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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Death of the American Dream is marked by the weakest social safety net & largest prison population

(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

How is it possible that America which claims that it only has enough money to fund the weakest social safety net of any major industrialized country in the world, but can find money to fund the biggest prison system in the world. As an American expat living in the European Union I am often reminded of the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Dicken’s tale when confronted with the request for social spending, he replies have we no work houses? Have we no prisons? Indeed American prison labor institutions have become the hallmark of modern day prison workhouses.

Indeed modern American prison workhouses may be the only place in any major industrialized country in the world where workers’ wages can compete with the 22 cents an hour wages paid for workers in Bangladesh and other developing nations around the globe. This shocking reality clearly is the hallmark of a pariah system and an international badge of shame! This gives new meaning to the phrase “only in America”.

Having said that American prison labor industries are the only place in America where low wage workers are guaranteed by the government to have access to medical and dental care and be provided prescription medications at taxpayer expense. The irony of this upside down pariah robber baron horror show is probably best exemplified in the for-profit American prison system. But then again what could we expect but the world’s biggest prison population of any major industrialized country, stemming from a nation which is the only major industrialized country in the world not to provide universal medical access to all residents as a human right. America is also the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn’t provide job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. It is the only major industrialized country in the world that provides no paid sick leave or annual leave by right of law.

This has left an estimated 59 million Americans without health insurance. An estimated 132 million Americans without dental insurance, 46 million now on food stamps, 60 million with no paid sick leave. Yet there is always plenty of money for America’s military and plenty of money for America’s prison systems. In fact in America today we have more Americans in prison at the federal, state and local level than we have active duty troops in the US military. In fact there are believed to be in excess of 2 million prisoners in America today. Their economic situation and that of their families is completely devastating. The taxpayer who has to pay more money each and every year to support that inmate, than it would cost to send them to Harvard University or any Ivy League school in America. What kind of a sick perversion and retrograde state has America devolved to in order to allow such a perverse reality to exist.

Basically it started back in the 1960’s at which point income in excess of $1.2 million dollars was taxed at the 90 percent rate. Today by contrast that would be taxed at approx the 30 or 40 percentile provided we made the rascals pay, which too often is not the case. So it is that this sad story now has come to play itself out in what appears to be a coming second stockmarket crash. Of course that’s not a problem, because the Wall Street banksters will simply turn to the Capitol Hill politicians that they’ve bought and exhort another bailout from you the taxpayer, pushing millions more of your homes into underwater mortgages, stealing billions more in your pensions. Enslaving your children when they graduate from college in still further debts of indentured servitude of college loan repayments.

(Quote from Der Spiegel: “From Wall Street to be thrown onto the street”)

“The stockbrokers are celebrating the end of the crisis. While the crisis is beginning to repeat itself, the banks are just as shameless in their speculation as they were before the crash.

The lobbyists are just as powerful as they ever were. The last 2 years were nothing more than a monumental insider bank robbery, which is long since forgotten. Not a single defendant from senior management was criminally charged. Instead the US Dept of Justice would rather pursue many swindlers who are small fish whose unbridled avarice made them mini-Bernie Madoffs. Bernie Madoff whilst in jail was notified of his son’s suicide.” (Block quote based on writer’s paraphrased interpretation of the German text of the German magazine Spiegel December 30th 2010)…

Concurrently millions of American expats like myself tired of being betrayed by so called progressive politicians who are bought by K Street lobbyists just as soon as they are elected, have taken matters into their own hands in a grasp for a last lifeline have voted with their feet and left America, left the national debt behind as their last way available to people without power to stick it to the man before the Tea Party led GOP class warfare sticks it to them. All of this is to say nothing of fleeing the dangers of medical bankruptcy which has become an epidemic in America. Then we are suppose to take it with a straight face when progressive politicians tell us there is hope in sight. Hope of what? Hope for whom? Writing as an expat American I hope America wakes up from the so called American dream, which must be called the American dream because the only way you can believe it is if you’re asleep. Yes I agree we can all be proud Americans, but surely that doesn’t mean we have to be proud of the broken American social safety net, there we could, should and must do better. Because Americans deserve a European social safety net. They are already paying for it, they’re just not getting it. Isn’t it time that changes?

(Der Spiegel) A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over?


Gridlock as the American Status Quo

It has become a country of plain solutions. People with college degrees are suspect and intelligence has become a blemish. Manfred Henningsen, a German political scientist who teaches in Honolulu, Hawaii, calls it “political and economic paralysis.” One reason for the crisis, says Henningsen, is that the American dream, both individual and national, has in fact always been a fiction.…

The MBA program that I graduated from taught me that it is not employers who pay wages, but rather it is sold manufactured products or sold services that pay everyone’s wages to include the owners. By that measure most American workers are being legally robbed by their own employers who will not allow them to participate in receiving their fair share of the wealth that they themselves have created through their own hard work, and effectively speaking legally steals their 30 days paid vacation, complete medical and dental, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, company pension plans etc.. It is a legalized system of theft! This robber baron legalized system of theft in which the US Congress is complicit is destroying the American working class dream.

If you agree that real change is overdue, please post below, because your opinion matters and because we need your support. Thanks…

(Cross-posted by author from the Daily Kos.)


  1. HappyinVT

    but here goes:

    This tends to rub me the wrong way:

    Concurrently millions of American expats like myself tired of being betrayed by so called progressive politicians who are bought by K Street lobbyists just as soon as they are elected, have taken matters into their own hands in a grasp for a last lifeline have voted with their feet and left America…

    I get the urge and maybe the necessity of leaving in some (most?  a few?) cases.  But that smacks of defeatism and letting someone else deal with the problems.  There are millions more who are forced to stay because they lack the resources to leave.  So, in the end, is the US to be stuck with the very wealthy and the very poor?

    People came here to make better lives for themselves and their families and I am loathe to look down at them or the people who move to another country to make things better.  So, I guess I don’t know.  Maybe it’s the same as choosing either to work within the current two-party system or to attempt to expand that.  There are good reasons to do both.

    I guess I see myself as having little choice but to stay and do what I can.  (Unless or until Bachmann, Palin, Perry, etc. gain the White House and then Australia here I come!)

  2. BobL

    Defense is about protecting people, and so is health care, right?  So why would one be desirable and the other, not?  

    My family lived about six months during this past recession without health insurance.  Every day was terror. Two sons in competitive soccer, the other had a cancer scare.  Try paying for an MRI out of your own pocket sometime… really exhilirating.  Also generic drugs that cost $4 when you’re insured cost $120 when you’re not.  And the hits just keep on comin’ !

    When we finally did get coverage, good ol’ Golden Rule (do unto others?) ridered out my wife from all coverage because of past medical history.  Employer plans can’t do that but private plans can.  

    This was when it was popular at parties to rail against the “socialism” of government provided health insurance.  I ended all those arguments rather quickly by pointing at my wife and saying, “Great.  If she gets t-boned by a drunk driver, I get to hold her in my arms and watch her die because you’re philosophically opposed to government spending.  Thanks.”

    When I made it personal like that, every single person I confronted, backed down immediately.  “Well, we gotta do something about health care,” was usually the cop-out response.  Couldn’t agree more.  As the above diary points out, illness is the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the richest country in the world.  Europeans look at us like we’re morons because of that.

    PS.  We usually followed with a brief lesson on how public schools and public libraries are blatant socialism and should we shut all of those down as well?

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