American dream or nightmare?

5 Powerful Shifts Transforming America Society into an Unrecognizable and Frightening Future By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, March 20, 2015 1) 1% Elections 2) The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation) 3) 3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency 4) The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government 5) The Demobilization of the American People…based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so. Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.” Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

America doesn’t just have one deficit, and Bernie Sanders wants to address seven of them by Laura Clawson Daily Kos Labor, Jan 26, 2015   …The ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee says the next budget should address a series of deficits in investment in the American economy. Income inequality, lack of jobs and especially good jobs, poor infrastructure, bad trade deals, retirement insecurity, and a failure to invest in education—these are deficits that affect the entire American economy, dragging it down and slowing growth… At a time when this country has an obscene level of income and wealth inequality, we need a budget that ends the outrageous loopholes that exist and asks the wealthiest people and largest corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes.

Three Reasons Why the United States Is Broken, Bloated and Bleeding By Pierce Nahigyan, Truthout, April 4, 2015 … the United States’ biggest fear these days seems to be one idea…The big idea of what exactly we want the United States to be. The big idea involves talking about the United States, and discussing the United States, and admitting that the United States fell behind the rest of the developed world on pretty much any index we belong to a long time ago. According to one global report, we’re 25th in math and science. According to another, we’re 14th in reading. According to Legatum, we’re 31st in safety and security, 21st in personal freedom. 1. The Wealth Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Shamefully Wide 2. Domestic Law Enforcement Is Becoming Increasingly Militarized 3. Americans as a Whole Are Not Aware of What We’re Doing “Out There”…The United States has spread itself across the globe, spread its weapons and its soldiers and its ships and jets and tanks into an international network that is as impressive in its scope as it is in its virtual obscurity…The United States needs to have a serious conversation about the big idea: What we want the United States to be. Americans need to consider the fact that our system is broken, bloated and bleeding, and to not be afraid to confront it. We need to think.

Is This Country Crazy? Inquiring Minds Elsewhere Want to Know

Look at the Stats — America Resembles a Broken Banana Republic  by CJ Werleman, AlterNet, December 9, 2013   Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection has resulted in 50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth. As the four Walmart heirs enjoy a higher net worth than the bottom 40 percent, our nation’s sense of food insecurity is more on par with developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania than with OECD nations like Australia and Canada…

The U.S. Is Number One — But in What? By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network, October 13, 2014  No. 1- weapons exporter; violence and preparations for violence; more guns and gun-related deaths than any other country; capacity for violence

Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane, AlterNet  By Bruce E. Levine, July 30, 2013

We Are the Most Unequal Society in the Developed World By Les Leopold, AlterNet, November 10, 2014

U.S. Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing By Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, June 2014

US Health System Ranks Last Among Eleven Countries on Measures of Access, Equity, Quality, Efficiency, and Healthy Lives By Mary Mahon, Bethanne Fox, Commonwealth Fund, June 16, 2014

An Animated Video Explains What’s Wrong With The U.S. Prison System In 4 Minutes By Tiffany Willis, Liberal America, April 5, 2014 Isn’t it incredible that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Yet another area in which we’re the “winner” and it’s not a good thing. More than two million adults are currently incarcerated behind bars, walls, and barbed wire. They away from society and their communities. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One of the most troublesome truths about the prison system is that many of these two million prisoners are eventually released. That’s when the real struggles begin for them.

5 Signs That America Has Gone Bonkers — And a Glimmer of Hope by Jim Hightower, AlterNet/, May 30, 2014 …Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples: We can’t even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington’s tea party Republican faction…shut down the nation’s government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the US economy…2)  Lloyd Blankfein, bankster-in-chief of Goldman Sachs…took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to keep it afloat and lobbied furiously to kill regulatory reforms…continues to reign… and hauling in $23 million last year in personal pay. 3) A narrow, five-man majority of the US Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are “persons” with the right to spend unlimited sums of their shareholders’ money to elect or defeat whomever they want — and to do so secretly. This year, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Court also overturned the campaign finance rules limiting individual’s contributions on aggregate federal campaign contributions — thus enthroning a tiny elite as America’s ruling electoral power. 4) Big Money’s control of politics gives it control of public policy…5) From retail workers to adjunct college professors, the new normal for workaday people is poverty-wage, part-time, temporary, no-benefit employment…Most people know that things are screwy, that this is not the America that’s supposed to be. And therein lies the good news: The USA hasn’t gone crazy — its leaders have and they can be changed.

The American Empire Crumbling Before Our Eyes Right Here at Home By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch, Posted on, May 1, 2014

We’re Not No. 1! We’re Not No. 1! By Nicholas Kristof, New York Times,  APRIL 2, 2014 …a major new ranking [Social Progress Index] of livability in 132 countries puts the United States in a sobering 16th place…Many who back proposed Republican cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and public services believe that such trims would boost America’s competitiveness. Looking at this report, it seems that the opposite is true…The arguments for boosting opportunity or social services usually revolve around social justice and fairness. The Social Progress Index offers a reminder that what’s at stake is also the health of our society — and our competitiveness around the globe.

The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity by Joseph Stiglitz… to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and edu­ca­tion of his or her parents? Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth…The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom…most importantly, America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity…America can no longer regard itself as the land of opportunity that it once was. But it does not have to be this way: it is not too late for the American dream to be restored.

When Happiness Died in America…  By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program, December16,  2013being happy is nearly impossible if someone is unemployed…now, 10.9 million Americans don’t have a job…There’s no way we can be a happy nation again without getting those jobs back, and making sure that all Americans have an equal shot at a good job. It’s time to close the book on Reaganomics, toss austerity aside… Only then will Americans really have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Global Rankings Study Depicts an America in Warp Speed Decline By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, April 8, 2014  If America needed a reminder that it is fast becoming a second-rate nation, and that every economic policy of the Republican Party is wrongheaded, it got one this week with the release of the Social Progress Index (SPI)…The index measures the livability of each country…While the U.S. enjoys the second highest per capita GDP of $45,336, it ranks in an underperforming 16th place overall. It gets worse. The U.S. ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety… the U.S. remains in first place for the number of incarcerated citizens per capita, adult onset diabetes and for believing in angels….We find ourselves languishing for the very fact we have allowed corporate America to hijack the entire Republican Party, and some parts of the Democratic Party. This influence has bought corporations and the rich a rigged tax code that has redistributed wealth from the middle class to the rich over the course of the past three decades. This lack of shared prosperity and opportunity has retarded our social progress. 

America’s Tragic Decline by Amy Goodman and Barbara Ehrenreich, Democracy Now! August 8, 2011

8 Shocking Ways America Leads the World By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet, July 29, 2013

1. Most expensive place to have a baby

2. Obesity

3. Anxiety disorders

4. Small arms ownership

5. Most people behind bars

6. Energy use per person

7. Health expenditures

8. Cocaine use

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