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

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail