What Ails America
In The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity economist Jeffrey Sachs criticizes excessive lobbying, as well as a poor response by the American government to globalization, and describes American politics as a corporatocracy in which “powerful corporate interest groups dominate the policy agenda.” Sachs suggests that both political parties are right-of-center, and identifies four powerful lobbies as the military-industrial complex, Wall Street–Washington complex, Big Oil–transport–military complex and the health care industry. Sachs suggested that corporatocracy arose from four trends: weak national parties and strong political representation of individual districts, the large U.S. military establishment after World War II, big corporate money financing election campaigns, and globalization tilting the balance away from workers.
Is corporatocracy, the proper identification of the root problem which ails the United States? Or should we be more specific and focus our blame on the collective, what author C. Wright Mills in 1956 called the ‘power elite,’ wealthy individuals who hold prominent positions in these corporatocracies? Does this collective form the center of mass or consensus around which our society’s economic and political policies are determined and controlled?
The above concepts have been used to explain how inherently unjust national policies and programs such as taxpayer funded bank bailouts, excessive pay for CEOs, as well as complaints related to the exploitation of our national treasury, people, and natural resources come about. The above concepts have also been used by critics of globalization, the World Bank or unfair lending practices, and “free trade agreements” to explain how these programs are structured and operate. These are not new concepts. In fact, the information and most the words used thus far in this article are taken directly from the introductory sections of two Wikipedia pages on corporatocracy and The Price of Civilization.
What I believe all Americans need to comprehend, is that the most threatening ills currently plaguing the United States of America are not only what is outlined above. In addition, there are significant additional issues plaguing our country, yet these added threats are not what we would be led to believe.
Through the hard lessons of previous conflicts, especially the last World War, most educated people have learned that blaming a scapegoat for a nation’s misfortunes is unacceptable. Nevertheless, in the United States of America, the population is being subjected to a steady barrage of trickery in order to identify and demonize scapegoats. Just look at the daily media output in the United States to see the deception. See the attempts to ignore or push back Muslim refugees forced to flee their petroleum rich yet war torn countries being bombed by the U.S. and/or its allies using mostly U.S. produced weapons. See the assigning of blame for economic ills on hard working Latino immigrants earning poverty wages. See the hyped up threats of Asian economic and military dominance while largely ignoring their recent role as the primary engine for worldwide economic growth and prosperity. See the blaming or accusing of Russia for almost anything or everything disagreeable rather than finding the true sources within our own society. See the overall failure to report on the disenfranchised half of the U.S. population who have been left out of any real economic growth for the last generation (while the wealthy plutocracy in the U.S. has seen their fortunes skyrocket). Finally, realize how too many segments of the media focus their reporting in a way to portray the disenfranchised half of the U.S. population, or subsets within this group, as having identified another group (or subgroup) outlined in this paragraph as the source of the problems and ills that need to be rectified. Finally, see how single minded individuals and groups on both sides of the political spectrum with neo-fascist orientations lack tolerance, understanding, and acceptance of the multicultural and diverse societal tapestry that is the United States of America.
While we are conveniently being distracted, divided and conquered through the use of scapegoats old and new, the collective and the corporatocracy operate unhindered. What most of our media fails to report is that our own crony capitalist politicians, in collusion with our single minded financially driven plutocracy, aided and abetted by the predominately self-serving profit desires of big powerful interest groups, are all too often adopting self-destructive policies that abuse and waste our precious resources and productivity. Furthermore, for far too long the kinds of leaders we have been choosing and following have been directing our country down far too many dead end paths rife with self-inflicted and potentially mortally threatening wounds.
Finally, the individual and cumulative disregard and apathy of far too many uninformed citizens have directly contributed to our selection and toleration of local and national leaders who serve the collective and the corporatocracy. The failure of people to properly undertake their role as responsible, informed, and involved citizens enables the population to be manipulated into serving the collective and corporatocracy special interests over the good of the nation. With ample reflection, the sad and ugly conclusion we must face is unavoidable: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
In the end, it is our own cumulative inexperience, ignorance, and sloth regarding our self-governance that is the most threatening of ills currently plaguing our country. It is necessary for us to take adequate time to get involved, educate ourselves, study, dig deep, and better understand the issues confronting our communities and our nation. We must come up with more compelling alternative explanations of our most important challenges and find the root problems and fixes we believe are correct. We need to find or rediscover ways to constructively discuss topics and concerns among ourselves and our neighbors. Finally, we must select leaders who will enforce the application of the efficient and effective solutions of our choosing. If we cannot find and face our issues and then make the necessary corrections, what ails America just might destroy America.