Monday, September 28, 2009

What's Wrong With America?

I grew up hearing and believing that America was the greatest nation in the world. I believed it when I was a kid, and I still believe that it was true...back then.

But as I'm closing in on my 50th birthday and the reality that men age better than women, I'm realizing that America is also showing age spots, wrinkles, and even signs of dementia.

Once upon a time, the United States of America was the richest, most powerful, most morally superior country on the planet. People from all over the world wanted to come here to pursue the American dream.

Now we all have cause to wonder whether the American dream still exists? Or has it become a nightmare?

It used to be that every generation's goal was for a better, richer and happier life. We knew that we could achieve a higher station in life than our parents did. It used to be an attainable goal. Is that still possible?

I think not, and the turnaround occurred while I was growing up.

While the rich kept getting richer, and the poor descended to depths that this country should be ashamed of, the middle class now is on the verge of extinction.

Middle class income has become stagnant over the past 40 years. But those already atop the success ladder are climbing to even higher heights. Back when I was ten, the average CEO made 40 times more than his average employee. Today, that CEO makes an obscene 550 times more than that worker makes.

Note that I didn't say "earns." That's because the average worker earns a hell of a lot more than he or she gets paid for. And the CEO? I can't think of one that actually earns the ridiculously exorbitant paychecks they should feel truly guilty about cashing.

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (who should consider running again) were guests on Bill Maher's Real Time Friday night. They were joined by filmmakers Michael Moore and John Waters, and together the five of them made more sense on matters of the economy than any of our elected officials I've heard on the same subject recently.

John Waters, in a flash of brilliance, said "I expect a hint of socialism, and that's an ugly word for a beautiful thought. And if my taxes go up a tiny bit to pay for health care, I'm ok with that."

As we've all been learning, and as Michael Moore is preaching with his new film, Capitalism isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's rife with corruption, and is an inherently unfair system.

Although the wing-nut followers of Speck, Limp-paw and the Faux News cabal like to group Socialism, Fascism, Communism, Naziism and all the other -isms together, we know how to read history books and, more than that, know better than to listen to any of the nonsense they're spewing.

We also know that there is a lot wrong with America these days. It's no longer the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

It's become the Land Full of Greed and the Acting Brave while losing our Homes.

Perhaps instead of Socialism or Capitalism, we here in America can start practicing something called Compassionism, and head back on the road toward where we were 40 years ago
, when we actually cared about our fellow human beings and the American dream was still alive and well.