What makes America, America? We often hear talk of the “American Dream.” Americans have come to expect certain lifestyle advantages and political freedoms unparalleled by the rest of the world. At one time in our history that was true. In 1948, America, despite only having 5% of the population, manufactured a stunning 50% of the world’s goods. America once possessed over 95% of the world’s telephones and cars. But something has gone terribly wrong. American dominance is no longer a guarantee. Our once-taken-for-granted civil liberties are disappearing at an alarming rate. And when one takes a look at the economic prowess of the American middle class from an historical perspective spanning the last 30+ years, the picture is indeed bleak. The notion of the American Dream is fast becoming, for many, the American Nightmare.
Before we can truly understand the daunting threats to America’s prosperity and security, we must first take a look at the fundamental expectations American have regarding their country. From October of 2006, to April 2007, I interviewed nearly 300 people from various socio-economic groups, ethnic groups, age groups and religious or non-religious groups representing every strata of American society, save those who are here illegally. I asked each person one straightforward question:
1. What is the American Dream and how does it translate into your life?
The answers are categorized below. I must confess that the answers did not surprise me because it is what I heard and believed growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. What became clear from the results was that every post World War II generation has shared a set of commonly held beliefs that are uniquely American and are amazingly optimistic. Using a mixed research design (i.e., a set of qualitative and quantitative techniques), I discovered that the American Dream of my youth was still largely intact.
The Ten Commandments of the American Dream
1) America is the land of opportunity. If one is willing to work hard enough, they can become a “rags to riches” story.
2) The opportunities that parents will leave their children will be greater than the previous generation.
3) Despite the character and behavior of some politicians, the American system endures and serves the interest of the people because of the United States Constitution.
4) It is the job of government officials and government agencies to protect the American people from the harm of greedy, self-serving corporations.
5) We will always be a nation that respects individual liberties such as freedom of religion and speech as well as protecting the rights of private property owners.
6) The American education system is the great equalizer and for some American citizens this unbridled access to learning levels the playing field between rich and poor as witnessed by the numerous accomplishments of economically poor Americans that have climbed the ladder of economic success.
7) Despite their philosophical differences, the incessant bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans, the political leadership as well as the rank and file of the two major parties really does have the best interest of America at heart.
8) Americans believe that our future safety is virtually guaranteed because of America’s awesome military might.
9) America is the lone remaining super power. As a result, the American people are reaping the benefits of our international dominance with an ever-increasing rising standard of living.
10) The Depression and World War II generation presided over the greatest change in American History bringing us unprecedented success as a nation and this success fully endures over six decades later.
As the reader will soon see, Americans can no longer take these 10 expectations that Americans have toward life in our country, as fact. I compared the optimistic view of America’s future with some economic trends and found a gaping discrepancy between
American expectations and American reality. What I discovered is that the winds of change are blowing across our once great nation. We are living in a time when the most transformative changes, since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, are taking place.
What jumps out from the data, is that America is besieged with a declining standard of living and the American Dream is on life-support. The two following lists will partially illustrate how far American has slid from its once proud days as the world’s premier superpower. In compiling the downward economic trends which are impacting Americans who work for a living, I chose to ignore many of the political fiascos, for the purposes of this article, which also pose a significant threat to our country. Americans are living in a time in which organizations such as CAFTA, NAFTA and the North American Union threaten the obliteration of American sovereignty. The scourge of illegal immigration and the pending amnesty for the law-breakers that are already here, threaten to permanently “de-culturize” America at an alarming rate. For now, I will leave the analysis of illegal immigration and the NAU to Michelle Dallacroce and Jerome Corsi, respectively.
The Dirty Thirty
1. In 1974, the United States government declared a health care crisis because we spent 7.5 percent of our gross national product on medical costs. Today we spend twice that much. (Bill Clinton, State of the Union 1994). What has happened to your health care premiums in the last few years?
