AMERICA IN CRISIS – By Leslie S. Chin

AMERICA IN CRISIS – By Leslie S. Chin, M.Sc., P.Eng.

Synopsis

The United States of America was founded on the basis of unity, liberty and equality. These principles were compromised from the beginning because the US was a slave owning nation and discrimination persists to this day. The US proceeded to occupy and seize lands from the indigenous peoples, nevertheless the country expanded through a series of wars and purchases and prospered to occupy the southern portion of the North American continent. America continues to advance through home grown and imported technologies and ideas.

Donald Trump asserts that America has lost its lustre and he will make America great again.America has always taken an opportunistic approach to foreign affairs. They will take advantage of an opportunity to gain territory without actively pursuing empire. America usually adopts an arm’s length approach to world affairs. 

They are mainly leading a hedonistic life style of make believe, leisure and entertainment.  Manufacturing has all but ceased in the US, it is being contracted out to Mexico, China and other underdeveloped countries because of cheap labour. Consumerism is rampant with goods manufactured in underdeveloped countries.

Politics

The American political system is cumbersome; it requires the agreement of the Executive Branch, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Judiciary to pass legislation. The Republicans and Democrats have a mutual animosity towards each other. Republicans are genetically programmed to oppose anything proposed by Democrats and vice-versa. They are so polarised that they vote irrationally i.e. anything the Democrats propose the Republicans would oppose on principle e.g. Medicare, gun control, the environment, budgets, etc. even if these are desirable legislations. Congress is often deadlocked.

Whites including those on welfare tend to votes for the Republicans even though the Republicans want to cut their welfare benefits. Minorities, the young and women tend to vote for the Democrats. The current election campaign has split the country. Republicans who are dissatisfied with the performance of the mainstream parties are voting for Donald Trump who is promising change.  Democrats are favouring Hillary Clinton but younger voters are showing a preference for Bernie Sanders

Scandinavian style Socialism proposed by Bernie Sanders will not be accepted in America. Socialism only benefits the poor blacks and Latinos; poor whites consider themselves part of the elites and usually vote Republican. Socialism may be accepted by young people if they continue to be deprived.

The US has always taken advantage of opportunities to extend their territory but have been reluctant to get involved in foreign adventures unless it is to their benefit:

  • The Louisiana Purchase and the Alaska Purchase greatly expanded US territory.
  • After the Mexican – American war and the Spanish – American war the US annexed large tracts of Mexican and Spanish territories including Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Porto Rico. The US also gained the Philippines after the Spanish-American war which was later granted independence.
  • They did not enter WW1 until 1917.
  • They did not enter WW2 until December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.
  • Their involvement in the Middle East has been spotty. They invaded Kuwait, Iraq and Libya to protect their oil interests
  • They are hesitant about getting involved in Syria and stopping ISIS.

There is certainly a lot of interest in Donald Trump. He has gathered a large following and is set to be nominated as the Republican candidate for President.  However if he is elected he will face the same obstacles as Obama.  He has to get past Congress to get anything done. Trump is not a mainstream Republican so Congress will not automatically rubber stamp his proposals. He will have to fight both Democrats and mainstream Republicans to pass any legislation. The mainstream Republicans are already mobilising against Trump to maintain the status quo.

The country is run by the wealthiest 1% of capitalists, Wall Street financiers and big banks who control the economy and finance the government, political parties and politicians. They hire lobbyists and call the shots – the Koch brothers, Citizens United, etc. Citizens United allow corporations to be treated as persons who can contribute unlimited amounts to politicians and political parties. This adversarial system needs reforming. However the system is not likely to change because the ruling class does very well with the current system. A widespread revolution like the French, Russian or Chinese revolution is necessary to reform the system.

The capitalists support exporting jobs to Mexico and China and employing illegal immigrants in the US because they can get cheap labour and make more profits at the expense of American workers.  That is why Bernie Sanders is gaining popularity especially among the young who can’t find work after spending $1000’s getting an education. Hilliary Clinton is from the same old school that has caused some of the problems. She is in the pockets of the banks. The Clintons have been paid millions in lecture fees mainly by banks. Even Trump may not be able to do much about “Made in China”.

