Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

America; a patriotism derailed

It is not possible to watch this video without shedding tears for the poor and yet, admiration for their character and work-ethic. In spite of their deprived conditions or, perhaps BECAUSE of their impoverishment, these people take time to thing of God and to thank Him for their blessings…blessings that many of us might consider a curse.
I have seen this video before and earlier, I had watched it rather objectively but with sympathy for the poor and hungry. Hunger is only a symptom of the disease that eats up a nation and while we do need to help those who are hungry, our help in food banks and kitchens is only providing a temporary salve to the miseries of the hungry and to our conscience; we need to work for more permanent solutions that create national support for the weak amongst us.
The story is much greater than about the poor and how they find ways to feed their families. The backstory goes to the countries where the most of the poor reside; to corruption that forces poverty on honest, decent and hard-working people who only need an opportunity to rise to a better living.
Corruption forces people into poverty because corruption diverts money and the opportunities money can provide, to people bank accounts where the money does nothing. In countries where corruption is less rampant, we see people getting decent wages and opportunities, we see nations taking care of their less able people; we see nations taking social responsibility for their people. Yes, those nations tend to tax more than others and yes, it is the rich who tend to bear most of the monetary burden (although the proportionate burden may still be greater on the not-so-rich), but it is a happier, healthier nation that emerges from such social consciousness.
In America there is a pride in “free enterprise” and low (or no) taxation. what that really does, is create a Darwinian world where the large fish eat the small ones and those who cannot fend for themselves, are left to the sharks. In the meantime, our corporations and their heads, continue to make more money then they can even dream of spending, yet, their hunger for more money remains unsatisfied…”MORE!” is always better.
It has become the American way, we fail to see the need to help pay for things that don’t directly benefit us and thus, drive the tax-base lower and lower.
Schools are left to fend for themselves with a lower and lower tax base. a lower revenue means laying off teachers, closing services and keeping more kids ON the streets, rather than off the streets. Juvenile prisons are filling up, creating guaranteed feeder populations for adult prisons, with commensurate rise in the victims of those crimes. But we take pride in the private industry that creates more and more prisons with less and less compassion…that creates more and more hardened criminals. We take pride in being “tough” on crime, so much so that sending people to jail for more and more time, is a mark of honor in re-election campaigns; it is unlikely for a candidate to win if s-he says they want a more compassionate prison system and better care for the poor such that criminals are not created in the first place.
Healthcare is left to the insurance companies, whose motivation is to make money and thus, they offer less and less care for more and more money, leaving ever-increasing numbers of under-protected or, unprotected people behind…and the misery that comes with not being able to afford critical healthcare. In this country, if one is not covered by corporate healthcare, then they should be on their knees praying every day, that they stay healthy because even a minor illness can bring about bankruptcy. People can lose their jobs if they miss a couple of days of work, they can lose their homes if they are hit with a prospect of even routine surgery…knee-replacement can cost $20,000-30,000, forget about heart or cancer surgeries. Chronic illness like arthritis, asthma, allergy? If over the counter drugs…cheap ones…cannot help you, you just suffer.
Far too often, it becomes a choice between eating or getting medicines; paying heat bills or paying a doctor.
One would think that transportation would be something the nation could take care of, but that too, is geared for Number One…Me! If you want to drive somewhere, there are plenty of roads, if you have a car. But if you cannot afford a car that is in good running order or, if you are too infirm to have a car, then start praying. Bus systems have been cut back so deeply that only skeleton services are left. a trip that should take maybe 30 minutes, can take a couple of hours to make, using buses to transfer…and that is during peak times! If one is unfortunate enough to need transportation during off-hours, it can take several hours IF there is any service available at all.
We Americans are so deeply-programmed into thinking only for ourselves, that the thought for our less-privileged neighbors seldom enters our minds. Those of us who do think of others, seldom have much time or resources to divert towards the well-being of others because we are too pre-occupied with the next dollar we should be making just to pay the bills.
Americans don’t lack compassion, we are just locked into very selfish-thinking because of the corporate structures that have taken control of our lives.
We get too indoctrinated into thinking of the “ME” in ‘America’ and to not think of the “You” in the ‘United States’.

July 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I am not an American citizen but I disagree with the overall tone of your article. You have correctly cited many examples of the suffering of ordinary Americans and I sympathize with them but your analysis seems superficial. For example, blaming big corporations including the health insurers or health management groups for making more and more money is rather unhelpful. Corporations are created for making money; why should you expect anything else from them? If the society at large does not like what they do then it should regulate their activities as is already done in so many ways. Americans pride themselves in having a democratic society so they have no excuse for allowing activities that they do not like. But you can’t blame those who are working within the existing laws.

    I would suggest that you also look at other possible factors contributing to the problems that you notice. For example, in the great democratic country of yours how many people really care for actively participating in the political process. Do they analyse the policies that various candidates are proposing and elect on that basis or do they just vote for the most photogenic or the loudest mouth on TV? Going further, your analysis should consider whether the American brand of democracy is really the cure of all societal ills. Is this the only way to make decisions in the best interests of the society at large? Another question you might ask is whether the ordinary citizen’s expectations are too high (and unsustainable). Thanks to American culture (which is now becoming the world culture) average citizens everywhere seem to expect to have a family home on a separate plot of land with picket fence and two car garage (and, of course, two cars to fill them) and lots of gadgets, electronic and otherwise. Obviously, this is unsustainable if even a small fraction of world population demands what Americans take for granted for themselves.

    I fully agree with your comments in the second last sentence to the effect that American do not lack compassion.


    Comment by Qaseem Khan | July 19, 2011 | Reply

    • One of the problems with trying to bring up a complex discussion as in this article, is that it is so vast, with so many variables and branches, that to address them all, one would have to write a book.
      For the second part (paragraph) of your comments, I believe we are both in general agreement.

      For the first part, while the discussion is rather large, we can limit it a bit.
      Indeed, corportaions are there to make money and lots of it but, to do so successfully, they employ armies of lobbiests who spend millions of dollars influencing opinion and pushing for laws the help the corporations…often in complete disregard and at the expense of, the people. While they are operating within the law, they are not operating as responsible citizens and are pushing for laws the limit the rights of the people while expanding their own rights; they can now spend unlimited amounts of money during elections, they can continue to lend money without the due diligence of checking the ability of the borrower to repay his debt and bankruptcies are favoring the lenders.

      While it is true that a large part of the responsibility lies with the voting public (and there is less and less of that), it is also true that coporations create an environmenyt that serves to brainwash the public into thinking they are suporting “Free Enterprise”, when they are really undermining the welfare of the entire society.

      The net gainers of such a system are the corporations and their allies, the politicians.
      Holding the empty sack, are the public.


      Comment by penjihad | July 19, 2011 | Reply

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