A Peek Inside Unwrecking America

Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1          Empire Building and the Road to Ruin
Chapter 2          The Perfect Storm
Chapter 3          Gale Warning: Food Shortages Ahead
Chapter 4          Arrogance, Apathy, and Antipathy
Chapter 5          A Republic of Grasshoppers
Chapter 6          America: The Stupid and Criminal
Chapter 7          Let’s Play “Throw Your Money Away”
Chapter 8          The Government Machine
Chapter 9          The Vermin Multiply
Chapter 10        Faithfully Blind
Chapter 11        The Leaders We Need Right Now
Chapter 12        We Are All Americans (A Team Effort)
Chapter 13        How to Fix the American Economy
Chapter 14        Is It Too Late?
Endnotes

From the Introduction

The caretakers of our nation’s health, the ones you and I voted into office, couldn’t care less for its long-term well-being or the tradition my family has fought to uphold. Their avarice inflames the ailments that cripple our country and we as a people stand by and bemoan their actions while doing little to stop them. We are apathetic, angry, and tired—in other words, human.

Every night pundits from both sides of the aisle come on television and blame everything from Obama to “evil” Republicans for our varied problems. I believe our republic is on the verge of collapse because of something far more fundamental than a singular politician or party: the nature of man.

The United States of America was once a majestic example of government by the people, of the people, and for the people. Our Constitution guaranteed us more protections and freedoms than most of the world’s population could dream of. In return we were asked to be its guardians, to stand watch for the enemies who might take our freedoms away. But we failed. Our national successes made us lazy and inattentive and fed directly into man’s worst tendencies.

For years our nation prospered. Collectively we enjoyed an economic growth that made us the only remaining superpower in the world, and when times are good vigilance is lost. During these times the excesses of depravity, greed, and debauchery most prominently rear their ugly heads. How ironic for mankind to be at his worst when he is at his best.

Unfortunately any talents we have are outdone by our fear, greed, and apathy, and now it might be too late for the United States and even for man as a whole.

During our booms emotional excess runs rampant until reality exposes the fraud and deceit in our system. As the house of cards collapses, the doors open wide for the bloodsuckers of human misery to swoop in. This is when the institutions that prey on the trodden masses (religious organizations, law firms, financial institutions, marketing companies, and governments) garner more power and control by promising some form of salvation. But salvation never comes from these entities. Salvation can only come from within ourselves and our talents for self-reliance, fortitude, and ambition.

Our reality today is the residue of this boom-and-bust cycle. We now enjoy fewer freedoms as a people than we ever have, and our nation is drowning in more than $14 trillion of debt. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.1 percent of American workers were unemployed in October 2009, the highest that number has been in more than twenty-five years.1 Since 1970 the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has declined thirty-four percent. That’s roughly six million jobs lost.2 Only twenty-three percent of our GDP comes from manufacturing; the rest comes from services and consumption. How many countries have ever consumed their way to prosperity? But there is some hope. For the first time in decades, the American people woke up and perhaps did something about it.

Do we really believe the leaders who caused the problem can actually solve the problem? How can “career politician” even be considered a real job? What are the qualifications? It seems running a Ponzi scheme, adeptness at three-card monte and bait and switch, and perpetrating consumer fraud with a master’s degree in brainwashing and a PhD in distortion, evasion, shiftiness, and prevarication are high on the list.

Churchill once said a politician has to know what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year—and be able to explain if it does not happen as he expects it to. Even the dictionary definition of politician—“a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons or a seeker or holder of public office more concerned with winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles,”3—indicates it’s a profession to be avoided.

However, we must also look at the profession within the profession. About sixty-five percent of politicians in Congress either are lawyers or have law degrees. Many people consider lawyers bottom-feeders. This should raise a red flag by itself—a one-sided, often ill-respected discipline ruling the country. Why no outcry? Would the American people be so amiable if the sixty-five percent were composed of farmers, dentists, electricians, or engineers? Many politicians extol the benefits of diversity. Maybe they should set an example by promoting it within their own ranks.

Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, of Charlie Wilson’s War fame, always said candidates are not elected by voters but by contributors: political parties, special-interest groups, unions, big corporations, political action committees, and very wealthy individuals all expecting a payoff down the road. He was right.

So what we end up with are politicians who, for the most part, are elected to satisfy the hidden agendas of their benefactors. In the process their needs for power, greed, ego, and control are satisfied and they further their own self-interests.

 

From Chapter 4

Arrogance, Apathy, and Antipathy

 

“Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.”

—Horace Greeley (editor, 1811-1872)

 

Our national problems are varied and complex but inevitably they come down to the fact that a nation is its people and our people are in trouble. While Chapter 1 outlined our country’s problems from a macro perspective, they are still the result of decisions made by many millions of individuals over time.

