Saturday, September 7, 2013



It would be nice to think the U.S. faces only ten structural problems. The reality is much more serious.

However, a blog shouldn’t be too long—so let me make a start with ten. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination—for the moment. You’ll be quite justified if you wake up screaming. Laughing hysterically will be fine too.

HEALTH & HEALTHCARE. This is a ‘wicked problem’ in the true sense of the phrase. I’ve written about these issue elsewhere enough, so I won’t elaborate further. However, it is important to note that we are in trouble, not just because of costs (which are completely out of line) but because of our health, itself. Americans are not healthy compared to the rest of the world. Something fundamental is wrong.

FOOD & DIET. Good food is integral to good health. Our food chain is broken, from the antibiotics we pump into the animals we raise, to the excesses of fat, salt and sugar which affect all our processed foods. After that, consider the damage inflicted by Fast Food. Our food is undermining our health, and, in some cases, actively poisoning us. A further factor is that our water supply is extensively polluted by medications and other products we do not even regularly test for. Enter cancer and a host of other ailments.

A DEEPLY CORRUPT POLITICAL SYSTEM. Our political system is money based—and such funding comes from the rich and special interests. Research shows that our politicians don’t listen to those who don’t fund them. Add in lobbyists, gerrymandering, and voter suppression—and  perhaps the word ‘corrupt’ is inadequate. This problem exists at federal, state, and county level—and probably even lower.

THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL CONGRESSIONAL COMPLEX. Eisenhower warned about this. The MICC is a coalition of interests who conspire to achieve a steadily increasing money flow spent on defense. As a consequence we spend more on National Security than the rest of the world put together, and are near constantly at war—with debts to match.

CORPORATE POWER & GREED. Corporations have their uses, but when they corrupt the political system, are considered ‘people’ by the legal system, debase our food system and pollute the environment, matters have got out of hand. In addition, they have excessive power compared to their workers, and are largely indifferent to their local communities and the National Interest.They also pay remarkably little tax, yet receive vast corporate subsidies. This isn’t capitalism. It’s crony capitalism, combined with corporate welfare, and leavened with corruption.

FINANCIALIZATION. A banking system should serve the real economy, not dominate it. Currently our financial sector collects over 40% of corporate profits, operates a system which keeps most Americans in debt for much of their lives, is so unstable that it recently caused the worst recession since the Great Depression—and has proved itself nearly immune to reform. In addition, even when caught behaving illegally, it has proved near impossible to prosecute. The financial sector needs root and branch reform—and there is no sign of it. It also does an entirely inadequate job supporting the small business sector. Fundamentally, speculation has taken over from investment. Another term for speculation is gambling.

GREED & CONSUMERISM CARRIED TO EXCESS. Americans are assailed by advertising, and other highly sophisticated marketing tools, from birth to death—to the point where the entire population has been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog. Add in the the inadequacies and distortions of our corporately owned media, and you have a society well set up to regard greed as no more than normal, and consumerism downright healthy. The end result is a society short on integrity and long on careerism, where all that counts is getting ahead no matter what you have to do. Byproducts are that cheating at school is considered acceptable, lying is fine if it serves your purpose, loyalty is considered a weakness—and so on. Here, I don’t wish to suggest that all Americans are so affected, but palpably many are—and for a first rate example of this, look no further than the financial sector.

EDUCATION. The U.S boasts many outstanding Third Level institutions, but many others are mediocre and 12-K has long been in deep trouble. Consistent failure to implement successful reforms affects virtually all aspects of the American Way of Life. It helps to explain why our corporations largely discourage initiative, but rely on process; and government is so bureaucratic. In contrast, the more efficient governments that characterize Sweden, and many Northern European countries, stem from excellent educational systems plus less consumer oriented cultures.

AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM THAT FAILS TO DELIVER FOR MUCH OF THE POPULATION. The U.S. is now the most unequal country in the developed world. The rich are becoming ever richer, corporate profits are at an all time high, while the earning power of most families is actually falling. Meanwhile, unemployment is excessive, investment is inadequate, we are losing ground in market sector after market sector, health costs are ever increasing, savings are inadequate, and pensions are vanishing.

THE CONSTITUTION. The Constitution was designed to be modified over the years in the light of changing circumstances. Currently, the case for a Constitutional Convention is overwhelming. There are numerous issues to be looked at including the matter of corporate personhood, worker rights, the relevance of privacy—and much else besides. The constitution is not a sacred cow.

No comments:

Post a Comment