FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On the Road to Ruin?

by DON MONKERUD

America is on the “road to ruin,” according to a former political candidate and TV entertainer, who rants about “danger” and “insanity.” This Fox employee claims America is engaged in a struggle between “socialism” and “freedom and free markets,” and that President Obama threatens to destroy our sacred capitalistic values.

Unfortunately too many Americans share this perception. While the commentator sounds daffy, headlines raise questions about the deep divisions that threaten to rip America asunder. Examples abound. They reveal political forces at work, common sense pushed aside, and ordinary people ignored.

Despite empty praise about the U.S. being “the best county in the world,” an International Monetary Fund comparison of the advanced economies of the world, focused on income equality, employment, democracy, life expectancy, wellbeing, food security, prison population, and student performance, ranks the U.S. 33rd. Do these trends bode well for the future?

Meanwhile, we convert public policy to a dollar value. For example, policymakers are currently debating the price of a human life. As the price of a human life appreciates, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues for changing the rules from a cost-benefit analysis, which they’ve always advocated as necessary to prove the benefit of any proposed regulation, to a standard more favorable to business. Should money be the deciding factor when making decisions about public safety?

Recent scientific studies link heavy precipitation and floods to global warming. Proving the planet is warming was difficult in the past because scientists said it was hard to distinguish between climate change and extremely bad weather, hence computer modeling, scoffed at by climate change deniers. Will we wait too long to curb our carbon footprint before catastrophe strikes?

The House Judiciary Committee in South Dakota overwhelmingly approved a law making a homicide “justifiable” if committed in the defense of an unborn child. Touted as a way to discourage abortion by allowing doctors to be killed, the law was shelved, but not before invoking public anger on all sides. Should politicians debate the moral right to kill based on an individual’s religious preferences?

The Obama Administration conducted a study to determine what would happen if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb. While this is a highly unlikely event, the report engenders fear that leads to trading freedom for security. Supposedly, staying in your car after a nuclear blast cuts lethal radiation by 50 percent. Should the U.S. return to Cold War days when children were taught to crouch beneath their school desks in case of nuclear war?

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry proposes to cut the state education budget by $5 billion, eliminating junior colleges, scholarship programs, and cutting teachers’ benefits. He plans to lay off almost 10,000 state workers, but saves money for abstinence-only programs in a state that ranks third highest in teenage pregnancy, 47th in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores, and 46th in math scores. Can Texas prosper with an even less educated population?

An additional 42 states cut college funding, resulting in higher tuition and fewer students. Arizona eliminated preschool for 4,328 children; Colorado slashed 5 percent, or $400 per student, from its budget; and Michigan reduced its spending $165 per student. Hawaii is shortening its school year by 17 days; Missouri eliminated school busing for 565,000 students; and New Jersey cut programs for 11,000 students. Some states attack teachers’ unions and cry for more cuts, raising questions about the role of public education in our society. Should we support public education?

Although conservatives call for more cuts, none of them mention Republicans forcing President Obama to protect the high incomes of our nation’s wealthiest. The deal to extend Bush tax cuts creates a deficit of $3.7 trillion over ten years. While such cuts are supposed to create jobs, America’s 500 largest non-financial corporations are hoarding $2 trillion in cash and corporate profits grew 36 percent in 2010, while hiring plummeted. Tax breaks are used to increase CEO pay and expand corporate monopolies. Does this support the common good?

More than 30,000 people die in the U.S. from gunshots every year and over 60,000 are wounded. With almost a million people shot every decade, the National Rifle Association resists even common sense laws to regulate guns. Is this about “the right to bare arms” or is it an orgy of self-destruction?

While a cartoon claims, “Americans are not ready for Egyptian-style democracy,” we move beyond democracy and the ability of voters to influence public policy. We now have a corporate-controlled and operated government, influenced by over 10,000 lobbyists. Is this progress?

Corporations continue to promote a survival-of-the-fittest, laissez-faire, free-enterprise capitalism, pushed by brilliant marketing firms employing think tanks to sway public opinion. Did their globalization, anti-tax, deregulation, and privatization agenda create the wealthy elite and the deep depression?

Far from being “on the road to ruin,” America is engaged in a huge struggle over its future. Will we become a society devoted entirely to business with radically different living standards for rich and poor, or will we pull together to make a better life for all? Which will fulfill the great promise of America?

DON MONKERUD is an Aptos, California-based writer.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail