I believe the United States of America, as a nation, is about to go the way of all empires. You might argue that we are not an empire but that would be mere quibbling over terms, obviously we are the closest thing to an empire that currently exists on this tiny planet we all must call home. I believe the reasons for this demise can probably be pretty well summed up by the verbs supersized, privatized and polarized. Granted this is a subject that cries out for a book length, if not encyclopedia length treatment, I cannot help but pose the situation as I see it.
The reasons for this demise are manifold, but there is little doubt we are a culture of the supersized. Obesity is a national problem for the first time in history, what with meals, soft drinks, popcorn, automobiles, housing, airplanes, and virtually everything we use having become far larger than ever before. Even our possessions are supersized with every wide spot in the road now having rows of storage facilities for the apparent millions upon millions of tons of stuff we thought we had to have but now have to somehow dispose of without actually taking it to the dump, dumps being also supersized to take care of the stuff we already take there, being unable, as yet, to simply dispose of it in outer space (we have already begun filling outer space up with our stuff). An economy based upon built in obsolescence, as ours has been for so many years is itself a form of supersizing. We have even supersized violence and sex, using any excuse for overemphasizing both themes whenever possible. And, of course, we have supersized our importance in the world with out unceasing claim of being exceptional.
Supersizing, while of great importance, is made possible by privatization, probably the most anti-national program ever conceived. Consider, for example, the importance of educating the young, who represent the future of the nation. Rather than providing our youths with affordable opportunities for education we have mired them in debt by forcing them to borrow money to even try to attain an education. This is, to put it mildly, completely absurd and came about because students were a prime target to sacrifice on the altar of profit. Consider our national elections that have become an ongoing process from the moment one President is sworn in to campaigning for the next election four years in the future. Who benefits from this ongoing process, why corporations, of course, who own the media that rake in billions. No one else benefits, not the electorate who just remain confused and misinformed and actually don’t even pay attention until to the last moment when they are then allowed to choose between two already chosen candidates. I see no reason whatsoever why the elections should take more than, say, a month. But where’s the profit in that? Similarly, the idea that you can privatize necessary human needs such as health care, energy, education, prisons, and even such basic necessities as water, is absurd on the face of it. Even the privatization of land is fraught with potential problems as land is just another word for the environment.
The problems we face as a nation are no longer being met by those who are presumably elected to serve the public interest. Polarization has become the reality of the moment. This is, I think, a kind of variation of the Morialekafa 20-60-20 rule, except it may be more correct ot think of it as the 10-80-10 rule. Even those proportions may be slightly too generous. What we seem to have is a situation where 10 percent of the population that already controls 80 percent of the wealth is trying to maintain and even improve their position, while another 10 percent understands what they are doing, and the 80 percent, having been poorly educated and fed so much propaganda are seemingly lost in a world of consumer goods, sporting events, and ignorance. When you have a population where so many believe angels are real, Obama is a Muslim, a majority don’t even know for certain who was responsible for the death of bin Laden, and so forth, you should know you are primed real trouble. Such is the condition the U.S. has fallen into in recent years. I fear if we continue down this path of certain failure we will, indeed, eventually fail.
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone
John Maynard Keynes