For too long we have lived under the myth that the U.S. is better, smarter, stronger, richer, uniquely special, and simply “exceptional” when compared with the rest of the world. The past few years should have put to rest that massive delusion.
Many well-known commentators and pundits in the blogosphere and Media have lamented for years our nation’s utter inability to accept good ideas if somehow they can be traced to somewhere outside our borders. If we didn’t think of it or can make it our own, we can’t consider or adopt it because our country is so different and “exceptional” from all the others.
Universal Healthcare for all Citizens? No way because we think it’s originally from Canada and Western Europe, even though Medicare is universal coverage for those over 65, and so are Military and Veterans’ Health Plans, and most Public Employee healthcare plans.
High Speed Trains? No way because we think it’s originally French and Japanese and it has spread through socialistic Western Europe and into China. Whatever they do, we have to do the exact opposite because of American exceptionalism. We have to ignore that the U.S. lead the world in National Railroad Development and up until the 1950’s had the fastest intercity passenger and freight trains, both being factors in our great economic prosperity. We still have some the best-run private freight lines in the world, but why can’t we extend such service to people who are stuck in congested highways and airports? The U.S. allocating just $13 billion towards high speed and conventional train improvements this year and for the next five years pales in comparison to the more than $500 billion investment by China over the past 5 years and for the next decade, and the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been made in similar rail systems by Europe over the past 20 years.
Reasonably Regulated Banking Sector and Modest Consumer Protections? No way because that smacks of central control found in such countries as Canada and China. Some Americans are still fighting the last war against the U.S.S.R. and its hopelessly dysfunctional system that fell apart back in 1989. They miss the “Evil Empire” as it conveniently defined us as its polar opposite. Many countries did not have the financial meltdown as did the U.S. over the past few years and did not have to spend hundred of billions of dollars bailing out their banking and financial sectors. Are U.S. citizens and small businesses just objects to be abused by usurious interest rates, hidden fees, and deceptive lending practices?
Innovation in New Energy Sources? No way because many among us still want to debate climate change from an environmental and religious basis even though the vast majority of scientists and inhabitants of the planet already understand that human activity exacerbates current environmental problems and is having longer-term effects on planetary climate. Instead of trying to make money by encouraging new energy technology development in the U.S., we are ceding most development, manufacture and eventual profits to Western Europe, South America, and China. How is that going to maintain the ever-shrinking middle class and our consumer-based economy?
This list of “foreign” ideas to deride and ignore is far longer than just these mentioned. Our citizens and our politicians have consistently ignored all our major national challenges for the past 20 years. The past few weeks of renewed efforts at bi-partisan outreach on the part of President Obama will go nowhere with both Congressional Republicans and Democrats. Too many members of Congress are already paid representatives of our largest business interests and their wealthy shareholders. They view re-election as paramount over the best long-term interests of the U.S.
The U.S. is now faced with a fractious and wholly inane “Tea Party” movement that embraces all that is inconsistent, ignorant, loony, short-sighted, vitriolic, outrageous, self-centered and anti-everything that has to do with collective self-sacrifice in our society. If Congress has so far prevented and will likely prevent any of the liberal and progressive policies of the Obama Administration from ever being enacted and tried, how will we ever know that they might work? Even the Administration is extremely timid in all its proposals, merely continuing the overall policies of the prior Administrations with respect to Military, Social, and Healthcare spending that are essentially geared to maintaining our greedy corporatism and ossified crony capitalism.
Foreigners now seriously question whether the U.S. should be considered an “unstable” country for major investments. We are sliding to a status reserved for many poor developing nations around the world who cannot repay their loans, find any common social policies, and that suffer from rampant political corruption as a result of a complete merging of the wealthy and political classes.
“Instability” may not be the best word to describe the U.S. Perhaps complete gridlock and paralysis in the face of mounting problems. Washington DC is very stably stuck in the pocket of certain large private economic powers. Things are only accomplished if these “puppeteers” see their value to their self-interests. Instead, the status quo is preferred because their attorneys, accountants and lobbyists have rigged the current system in their favor.
This perpetual national inaction is quickly moving the U.S. to the back of the advanced countries in overall global economic, political, social and military influence. Many of our wealthiest citizens have “uncoupled” themselves from the rest of U.S. society so that their future economic well-being is tied to China, India, and other countries that provide really cheap labor and where they funnel their investment dollars.
Most foreign investors will likely run away as fast as they can from the next great “investment” proposals from Goldman Sacks, JP Morgan, CitiBank and other large U.S. financial hucksters. So much for all those triple-A bundled mortgages, both residential and commercial, and subprime and now prime, because they were all junk and so are now the reputations of Americans selling any financial instruments on the world market.
Why buy into any U.S. project when the promoters are simultaneously betting against the same investment? Why trust a society that has ignored educational excellence for at least 2 generations, suffers the highest high-school dropout and pregnancy rates of any developed country, and has over 40% of its population deny the basic tenants of science, physics and biological evolution? The only reason why foreign investment may continue here will be because many U.S.-based companies and all types of real estate will be extremely cheap as we descend to “developing” or “regressing” nation status, if they can ignore our long-neglected, dilapidated and backwards transportation, energy and educational infrastructures.
Too many U.S. citizens are ignorant of basic economics rules and any human history. They are too shallow, un-interested and lazy to learn anything about current events and our political system. Only a fourth know about the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule or who are some of the major Congressional players that decide our nation’s future. They prefer to use most of their brain cells following mindless entertainment outlets, worshipping useless celebrities, and being mesmerized by the latest electronic devices, that latter happen to be manufactured overseas.
We have ceded many prior leadership roles in scientific research, technological innovation, and advanced manufacturing, for short-term paper gains and losses in the casino world of financial speculation. We refuse to listen to the many constant, sane warnings from both domestic and international independent and sage voices. We disdain any criticism because we think we are special, different and exceptional, so the rules don’t apply to “God’s Chosen People.”
The only thing left of “American Exceptionalism” is our stunningly stubborn stupidity.
Submitted by Marc Pascal, happily ranting from sunny Phoenix, AZ.