the overwhelming majority of Blacks and Hispanics that are currently incarcerated in the nation’s prisons; the disproportionate percentage of non-whites who have inadequate or non-existing health care; the disparate mortality rates when comparing whites and non-whites and the rate of poverty between these two population groups.

The current epidemic of mass school shootings resulting in the death of many innocent children and adolescents has become almost commonplace in America.  The toll this gruesome reality takes on not only the victims and their friends and families but the larger society is incalculable.  The apparent inability of a sizeable portion of the population to make reasonable and appropriate compromises in regards to gun ownership in the face of such unnecessary and disastrous gun violence is remarkably unsettling.

There is a seemingly prevalent view that science and scientific data is of no value especially when it relates to the real impact of human activity on climate change and the current state of the natural environment.  Public policy has been actively employed in suppressing both scientific inquiry and public access to scientific data that quantifies the extent of the damage being inflicted on both climate and nature by human activity.  This has been done for the primary benefit of profit and the powerful.

The relentless assault on truth and the unabashed use of lie and exaggeration to undermine confidence in public institutions on the part of the national government is having a deleterious impact on the very essence of democratic principles and the very future of democracy.

The examples cited above demonstrate the reality of this decline and if left unabated will undoubtedly accelerate the movement towards further decline.

I would like to conclude by attempting to define the underlying forces that are involved in this process.  In my mind, there are many factors that have converged over the nation’s history to produce this overall result. 
  • There has been an apparently ineluctable movement towards placing the individual above the common good.  The net result of this process has led to the gradual disintegration of the Commons.  As a result, we as a people can no longer can rely upon the accessibility of adequate housing, nutrition, health care for all.
  • The goal of making profit has come to supersede all else.  This has become abundantly clear in the movement towards privatizing what we have previously expected to come from the public sector such as the control and management of the nation’s prisons, the control and development of the country’s public spaces such as national parks and monuments and space exploration among others.  This is also the predominant reason for the state of the nation’s health care system – it is effectively in the hands of entities whose sole purpose is to generate profit.
  • Over the past decades, there has been a marked increase in the flow of the nation’s wealth from the many to a vanishingly small minority of the powerful.  Ironically, wealth is flowing to those who have the least need for it.  This is happening in the face of deep-seated problems that require human and economic resources to resolve including economic and social justice, the health of the earthly environment, climate change, health care, homelessness, adequate nutrition etc.  As an expected consequence of this unbalanced redistribution of wealth is the unbridled power and influence of the few and attendant corruption of government as witnessed in the financing of campaigns and the inordinate influence of lobbying groups whose main goal to maintain and expand the reach of the powerful.  The public and the public good has paid a terrible price for this influence.   
  • Since its very beginnings, this nation has been burdened by two apparently impervious factors that feed upon each other, namely racism and violence.  Racism has led to creating horrific conditions for racial minorities in this country and proved to be an important factor in wars of aggression fought in regions around the world.  Militarism has come to dominate the national economy and consume a vast portion of the national budget.  We as a people are so prepared for war, that it is quite inevitable that we wage them.

Obviously, there are also positive and progressive forces working in the greater culture.  This movement is directed and guided by thoughtful and intelligent individuals and groups that embrace real data and work toward the greater good for all.  However, these voices have ben unable to gain the ascendency.

Given the stark nature of what has been outlined above, change remains dependent upon the cumulative choices and priorities of individuals.  The question I would like to pose in closing – ‘What kind of country and world do we envision for future generations and how do we contribute to help make the future a reality?

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