Change, even global change, does not occur en masse, at least not at first. Negative change (since that’s what we’re talking about) is really the result of many, many people deciding individually to do something detrimental to the country. Just as cleaning up a house means enlisting the inhabitants, cleaning up our nation means enlisting our citizens. But many of us just don’t seem to have the will or the energy.

At this point in our history we have a lot of people who are fed up and a lot who are tired. The question is, are you so tired and fed up you’re willing to do something about the problems our country faces?

Most Americans are uninvolved in politics, even when it comes to the simple act of voting. Voter turnout in national elections is usually dismal, and it’s even worse in local elections.20 In fact most people couldn’t tell you the name of their own mayor let alone their congressperson or senator. But painting all Americans with the same brush is dangerous.

A good example of how effective an individual can be at sparking change was Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who was mentioned in Chapter 2. His personal actions sparked the sweeping change happening in the Middle East and North Africa. It has spread, as of the writing of this book, to Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Syria, and Libya. No one knows if each group of protesters will succeed or what will be the ultimate outcome of each revolution, but it is clear each movement started with a few passionate individuals’ urging others to step up and DO SOMETHING.

The great movements in our country, including the civil rights movement, required its participants to make difficult and sometimes dangerous decisions. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus she was arrested. That’s a frightening prospect for many people, especially for a black woman in the South, but Mrs. Parks was too tired and too fed up to take the abuse anymore. She decided to put her personal well-being behind the greater cause of equal rights. 

The levels of frustration or apathy or antipathy must be defined so each American can see where he or she stands and how it’s possible to change. It is man’s nature to avoid serious change. That’s why it’s so hard to change long-term habits; we just aren’t mentally suited for it. But let’s suppose that as a reader of this book you want change. Where do you stand?

 

The Three As

Most Americans fall into one of these three categories: the arrogant (those profiting from the status quo); the apathetic (you just don’t care anymore); or the antipathetic (you’re pissed and want something done). Let’s look at all three and see where you fall.

 

The Arrogant

“Arrogance diminishes wisdom.”

—Arab proverb

 

“The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight-of-hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin... But if you want to continue to be slaves of the bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the bankers continue to create money and control credit.”

—Josiah Charles Stamp
(British industrialist, 1880-1941
)

 

The arrogant among us are almost invariably the very wealthy: the bankers, politicians, and elites who game the system and make fat livings from the hard work of the middle class. These people see flaws in the American system, regulatory or otherwise, and exploit them for their own gain. Bankers who produce nothing but earn millions, politicians whose tenure is guaranteed as long as they please their voting blocs, and elites who benefit from the ever-widening income gap—these people don’t want change. They like how things are because they’re doing great.

 

From Chapter 5

A Republic of Grasshoppers

 

“If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.”

 

“One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.”

—Thomas Sowell (economist, 1930-)

The apathetic among us are at the forefront of a sea change in our country—one that has seen all of our best personal traits thrown out the window in favor of laziness, dependency, and incompetence.

The United States used to be populated by ants—people willing to work hard for what they wanted. They were tough and resilient, and when the harshness of life set them back they gathered themselves up and strived again for what they wanted. They had to; there were no social safety nets in the years before the Great Depression. Self-reliance, toughness, persistence, and humility—these were the hallmarks of the American character.

Now these character traits have become as rare as an honest politician. We’re stewing in a culture of selfishness, personal weakness, entitlement, and laziness that is rotting our economy and our national character to the core. The grasshoppers (AKA wimps) are now in charge and even the ants are beginning to drown in the self-pity of those unwilling to fight for a better future.

 

What Happened?

I have a theory about how this all started. Success was certainly a big part of it. After all, as a saying in the boxing world goes, it’s hard to train in silk pajamas. Once you’ve made it to the top, as our nation did following World War II, there’s a loss of the collective hunger that pushed the nation upward and onward in the first place.

But I feel the root cause is a little more complicated. You see, I think it’s related to what I talked about in chapter 3. I believe it’s in the dirt.

Farms run by their neighbors fed Americans for years. Farming was something millions of Americans did and it kept agriculture and sustenance in the public consciousness. For example in 1790 farmers were ninety percent of the labor force; today they are only two percent.22

When people understood that having food came from planning ahead and working the land, we carried that work ethic and foresight to other areas of life. If you want food, you have to plant and maintain crops. You have to feed and care for animals. You want a good job? Train for it and work your way to the top. You want a big house? Become a successful businessperson and the house is yours.

The problem is we’ve gotten away from a direct connection to our land. Food is so abundant you can’t drive more than a block without seeing a supermarket. You can get a week’s worth of food for not too much money, and our supermarkets are palaces of overindulgence. We’re fat because there’s abundance, not the other way around.

