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Jones writes: "Americans who live abroad - more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) - often face hard questions about our country from people we live among."

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2007. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2007. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)


Is This Country Crazy? Inquiring Minds Elsewhere Want to Know

By Ann Jones, TomDispatch

13 January 15

 

mericans who live abroad -- more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) -- often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States.  Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.

In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet.  I’ve been to both poles and a great many places in between, and nosy as I am, I’ve talked with people all along the way. I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world for way too many reasons to go into here.

That’s changed, of course. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I still met people -- in the Middle East, no less -- willing to withhold judgment on the U.S.  Many thought that the Supreme Court’s installation of George W. Bush as president was a blunder American voters would correct in the election of 2004. His return to office truly spelled the end of America as the world had known it.  Bush had started a war, opposed by the entire world, because he wanted to and he could. A majority of Americans supported him.  And that was when all the uncomfortable questions really began.

In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.

Then recently, I traveled back to the “homeland.”  It struck me there that most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world. In my experience, foreign observers are far better informed about us than the average American is about them. This is partly because the “news” in the American media is so parochial and so limited in its views both of how we act and how other countries think -- even countries with which we were recently, are currently, or threaten soon to be at war. America’s belligerence alone, not to mention its financial acrobatics, compels the rest of the world to keep close track of us.  Who knows, after all, what conflict the Americans may drag you into next, as target or reluctant ally?

So wherever we expatriates settle on the planet, we find someone who wants to talk about the latest American events, large and small: another country bombed in the name of our “national security,” another peaceful protest march attacked by our increasingly militarized police, another diatribe against “big government” by yet another wannabe candidate who hopes to head that very government in Washington.  Such news leaves foreign audiences puzzled and full of trepidation.

Question Time

Take the questions stumping Europeans in the Obama years (which 1.6 million Americans residing in Europe regularly find thrown our way).  At the absolute top of the list: “Why would anyone oppose national health care?” European and other industrialized countries have had some form of national health care since the 1930s or 1940s, Germany since 1880.  Some versions, as in France and Great Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems.  Yet even the privileged who pay for a faster track would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive health care. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not frankly brutal. 

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially advanced in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program, funded by the state, is a big part -- but only a part -- of a more general social welfare system.  In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have an equal right to education (state subsidized preschool from age one, and free schools from age six through specialty training or university education and beyond), unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining services, paid parental leave, old age pensions, and more.  These benefits are not merely an emergency “safety net”; that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy.  They are universal: equally available to all citizens as human rights encouraging social harmony -- or as our own U.S. constitution would put it, “domestic tranquility.”  It’s no wonder that, for many years, international evaluators have ranked Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman, and to raise a child. The title of “best” or “happiest” place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the other Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.

In Norway, all benefits are paid for mainly by high taxation. Compared to the mind-numbing enigma of the U.S. tax code, Norway’s is remarkably straightforward, taxing income from labor and pensions progressively, so that those with higher incomes pay more. The tax department does the calculations, sends an annual bill, and taxpayers, though free to dispute the sum, willingly pay up, knowing what they and their children get in return. And because government policies effectively redistribute wealth and tend to narrow the country’s slim income gap, most Norwegians sail pretty comfortably in the same boat. (Think about that!)

Life and Liberty

This system didn’t just happen. It was planned. Sweden led the way in the 1930s, and all five Nordic countries pitched in during the postwar period to develop their own variations of what came to be called the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy, and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It’s their system. They invented it. They like it. Despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

In all the Nordic countries, there is broad general agreement across the political spectrum that only when people’s basic needs are met -- when they can cease to worry about their jobs, their incomes, their housing, their transportation, their health care, their kids’ education, and their aging parents -- only then can they be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that, from birth, every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about “we the People” forming  “a more perfect Union” to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Even as he prepared the nation for war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt memorably specified components of what that general welfare should be in his State of the Union address in 1941. Among the “simple basic things that must never be lost sight of,” he listed “equality of opportunity for youth and others, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of special privileges for the few, the preservation of civil liberties for all,” and oh yes, higher taxes to pay for those things and for the cost of defensive armaments.