Capitalism

It is uniquely human to accumulate wealth and property. The vast majority of people follow the crowd and play the lotteries, invest in the stock market, speculate in properties, etc. The objective is to maximise profits without regard for resources, energy supply and the environment. Governments tap into the feeding frenzy to collect taxes. Capitalism is like a shark which requires constant motion to breathe; it requires constant cash flow to maintain profits. Initially there were benefits from Capitalism – useful products, infrastructure construction, jobs and wealth. Wealth is now migrating to the 1% ruling class who control the economy. The CEO’s of companies are paid up to 1000 times the lowest paid worker.

To keep the money flowing Capitalists have devised many ways to keep us demanding goods and services and to keep us spending. We have built-in obsolescence, annual upgrades, the latest fashion, made to break disposable products, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Black Friday, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years, etc.

With machines and robots doing most of the manufacturing and food production the demand for labour is limited. Unemployment/underemployment among young people is the highest since the Great Depression although this generation is the best educated ever. Ways must be found to keep young people busy and financed so that they can pay for the goods and services that are being dangled at them otherwise there will be protests and rebellion e.g. the Wall Street protests and sit-ins of 2012.

Infrastructure Construction

Infrastructure construction has reached saturation in the US; they have built all the infrastructures required – shipping, ports, canals, railways, railway stations, subways, motor cars, roads, Interstate Highways, bridges, airlines, airports, hotels, motels, shopping centres, power stations, transmission lines, the telephone, radio, television, the Internet, fossil fuels, nuclear energy and space exploration. However these infrastructures are now ageing and require maintenance, renewal or expansion.

Manufacturing

Mass production, the production line, time and motion studies, quality control, lean 6 sigma were all American innovations which were exported to Asia who are now using these tools to outperform the Americans. American manufacturers have virtually moved all of their low tech production to Asia and Mexico. They don’t make much anymore, maybe a few cars and lots of weapons. Only high tech industries like automobiles, aerospace, industrial electronics, weapons and IT are retained in the US. The Americans owe the Chinese trillions of dollars for imports and loans.

Technology

Starting with the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700’s technology has been advancing exponentially and so has our demand for energy. We have been using wood and then fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas as sources for energy but these have turned out to be bad for the environment so we are turning directly to the sun for our source of renewable energy – hydro-electric, solar, wind, wave, tide, biomass, biofuels, etc. Nuclear energy is the only source of large scale, clean, reliable, safe and economic source of energy that can meet industrial demand. Fusion which powers the sun promises unlimited cheap energy if it can be harnessed on Earth.

America advanced rapidly technologically and reached its technological zenith in the post WW2 period – they developed nuclear energy and weapons, fossil fuels, they landed men on the moon, introduced automation, robotics, computers, AI, the Internet, cell phones, digital cameras, the aerospace industry, satellite communication the Interstate Highway system, IT and space exploration were all developed during this period. Advances in the medical field and agriculture have also been made but cures for cancer, diabetes and heart diseases remain elusive.  Obesity is now a serious problem especially among children.

Leisure

Americans live in a world of make believe, leisure and entertainment – they indulge heavily in sports, recreation, game shows, virtual reality, movies, theme parks, music, hedonism, shopping, pornography, sex, gambling, travel and tourism.  Attractions like Hollywood and the Academy Awards, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Nashville, New Orleans, Hannibal, Aspen, Palm Springs, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, etc. are very popular.

The Environment

Manufacturers do not consider the pollution of the land, water and air their products cause or the disposal problems of the products at the end of life. Pollution and contamination are unintended collateral consequences of Capitalism and hyper-consumerism. Most people don’t care much about the environment. They dump garbage everywhere; emit greenhouse gases, clear cut forests. The oceans are polluted with discarded plastics. Love Canal in New York state and Hanford in Washington state are examples of lack of planning for disposal sites. The 20th century is unofficially called the anthropocene period and the 6th extinction because of the activities of Man.

These links show what happens to excessive stuff and discarded plastics. http://sprinterlife.com/2012/01/pacific-trash-vortex.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

However environmental regulations are being tightened to counter the worse effects of emissions, greenhouse gases, global warming, acid rain, melting ice caps, rising sea level and extreme weather. At the UN COP21 Conference in Paris in 2015, all 196 nations of the UN agreed to limit temperature rise to 2°C of pre-industrial levels and to 1.5°C by 2030.

