Americans take great umbrage whenever they, as a society, are portrayed by the residents of other nations as self-centered, avaricious and overbearing. While an egregious exaggeration in the past, is it an accurate description now? Who are the American people today and what sort of country is the United States in 2013?
How does one describe a society wherein a majority of the people, and their elected leaders, have embraced the following mindset?
- a) The United States can commit to unlimited government spending as the long-term future of the nation is immaterial and will take care of itself.
- b) Based on 66 years of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, the good times will never end and America will under no circumstance experience massive national adversity as there is a bottomless pit of money to be siphoned from an equally bottomless pit of wealth.
- c) Since the dollar is the international reserve currency, the United States, in order to cover its massive budget deficits, can arbitrarily create trillions of dollars out of thin air regardless of any consequence for the nation or the global economy.
- d) There are no limits to personal behavior and the arcane concepts of decency, honor and integrity are from a bygone era.
In just four years the United States has accumulated nearly $6 Trillion in debt. The national debt is now $16.5 Trillion or 32.5% of the world's total indebtedness (the U.S. accounts for 5% of the global population and 20% of the annual Gross World Product). Further, the total unfunded liabilities (state, local and federal) of the U.S., as of 2012, exceed $238 Trillion, or 3 times the annual Gross World Product (total economic activity of all the countries on earth). The United States is, today, the most indebted and bankrupt nation in the history of mankind.
Assuming other nations would still be willing to buy American bonds and the dollar has not been replaced as the world's reserve currency, the expected level of government spending over the next four years will result in the national debt exceeding $21.5 Trillion (nearly 40% of the projected world debt in 2017). Interest costs, as the end-product of having to raise rates to attract lenders, will absorb nearly 60% of the total income taxes collected in 2017.
However, at some point before this scenario fully plays out, the rest of the world will no longer tolerate and subsidize a nation unwilling to change its profligate and self-centered ways. The financial collapse of the United States would not only have a devastating impact on the standard of living for the average American but for the vast majority of people around the globe.
How can a nation with any sense of decency allow this scenario to play out? None of this is a mystery to the politicians, academics, the media, Wall Street, major corporations and a substantial portion of the electorate. While there may be a considerable percentage of the population that could be categorized as "low-information" voters, this does not excuse the actions and attitudes of these people or the balance of the citizenry. The United States, and possibly the global economy, is being taken apart by the avarice and narcissism of its elites and the selfishness and ignorance of far too large a percentage of its inhabitants.
The vast majority of politicians, while paying lip service to fiscal restraint, are primarily concerned with re-election and continuing the standard of living, ego-gratification and wealth accumulation that comes with elected office. They have thus abandoned their moral and fiscal duty by pandering to the bulk of the American people who have been willingly indoctrinated to believe that by the mere circumstance of living in the United States one is entitled to and guaranteed a "decent" livelihood regardless of the cost to future generations.
The leaders, as well as a preponderance of the rank and file, within the public sector unions, are focused not only on siphoning as much money as possible from the treasuries of the states and federal government, but also impacting, through compulsory union dues, the election of politicians who will acquiesce to their never-ending demands. This modus operandi also extends to the private sector unions who are increasingly turning to government and the elected officials they also financially support to strong-arm their demands upon employers — which will compel many to choose either bankruptcy or offshore relocation.
The bankers on Wall Street, in order to protect their annual seven figure incomes, have become willing tools for the governing class in Washington D.C. either as: 1) foils in the propagation of class warfare; 2) well compensated accessories to the creation of money by the Federal Reserve; or, 3) intermediaries for massive political donations. All the while knowing that the government has designated their entities as "too big to fail" thus shifting any potential risk to the American taxpayers.
Additionally, far too many major corporations and well-heeled investors have turned their eyes to the government as the source of loans and guarantees for a myriad of investment schemes and projects. In the search for not only money but favorable regulatory treatment, they, in return, willingly contribute to the election of those who will not only continue these policies but will make certain there are few or no consequences for failure. That the ultimate objective of these politicians is to make certain the private sector is under the thumb of government bureaucrats seems immaterial to these so-called capitalists.
In the world of academia, the primary objective is no longer to educate but to make certain there is no end to the ever-increasing income stream that flows into the pockets of the institutions and individuals. If that means saddling students with unconscionable debts or demanding unlimited subsidies from the government then so be it.
The mainstream media has abdicated its responsibility to be a neutral chronicler of the abuse of power. In order to sustain their individual lifestyles and gain access as well as bask in the glow of the ever-growing power structure in Washington, they have become the propaganda arm of big government.
The entertainment industry, in their determination to promote an unfettered lifestyle, has for many decades advanced the notion that there are no limits to personal behavior. Further, since decency, honor and integrity are passé, the entertainment complex can justify grossing untold billions from the glorification of ever-increasing violence and depravity. All the while financially supporting those in the political class who claim to be in sympathy in these matters but who, in reality, are more dedicated to the concept of an all-powerful central government — a government which will eventually turn on these same supporters.
Regardless of the reason or circumstance, a majority of the people of this nation have been conditioned to believe the federal and/or state governments will always be able to ride to the rescue in any situation. The fact of the matter is: this nation cannot weather a severe financial crisis as it has squandered its ability to do so.
The United States in 2012 re-elected a man, Barack Obama, who is self-centered, unprincipled, and arrogant. From the perspective of the rest of the world, this is increasingly the image of the United States in 2013. While a substantial portion of the American populace do not subscribe to or live their lives this way, a majority does. For far too many, they do not care about what happens to their country, their progeny or other people around the globe.
The United States is rapidly becoming the egregious caricature first used in the 1950's and 60's — the Ugly American.