This will be a reply to the “The Decline and Fall of America (in numbers)”, an article on Medium which was written by Tobias Stone. I have decided to write this very post, because the mentioned article has many very popular misconceptions which are deeply embedded into our mainstream societies of today and viewpoints which are also being popularized by the traditional and part of the self-proclaimed alternative media alike. These viewpoints and opinions seem to be correct and true at first glance, but upon closer inspection these statements are not supported by actual provable facts and the whole argumentation falls apart because of just that.
The above mentioned article can be accessed at Medium at: The Decline and Fall of America (in numbers). I will analyze the article from the beginning and I will gradually proceed to the end of his post. Unfortunately I cannot embed his article, because – to my knowledge – article embeds are no longer supported by Medium.
The article begins with the statement: “In numbers, a lot about the United States appears to be on the decline. Of course, you can focus on the positive numbers like unemployment and the stock market[…]”
Just a small part mentioned misconceptions, in this case, two of those are right in the very first paragraph of the said article: the author points out that in the U.S. unemployment numbers (most likely he means official by it) and stock market numbers are calming and reassuring that the U.S. economy is doing – at least – good, and consequently, we are supposed to be looking at a positive trend in those areas.
Unfortunately, for everybody who really looked into these matters should be a common knowledge at this point, that unemployment numbers are very misleading considering the fact how unemployment in the U.S. is measured. Basically we cannot talk about unemployment without defining what unemployment is. Of course one could look the world ‘unemployment’ up in the dictionary, but that wouldn’t do justice to the matter in hand. When we are mentioning unemployment only the legal meaning of the word ‘unemployment’ should guide us.
According to this Wikipedia article you could be an unemployed American since Regan and you wouldn’t be statistically counted as such. You also have to note that many full-time jobs are disappearing and people have to take on two or more part-time jobs per individual to earn their living – I for one know at least one person personally who has a full-time job and he also does two part-time jobs to make ends meet. Which statistically would mean that 1 job disappears and 2 are being created. When the individual loses one of the two of his/ her part-time jobs that fact it would be totally ignored statistically. I suppose that everybody should realize at this point where are the big faults here.
As for the stock market, I would like the dear reader to look at the numbers from 2008, back then we were talking about a record-high stock market, but the numbers plummeted shortly after. We are hearing that the stock market in the U.S. is fine and everybody who want to make a profit should invest and buy stock. Of course this message is coming from the very same media companies and more importantly in most cases from the very same individuals who said back in 2007 and in mid 2008, that everything is fine just months before the whole artificial housing bubble exploded. Any reasonable person would say that: “You fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me.” To a certain degree people are not believing these lies anymore, but many times such lies are being explicitly or implicitly spread by people who claim themselves to be “intellectuals”. You probably see that these people would only start asking questions and looking for answers by themselves if we faced a new economic crisis.
“Trump ran on a message of making America great again, which puzzled people who were informed and not lost in conspiracy theories. America is already great and doing very well on many measures. The stock market is high, unemployment low.”
Just look at the infrastructure, it will give you an answer opposite to that in the article, the infrastructure (motorways, railways, roads, etc.) of the U.S. are crumbling, and I should explicitly state here that it is happening not because of the mental incapacity or physical inability and definitely not because of the lack of monetary resources in the U.S. Many things including the country’s infrastructure are neglected because “more important things are in need of funding” according these “policymakers”.
Of course it depends on what, or how we define “great” and what really lies behind “doing very well on many measures”. Both of these are very undefined and vague to my personal taste, and none of these say anything specific or worthwhile to me. The following words, “great” or “doing very well” can’t seem to come into my mind when I am looking at the following picture:
Japanese and Chinese politicians and decision-makers know that the level of infrastructure present in a country is – in most cases – directly proportional to the country’s GDP. To put it into simpler terms: the more and better infrastructure a country the bigger GDP a country can reach, and consequently the bigger GDP growth a country has the ability to achieve.
Of course it is not just about infrastructure, but it is also about: healthcare, public safety, proper (in quality and quantity) regulations in place and the personal freedoms of the citizens living in a country (among other things) will all create benefits for the given country’s society. Of course all of these do cost money and they do show up in the federal budget, but that’s understandable, unlike the following method of thinking:
“Warfare over welfare.”
