“The price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilence.”
– Thomas Jefferson –
Many people become uncomfortable when anyone criticizes their country. Patriotism, to them, means accepting whatever your country does… period. “My country, right or wrong” is the best expression of this blinkered kind of patriotism. But such simple-minded, blind faith has had a down side, for it has allowed corrupt people and nefarious interests to steer our country down some very dark paths.
It’s understandable to love your country unconditionally, even as you would love a child. But loving someone does not mean we should ignore when that person does something wrong. Likewise, loving our country should not mean that we shouldn’t recognize, and hold it accountable, when it does not live up to the principles and ideals upon which it was founded.
So here are 7 ways in which our country and our government has gone terribly wrong;
The Government is Controlled by Big Money, Corporate and Military Interests
It has probably always been true to some extent that big money interests have exerted considerable interests on all levels of government. As long as there are people who can be bought for money, gifts or opportunities, there will be politicians who are happy to work for the interests of the elite. But at least in the past, these types of political vermin were recognized as corrupt, if not outright criminals. Today, we have institutionalized the co-opting of politicians, and made the selling of their services to the highest bidder the de facto manner in which the electoral process works.
The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United Decision declared that corporate campaign donations are the legal equivalent to speech and therefore freed up corporations to make unlimited contributions to the candidates of their choice. This distortion of the concept of free speech is an egregious example of how the interests of the elite have even taken over the highest court in the land. And what we should all be asking ourselves is, now that they can “speak” to the government with massive voice of their millions of dollars… is it even possible anymore for our puny little voices to be heard at all?
Wall Street’s So-Called Free Market Operates More like a Crooked Casino
A Free Market is supposed to be a system where prices are determined purely by the laws and forces of supply and demand – but today’s financial markets bear little resemblance to that. In recent years our banking and financial markets have been exposed as little more than criminal enterprises where the only operating imperative is to fleece the most amount of people possible. From the LIBOR interest rating scandal, to the manipulation of gold pricing, to high-frequency, front-running stock trading, to allowing banks to borrow money at 0% interest to artificially inflate stock market and prop up the failing market for US Treasury Bonds… these and many more fraudulent practices have destroyed any semblance of a free market and exposed the truth that what is erroneously called our Financial Markets are in fact closer to crooked casinos – but in these rigged games not only does the house always win, but the casino owners are allowed to sit at the table and take your money directly.
“Free Trade” Agreements have Allowed Multinational Corporations to Destroy our Domestic Economy
For the past 50 years big, multinational corporations have had one major goal – to put their operations, agendas and practices outside the control of pesky government authorities. They have systematically achieved this goal through the implementation of so-called Free Trade Agreements, such as The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and many others. These complex legal agreements, typically written by corporate lawyers, are sold to us as ways to improve our domestic economy by opening up foreign markets to U.S. exporters by eliminating barriers to trade.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that Free Trade agreements are instead directly responsible for the shuttering of thousands of American factories and the loss of tens of millions of jobs as Multinational Corporations – now freed from the danger of having import taxes levied on their foreign-produced goods – have been allowed to place their production facilities in whatever countries offer the lowest labor costs, the cheapest resources and most lax environmental and safety regulations. This off-shoring of American productive capability, this undermining of the earning potential of millions of American workers, this expatriation of hundreds of millions in annual tax revenues has all been very good for corporations and the owner class – but devasting to our country.
America is Addicted to War
For decades, U.S. military spending has outstripped all other countries combined – and several times over. These hundreds of billions of dollars have paid for the most lethal weapons in the world and made our military industrial suppliers extremely profitable and influential. Due to their critical role in our national security, military suppliers are the only industry that by law cannot outsource their production capabilities to other countries and therefore it is the only domestic industry that our government protects… and boy do they protect it!
With the fall of the Soviet Union – and the subsequent crash in U.S. military budget – the neocons in the government were desperate to identify a new enemy – one which would allow them to justify increases in military spending. In a white paper entitled The Project for a New American Century, they proposed the need to increase our military might so that no other country could every pose an existential threat to America’s dominance in the world – but they realized that this could not happen “without a catalyzing event, such as Pearl Harbor.” So they created an new existential threat called Terrorism and they aided and abetted the required catalyzing event, which was 9/11. Armed with a boogeyman for their new century, the neocons and their friends in the military industrial complex entered a new golden age of military spending.
American arms manufacturers today sell a total of $235 billion in materiel and weapons each year – supporting millions of people in an otherwise declining economy. We have 16 spy agencies employing 100 thousand employees, another million people employed by military and national security law enforcement agencies. As Jonathan Turley, Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washing University writes, in America “we don’t just endure war, we need war.”