Knowing that Americans used to support such ideas, a Norwegian today is appalled to learn that a CEO of a major American corporation makes between 300 and 400 times as much as its average employee. Or that governors Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state’s debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from the pension funds of workers in the public sector. To a Norwegian, the job of government is to distribute the country’s good fortune reasonably equally, not send it zooming upward, as in America today, to a sticky-fingered one percent.

In their planning, Norwegians tend to do things slowly, always thinking of the long term, envisioning what a better life might be for their children, their posterity.  That’s why a Norwegian, or any northern European, is aghast to learn that two-thirds of American college students finish their education in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. Or that in the U.S., still the world’s richest country, one in three children lives in poverty, along with one in five young people between the ages of 18 and 34. Or that America’s recent multi-trillion-dollar wars were fought on a credit card to be paid off by our kids. Which brings us back to that word: brutal.

Implications of brutality, or of a kind of uncivilized inhumanity, seem to lurk in so many other questions foreign observers ask about America like: How could you set up that concentration camp in Cuba, and why can’t you shut it down?  Or: How can you pretend to be a Christian country and still carry out the death penalty? The follow-up to which often is: How could you pick as president a man proud of executing his fellow citizens at the fastest rate recorded in Texas history?  (Europeans will not soon forget George W. Bush.)

Other things I've had to answer for include:

* Why can’t you Americans stop interfering with women’s health care?

* Why can’t you understand science?

* How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change?

* How can you speak of the rule of law when your presidents break international laws to make war whenever they want?

* How can you hand over the power to blow up the planet to one lone, ordinary man?

* How can you throw away the Geneva Conventions and your principles to advocate torture?

* Why do you Americans like guns so much?  Why do you kill each other at such a rate?

To many, the most baffling and important question of all is: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up more and more trouble for all of us?

That last question is particularly pressing because countries historically friendly to the United States, from Australia to Finland, are struggling to keep up with an influx of refugees from America’s wars and interventions. Throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, right-wing parties that have scarcely or never played a role in government are now rising rapidly on a wave of opposition to long-established immigration policies. Only last month, such a party almost toppled the sitting social democratic government of Sweden, a generous country that has absorbed more than its fair share of asylum seekers fleeing the shock waves of “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”

The Way We Are

Europeans understand, as it seems Americans do not, the intimate connection between a country’s domestic and foreign policies. They often trace America’s reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order.  They’ve watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century. They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a government that has done so little new for them over the past three decades or more, except for Obama’s endlessly embattled health care effort, which seems to most Europeans a pathetically modest proposal.

What baffles so many of them, though, is how ordinary Americans in startling numbers have been persuaded to dislike “big government” and yet support its new representatives, bought and paid for by the rich. How to explain that? In Norway’s capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them. Struggling Americans, having forgotten all that, take aim at unknown enemies far away -- or on the far side of their own towns. 

It’s hard to know why we are the way we are, and -- believe me -- even harder to explain it to others. Crazy may be too strong a word, too broad and vague to pin down the problem. Some people who question me say that the U.S. is “paranoid,” “backward,” “behind the times,” “vain,” “greedy,” “self-absorbed,” or simply “dumb.”  Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely “ill-informed,” “misguided,” “misled,” or “asleep,” and could still recover sanity.  But wherever I travel, the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others. It’s past time to wake up, America, and look around.  There’s another world out here, an old and friendly one across the ocean, and it’s full of good ideas, tried and true.

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+65 # davidr 2015-01-13 19:43
American exceptionalism: (related terms: denialism, the essential nation, go !@#$ yourself) a national psychological disorder; all-purpose self-justificat ion; imaginary exemption from international conventions, economic reality, and actual laws of nature; delusion of grandeur, often psychotic in manifestation & typically associated with an evangelistic impulse; a euphemism for craziness.
 
 
0 # ritawalpoleague 2015-01-17 05:23
With my dual citizenship, Irish and U.S., I will never forget the contempt for the U.S. I experienced while in the EU, when some of the truth re. U.S. torture m.o. came out. Greed plus villainaires m.o., and need for endless war, including lied into war in Iraq, plus Nazi fascist/police state tactics, poor ranking and failure to provide what every other 'advanced country' has in place (i.e. healthcare for all vs. warfare on all, great and free education for all, etc.), has folks across the globe condemning and belittling us/U.S. vs. praising and respecting us/U.S..

TIME FOR REAL McCOY CHANGE, including Healthcare for All vs. Warfare on All.
 
 
+28 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-13 20:22
Strangly I just came from a post where I was going on about ot liking americans... though I am one.

It is really like a illness of the mental sort. I have some close friends and we have questioned…is it a brain virus..it is this or is it that..firmly we know something is wrong here.

Look at the posts on this site here..many many so abusive..they seem not to value humanity.

Mostly I guess it is symptomatic of dying empire. Just my guess. Curiously I have mentioned we seem to be as in the dark ages with the collapse of Rome..degenerat ing…things once known are now forgotten.

Climate change..you just cannot talk to about half of them on this..it is like they live in a different world..so strange.

I verse occasionally on things like this on this place... but really I suspend such things after a bit..it is so pointless. My acquaintences my family, I value… these regular people of america…I mostly just want to stay away from them. Even in this internet place, I go to other places…. indians are so kind, compassionate to others it is remarkable, Russians a bit abrupt but still most seem to respect, English kind and quaint, silly to me a bit I feel like I am visiting hobbit town sometimes with them... americans…it is bizarre here. They are so rude and unkind.

I guess in a next lifetime if human…norway or similar place it will be. Hopefully I drop this human habit by then however :)
 
 
+8 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-13 20:25
Whoever wrote this or posted it…thank you it is quite a nice read and very informative. If only they knew how things could be. I think it has a bit to do with the rudeness however..so wrapped up in themselves…they would never sustain a for the social good thing here…. one would quiite suspect the other is getting to much….. right and left are the same really.
 
 
+46 # John S. Browne 2015-01-13 21:53
#

Wow, this is a quite revealing article concerning the truth about the condition of the "'(Dis)United' States". I don't agree with all of it, but how the rest of the world sees us is quite important, quite accurate and quite revealing. I sure wish I could become an expat; because, increasingly, the U.S. is not a safe place to reside in anymore, mostly at the hands of its own government; and it is getting worse and worse. If I could move abroad, I would not abandon the U.S.; for I would still, via the internet, seek to wake more and more "Americans" up (to become True Americans again), face the fascism that is taking the country over, and to stop the race to the bottom, to turning the nation into a slave state, and end the increasing oppression and repression before it is too late, if it isn't already (far?) too late (which it appears to be).

(Continued)
 
 
+46 # John S. Browne 2015-01-13 21:54
#

I watch in dismay and with a feeling of powerlessness as my beloved U.S. deteriorates and degenerates into a less and less free country, and into more and more of a militarized police state like Nazi Germany and other totalitarian countries were and/or still are (e.g., China, etc.). I don't feel safe because I am a social justice advocate, and the U.S. government is increasingly coming after all such dissenters; again, much as other totalitarian "national '(in)security'" states have done and/or still do. The rights to freedom of speech and dissent are being eradicated in the U.S., increasingly criminalized, and those who blow the whistle on all of that and more are also increasingly being viciously brutalized, and paying stiff, chilling penalties for doing nothing but non-violently exercising civil liberties and human rights, and standing up for them. (Civil liberties are human rights, too!)

(Continued)
 
 
+24 # John S. Browne 2015-01-13 21:55
#

The U.S. and the other primary Western governments, the "Five Eyes" and NATO countries, are truly going insane "on an express train to hell on earth". They are leading out in a "globalization" , the creation of a "new world order" under international government and enslavement; that is, first, destroying all True Liberty and Freedom in their own countries, and mass-murdering mostly innocent civilians abroad (or defending and supporting other so-called "democracies" in doing so, such as what the Israeli government and military are doing to mostly defenseless, innocent Palestinian civilians, particularly women, children and little babies); and, second, doing away with national sovereignty and bringing, first the Western "democracies", and then the rest of the world, under that global-governme nt enslavement.

(Continued)
 
 
+23 # John S. Browne 2015-01-13 21:55
#

Quite sadly, the madness in the West is taking over, as it escalates at a now alarming rate; and most of us who face reality, both at "home" (in the U.S.) and abroad, observe in dismay this degeneration and disintegration of "the free world" by design and engineering of the "powers-that-be ", the globalist corporate-fasci st elitist oligarchy worldwide, into that international slave state under world government, which has long (falsely and fraudulently) claimed that its desire and intention is to create a more "free" world; but, in truth, the world that it is creating, first in the Western countries, and then in the rest of the world as it gets control of more and more of the planet as a whole, will not be a free world (as we can already see by what is intentionally being done to the U.S. and the other Western nations, turning them into the exact opposite of free, and the antithesis of liberated).

(Continued)
 
 
+29 # John S. Browne 2015-01-13 21:56
#

We in the U.S. and the other Western countries, and in the rest of the world, are in grave danger at the hands of this global corporate-fasci st degeneration and deterioration; and if "We the People" the world-over don't put a stop to it, we are very soon going to find ourselves in a hell on earth never before seen or experienced; one that is going to make the Nazi German holocaust pale by comparison. It should now be obvious to most that it is not at all "alarmist" to make these claims, because it is happening right in front of our eyes, all around us, right now. But, unfortunately, most of those in the West, especially "Amerikans", are willfully blind, and under a mass-insanity, clueless to the reality that is fast overtaking and about to deluge all of us. People, we've got to stop this "tsunami" of globalist greed and avarice, and destruction of all that is Truly Free!

#
 
 
+25 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-13 22:34
Excellent post…can't find a thing of disagreement in it.

My personal response to this thing in america is to put it in this context…I am interacting in the main in america…. with most common folk…as I would be as a german, to another german, in nazi germany. Not to say you agree with that or say that..just to add my personal perspective to it.

I just cannnot get over how much in the way of evil is being done, to ourselves and others..
 
 
+17 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-13 22:45
As a aside but connected..Cana da has a immigration program which is directly related to age. I think it is not ageism but the fact that the US has no health care and this is to discourage and stop any american of a older sort from locating there. For the health care. I firmly believe if they did not have this restrictive policy..mass migrations would occur.

Here the right demonized the canadian health care system. in the first talks about the ACA..but the reality was..canada mandated their immigration system to be based on a disinclination to increased age…to keep americans out.
AS they forsaw quite correctly many many would move there for cause.

It is a point based system that virtually prohibits any over 50 or so from moving there and enjoying resident benefits.
 
 
+14 # Mattie 2015-01-14 05:55
What a pleasing morning at rsn. This article,John S. Brown’s thoughtful posts, and others’ comments, all give me hope for fruitful dialogue and thoughtful analysis. Add to my pleasure the January 13 piece on “Why the Progressive Machine . . . "
I don’t know how we Americans arrived at this moment in time, but I will list a few of the events in the US that seem to me pivotal:
The assinations of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King; the confluence of the space race and the civil rights movement; the advent of television and our immersion in consumerism; the manipulation of symbolism in corporate advertising; the decline in funding for education and the rise of funding for entertainment. (Yep, kids who are shopping at the mall or watching television aren’t studying and aren’t engaged in critical thinking). More recently, we have the deadening Bush years,growth of toxic corporate tentacles, torture awareness, and the media’s unwillingness to evaluate information about 9/ll. E.g., Griffin’s “Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed.” (I’m not seeking converts, just analysis and discussion.) We Americans have allowed ourselves to be duped many times over, and we frequently behave like addicts in denial, hiding from treatment. Btw,hospitals in the US that offer meditation during the healing process have found that group meditation is more effective than individual meditation. Thank you rsn and contributors.
 
 
+42 # Passing Through 2015-01-13 23:17
I get these kinds of questions from tourists all the time. I tell them, "Yes. America is nuts. Don't trust the brochure." They often seem relieved to meet an American who knows it...

(I'd love to become an expat, but since it's not an option, I'll settle for New York City.)
 
 
+21 # Glen 2015-01-14 08:17
Hear hear, Passing Through. We would all enjoy taking pride in the U.S. and all things related, but an honest person cannot.

