THE USA : A BEAUTIFUL, BUT TERMINALLY SICK NATION
There can be no doubt the USA has many things going for it.
I have visited it six times now, traveling from coast to coast, staying in and traveling round Florida by car, spending two weeks in New York, in San Fransisco twice, crisscrossing the states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, visiting New Orleans and traveling by car from Los Angeles to San Diego staying in and visiting towns along the way. These trips took place across the last twenty-five years and though by no means do they comprise an exhaustive knowledge of the country I can say that I found much of it very beautiful and in general very pleasant to visit.
As far as the people of America are concerned I have met a great many of them over my lifetime and have rarely found one that was not an above average individual with above average warmth and vitality about them. It has been my experience that I have found Americans to be rather admirable in the breadth and openness of their personalities. I have found them affable and able in the arts of communication and perfectly able, indeed exemplary in engaging in social interaction. I know them to have great deposits of idealism and sense of what is just, right and proper and an aversion to seeing others hurt in any way. This I can say in all honesty has been my experience.
However, there are aspects of American life, lifestyles, systems of governance, healthcare, education, the influence of its defense, pharmaceutical, media, private prison and financial sectors that are every bit as negative as my experience of the American people is positive.
There is a nexus of elite dominance in the USA that is utterly unhealthy.
This nexus makes war, death and destruction not only possible but much more likely than in any other nation. This goes for within the country itself and the actions of the U.S. state against other nations. The so-called defense industry of the USA is by far the largest in the world. Despite this its budget gets massively enlarged every year that passes. Politicians walk through the revolving door of their offices directly onto the board of directors of defense companies in an eternal cycle of mutual support. While new wars are found in which to experiment with the latest armory of ever more expensive weapons.
It also generates extremely high levels of sickness within its population, both physically and mentally. And these sicknesses are very often left largely untreated for many reasons, one of the primary reasons being cost. Help comes very expensive for the mentally or physically sick in North America. You may not get it at all or it may bankrupt you. Contributing to this widespread ill-health is the pharmaceutical industrial and the reliance upon drugs by the medical profession. Allied with a generally poor diet generates a catastrophic level of obesity and heart disease with many other complications.
Private prisons have very healthy profits due to the huge intake of new prisoners each month both from the fees from the state and the cheap labor pool they have within the seemingly unending number of prisons which have to be built. The current president was the most enthusiastic proponent of the 1994 Crime Bill which enabled this industrial scale level of human incarceration and exploitation. The War on Drugs was the main backdrop to the bill and though the laws regarding Marijuana are being relaxed predominantly black men are still going to jail in huge numbers monthly. Add to this that appealing against wrongful convictions has progressively made harder to intolerable levels since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Killings by the police of predominantly young black men have been in the news lately as we all know. The death of George Floyd resulted in the latest of a long series of devastating periods of social unrest. The USA has a reputation for being the place to go to make your fortune. But how true is this now? How well has the so-called ‘American Dream’ stood up to the test of time? Wages have stagnated for decades now. Paying your rent and everyday expenses plus health insurance has meant many now live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save as much as a cent for unexpected emergency payments. This may require working several jobs and if it is a two person household both individuals working with children often home alone. Without any hope of security of work or continuing to have a home many find themselves without either. tent cities abound and even if a job is found you may find yourself living out of your car in a gated parking lot, unable to afford a home of any kind.
The primary ethos of the United States is that you stand on your own two feet and begrudge giving the state anything. But this ethos where those fall between the cracks are judged inordinately harshly has left a society gradually pulling itself apart at the seams. Unity of purpose seems very hard to find and oftentimes the law of the jungle prevails. If you lose the wherewithal to support yourself you can fall very far indeed. Homelessness is an enormous problem in the USA and closely linked to mental health problems and rising crime. Add to this the misery of a totally uncoordinated and chaotic approach to the Covid-19 pandemic and you have the makings of a future societal meltdown in the nation.
