Saturday, November 8, 2008

America the Beautiful. (960 words)

By John de Waal. (Note: I wrote this in December 2007, I am sorry that I was profetic).

The United States is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, not only because of what nature has provided, or because of its fine highway system that make much of this natural beauty accessible, but also because of the beautiful, warm-hearted, trusting and loving people that populate this great land. It is not surprising that Americans are proud of what they have and what they have accomplished, from making their homes and communities as comfortable as they have to saving the world from “Nazism”, “Communism” and now “Terrorism”. Of course, our current struggle with terrorists is not over yet, but we will win it too, because our president says so. Besides, we are the strongest country in the world, the only super power out there; we are “Number One”, all our media tell us that all the time…

Unfortunately, most Americans cannot seem to look much farther than the length of their own nose. All they see is a car or two in their drive way, a large television screen in their living room, a computer for the kids in the den and a cell phone in their hand. Life in the U.S. has become soft with everything instant: from fast food restaurants, complete frozen meals in the supermarkets, heated blankets on our bed, immediate personal and family entertainment on TV, I pods and computers, and a way to justify it all by saying thanks to God for everything. Thus, with all the luxury on the one hand and with God on the other, how can anything be wrong?

Of course, not all Americans enjoy the same standard of living. We all know that life is a game, based on competition. The best man probably wins. We prepare for the rat race in play lots, or Junior League for the more elite, and work our way up through the educational system and into the work place. The elite go to selected schools, not to get smart, but to make contacts. After all, it is not what you know, but who you know that will get you somewhere. Non-elites, but bestowed by nature with agility or ability, such as basketball or football players get free scholarships and are multi-millionaires by the time they are in their late twenties; and the more beautiful people among us who can talk and smile at the same time capture places in front of TV cameras and make millions as well. Politicians, in or out of office, above and below the table, and on the speaker’s circuit also make millions, while all the rest of our population hopes to one day win the Lotto and get their millions that way. We seem to have put all our trust in luck, savvy, even violence, and of course God, but not on our brains.

Therefore it is no wonder that education in the U.S. is wanting and we are now in 49th place in literacy in the world; that American businesses must spend more than $30 billion per year on remedial training for workers, to teach them things they should have learnt in school; and that we are no longer in the “Top Ten” anymore in any category, we are not even close! Instead, we are 54th in health care in the world and six times as many of our people die each year than died on 9/11 because they have no health insurance! We are a shade above Mexico in childhood poverty, which is in 23rd place and dead last in the world in that category, and we are below Cuba in infant mortality! Collectively we seriously beat up nearly a million of our kids each year, nearly half of us think that violence and torture is OK, and we spend more money on gambling than on movies, books and music combined. Meanwhile, twelve million American families go hungry and the Bush administration cuts programs for education, social welfare and even police! These and other facts were reported in recent months by the New York Times, CNN, Associated Press and USA Today, among others.

If you think that these facts are depressing, add to them that virtually no one saves anymore and that more people are deeper in debt than ever before and that includes our government because they must borrow $2 billion each day from our competitors to stay afloat. Forty percent of our country’s wealth is now in Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean hands. However, no one is ringing any alarm bells and people continue to believe that everything is fine. In fact, American people are so ignorant about the precarious condition of our otherwise beautiful country that, of all the people eligible to vote, more than a third of do not bother to exercise this valuable franchise! Is it any wonder that none of our legislators are getting worked up?

If you are reading this article and do not believe a word of it, or you shrug your shoulders and say: “what has this to do with me?”, then you know what is wrong with us! But if this information will cause you to turn off your favorite soap opera, throw you cell phone in the trash and start up your computer to check on the allegations that are being made here, then please go to, read Michael Ventura’s piece “Letters at 3 AM” and then turn your anger at your representative in Congress and your Senator. Confront him or her with the facts and ask them what he or she is going to do about it. Of course, if you don’t care, just continue to sit back and you will probably not have to wait very long anymore to see our beautiful country collapse under the weight of debt, internal and external, and see the delusion which our government, corporations and media together have build-up being shattered beyond repair.

Happy New Year!

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