When traveling overseas it became embarrassing to admit to being American. If in a group of Americans, I would edge away, due to their lack of manners and respect. A fellow at one point, in a pub, after realizing folks saw that he was American, turned to everyone and stated he did not vote for George W. and wished he could stay in the country he was in.

If folks were able, there would be thousands more expats.
 
 
+15 # polfrosch 2015-01-13 23:41
Yes. Exactly.
 
 
+22 # Doubter 2015-01-14 00:36
"Brainwashed" merits a prominent spot on the list.
 
 
+24 # Anonymot 2015-01-14 00:53
Interesting & intelligent article. We share the international life and perspective.

I sometimes think it is not how the world sees America that is the problem, but how America sees the world or doesn't or fails to understand it.

Americans, not the Japanese were the first world travelers to be the mass of tourists who took pictures back to the ladies at the bridge club saying I was here, I was there when in fact they saw nothing, learned less, and took back only photos, not knowledge, not understanding.

A degree from Yale or Harvard doesn't seem to change that superficial vision, not anyway, for those who then decide to work their way up the political ladder nor the ladder of Washingtonian bureaucrats. Those who have learned something about the world tend to stay in academe or journalism or disappear into everything else - or be of the 1.6 million who reside overseas.

But those in the race to the top whether elected or employed become specialists ion that fight. They have no vision of the world. A Bush or Cheney just ignore it. An Obama/Biden don't care. Hillary was one of those photo op people who didn't even have a photo unless she was in it.

So why are American so blind to the world? Egotism? Arrogance? Yes, but I have a personal, odd theory that I worked out after years in Europe.
 
 
+18 # Anonymot 2015-01-14 01:04
Tacitus, in about 80 AD was the first person to visit the land of the Huns & Vandals and live to tell the tale in a book. He described a wild almost demonic place of warriors. Hitler made Tacitus required reading. He loved the image of superpeople. No one, but No One conquered that land until the 20th Century during which they once again proved their demonic, warlike nature.

Today, 20% of the citizens of America are of German descent. They are extremely influential rarely poor, and generally in the best-educated category. We think we're mostly UK descendants because of the Pilgrim, Mayflower stories or the Irish potato refugees, but no. Watch the names in the political headlines. I find that we've inherited the Teutonic genes more than any other and that it comes forth in the way we drink and the way we think, it's violence oriented, aggressive, and convinced of its national superiority. WE are the supermen, reborn for Century 21.

And we are wrong.

Now kick that around. I've never discussed the idea.
 
 
+9 # cymricmorty 2015-01-14 09:15
That's interesting. The white supremacy movement puts a premium on German blood, of course. I've had more than a few white males throughout my life ask me if I have any German blood (I'm Irish and Native and I look like it) and it's not hard to tell where that question is leading.
 
 
+4 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-14 10:28
The US established a psychological program to essentially take on the German culture, as it had been identified in a historical context to be the source of much in the way of trouble, as they saw, it wars and such. That being right or wrong I will not speak to as I have not studied it.

I would guess their program largely worked in the short term at least. We did not enter a third world war. And fairly rapidly in this time frame did enter a second world war from a first.

So my indications are not. Largly this program of psychological manipulation seems to have worked.
There are some ripples now and again but they seem contexted in the normal ripples of nation.

These programs were with modification.. utilized by our corporations in the interests of developement of a consumerism driven society. I could look up the names of the psychologists involved the names of the programs and all that but it would be beyond the scope of this conversation.

So I think not, they are as others it is the culture and societal influence which has a historical bias of things for war in these people.
 
 
-5 # brux 2015-01-14 17:35
LOL, gee, how amazingly disgustly racist can you get ... was that a bad joke or something?
 
 
0 # Passing Through 2015-01-14 22:37
"Teutonic genes" -- Is that being used yet in some branding campaign? Copyrighted? "Teutonic Jeans"?

Anonymot, I completely agree that we are wrong. But I do not agree that it's a genetic issue, per se, as you've described it. At minimum, it's a nature/nurture issue, and children of German ancestry raised by sane parents in a sane world don't usually or automatically turn into bigoted nightmares.
 
