Wednesday, January 14, 2015

America’s decline: Not the envy of the world anymore

If you take a college class and your answers to questions are continuously wrong, you get a failing grade. In politics, you can be wrong about everything and still be rewarded with a seat in Congress. People like Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and Steve King shouldn’t be allowed around sharp objects, yet there they are, sitting in the seats of power, making decisions that affect the lives of millions and millions of people.

Americans, in general, are yawning with disinterest as the inmates take over and run the asylum. Beyond our borders, however, people are dumbstruck at how badly we are behaving. In her Salon article “Has America Gone Crazy?” Ann Jones writes about the grave concerns expressed by Europeans, Africans and Asians over the direction America is taking. They don’t understand how our government can have so little regard for the health and welfare of its citizens. They are angered by our military interventions around the world. They are appalled by the unconstitutional excesses of our security agencies. And they can’t understand why we tolerate a tax system that so unfairly favors the rich over the average citizen.

This is not how a good portion of the world operates. In Europe, and especially the Scandinavian countries, governments have the welfare of their citizens as a top priority. There are high taxes, but those taxes provide healthcare and education for everyone. The government helps people meet their basic needs. It’s not dog-eat-dog capitalism where you get what you want by climbing over the backs of your fellow human beings, but a cooperative society where you can truly pursue your dreams because you don’t have to worry about how you’ll pay for your heart operation or your retirement.

Conservatives and the capitalist elites have convinced Americans that any type of socialism is bad, bad, bad, with the poorly informed, nationalistic red-staters nodding blankly in agreement. The reality is that we are not the envy of the world anymore. Citizens of other countries do not look to the United States for guidance or direction. They’ve moved beyond us and are creating more equitable and fair societies on their own. The question is, will we join them or will we collapse under the weight of our hubris and blind nationalism?

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