The American Folly
A Cynical View of the Issues Facing America Today
The American political climate is extremely volatile, and extremely close to an explosive, catastrophic meltdown. Our President can’t seem to take his thumbs off the screen of his smartphone, moving us ever closer to an all-out nuclear war with “The Hermit Kingdom.” Defending his actions the same way a child would after pushing a kid off the slide on the playground; not with an intellectual argument, but with denial and name calling. Our post-9/11 nation has become less safe than ever. We are a paranoid nation that is quite literally surrounded with artillery, with 112 guns for every 100 citizens. We, however, are not paranoid enough to question those in command of us; America was founded on the idea that we can freely speak up against whoever leads, but we’ve become too sheep-like to say something about the felonious nature of our government.
This isn’t just an issue with the executive. Our citizens have become segregated, not by race, not by religion, but by our political alignments; needlessly debating about issues that aren’t as bipartisan as we imagine, fighting our neighbors because of their beliefs on how a nation should be run, making the nightmare of awkward silence at the holiday dinner table a reality. We are a nation obsessed with being right so often that we find any excuse possible to bicker. We were founded on a principle of cooperation. We’re supposed to work together to make a better America.
Our economy has been ravaged by the destructive hands of the businessmen we’ve handed it to. This isn’t anything new. Large corporations have been looking for ways to disband the Glass Steigel act. They finally found a way to lobby in their favor during Clinton’s administration. They started passing legislation that loosened regulations against big banks, making it harder to enforce actions against them. This led to a financially unstable environment that, over time, while left unchecked, caused banks and corporations to become “too big to fail.” If anything were to happen to these companies, our stock market would have taken a nosedive. So, the government had no choice but to bail out companies like GM, who, without these companies, would create an extreme rise in unemployment.
We’ve created a political monster that has risen from the schoolyard legends of an invisible boogieman to an indestructible Jason Voorhees, whose only weakness is acknowledging its existence and taking large-scale action to fight it.
Currently, America is seeing a “prosperous” time for our citizens. “During the first full quarter with President Trump, economic growth hit 3 percent” (Matt August). However, “The U.S. Economy is worryingly like 2007” (10 Years From 2007). The American government is becoming more consumed by the clutches of our capitalistic nature. We are led by the rich into a pit of economic despair. Lobbying has become increasingly geared towards the richest citizens and used to ensure that their wealth is secure long after they’re dead. There is even a plan for a tax overhaul in the Senate. This bill “would benefit corporations and the rich at the expense of the middle class” (Jim Tankersley, Priority Corporations). This harkens back to the days of the American Revolution, where we fought for our right to have representation before taxation.
“America is addicted to debt. In the past forty years, we have had 35 budget deficits, and only five budget surpluses” (Sharif Matar). America has, from the start, been in a continuous cycle of debt. The only time that we, as a nation, have been out of debt was almost sixty years after our nation’s birth. Our economy is currently on life support and is clinging on for dear life. We have had major help from a surplus in our social security, but as more baby boomers come to retirement, we can’t meet demand. Slowly, as more people rely on government assistance, we won’t have the little bit of wiggle room that we’ve maintained over the years. With a national debt of twenty-one trillion dollars, we should see what’s going on as a sign that America is on its way to a crisis-level situation.
The bill that’s currently going through the Senate as we speak will make it impossible for Democrats to have any fiscal say in the country. The Guardian wrote a thought-provoking piece on this subject, saying “the answer is that Republicans are pushing the tax cut at breakneck speed precisely because they know they are probably going to lose next year and in 2020, as well. The tax cut, once enacted, however, will bind the hands of Democrats for years to come, forcing them to essentially follow a Republican agenda of deficit reduction and prevent any action on a positive Democratic program.”
“Republicans Hurt Americans." The economy has become a toy for politicians. They play with it and shape it to be what they want it to be, not for the interests of the people they are representing, but for their own needs. They are controlled by the person who pays them to think the same way they do. Now that all of this has come to light, we can see it strewn all throughout modern politics. In 2008, we bailed major banks out of bankruptcy because they knew that, if they failed, the economy would fail, and subsequently, the government would be blamed. This gave them no other option. A bill was passed that “authorizes a cash infusion of $250 billion into the banking system to facilitate and encourage bank-to-bank loans and other types of lending” (Davis). Adding this to the already temperamental housing market bubble made an economic crash inevitable.
Our country is in the pockets of the one percent who know that, if the other 99 percent woke up and saw the dangers of the rich; like a powder keg about to explode, our leaders fear an interest and uprising of the lower class. However, we don’t need a revolution. Citizens should vote in favor of themselves instead of our elite. In an amazing Vanity Fair article, Joseph Stiglitz states: “The top one percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top one percent eventually do learn. Too late” (Stiglitz). We need to start looking to improve our economy so that our workers have the means to survive. “Growing inequality is the flip side of something else; shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible” (Stiglitz). This lack of opportunity is killing our nation’s economy, and the welfare of our nation’s citizens.