 
+48 # Regina 2015-01-14 01:12
Only a worthless education system and an addiction to raucous entertainment could produce the ignorance of the vast majority of Americans. It's not only science that's uncomprehended -- it's history, economics, civics, literature, the arts, the whole curriculum. Fox couldn't continue broadcasting without a vast audience of zero intellect. The Republican extremists wouldn't prevail without a populace of zero intelligence.
 
 
+5 # pietheyn07 2015-01-14 04:01
The public education system that serves the vast majority, delivers what it is intended to do.It is only symtomatic of a much greater malady i.e.the remants of the ideology of colonial, imperial entitlement applied to natives and immigrants alike. Surely, your remarks do not apply to the Ivy League schools, with their mandate to provide continuity for leadership and control.
 
 
+8 # Glen 2015-01-14 08:14
When education morphed into a competition with the Soviets and Germany and then into a means to a job rather than as self-enrichment and ability, the U.S. population went downhill with it. Add to that the extreme changes in culture and war, and future populations were guaranteed to be left out of universal understanding.
 
 
+5 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-14 10:46
My opinion is the diseducation has edged up into the Ivy league. When once they served as the basis for leadership and control now they seem just to perpetuate a thing of propagandistic intend.

Do the George Bushes Clintons and Al Gores really run things. Certainly they by appearence do but really the one percent is quite above their category in wealth accumulation.

By my guess most of the true elite the 50 families or so who really do run things by the influence of the economic…they depend upon private tutorialship for their childrens education. They are likely, then aware of some of the things of american society that we discuss here. Other than in areas of speciality none are taught the american government did engage in cultural manipulation for purpose in post world war germany….their children are taught the truth of things so they may then rule with understanding.

The economic crisis of 08 for instance speaks of a great lack of understanding in things as a whole. That to me speaks of this Ivy league gross misunderstandin g of things. A edgeing up of diseducation in elaboration.
The real elite…probably do know things. These middle managers(to us part of the elite but not really in that wealth category) ….not necessarily.
 
 
+5 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-14 10:49
They by this view may attend formally those type places, but most commonly a larger ivy league of a international sort..but the real education is on a private tutorialship nature, which supplements the basic things being taught.

Just my opinion.
 
 
+14 # Carol R 2015-01-14 07:57
I worked overseas for 13 years. Living overseas gives a perspective of how the US fits into the world. Our media is biased because true respected journalists have been fired due to money problems and telling the truth in news doesn't earn a profit. Many of our politicians have been bought by the wealthy who never get enough. We are addicted to killings which shows up in the obsession with guns and 'no-debate' continuous funding of our war machine to destroy.

Where is the compassion for ourselves and those who are different? Where is the will to help those who are in need? The glow of achieving great success without any help doesn't work and should stop being our national motto. We have lost our respect in the world because we have betrayed our own beliefs.
 
 
+18 # RMDC 2015-01-14 08:51
"Then recently, I traveled back to the “homeland.” It struck me there that most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world."

This is a great observation. It is so true. Americans just don't know how isolated and provincial they are. They are flattered 24/7 by TV and all media which tells them they are the greatest, freest, wealthiest, etc. people on earth. They are bombarded and saturated with lies about them and their nation. Americans think they are a generous and kind people. They are not. They are stingy and vicious.

For a while, the left taught that "self-critique" was the first step in political critique. This is true for lots of things. But "self-critique" is not possible in America. If you try, you will be told to "love it or leave it." Or that you are a communist, a terrorist, of whatever the enemy of the day is. Americans just don't know that self-critique is healthy and necessary for growth. But then again Americans don't know the they need to grow. America is dying because it will not and can not change. It is ruled by a pyschopathic elite who really don't care about anything other than destroying everyone else.
 
 
+14 # cymricmorty 2015-01-14 09:07
By the time I read half this article I was so angry I had to walk away for awhile, but came back and finished reading it. It's difficult to blame it on one or even a few things, but I blame most of our problems on conservatives, religious fundamentalism, deregulation, and a concerted dumbing-down effort which has worked. In my experience, the downward spiral started with Raygun and amplified exponentially when the Bush III regime cheated its way in for two terms. I wish, I wish I could leave but I could never afford to. If I ever did leave, I'd lie about being American. I hate living in this evil empire amongst its largely ignorant and immature citizens. I also hate being complicit in this country's evil with the taxes that I pay.
 