America’s Tax Code Enslaves the Masses while Giving Rich & Corporations a Pass
The current tax code is 70,000 pages long. For most Americans the rules that pertain to us, those for paying taxes on our income, investments, property etc. could easily be be summed up in less than a hundred pages. So what’s in the remaining 60,900 pages? These remaining pages contain the arcane loopholes, dodges and tax avoidance instruments which were specifically inserted into the code so that the wealthy and powerful could protect their riches and avoid paying taxes like the rest of us.
The cost of tax breaks for corporations has been escalating for the past few decades, totaling $176 billion in 2013 alone. Tax for individual taxpayers are heavily tilted in favor of the top income earners, and in 2013 amounted to more than $770 billion – in that year 4,000 of America’s top 1% owed no income tax at all due to loopholes in the tax code.
What’s important to remember is that these tax breaks & loopholes have the very same effect as any other kind of government spending – and should be subjected to serious consideration and oversight. Currently our government looses over $1 trillion per year in lost revenues. If recovered, these losses would erase the federal budget deficit with a few hundred billion to spare! But with our elected officials in the pocket of the billionaires, bankers and corporations, tax code reform is unlikely to ever receive any serious attention.
Our Elected Officials No Longer Represent We The People
You could make a case that our system has never been quite as democratic as information ministers would have had us believe. Big money and industrial interests have always had a great deal of influence on our government. Congress has a long tradition of pork barrel politics, where constituent industrial interests are rewarded with pork in the form of plush government contracts or advantageous legislations, sneakily embedded into otherwise innocuous bills. Legislators have gotten away with this sort of light corruption because it was easily spun as necessary for the creation jobs for the people in their districts.
But this deference to big money interests is not always in the interests of the people. Tax havens and loopholes add untold millions of dollars to corporate coffers, tightening government budgets and shifting the tax burden onto ordinary people. The increasing globalist agendas of multinational firms – and their desire to be free of any governmental restrictions or oversights – has eliminated millions of jobs and dismantled many of our traditional worker’s rights and benefits, off shored millions of American jobs and given rise to corporate excesses like genetically modified foods and fracking.
But the nail in the coffin of our democratic process had to be the Supreme Court’s unbelievable Citizens United decision which conferred citizen status on corporations and with it the right to free speech – which in the case of corporations means the right to donate as much money to the campaigns of politicians as they wish. This single decision has singlehandedly overturned America’s long tradition of protecting the election process against the undue influence of big money. Now the only politicians we will even be allowed to vote for are those already in the pocket of bankers, billionaires and corporations. Your vote, essentially, serves only to legitimize an electoral process – and rubber stamp the candidates – that have been purchased by the money elite.
And the worst thing is… the only way to overturn this hideous Supreme Court decision is through the excruciating process of Constitutional Amendment – the last such amendment, the 27th, was originally proposed in 1789 and only ratified in 1992.
Our Bill of Rights has been Systematically Dismantled
The greatness of America has been owed in large part to the protection of individual freedoms and liberties guaranteed to its citizens by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These rights were meant to make this a country where the Rule of Law reigns supreme – where the people are protected against against the governing class’s historical tendencies toward tyranny and despotism. So accustomed are Americans to these unique freedoms that we take them for granted, never imagining that we could ever be subjected to a system where we would lose things like the presumption of innocence, the right to a speedy trial, the right to privacy or protection against illegal search or seizure.
Yet thanks to the unprecedented attacks on freedom contained within the villainous Patriot Act and it’s co-conspirator the National Defense Authority Act, the possibility of just such a dystopian reality is a very real and present danger.
Thanks to the Patriot Act, we now live in a security state where we have lost the right to privacy in our homes, in our person and in our communications. The government is now constantly recording our calls and emails, watching and tracking us as go about our lives, checking our papers at illegal checkpoints and subjecting us to invasive groping and scan technologies when we travel.
The NDAA has overturned 200 years of law which has kept the military out of domestic policing and ushered a new police state where the military is now allowed to conduct operations against the American people, and where someone who might simply have been at the wrong place at the wrong time can be detained without charges or representation, held indefinitely and transported anywhere in the world for a trial in a tribunal of the government’s choosing.
So there you have it, 7 things really wrong about this country.
Now you might say that this is too negative, that it doesn’t consider the many good and fine things about this country… and you’d be right. But the point is that much of what’s good and great about this country is directly attributable to the rights and freedoms that we have only recently lost. The uncomfortable truth is that our government has given itself the powers of a fascist state – but so far they have kept a friendly face on it. There is no way of knowing for sure if this campaign against freedom will be reversed, or if it will evolve into something ever more dark and sinister. But we must all be careful about a government who asks us to trade our freedom for security. For as Plato recognized ages ago, “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”