One of the biggest problems plaguing our world is the destruction of planet Earth and the changing of our climate. We’ve destroyed our home, and have done nothing to make it better. New York Times covered Donald Trump’s leaving the Paris climate accord, stating that “President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in the White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty” (Michael Shear Withdraw From Paris). Our government is so hell-bent on turning a profit that they don’t see that this will have long-lasting health, economic, and ecological repercussions. They even think they’re speaking for Americans; “I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris” (Michael Shear). This all stems from an “It’s not my problem” attitude that is all too prevalent in American society. NASA has defined climate change and global warming on their website, “Most climate scientists agree that the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect… Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from the escaping. Long-living gases that remained semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as 'forcing' climate change” (climate.nasa.gov).
Despite the attempts from big names such as Al Gore and Bill Nye, the leaders of our nation choose to remain ignorant to the caliber of disaster brought upon by global warming. These attempts came at the beginning of the new administration through the “Climate Reality Project.” Their mission is to “Catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making the urgent action a necessity across every level of society” (climaterealityproject.com). Al Gore recently met with President Trump, who believes that climate change is a “Hoax created by the Chinese” (CNN).
We’ve created a corporate monster. Turning a profit has taken precedence over our natural world. Every single day, more and more of the planet’s natural resources are taken away—conservation has been decimated by capitalism. “Experts agree that we are losing upwards of 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily, and significantly another 80,000 acres every day on top of that” (scientificamerican.com). That 160,000 acres of land is adding up. We have currently lost over 20 percent of the rainforests on the planet. This has led to massive destruction of our planet. We are accumulating CO2 (a greenhouse gas) at a rate that can’t be maintained; “407.06 parts per million” (climate.nasa.gov). This number is rising every day and is the highest the planet has seen in over 650,000 years.
Climate change has had many negative consequences on the health of our global population. The National Institute of Health reported on this issue. They’ve been studying the changes in the health caused by the changes in our climate caused by global warming. They have stated on their website that:
“Changes in the greenhouse gas concentrations and other drivers alter the global climate and bring about consequences. Environmental consequences of climate change, such as extreme heat waves, rising sea-levels, changes in precipitation resulting in flooding and droughts, intense hurricanes, and degraded air quality, affect directly and indirectly the physical, social, and psychological health of humans.” (niehs.nih.gov)
Are we doomed to spend the rest of our existence on this planet with such horrible health defects because of the apathy of corporations, just for a few ill-gained dollars? Republicans are the majority in our representation, but they make up a minority of two percent of the population who deny climate change—who deny that the legislation they’ve created has made an outrageously dangerous impact on our planet. If our representatives cared about our health, they would have looked to fix the issues that have been brought upon by the ravishes of humans and our never-ending hedonistic pursuit through our lives. Corporate America has become the embodiment of Freud's “Pleasure Principle,” but we choose to ignore the dangers that our actions create.
“We will make America great again.” This is the tagline for our now commander in chief, Donald J. Trump. A tagline that, without a doubt, has led to the most incompetent administration to ever grace the face of this planet. An administration hell-bent on destroying everything set into place to improve the lives of millions of American’s, and leaving a trail of lies in its wake. Even at the very beginning of his administration, he has been proven to be a habitual liar. In an interview with ABC, Trump again claimed he “had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches.” (Bobic) Or the time “Trump took credit for Ford’s decision not to open an auto factory in Mexico and instead expand its Michigan plant. The company said Trump was not responsible for its decision” (Bobic). And when he, “told a room full of politicians that 'thousands' of 'illegal' voters had been driven into New Hampshire to cast ballots. There is no evidence of such a claim” (Bobic). Trump is no stranger to making false claims. Not many elected officials can claim that “just nine percent of the things Donald Trump says are mostly related to the truth” (Jones).
As well as being a diagnosed narcissist and habitual liar, kind of a Machiavelli without the charm, he has tasked himself with undoing all the legislative action that has been done by President Obama. “Within hours of being sworn in, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at lifting regulatory burdens and fines imposed by the Affordable Care Act, signaling he is serious about using his authority to dismantle the law once his health team is in place” (Howell). This is taking away from the amazing work that had been set in motion by Obama, that, despite the tax increase it creates, will without a doubt create more opportunity for healthcare in the long run.
Trump is the first President in American history to use social media to try to “connect” to his citizens. He will forever go down in history as the “Tweeting President.” This readily accessible database of all the “best moments” of his thumbs and unfiltered use of 150 characters. His lack of conscience has led to a bit of scandal, including an admittance to knowingly firing Michael Flynn after he lied to the CIA during their investigation into claims of tampering during the election by Russia. He took to Twitter later that day, making it known—this had its fair share of critics, all pointing out that this is obstruction of justice. The Washington Post wrote that “The day after Trump fired Flynn, Trump urged then-FBI Director, James B. Comey, to be lenient with his former national security advisor, according to Comey’s notes at the time. If Trump knew at that point that Flynn had lied to the FBI and was under investigation, the observers said, his appeal to Comey could constitute an attempt by Trump to obstruct that investigation” (Wagner, Helderman, and Dawsey).