 
+18 # Pufferly 2015-01-14 09:58
We're out of touch with reality, the definition of psychotic, and we have elected a cabal of amoral, brainless, cowardly wannabes -psychopaths -to run the country. Lord Acton didn't have it exactly right: power does not necessarily corrupt; it's that corrupt people seek power and then abuse it for selfish ends. Voters are easily manipulated to vote against their own interests every 2 years. The elite don't want kids educated, they want them compliant. This empire is on its death bed.
 
 
+16 # fredboy 2015-01-14 10:38
Following our Supreme Court twisted 'election' in 2000 and our allowed attack on 9/11, I noticed many of my international students acting a bit more cautiously. Finally a few even asked--are Americans crazy?

Yes. Americans, following the prez pick, 9/11, ignoring Katrina's dying victims, the fake wars, the 2008 economic crash, are suffering from PTSD. Seriously. Read about the condition.

Go back to the late 90s and you will encounter nicer Americans. Safer, more courteous drivers. Now everyone walks around with a chip on their shoulder. Drive like maniacs. Angry. GRRRRRRRRRR! Fucked up.

If you want to divide a nation, get them to fear and hate one another and everyone, just follow the 2000-2008 US road map. It worked. Crippling the populace to enhance the power of a few--as planned.
 
 
-22 # brux 2015-01-14 12:41
No fair to tilt the argument with photos of Bush and Cheney.

The US is less crazy than most.

The world is changing, lots of trends going on for a hundred years or more are starting to converge at the same time. The US is facing problems head on.

The biggest thing we could do for our economy is cheap energy, and sadly we had to resort to some fracking and tar sands in Canada, but look at the result right now.

Just as in the first energy crisis with the Arabs, when we drilled and competed with the Saudi supply the bottom dropped out of high prices at that time.

It may not be the best world possible, in no way, but we can only do what we can do. Same with meeting internationals challenges by terror or competing nation states ... the US is responsible in responding the challenged before we have a situation like France.

Most people want to do nothing, and that is an unworkable solution.
 
 
+7 # elizabethblock 2015-01-14 13:03
"The tax department does the calculations, sends an annual bill."

Why don't we do it this way?

In fact, there was a proposal that California collect state income tax this way, at least for people with a simple tax return. The government already has all the information - income, deductions. It didn't go through. Why? Opposition from the tax-preparation industry. (And no, I'm not related to H&R Block.)
 
 
+2 # Floe 2015-01-14 16:21
I came to America and though I could return to another country where I'd have all the essentials covered by government, I choose to stay and make America great again. It's up to all of us. How do we do this you're probably asking? Well first off, what do YOU want America to be? Don't hold back, shoot for the stars, at least have the creative courage to envision it. Underneath you're telling yourself it will never happen. But go on, that is what we need to be doing at this time. Once we practice envisioning, the stars will align. We have to talk to our colleagues, families and friends and put the hard questions to them and help to raise their awareness to their pawnhood. Answers will come. But we're not at that stage yet because not enough people know they're being used and abused. If we're to have a world where we truly care about each other, then we who are "awake" need to nudge the others awake too before it all goes "boom". Some think that their silence and complicity will spare them but we who are awake need to remind them how fatal that could be for them.
 
 
-19 # brux 2015-01-14 17:37
Your words ... an excellent statement of nothing, but the fact that you stay in the US is a statement that is very loud and clear that you love this country and cannot and will not go backwards.

Almost everyone I know who has come here, and I live in a part of the country where we get lots of visitors and immigrants, and just about every one says they want to stay and if they can they do.

So much for all of this BS nonsense about the country being crazy ... maybe crazy is in the eye of the beholder.
 
 
+5 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-01-15 14:32
"Since God so obviously limited man's intelligence, it was unfair He didn't limit his stupidity".
 
 
+2 # Passing Through 2015-01-15 17:53
Quoting PABLO DIABLO:
"Since God so obviously limited man's intelligence, it was unfair He didn't limit his stupidity".

