Capitalism and Democracy, Out of Balance in America?
Accountants, plumbers, teachers . . . lawyers, barbers, technicians — people and societies have many needs and many professions to fill them. If your car’s broken, you take it to a mechanic. If it’s your body that’s ailing, you call a doctor. But what do you do when it’s the society itself that’s in need of emergency care?
America is hurting, and even those who love to wave the flag and speak of our greatness are hard pressed to argue otherwise. We have 15 million people out of work and long-term unemployment at a record high; 44 million Americans now live below the poverty line, with many millions unsure of the source for their next meal; real median household income has been in decline since the turn of the century, and those people now lucky enough to find a job often do so at a significant reduction in pay.
From coast to coast, American infrastructure is in decay, needing more than $3 trillion in repairs. Our healthcare costs continue to spiral out of control, with per-capita spending as a nation more than double the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) average — and in return we achieve inferior outcomes. The federal debt is presently over $14 trillion, about 94% of GDP, and the budgets of 46 states across the Union are in crisis, some approaching default.
Our education system is in disarray; we can’t seem to break our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels; we’re destroying our environment with pollution and activities like hydraulic fracturing; the foreclosure crisis is still wreaking havoc on the middle class; our manufacturing base has been decimated; private debt is at an all-time high; our trade balance is upside down — and worst of all — the American people seem more divided than at any time in modern history.
The fact of the matter is that if America were a car, it would be in desperate need of an overhaul; if it were a person, the transplant of multiple organs would be in order. Few and far between are any Americans who would argue that we’re not headed toward disaster, but fewer still are those who offer any real solutions. So, where do we turn for answers? Who do we call?
It is the responsibility of the government to “ensure domestic Tranquility” and “promote the general Welfare.” So, with the domestic climate being anything but tranquil, and the welfare in recent years far from general, it would seem sensible to look to government for leadership — after all, this is the reason for its existence. Our elected representatives are then the people we should call . . . but alas, that really hasn’t been working very well.Continued on the next page