I admit that I read the online English-language versions of foreign newspapers. For one thing, I actually want some NEWS, not the propaganda and bullshit churned out by the dreck that passes for 90% of journalism in America nowadays. For another, I am always fascinated by the way we are viewed by others. We tend to see ourselves as the leaders of the free world, but does the free world see us in the same positive light?
Turns out, no.
“A generation ago, the United States was a recognizable, if somewhat more unequal, member of the cluster of affluent democracies known as mixed economies, where fast growth was widely shared. No more. Since around 1980, we have drifted away from that mixed-economy cluster, and traveled a considerable distance toward another: the capitalist oligarchies, like Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, with their much greater concentration of economic bounty.”
What do people reading their newspapers in other countries think when they see articles about UNICEF reports “which measured the gap between the average child and the most disadvantaged in terms of health, education, and material well-being in the 24 richest countries” and ranked the US, along with Greece and Italy, at the very bottom? What do they think when they see articles about how Americans don’t live as long as people in Briton, Canada, or Australia because of our health care is profit driven, and we don’t seem to care that the poorest Americans die younger? Are they shocked? Does it reek of American greed?
What does it mean for us, as a nation, that places like Denmark call a grossly unequal legal system “American-style justice”? When Australian newspapers have articles, clearly resonating with fascinated horror, about the way US inequality is destroying the humanity of our citizens? When we are held up as a dire warning by New Zealand pundits of what could happen if the Kiwis were to succumb the same political/wealth driven inequities as America?
Why the hell doesn’t this stuff bother us? It’s not like the Chinese reports spewing tales of America’s human rights abuses in order to make itself look better. China is a nightmare of human rights abuses that makes America look like Nirvana. It’s like Donald Trump railing about marital fidelity. All you can do is scoff at the hubris. (Why do we still allow China “most favored nation” trading status, come to think of it? Brad Sherman is trying to revoke it, but he seems to be the ONLY ONE. God knows China has minority whip Mitch McConnell in their pocket.) No, unlike China other countries have legitimate points to make about America’s problems, and while they are not perfect, they are doing better than the US in terms of the well-being of their citizens. So why do we ignore it?
If we wrap a flag around our heads and bury our faces in mom’s apple pie until our ears are covered, will the inequality crippling our economy and destroying our middle-class magically go away?
I really hope the Occupy Wall Street movement actually awakens Americans to the trouble we are in, and effects some actual change. Because as long as our income disparity is worse than places like Egypt and Tunisia, we are up to our ass in alligators.