2. According to several economists, China will become the world's wealthiest nation by the year 2012
3. In September 2005 China surpassed Canada as the #1 exporter of goods to the United States
4. The largest monopolistic mergers in the history of the corporate world which serves to limit consumer choice in this ever-present monopolistic, price-fixing economy. A few of these mergers include:
· RJR Nabisco with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
· Walt Disney with Capitol Cities ABC
· Wells Fargo with First Interstate Bank
· Warner Communications with Time, Inc.
· AOL with Time –Warner
· Kraft Foods with Phillip Morris
· Chase Manhattan with Chemical Bank
· Squibb with Bristol-Myers
5. Increase in average daily TV viewing since 1960: 39%. Every research study which compares reading levels to television viewing for children, suggests an inverse relationship between the two variables. Beginning with Albert Bandura’s seminal research on television viewing (1965) to today’s research, the trend is clear. The more one watches television, the lower the reading level.
6. Fortune 500 companies reduced their total employment by 4.4 million jobs between 1980 and 1993--a period during which their sales increased by 140%, assets increased by 230%, and CEO compensation increased by 610%. In the past five years this trend has escalated. The recently retired CEO of Exxon took home a golden parachute estimated at 400 million dollars.
7. Nike athletic shoes that sell in the United States from $75 to $150 around the world are produced by 75,000 workers employed by independent contractors in low income countries. A substantial portion of these workers are in Indonesia who are mostly women and girls housed in company barracks, paid as little as 15 cents an hour, and required to work mandatory overtime. Unions are forbidden and strikes are broken up by the military
8. Ninety five percent of the benefits of economic growth between 1967 and 1996 went to the richest 5%. The trend is accelerating.
9. From 1947 to 1973, median family income doubled in real terms -- it grew by 100%. But from 1973 to 2001, it grew by only 25%. Source: The State of Working America 2002/2003 by Mishel, Bernstein, and Boushey.
10. Two-thirds of all the tax benefits for pensions and retirement savings now go to families earning more than $100,000 a year. Only 7 percent of these benefits go to families earnings $50,000 or less.
11. Almost half of all Americans between the ages of 21 and 25 lack basic literary skills, and are unable to balance a checkbook or read a map. (Children's Defense Fund – (State of America's Children, 1992). With the fiasco of No Child left Behind, how much worse is the literacy problem today? Take a look at minority children graduation rates from high school. Sixty percent of Hispanic children will not graduate and 50% of African-American children will not receive their diplomas. Tragically, most of these children have almost no chance in sharing in any piece of the American Dream. The one advantage that American children have over illegal alien immigrant children was in educational attainment. The gap between Americans and illegal alien educational levels are declining. And now that the courts have mandated free education for all illegal alien children, the education gap is declining.
12. Over the past 15 years, the number of functionally illiterate 17-year-olds has more than doubled (NEA).
13. America has the largest number of functional illiterates in the industrial world (DOE)
14. American teenagers ranked number one in the world in saying they were good at math - and last in a simultaneously administered international math proficiency test. (Educational Testing Service, 2001)
15. Three out of four U.S. workers have not completed college provides some indication of how large a proportion of the entire labor force has been adversely affected by the new wage distribution (Department of Labor, 2005).
16. College Tuition rose eight times faster than inflation through the 1980’s and 1990’s (Department of Education, 2001)
17. The 2.7 million Americans with the highest incomes will have as much after-tax income as the 100 million Americans with the combined lowest incomes (Robert Reich, 2006).
18. One percent of the country controls 40% of the wealth in the United States (Robert Reich, 2006)
19. The country’s share of wealth going to the bottom 80 percent of all households is now less than 16 percent (Robert Reich, 2006).
20. Tax policy changes since 1977 have provided the top one percent of households with an average tax cut worth more than $40,000 in 1999. The average tax cut that the richest one percent of households has received exceeds the entire income of households in the middle of the income spectrum (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Isaac Shapiro & Robert Greenstein, 2005)
21. Eminent domain cases enacted against American private property owners have risen over 300% in the past 10 years as compared to the previous 40 years. (Arizona Coalition to Protect Personal Property Rights, 2005). In Texas alone, NASCO threatens to displace a million Texans from their homes and places of work so that foreign investment firms can make “major bank” on highways built with American taxpayer monies. Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado are next.