He’s also been quoted as saying openly racist and anti-Semitic remarks: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money is short guys that wear yarmulkes every day” (Trump). There are tapes of him openly admitting to misogynistic speech. In a tape obtained by The Washington Post, he claims he “Grabs women by the pussy.” Not the clean and kind nature we expect of our business and political elite.
With all of this in mind, it leaves one to wonder how someone so ill fit to be President made it into office. Nobody’s quite sure. It just happened. We are victims of an outdated system of electing our officials. In the 18th century, it made sense to have one picked individual learning about each candidate and choosing for his district, but now, in a media run world, we have no need. If we want information on a presidential candidate, we could just type our query into Google. It also makes our belief that each person has a say and a vote obsolete.
“The Electoral College system further distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy because electoral votes are not distributed according to the population. Every state gets one electoral vote for each member of its delegation to the House of Representatives (this by itself would be a rough measure of its population) and each state also gets two “bonus” electors representing its two senators.” (Black)
Despite everything negative that can be said about Trump, his positive effect on the stock market has truly been astounding. The DOW is currently above twenty-four thousand. That is an astronomical jump from what it was in 2016, and this jump happened almost immediately after Trump’s inauguration—but this leap in the stock market has only been beneficial to the DOW, and this effect is merely an illusion. The stock market is slowly crumbling underneath us like an economic Tower of Babel. He’s been handed the helm of our nation, and, like a rogue sailor, is looting what he can before the ship sinks.
Our nation is currently looking bleak, with corrupt representation and unpredictable leadership, but that’s to be expected of a nation in its adolescence. With an only 260 year history, we’ve come so far. America is an exceptional world power for the very brief history it boasts. We have an awful long way to go, but with the right transition of legislative and executive power, we can create an ideal country. The American attitude is that of an arrogantly and militant ignorance, willingly choosing to ignore the wildfire taking place right in front of us. We’ve either come to accept our fate, or passively complain on the sidelines.
With a messed up economy that favors the corruption of only the richest citizens, we struggle to comfortably survive. Our planet is slowly cooking itself, and the most powerful choose to ignore the destruction at hand. Our leader is incompetent and hot-headed, listening to his hired close circle as opposed to the people he’s been elected to speak for. America is on the verge of a full-on nuclear war with North Korea and could be the start of our third World War, but it won’t be “our” war, it’ll be Trump’s war. Why let our President play the fiddle while the country burns?
With the almost Orwellian nature of this post 9/11 world we live in, personal freedoms are given up, and what’s left in its place is a false sense of security and hope that everything will get better. We need to wake up and see what’s going on. We’re too preoccupied with our Snapchat streaks and likes on Facebook, that a nation on the brink of failure has become a meme instead of front page news. America is a beautiful, unfinished song—one whose melody can be heard by generations to come or end in a violent crescendo. We make that choice, and if we educate ourselves on the issues we face, our legislation can’t ignore our cries for a better future. Where we end up is up to us. Where will that be? On the right or wrong side of history.
• Igor Bobic, Huffingtonpost.com, The First 100 Lies: The Trump Teams Flurry of Falsehoods
• Eric Black, Huffingtonpost.com, 10 Reasons Why the Electoral College is a Problem
• Lana Clements, Express.co.uk, Financial crash warning: 10 years on from 2007 crisis experts warn debt bubble could burst
• Climaterealityproject.com, Our Mission
• Climate.nasa.gov, What is Climate Change?
• Marc Davis, invsetopedia.com, Top 6 Financial Government Bailouts
• Sarah Jones, politicususa.com, Fact Checkers Prove That 9% of What Trump Says is True
• Tal Kopan, CNN.com, Donald Trump meets with Al Gore on Climate Change
• Sharif Matar, youtube.com/SharifMatar, The History of The American Economy and Inflation
• Niehs.nih.gov, Climate, and Human Health
• Brad Plumer, A.J. Chavar, and Susan Archer, nytimes.com, the U.S. to Leave Paris Climate Accord
• Scientificamerican.com, Measuring the Daily Destruction of the Worlds Rainforests
• Robert Shiller, theguardian.com, The Trump Effect Has Rallied US Markets- but it’s Based-on Illusion
• Joseph Stiglitz, VanityFair.com, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
• Jim Tankersley, New York Times, Party’s Priority: Comfort for Corporations
• John Wagner, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Washingtonpost.com, Trump says he has nothing to fear from Flynn, then stokes new controversy with tweet