The corporate sector of the United States acts all too often as an out of control financial predator and rabid, greed-driven machine where only the bottom line and never the well being of individuals matters first and foremost. Minimal rights are given, holidays are short, demands are high and benefits low. Health insurance is widely tied to employment and is held as a gun to employees’ heads against forming or joining a union. Lose your job in a time when jobs are scarce and you could easily lose everything... and never get it back. And who can say the last time when jobs weren’t scarce, especially jobs paying a decent livable wage?
The extremely powerful mainstream media networks of the USA provide more channels with less quality programming than almost anywhere else across the world. Highly profitable and ubiquitous nationwide its content is as lowbrow as seen anywhere, its news hardly merits the word with opinions, speculations and assertions predominating where emphasis is placed on a constant degree of hysterical drama and fear-spreading with little attempt at analysis of any true depth. State narratives are repeated endlessly infecting and conditioning the minds of American not to question their state superiors but simply mindlessly obey and support whatever corporate lobby policy or war is advocated next.
Then we have the political system of the USA which over the years has more and more resembled a war between two increasingly aggressive armies. At one time these two armies could be much more easily identified. The Republicans were the party of the corporate sector, reducing taxes they had to pay, reducing the regulations they had to obey and being of a mind to start the wars they could profit from. The Democrats were seen as the party of the less well off and downtrodden. They were the party of the underprivileged, the underdog, those needing a hand up or a hand out. But over the last decade the Democrats have begun to shift rapidly toward the right, taking an ever greater share of corporate donations and shifting their policies to suit. Now they are the most enthusiastic of the two on regime change wars and jailing whistleblowers and censorship in general. Increasingly the American public supports and hates them both in equal measure while those at the extreme end of the spectrum become victims of wild conspiracy theories that add yet another dimension of insolubility to the entire political and social enterprise.
It is depressing to contemplate just how much of benefit could come from a nation that has such incredible potential, expertise and innovative skill and energy yet seems hellbent on remaining in both internal strife and sickness, criminal and mental dysfunction, drug-addled in part, obese in another, mentally unbalanced and warmongering at the topmost level. It has become the greatest danger to humankind rather than its most hopeful benefactor. That this situation appears destined to only become worse at a time when the world faces the possibility of its greatest challenge yet, climate change signifies a tragedy of enormous proportions is all but inescapable.
This beautiful country with its magnificent landscapes, beautifully kept national parks, amazing buildings, good transport networks, a past history of far-sighted entrepreneurs who built some of the most famous enterprises known across the world today and a space program second to none should truly be the envy of all. Its everyday people are generally goodhearted, with warm natures, communicative and friendly personalities, pretty well always ready to help someone in trouble and from what I have found, trustworthy folk who make good and lifelong friends.
But there is something rotten at the top of America, something far out of kilter requiring an adjustment that simply never seems to arrive. The fixed nature of these dominant and highly negative features appear to lie deep within the elite U.S. psyche and appear able to resist all efforts to ameliorate them. They are inured deep within that elite psyche, stubbornly unwilling to change or even look at the possibility that they may need to change. They consider themselves exceptional despite all the obvious reasons to doubt that. This unquestioning belief in their own elite self-righteousness born of a mythology of universal superiority generates the concept that there is not even the possibility of them being wrong or perpetrating wrongdoing.
These above are some of the elements which engender the paradox that is the United States of America.
Greatness of Spirit and Decadence of Mind. Freedom claimed and Modern slavery experienced. Justice enshrined and Mass incarceration. Vast Wealth for the few and Great poverty for the many. Free press and media with almost total News conformity. A massive Pharmaceutical industry and equally Massive ill-health.
The passing years show the negatives overtaking the positives in North America. The politicians are in lower esteem than ever before. People are sicker than ever before. Life expectancy for Americans is reducing. Psychological problems are increasing. Infrastructure is degrading. Jobs are disappearing. The cost of living is rising.
While America’s elites make ever more billions.
Despite its remaining, but dwindling virtues, the USA gives every impression of being a terminally sick nation.