22. Inflation averages 5% per year. Over the past five years, has your income gone up by 25%? If not, you are poorer. (Government Accounting Office, 2005).
23. Less than 3% of German children live in poverty. Over 20% of all American kids do (UNICEF, 2002).
24. If you had a college degree in 1979, you were earning around 40 percent more than somebody with a high school degree. Now, if you have a college degree, you are earning over 80% more than somebody with a high school degree.
25. A 30-year-old man in the early 1970’s earned 15%t more than his father did at that age. Today's 30-year-old can expect to bring in 25% less than his dad did. (Forbes, 2003)
26. Every day, the typical 14-year-old watched three hours of TV and does one hour of homework (Thirteenth Generation)
27. The Illinois Children's Mental Health Act of 2003 provides for compulsory mental health program for all children aged 0-18 in order to "provide for screening to "ensure appropriate and culturally relevant assessment of young children's social and emotional development with the use of standardized tools."
28. In the Issues and Strategy Bulletin (HPISB#750-September 30, 2004), Howard Phillips quotes Lew Rockwell about George Bush’s plan to test the mental health of all citizens, "The New Freedom Initiative is a plan to screen the entire U.S. population for mental illness and to provide a cradle-to-grave continuum of services for those identified as either mentally ill or at risk of becoming so. Schools would become screening agents and not only for children, but for parents and teachers as well.”
29. In April, 1998, all new teachers in the state of Massachusetts were required to take a proficiency examination of general knowledge. It was said a ninth grader should be able to pass it. Let's assume it was designed for high school graduates. After four years of college dedicated to teaching them how to teach, an astonishing 59% of prospective teachers failed the proficiency exam. That's roughly six out of every ten. It is no wonder that our educational system doesn't work. Teachers spend an average of $443 out of their own pockets each year on materials for their classrooms and students --everything from art supplies to facial tissues, according to NEA research. Nearly one in five teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years because of low pay and poor working conditions (NEA, 2007).
30. When George Bush (43) took office, a gallon of gas cost $1.57. Since our entire economy is oil dependent, ask yourself about the price of food, clothes and the basics of life since the price of oil has doubled since the advent of King George II who was raised in an oil family.
When the Titanic was sunk in 1912, 60% of the first class passengers survived, 40% of the second class survived and only 25% of the third. Like the deck furniture on the Titanic, the furniture is merely being arranged in preparation for the final voyage of America. The economic standard of living survival rates, by socioeconomic standards, may parallel the Titanic survival rates on its fateful journey.
The Dirty Thirty is not a series of accidental events which have coincidentally coalesced to bring about weakening of America. America is surviving solely on momentum created several decades ago. Yet, the myth of the American Dream is still alive and well. Most Americans are in a state of abject denial. Our country is asleep at the wheel while the economic advantages, once enjoyed by working Americans, are being stolen out from under our collective noses. Americans are under attack and are in the process of being occupied by the multinational corporations whose sole goal is to increase profits by any means possible. The global corporations want your labor and they want it as cheaply as possible. They want the complete erasure of our borders so they are free to move wherever labor costs and costs of production are the cheapest. They seek to erase all national identities through the encouragement of mass population migrations which we are seeing in North America and Europe. Most of all, they want your children to fight and die in seemingly meaningless wars so that the profits of Halliburton, KBR, Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum can be maximized on the backs of slave labor via the upcoming military draft. In short, the corporations are using the power of government to create a system of global feudalism where most of us will live the life of a serf for their entire existence. Once again, say hello to the Dark Ages.
This article, based on my research, has only focused on the economic invasion of America. But please, make no mistake about it, every facet of American existence is under attack. Many leaders of what I have come to dub, “The Great American Reform Movement,” even wonder, in their private moments, if Americans can recapture their country from the multinational corporations. I believe that we can. When you step outside the façade of the American Matrix, the true nature of what is really going on is revealed to you. At the point of heightened awareness, each of us is presented with a distinct choice. Do we bury our heads in a state of denial? Or, do we use our personal power and begin the task of waking up the rest of America as a prelude to a counter revolution which will culminate in the restoration of the country to its rightful owners?
