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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fall of the American Dream

September 11, 2001 established a benchmark, the end of an era and the beginning of another, much less attractive. We lost the joy and giddiness that accompanied our victory in World War II, which was followed by 50 years of economic prosperity - with a few hiccups on the way, and an apparently never-ending growth of our influence on the rest of the world. The bubble of optimism on Wall Street began to burst with the downfall of Silicon Valley in the year 2000; it took another hit when 9/11 exposed us to the crude reality of a failed foreign policy, and it disappeared completely when recession hit us full in the face in 2008, brought about by Wall Street scoundrels who still enjoy the billions they stole from the middle class.

Our most dangerous enemies are not without, they are within our national boundaries. As the mightiest military force the world has ever seen, we can deal with terrorists and jihadists. We have the best soldiers and the best military technology. But we can't deal, or don't want to deal, with the covert operations of financial soulless wizards who only consider the bottom line without regard for the common man. The whole economic team assembled by President Obama has had a hand, big or small, in the derivative scandal from its inception. Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Bernanke, and other economists, as shown in the brilliant movie "Inside Job" by Charles Ferguson, are or were on the payroll of large corporations before joining the White House team. The financial debacle, which started with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on Sept 15, 2008, was compounded by the choice of Henry Paulson, banker and ex-chairman of Goldman Sachs, to save the day by our ineffable George W. Bush. Talk about putting the fox in the hen house.

Alan Greenspan, another misunderstood figure (that's not a compliment), was recommending the deregulation of financial activities by banks long before the collapse of the whole system and the humongous sums of money wasted to "save" AIG and other institutions such as Fanny Mae. More than 20 trillion dollars were lost during the Second Great Depression between 2008 and 2011 (It's not over).
If a common man steals bread from the supermarket to feed his family, he goes to jail for at least 6  months. If a bigwig gains one hundred million through fraudulent means (subpar mortgages), he remains free. What a lesson in morality for future generations.

The thousands of "ordinary people", i.e. middle class, who try to occupy Wall Street, are furious and with reason since the federal government has failed to indict one single individual in this economic mess. Extreme right commentators keep telling them to manifest their rage in front of the Federal Reserve (Bernanke), and with good reason. Billions have been used by our central bank for "mysterious" purposes; apparently OUR bank is not accountable for the spending of OUR tax dollars. Newton Gingrich, our supersmart candidate to the presidency, said it well on the Oct. 11 debate. He would fire Bernanke instantly, a decision that the other members on the panel apparently cannot understand. Newt won't be president and that's a shame, because he is by far the best man for the job.

Our country's preeminence, according to Larry Elliott of the Guardian is fading:(
"The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence."

I would add the high levels of poverty, unacceptable in a superpower, politicians in the hands of corporations, the unemployment rate, the lower quality of public education,  the alarming rate of foreclosures, the apparent indifference of voters (less than 50% bother to do their duty), and the growing selfishness and greed that permeate every level of society, exacerbated by a very mediocre television fare and a sense of entitlement that leads to terrible abuses of food stamps and Medicaid.

It has become more and more difficult to realize the American Dream and we can only hope that a fresh infusion of recent immigrants will bring their strong work ethics and save the day.

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