Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The America I Want

I drove back home on Sunday after spending a weekend in my hometown in Canada, and have to admit to having mixed feelings upon my return. Shortly after returning home, I read Paul Krugman's column, Toyota, Moving Northward, contrasting Canada's Universal Health Care to the mess we know as the U.S. Health Care system. Next, I surfed over to Rory Blythe's blog, neopleon.com, and read this entry, entitled PEPWDS, lamenting the disappointed feeling Rory felt after returning to the U.S. after vacationing abroad. I then took a look at my mail, and was less than pleased to discover that my wife's university has stiffed us with an 18.5% tuition increase for the fall semester. Next, I found a self-congratulatory letter from my employer stating that they were pleased to announce that they were able to hold my health insurance provider to a 7% annual increase in health insurance premiums this year - this is the same health care provider that just stiffed me with a bill, and was responsible for having me referred to a collection agency over a bill that should've been covered by my insurance provider for the second time in a year. Welcome to Bush's world of neoconservative policy :(

I find myself questioning if it is really worth trying to make it in this nation. A once great nation overtaken by a neoconservative movement representing the needs and desires of only a tiny fraction of society. A nation with health care costs that have spiraled out of control, with 44 million uninsured. A government that has attempted to dismantle the social security program, and has even threatened to refuse to honor treasury bonds - a move skirting dangerously close to causing financial ruin. We live in a nation with an administration in charge responsible for increasing anti-American sentiment throughout the world, by declaring an unnecessary war, essentially increasing the threat of terrorist activities throughout the world. A nation with leaders who demonstrate constant abuses of power, and unprecedented levels of secrecy and deception.

America - the self-proclaimed leader of the free world - a nation with so much potential, but with leadership unwilling to grow up and accept the responsibility and accountability that goes along with being the leader of the free world. America has refused to accept responsibility on the environment, and has neglected the Kyoto Accord, the primary global effort to minimize global pollution emissions and reduce the risk of global warming. We can do better.

I keep coming back to the question of how this all happened. How this nation fell so far off the path of a responsible society, falling for this neoconservative agenda that is so far removed from reality. Is it still even possible for America to grow up and become a responsible and sustainable citizen of the global society?

I believe it is possible, but not without major reform in our media and our electoral process. Money and campaign contributions are not equivalent to free speech, and the decision to equate the two was among the most lamentable decision in American history. I'm talking about real campaign finance reform - not simply hollow buzzwords and legislation, but a complete dismantling and removal of the campaign contribution process and the lobbying industry. It can and should be done. I'm going to leave you with a quote a selection from Bill Moyers' Moyers on America - A Journalist and His Times:

(This is a quote from Dorothy Haddock, a woman approaching the age of 90 who set out to walk across America to protest the subversion of democracy by money in politics)

If money is speech, then those with more money have more speech, and that idea is antithetical to a democracy that cherishes political fairness. It makes us no longer equal citizens. A flood of special interest money has carried away our representatives, and all that is left of them--at least for those of us who do not write $100,000 checks--are the shadows of their cardboard cutouts. It is said that democracy is not something we have, but something we do. But right now, we cannot do it because we cannot speak. We are shouted down by the bullhorns of big money. It is money with no manners for democracy, and it must be escorted from the room. The hundreds of thousands of our dead, buried in rows upon rows in our national cemeteries, sacrificed their lives for the democracy of a free people, not for what we have today. It is up to each of us to see that these boys and girls did not die in vain. That's just how serious his message is.