#atoz: Something Rotten in these United States

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Change and innovation are part of the historical meme. Better, newer, faster is the constant drumbeat of American society. I am addicted to technology; I enjoy using it, and I’m sure that it would be hard readjusting to not having it. But I also enjoy preserving the connexions to our past. Just as people in Europe live in flats built in the 17th and 18th century and walk streets set down even further in the past, I want to be able to say my flat was built in the antebellum period, or that our library was built in the 1920s. However, historical preservation is on a local level, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is just not a priority.

But it is not even the historical preservation. We are destroying community in the race for profit. Small businesses are being swallowed whole by mega-corporations, and minority communities suffer from a lack of resources for many reasons, some malicious and some just through “tradition”, which can be just as malicious. And our infrastructure is crumbling: highways, bridges and rail-lines have not been updated since the 1950s, and some even longer.

To be “American” is not defined by being beholden to a certain set of core values and beliefs. Perhaps we have become integrated, but unlike the ideal “melting pot” of immigrants living beside each other, we are a mixed salad of things that, when put together, sometimes does not pair well. We cannot bond over a common heritage and history, so we should preserve the things we can.

We should not erase heritage and history, and if we continue building new without fixing what works, our foundations shall crumble, in more ways than one. – SDM

 

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by arutina

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#atozchallenge: The American Oligarchy

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Euphemisms are the bastions of politics. So when political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page published their study in the Princeton University Press about oligarchy within the American politics*, they certainly don’t call it an oligarchy. They use economic elite domination. Which is exactly what an oligarchy is.

Oligarchy and kleptocracy (see my previous post on kleptocracy) are parasitic and vicious cycles: government hands its largesse to a select number of businesses, and those businesses then turn around and pressure or pay off government to get preferential treatment.

Only the largest and most egregious law-breakers are ever brought to media attention: AT&T, Comcast and in 2008, Lehman Brothers and its ilk. America is held hostage by the greed of these companies: there are de-facto monopolies in every industry and our regulatory agencies cannot stop them.

Before we point fingers and accuse our international compatriots of letting business, greed and graft control the political class, let us take a look at our long history of allowing the same in America, in the name of innovation.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by istara

#atozchallenge: Capitalism has Failed

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It is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money in and of itself. Hoarding it, refusing to spend it, refusing to pay taxes on it so that it may help others, is the love of it.

The re-distribution of wealth are the four most hated words in any crony capitalist society. ‘We earned it!’ cry the CEOs of Fortune-500 companies who have placed so little value on their workers. ‘If you weren’t so lazy you could be here too!’

The fact of the matter is the value placed on owning something is much higher than working for it. Therefore, a CEO obviously will make more than a shop assistant because we believe that having the company means more than working for it. And this model follows everywhere: the principal of a school makes more money for running the school/being ‘the face’ than a teacher does in the classroom.

And so, of course, money flows upwards. Those at the very, very bottom are left fighting for what is left over, and even those who do not place much value on money say ‘just work smarter, not harder and you can get to the top’.

Capitalism even at its purest is a terrible idea for any diverse society made up of people with different needs, wants and talents. Capitalism at its worst postulates that if you do not or cannot supply capital, you do not deserve to live. And in 21st century Western society, we see it happening: people who do not have capital die from a lack of it.

American and European societies are held at the echelon of what a ‘developed’ nation should look like. What is it, exactly? Mal-nourished children who are struggling in class because they’re hungry? Homeless veterans with no place to turn to receive aid for their PTSD? If we live in the greatest society, what then, is the worst? – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by Joel Santana