Divided States of America
Spiegel Online, November 5, 2012
Edited by Andy Ross
The reality of life in the United States so greatly contradicts its claim to
be the greatest nation on earth that patriots must blush.
Sandy showed up weaknesses. In New York City, the best walls of sandbags
were were built not around power plants, hospitals or tunnel entrances, but
around the Goldman Sachs skyscraper. Large parts of the city and millions of
people along the coast could now be forced to survive for days or weeks
without electricity, water, or heating. Backup generators didn't work and
hospitals had to be evacuated. America is not what it was.
Sorken has written a new drama series, The Newsroom. The news anchor hero is
asked to say why America is the greatest country in the world, but he
cracks: "There's absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're
the greatest country in the world. We're 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd
in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in
median household income, #4 in labor force and #4 in exports. We lead the
world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita,
number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we
spend more than the next 26 countries combined."
Hatred of big
government has reached a level in the United States that threatens its
existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the flag, but when
it's time to pay the bills all sense of community evaporates. Gone are the
days when Franklin D. Roosevelt said a social welfare system would
strengthen America. Gone are the days when Dwight D. Eisenhower launched
bold programs to build a network of interstate highways. Gone are the days
when Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty. And gone is the spirit of
John F. Kennedy's promise to send Americans to the moon within a decade.
The American dream is failing. It began to fail around the turn of the
millennium, with the crash landing of the New Economy, and it imploded
altogether in 2008, when Wall Street became the epicenter of a global
financial meltdown. President Obama tried to unite the country, but the more
he sought to accommodate the Republicans, the more extreme their positions
and the more hysterical their criticism became, eliminating any prospect of
compromise. Claims that Republican leaders agreed in January 2009 to block
his policies are now well supported. Republicans have been determined to
spoil everything, regardless of the public good. This is a systemic crisis.
The Tea Party has become the American Taliban. For them, Darwin's theory
of evolution is the stuff of the devil. They view homosexuals as diseased
and women as subordinate to men. They oppose contraception and are ready to
kill to end abortion. American schools are like dropout factories in big
cities, and American universities have become unaffordable for many
Americans. States like California spend more money on prisons than
America is a country filled with dead ends. High speed
trains run only on a few routes in the United States, at average speeds much
slower than European trains. Republican governors in states with good routes
for the trains refused to accept government funds. They wanted to thwart
socialist Obama and fight big government. Obama proposed several projects to
improve the country's schools and promote equal opportunity for all
children. But governors obstructed them.
Immigrants made America.
They founded more than half of all Silicon Valley companies and filed one in
four patent applications between 1995 and 2005. Almost half of all doctoral
candidates in engineering and science do not speak English as their first
language. But American students would rather work on Wall Street than in
technology and engineering.
Obama's major economic stimulus package
set aside $90 billion to promote renewable energy. The president's
adversaries ridiculed it and cited it as an example of his failure. Obama's
search for a green future was nothing but a money pit, scoffed the
America is no longer the shining beacon on the hill. Its
supremacy after the collapse of the Soviet Union is gone. Many developing
countries now look to China instead of the Unites States as a role model.
Unless a miracle occurs before December 31, 2012, the United States will
take a fall. Going over the fiscal cliff would reduce the budget deficit by
$607 billion. Austerity on this scale would cost the economy more than 5% of
GDP. Even the eurozone countries have not gone that far. Beyond the fiscal
cliff is an abyss.