Friday, April 1, 2011

The myth of American exceptionalism

You often hear American politicians extoll our country as being the greatest on earth. We have the greatest political system, the greatest educational system, the greatest health care system. I'm here to tell you it is all a crock of well-ripened horse manure.

We have a political system that is bought and sold to the highest bidder. There is no "one person, one vote" anymore. Corporations have thousands, millions of votes because they buy them with millions of dollars. The ordinary, individual citizen stands little chance of having his/her voice heard. One way that they have been able to exert some power in the past is by banding together. There is strength in numbers, but very soon, if the Republicans have their way, that ability will be taken away as well. As for the Supreme Court, the final arbiter in our system of government, it has become so thoroughly politicized that the final votes can be counted virtually before arguments are heard on any issue - 5-4 in favor of whatever the current Republican orthodoxy is.

Our educational system has become a joke. Politicians continue to try to destroy it by failing to fund it and by reducing at every opportunity any assistance that poor students can get for higher education. Boards of Education across the country, led by Texas, try to impose biased histories and non-scientific "sciences" like creationism on students. They try to deny earth sciences teachers the right to teach anything that might acknowledge that the earth is actually warming up and that this might present a serious problem for human beings. Is it any wonder that our students lag so far behind students from other industrialized countries, particularly in the sciences and in math? In our educational system 2+2 does not equal 4 if our Boards of Education say it should equal 5.

The health care system? Remember the debate two years ago when conservatives were loudly proclaiming that we had the best health care system in the world and that people come from all over the world to take advantage of it? Balderdash! Instead, one of the hot new types of tourism engaged in by Americans is medical tourism in which they travel to some other country that has universal health care to have a medical procedure done because they can't afford to have it done here. When you have millions of people who cannot afford even basic medical care, you do not have the "best health care system in the world." When your infant mortality rate and your overall life expectancy cannot match other industrialized countries, you do not have the "best health care system in the world." When you have one of your major political parties throwing every roadblock they can think of in the way of poor people getting low cost family planning and of all women being able to control what happens to their own bodies, you do not have the "best health care system in the world."

When it comes to exceptionalism, I'm afraid the only things that Americans exceed at are provincialism, xenophobia, and blind boastfulness. At these, it is true - we have no equals.

2 comments:

  1. I was just bragging today that I paid more taxes this year than GE!! LOL! My cats paid the same as GE! My dad always said if you're paying taxes your making money! Wished he had to pay more cause that meant he had made more! Not so today... The less you make the more you pay.

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  2. Too true, Anonymous, the richest of us, including corporations, pay less and less while the less fortunate like you and me pay more. I am happy to pay my taxes. I consider it my patriotic duty and I have nothing but contempt for those who use every means to wiggle out of their obligation.

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