The political, nonviolent revolution needed to save our country can take on the mighty power and force of simple H2O. Water provides a powerful metaphor on how to bring about the changes we need to save our country. For example, water never flows upstream. When we attempt to change the existing power structure as manifested in the two major political parties, we are attempting to flow upstream and to change what is unchangeable. State Republican Chairman, Randy Pullen, can testify to that fact as he does battle with two prominent servants of the global corporations, Jon Kyl and John McCain on their proposed version of amnesty for illegal aliens.
Each and every American needs to invest themselves in a reform movement which reflects their personal and political values. Use your personal power of influence to educate, not brow beat, other Americans to the fact that they have a choice on the direction that our country will flow. My advice to all enlightened Americans is, as Gandhi stated, “Be the change you wish to see.” I would add that as we begin the task or transforming America, do so with a spirit of humility and love. Again, water provides a metaphor for the nature of the needed change which could lead to the restoration of our great country. Water is the most relentless and transformative power on the face of the planet. With seemingly effortless power, it was water that carved out the mighty Grand Canyon and formed the coastlines all over the planet. The Ocean is the king of 100 streams which empty into it. Yet, the ocean is lower than the streams and rivers that it commands; humble if you will. You and I can be the source of needed change by simply following the examples of the awesome power and humility of water and its ability to transform anything.
Presently, we have the leaders and the grassroots organizations needed to restore our democratic republic. However, many of the grassroots movements, which could serve to educate and unify a sleeping America, are fraught with the fatal errors of empire building, incredible egos and fragmentation and separation of one reform group from other like-minded Americans. Before we can take our country back, the leaders of the various reform movements must first master themselves prior to mastering the country. As it currently stands, the American reform movement is besieged with ego-centered infighting, turf wars for media attention and personal vendettas. America is gravely in need of a clearing house which will unify each and every segment of disenfranchised Americans into a juggernaut of single-minded patriots who refuse to let their country be plundered by the globalists and their select minions, the Democratic and Republican politicians.
Fortunately, such a unifying clearinghouse, which could serve to unify all reform efforts, does exist. It is the Constitution Party. If you don’t like the negative fallout of illegal immigration, the loss of American sovereignty associated with NAFTA, CAFTA and the North American Union and the economic plundering of American by the global corporations, the present state of education under the fiasco of No Child Left Behind”, the homosexual agenda of the left, unbridled deficit spending, elective wars which enrich the military industrial complex, the impending draft, run away gas prices and the exportation of American jobs abroad, then you will love the Constitution Party. Every issue listed here, and much more, is covered under the umbrella of the Constitution Party. All that needs to happen is for the various reform leaders to put the welfare of the Republic ahead of their individual movement and join forces with the other reform movements under the banner of the Constitution Party.
There once was a back alley cat who encountered a cat which recently attended Cat Philosophy School. The aristocratic cat boldly proclaimed that “Cat Philosophy School has taught me that happiness lies in my tail and this why I chase my tail each and every chance that I get.” The back alley cat responded to the aristocratic cat that “Happiness does indeed lie in my tail but unlike you, I never chase my tail, I simply go about my business and my tail follows me wherever I go.”
The leaders of the reform movement need to stop chasing their tails and unify their great efforts into a single, powerful voice, namely, the Constitution Party. Come on in, the water is fine.
This piece is dedicated to my dear friend and mentor, Bill Pawelec, who recently lost his battle with cancer. Bill was a unifying force between various reform factions. I will miss Bill as he was a great organizer and leader. Bill was humble and frequently worked in the shadows of others, many of whom he served to inspire. Bill was a true patriot and loved America with every fiber of his being. Most of all, I will miss Bill for his unconditional friendship which I enjoyed over the past two decades. Rest in peace my friend.