That. Is. Awesome...
 
 
+4 # Lennie 2015-01-15 22:02
America IS exceptional--in all the WRONG ways.
 
 
+1 # scumbag 2015-01-16 12:27
Dear Anonymot!Krautl and-Roots. That's a headword I was waiting for.Although it's a bit too much of honor for me and my fellow hun ancestors.The delusion of so called Supremacy is a global phenomenon.But to be honest,I somehow flirt with the good,old virtue of FUROR TEUTONICUS and how BARBARICUM fucked the ancient Roman Empire.Okay,the Spaghettis were bound to crumble anyway.Thanks to their megalomaniac hybris,they simply overstreched.An d diversity made a good step forward.But obviously,the murkin genepool has got a good deal of italian blood as well.Which is more a contribution to your exceptional crime history.Besides ,prohibition was truely one of your best stupid ideas!!
I used to be a young "68ter",and seriously our infamous RAF wasn't only bad at all.Until,the started overdoin it,and turned into a well accepted tool for the repressive administration. But at least,brushed up West-Germany learned some lessions from our former Gestapo-State history.So the SPIEGEL-Skandal came to be,an early,remarkabl e Whistle-Blow-Jo b.And we still cling to something like investigativ journalism.Nowa days,the sweet,little 13 slave prostitutes sport T-Shirts like:"A Blow-Job's better than no Job!" That's f..g progress.So,Yan kee-Bashing is a very popular sport among Krautland leftwingers.No wonder at all,coz the US keeps supplying the world with tons of good reasons.Take a look at you now!Where have all the Love and Peace Hippies gone?The Woodstock pothead,acid munchers? To be continued..
 
 
+1 # scumbag 2015-01-16 13:15
Hit the woods,found a niche or even made a brilliant turncoat career like the current JFK?
John F..g Kerry?Who almost perfectly adopted the words of the wise:Join the assholes,BEFORE they do U in!How can you sit and watch? And allow a bunch of crooks to turn a steadily growing part of the planet into a NO GO area for murkin citizens.Just to end up in a Hollywood like Wrong Time/Wrong Place desaster.
Coz U hold the incriminated passport.Pretty soon U gonna have to hord in your waggon castle.Like the schizophrenic Jews who feel totally surrounded by enemies.Coz they are the good guys.That sort of mindset leads straight to the Randy Newman proposal:They all hate US anyhow.So let's drop the Big Ones now!
The Ultra-Orthodox are as disgustingly braindead as their Sharia-Mullah counterparts.Mo hammad and the Lord of whatever just released a combined,joint venture memo:It's tuff to get worshipped by idiots.On top,a serious wish:Hold on holy young martyrs!Give us a break.Where runnin out of virgins.
What a drag,I ain't got a f..g clue about politics.I'd have so much to say.Let me finish with a conclusion.Even those who don't wear earplugs all day don't wanna listen to reason.Coz it's YELLING at us.
And one for the true progress believers:When you always trott in vicious circles,you avoid the way back.
PS.I'm so f..g proud,I've gained TWO red thumbs.Come on,U can do better!Make my day! I'm just a humble freak,but at least I'm capable of producing BS in a foreign language.
 
 
0 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-16 14:02
Nice stuff….agree for the most part on my side of things:)

Quite novel the use of language in this manner to display thought .
 
 
-1 # scumbag 2015-01-18 07:09
Quoting ronnewmexico:
Nice stuff….agree for the most part on my side of things:)

Quite novel the use of language in this manner to display thought .

Dear Ron.Thanks a lot.Obviously I'm improving my performance.In case,New Mexico is the state you're trying to survive in,I truely wish you all the best.Sometimes a closer look from the outside is helpful,coz the inmates themselves tend to become sort of"Company Blind".(Wordly translated).
To me,New Mexico sounds like a literally Hot Spot.Habla Espanol,Gringo? Reminds me of that Merle"Oaky"Hagg ard tune and the mock-version"I' m proud to be an asshole from El Paso"which is actually just round the corner.Anyway,o nce again,all the best and take extra care.
 

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