Social Issues

Racism, gun violence, drug addiction, gambling, welfare, Medicare and the environment are major issues facing Americans. Because of the dichotomy in the governing parties and their inability to co-operate, these issues are not being address as quickly and as thoroughly as they should.

Gun Violence

There are daily reports of mass shootings of civilians in the US including the massacre of kindergarten children at Newton, Massachusetts; Columbine, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College, Oregon. The National Rifle Association (NRA) continues to oppose any form of gun control on the basis of the 2nd amendment. No progress is being made because the Republicans will not support legislation to limit gun ownership.

Class

The dominant group in a society usually form the ruling class. In the former British Empire it is the white settlers who rule over the native tribes. Most tribes hate each other so much that when an outsider offers to help fight their enemies or rulers they would gladly accept to defeat the incumbent rulers. This is what happened to the Aztecs and the Inca Empires in the Americas and to the tribes in East and West Africa. The British strategy of divide and rule worked very well when their empire was being formed.

The ruling class of a society distinguish themselves from the masses by title, education, religion or in a multi racial society also by race. It should be noted that cabinet ministers in the government are usually recruited from the establishment thereby propagating the power base and maintaining the status quo. The peoples being ruled are usually diverse groups who wish to ingratiate themselves to the rulers at the expense of the other subjects. They would use race, religion, language, etc. to curry favour with the rulers to distinguish themselves from the others. For example whites would use blacks as scapegoats in America. Mixed race peoples would obviously side with the rulers as they did in South Africa and the Caribbean.

Racism

Blacks were imported into America as slaves until they were emancipated in 1865. They remain discriminated against up to today. A pro-black movement gained momentum in the 1960’s led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Blacks have made steady progress culminating in the election of Barak Obama as President of the US but the struggle continues.  Obama has not been able to achieve all he wanted because he is black which is still a serious handicap in the US.

Discrimination is a defence mechanism practised by all societies. In homogeneous societies discrimination is manifested by class. In multi-racial societies it is manifested by race and class. Poor white people on welfare in the US would vote for the Republicans who wish to cut their benefits. The rationale is that they wish to be associated with the white ruling class represented by the Republicans using blacks as scapegoats. They consider it more important to belong to the ruling class than to receive welfare payments and food stamps.  A less valid reason is the rugged individualism of the American frontiersman who refuses to accept charity. There are anecdotes about black policemen in South Africa being most brutal to their fellow blacks to ingratiate themselves to their white superiors.

Conclusion

It is the 1% ruling class – capitalists, Wall Street financiers, lobbyists, the Koch brothers, Citizens United, etc. who finance the politicians and political parties that call the shots. Unbridled capitalism leads to pollution and job loss to less developed countries. However the ruling class is doing very well with the current system so there is no incentive to change. Until this system is reformed wealth will continue to migrate to the ruling class. A widespread revolution like the French, Russian or Chinese revolution is necessary to reform the system.

The adversarial system between the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress does not allow for cooperation. It is incumbent for the opposition party to oppose the ruling party. Unless one or the other party control the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representative important legislation will not pass.  Congress is often deadlocked. This system should be replaced by a more co-operative system.

America has declined as an industrial nation. Its main industries are now entertainment and leisure, sports, travel and tourism. Their manufacturing base has been contracted out to developing countries to benefit from cheap labour. America is highly indebted to China.

Social issues continue to plague the US – racism, class, guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, crime and gambling. The situation is unlikely to improve because these industries are usually controlled by crime families like the Mafia, Cosa Nostra, etc. which the government is unable to bring under control.

References:

  1. Homo Sapiens – Evolution, paper by Leslie Chin, November 2015
  2. Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the 21st Century?. Martin Rees, Heinemann
  3. Wall Street Protests 2012, paper by Leslie Chin
  4. BBC Documentary Narrated by Jeremy Paxman
  5. http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/01/16/u-s-corporate-state-become-monarch-founders-despised/

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Prepared by: Leslie S. Chin, M.Sc., P.Eng.

March, 2016

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