What Ever Happened to America?
What happened to America my immigrant father entered for freedom and opportunity? Why have opportunities shrunken where largess to the increasing poor and the rich have outstripped the capacity to produce prosperity for all Americans?
When my father entered America capitalism was not the domain of a few to control for the even fewer. When he entered America small businesses were easy to start and with hard work prosperity was within reach. He had financial success in business. Today, the framework of legislation and costs limit the opportunities for Americans. The prolonged obsession of government is national security and military spending. We have become a culture that perpetuates and glorifies violence in entertainment. Foreign and domestic policies often do not advance American prosperity causing it to diminish every minute of every day.
The American nation is being hollowed out like a gigantic nutritious egg with two political parties carving out the inside of the egg shell. When my father entered America the country was more decentralized and onerous government did not exist. Now, police are militarized, war and war preparedness have overwhelmed the resources of country. National security is an obsession costing astronomical funds as the nation is being hollowed out. How did a nation situated between two oceans become embroiled across the globe in one misadventure and quagmire after another since the 1960s?
Any fool knows that any system of government is not perfect. In our system legislation is often crafted and written by industries and lobbyists who are sometimes former members of Congress and current members of Congress often do not read the legislation they pass. With every passing day it is Congress that appears to be launching incursions against the American people with innumerable laws that benefit a few at the expense of the majority. Those with excellent credit ratings caused the financial meltdown of Wall Street while an American with bad credit may denied employment based solely on bad credit caused by lack of employment. This is one example out of countless ones of wayward and adverse legislation for Americans allowing misuse of credit reports. How many fools do we have in this country?
Pharmaceutical companies advertise prescription drugs on television to the majority of Americans who have no medical training. Is modern medical treatment driven by television commercials acceptable medical practice of lay people suggesting what prescription drugs to prescribe?
What happened to the America my father entered where now average and modest income earners are taxed at the same capital gains rate as those earning 20 to 30 times or more income annually?
When a government becomes so powerful that citizens become the servant, and government officials become the master and overlord it is no longer the country the Founding Fathers intended.
If government cannot sustain and maintain a modest program like Social Security then those in government do not have the capacity or skills to be in government. If elected leaders cannot establish universal health care effectively and efficiently they clearly do not have the skill, talent and motivation to do so. Why should employers be held financial liable for health care? One of the unsaid reasons for off shoring jobs is the cost of health care. My father always thought government should do three things in addition to national defense: provide for the education and health of everyone, and limit the wealth. What he meant by limit the wealth is not allow a few to control such things as the media and news. Capitalism requires a level playing field and preventing abuses is the role of government, otherwise the whole enterprise of government devolves into a carnival of power wielded not for the people but against the people.
When I was drafted into the army and went to Vietnam in 1967 my immigrant father watched the news anxiously every night. He waited patiently for my return and died soon after my arrival home, for he was sick having endured more than the human body can take for a long life. He had wandered the deserts of Turkey and Syria as a boy trying to survive the first modern genocide- that of Armenians in Turkey. Through various setbacks and journeys he finally made it to America and carried a small copy of the Constitution in his suit jacket.
As long as mediocre and inadequate leaders from the Vietnam era to now continue to get elected to the executive and legislative branches of government allowing the wealthy or influential to guide legislation, domestic and foreign policies, the answer to the question what has occurred to erode freedom and opportunity will be more urgent and critical. The greater the empire becomes the less effective it becomes for the citizenry. Our democracy was not founded to create a vast empire for a few at the expense of the many.
The test of any law and legislation ought to be how it benefits or harms Americans, not who gets to make an enormous profit. The most important task of the United States Congress is the quality of its legislation, for if its legislation is faulty the nation is faulty. No nation can long sustain or attain success for its people unless fairness, justice and equality reign supreme. The ephemeral power of an empire built on sand will vanish in the first fierce winds of economic and fiscal mismanagement.
A country built by immigrants that creates vast government power by stealing authority from the people will neither prosper nor prevail. When there are more limits on citizens than there are on elected representatives, freedom and democracy is diminished while the safety of citizens is in peril.
Henry David Thoreau put it best, “The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”
Henry Pelifian received a B.A. from the State University of New York at Geneseo, NY in English/Drama and Education, an MBA in International Managment from Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, AZ.. He served in the U.S. Army with one year in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, he worked for several more years overseas, primarily in Thailand in the U.S. Refugee Program. He is now writing novels, plays and short stories. You can visit his Amazon page here.