We can’t help ourselves; we gorge on anything and everything we can get our hands on because that’s man’s nature. We’re programmed to feast to survive famine. But today, at least in America, there is no famine (though there are pockets of hunger). Our government assures the grasshoppers of permanent plenty. This attitude has infused all walks of life. We want it all and we want it now. We want a supermarket stocked full of the possessions that once came from a lifetime of planning, working, and saving.

Changes to our agricultural practices are just one of the many reasons wimps have taken hold of our society. Three other key areas warrant special attention when searching for answers: social programs, education, and the loss of accountability.

 

“The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt.”

—Marcus Tullius Cicero (philosopher, 106BC-43BC)

 

Social Programs

The United States spends more than twenty-five percent of its GDP and over fifty percent of its budget on social programs using mostly borrowed money. The totals are mind-blowing: more than $700 billion on Social Security alone and more than $600 billion on welfare every year.23 The overblown social programs fed by the government send a clear message: you don’t have to take care of yourself.

Today more than fifty million Americans receive some form of assistance from the government and roughly thirty-seven million of those are on food stamps. That means one sixth of our entire population is not sustaining itself.

 

From Chapter 12

We Are All Americans (A Team Effort)

 

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

—Abraham Lincoln (sixteenth president, 1809-1965)

 

What does it mean to be American? Is it a state of mind or simply a pledge of allegiance to our nation? I believe it is both. It takes loyalty to be an American but also streaks of independence and adventure. Being an American shouldn’t be easy because it means staying vigilant as a citizen and as a member of a larger society that, more than any other society in the world, is by the people. What if that society is infested with people who don’t share an allegiance to the country? What might that do to the idea of by the people?

You would be hard pressed to find a unified idea among America’s immigrant population about what being American means. For some the idea of being American is a bad thing; it represents a surrender of culture and national pride to their new place of residence rather than an acceptance of new and desirable ideals. For others being American means giving their allegiances completely to the United States of America and adapting to their new country. They fight to learn English and they encourage their children to be as American as possible.

The differences between the two groups are important because the former is gaining a great deal of influence in our country. It’s not uncommon to find entire communities where few people speak English and where businesses and government institutions are catering to speakers of a foreign language (in many cases Spanish). To some observers it’s a minor inconvenience but a study of the international scene shows other nations are struggling with similar problems, and it has been shown time and again that a failure to assimilate new immigrants leads to major problems both culturally and economically.

In the bigger picture, multiculturalism poses real problems to the overall unity of the American people and that scuttles any chance we have of tackling large-scale problems. It’s an issue we need to address soon because multiculturalism is a doomed experiment that undermines the unity we’ll need to overcome a collapsing economy and a political system stacked against the middle class.

The United States of America was once a shining beacon of the idea that many people can be one. From all corners they came to plant new roots and to become American. They left behind their other labels—Irish, Russian, Norwegian—and embraced their new homeland. And, with some exceptions, the new arrivals were welcomed and included in the patchwork quilt of America’s landscape. I mention the exceptions because there were certainly groups either brought here by force or treated poorly when they arrived and I don’t want to overlook their plight.

The patchwork quilt that became our racial and cultural foundation served to make us strong. We had contributions to our culture from across the globe, and the differences that each group brought soon became American. Rather than making anyone stand out, the uniqueness of each culture was soon seen as part of the American ethos. When someone pointed across the oceans at America they could not pinpoint one race, one color, or one religion. What they could point at was our attitude and our work ethic. We were known as optimists, adventurers, strivers, workers, and innovators. And those attributes became the hallmarks of all new Americans no matter their origin.

But that has changed. Now we identify ourselves by our races or religions first and then by our national identity. We are Hispanic-American or Jewish-American or African-American or Irish-American. Why? Why have we gotten away from our concerted efforts to assimilate into American culture and to embrace our new nationality as the primary identifier of who we are?

 

What Is Multiculturalism?

The lax multiculturalism that urges Americans to accept the unacceptable from their fellow citizens is one of this nation’s greatest vulnerabilities in the war on terror.”

—Richard Perle (political advisor, 1941-)

 

Multiculturalism is the idea that a society can comfortably survive with multiple cultures living side by side without truly integrating into a singular culture. The genesis of this idea was the fear that forcing immigrants to assimilate would rob them of their identities.

I believe assimilation is a positive step, the assumption of a new and powerful identity: American citizen. Others don’t feel the same, and cultural clashes have affected everything from labor relations to national education without anyone simply admitting the core problem is a lack of assimilation.

 

Lessons From Europe

Europe is like an aged America. European societies are many times older than our own (even if their national boundaries have shifted over the years) and if you want to know what path America might take in the future you can look to Europe for clues.

Europe is dotted with formerly powerful nation-states that are now struggling to deal with the consequences of over-taxation and social spending—problems beginning to rear their ugly heads on our shores. Their newest problem is, ironically, one we’ve been dealing with for years: multiculturalism undermining national unity.

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