America once stood in the eyes of the planet, as a beacon of hope, and a place that held to a very high set of values. We were respected for this, even when not liked. Looking back over the last 20 years, America’s place as the most respected nation on earth has eroded. This is patently obvious in the way we are treated now by other countries, and even terrorists.
Is it deserved, this loss of esteem and trust? Yes. Not only have we lost our moral compass, we are apparently indifferent to anything but the pursuit of affluent living and self-gratification. We are rotting from within, from a corruption of our most basic values. Just witness the variety of ways we have lost ground.
In Washington D.C., for several administrations, graft, corruption, and vote buying have been a fact of life. It escalated during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, when every petroleum lobbyist, got huge deals brokered for a piece of the Caspian/Siberian oil fields. And benefited enormously from our being in bed with the House of Al Saud. The Abramoff Scandal is merely one piece of the enormous amount of money/vote brokering that is endemic to Washington power politicking.
As I’ve written in my articles 9-11: Deception, there is a direct link between the attacks on September 11th and the petro lobbying in Washington. This was much less a failure of our intelligence people, and much more a total and ruthless disregard for anything but personal gain. 3,000 souls died that day, in part because of repeated tamping down of vital intelligence input.
The other reason anyone dared attack us on our own soil is because they knew their targets well. They know we are a self indulgent, morally bankrupt nation at the very highest levels of wealth and power. And ordinary good and faithful Americans suffered for it. And we still continue to suffer in many ways, both large and small.
Hurricane Katrina and the West Virginia coal mining disaster point to another area of rot-a total and ruthless disregard for those who live at or below poverty level. The people-the real folks who have lived in abject poverty for over a hundred years, were left to die. Many of us thought this was racism. I submit, it’s much deeper than that, it’s an indifference to poverty that is appalling. The West Virginia coal mine tragedy is another exposure of this same ruthless indifference.
The Sago Mine had 280 violations reported in December 2005. No one made a move to close the mines or try and create safer working conditions for the miners. This isn’t a new story, its been that way for centuries. And in Appalachia, good, hard working decent folks choose this dirty dangerous work so they can give their families a better life, and their loved ones die from it. But profit matters more to the owners, as it does everywhere the dirty dangerous jobs exist. And it won’t change until we start caring enough to insist it does.
All across this nation there are places where people live in abysmal poverty. From L.A. to NY. All across this country, other folks make millions and millions of dollars for hitting balls, making jump shots, or taking their clothes off on the big screen. They donate to pet charities, or do photo junkets to Africa, but they forget one thing-charity begins at home. It’s moral hypocrisy to drip a few tears into the camera, or flash a big check a la Oprah, for people in other countries, then turn your back on those who suffer here.
In California, our Governor gave his State Of the State address last night, blarting on about building prisons and new highways. Not once did he address caring for the working poor, or the homeless we see everyday here, huddled against the cold. His priorities are skewed, as are Washington’s.
We don’t need bloated Federal spending to alleviate the suffering in America. We need those who have the means, to care enough to look around and say, how can we help? If every multimillionaire in America did something to help alleviate poverty, provide housing, jobs, or simply a hand up, we could eliminate most of the problem within a reasonable time. Without one dollar of Federal funding.
We cannot act as the world’s monitor, and claim a moral high ground that doesn’t exist, and expect to be believed or trusted. If we can’t treat our own better than this, we are truly lost. Capitalism is a driving force for healthy growth and a free market economy. But that growth must be balanced by a sense of compassion and humanity. Without that balance, the same conditions that drive so many desperate people to join our enemies will come into play here. If it hasn’t already.
Rome, once the greatest empire on earth fell from within, for the same reasons I’m citing here. Moral degeneracy, corruption, bribery, graft and indifference to anything but gratification. It is not too late to turn this around, and start a return to a better, more ethical way of life.
It has to start at the top, with a thorough cleaning out of the Congress. Abramoff certainly isn’t alone in his venality, and those of his ilk need to be rooted out and replaced with people who understand that to hold office is an enormous trust, that must not be compromised or tainted by money or power.
Only then will events such as Putin’s shutting off gas to Europe for a day, Iran’s refusal to negotiate and bearded terrorists in mufti shaking fingers at us not happen again. Maybe then, we can begin to regain ground lost during the last few decades, when other nations see that we are American, and that means we stand for justice for all, not just for those who can buy it. That we care for our own as well as for others. And that this great nation does not tolerate bribery and corruption in its government. When that happens we will regain our lost respect and our credibility.