Of course all of these problems could be first mitigated, then solved if the “policymakers” in the U.S. do decide to decrease military spending in the annual budget, but unfortunately the military-industrial complex – which term was coined be President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address to the Nation – keeps getting bigger and bigger and with that also more and more influential. You see a nation with the 36% military budget of the whole world doesn’t need any friends, it only needs foes and enemies, which then would justify further military spending. In 2017 the military budget of the United States is $824.6 billion (source).
Corruption is deeply-rooted inside the higher echelons of the U.S. government, just Lockheed Martin gave extra amounts of contributions to those who supported the F-35 project in the Senate (source). Not even mentioning yearly and campaign (for senators and presidential candidates) from the mentioned corporation and others similar to those, are waiting with open arms for the retired senators to give them well-paid positions high-up in their corporate structure. Perhaps a great example is Marissa Mayer who got a CEO position from Yahoo after finishing her political career (source), but unfortunately there are many others too. Of course it should surprise no-one, that these corporations expect these individuals that they behaved and decided all – or at least most big – matters in hand in a way which is favorable to those companies. As I mentioned above, there is a big reward to be gained after retiring from the senator position, but only if they are worthy of it.
Furthermore it is important to point out that these corporations are getting decision-makers to leave behind billions worth of military equipment in those countries that are/ were occupied by the Army of United States. According to some new sources the U.S. army left behind about $6 billion worth of equipment just in Afghanistan, although of course Afghanistan is still being occupied by U.S. troops (source). Of course the sole reason for this – now widespread practice in the military – that the military-industrial complex will get that much more orders for new equipment which will be yielding even further profits for them.
“The United States is suffering from systemic failures that go back decades. Neither Democrats nor Republicans carry the blame alone. While things were good under Obama, these individual trends, buried under a growing GDP and brilliant innovation, are as much his failure as that of Clinton, the Bushes, and Reagan.”
I must agree with Tobias Stone with this statement. It is most likely that both of these “sides” of the same coin should be blamed to an equal degree for the current situation.
“A truly renegade leader committed to change could have built on the progress made by Obamacare and made sure everyone in the United States had access to health care, improving life expectancy.”
Obamacare was a faulty bill from the very moment the decision-makers decided to keep their Own promises when they rejected the possibility to “keep your doctor” and that of “keep your plan if you like it”. Instead the whole country got a bill they wanted to avoid from the first moment. With Obamacare you couldn’t keep your doctor, you couldn’t keep your previous healthcare plan and most importantly the premiums were skyrocketing. Because of these issues the bill became a burden on most of the American people, consequently the next administration had the choice of keeping, but changing it or repealing it. They could have changed the contents of the bill under the old name, “Obamacare”. Of course that decision was more of a political one, than a practical one.
Following his previous statement: “He could have ensured everyone had access to dental care, rather than to firearms.”
Could I get free/ cheap firearms from the government?! Sign me up then!
What is the connection here between healthcare and firearms? To my knowledge no American administration had a plan to make firearms more accessible on a grand scale for Americans. I am asking it because I can’t find any logical connections. I didn’t hear that there is a “Trumpcare” which makes the pricing of firearms more friendly, but nevermind.
If you would take a look at the gun laws in Switzerland, where those laws are based on their “national identity” part of which came about after post-Napoleonic Restoration of the Swiss Confederacy, and we should also note their strong traditions of hunting while the Switzerland, the country itself being a very calm and peace-loving place we should all clearly see that not guns are the issue here. Guns are just objects. Also, one must wonder why there is such long-standing practice of the Swiss Army, in which soldiers’ service rifles are stored at their private, personal residence (home), without knowing that they do that to defend their country when an enemy invasion would occur.
Swiss people has the funds to by firearms, and they also have the funds to foot the bill at their dentists.
“Trump looks set to accelerate this decline. Rather than bringing evidence-based policymaking to solve these problems, Trump leads an uneducated team that bring god and ideology into decisions that will decide people’s futures. That will be a tragedy for America and for Americans.”
The first 13 colonies were founded and built by Christian Europeans. Some of those people were Catholic, some of them were Lutheran and others were Calvinistic, among other things and offshoots of Christianity. Most of these people – at least allegedly – wanted to get away from Europe, because of the practice of “Cuius regio, eius religio.”, which translates into “Whose realm, his religion.” The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution granted Americans freedom of speech, freedom of press and free exercise of religion with other (second generation human) rights. Back in those days (colonial) people cared about religion, and they identified themselves by it, although primarily they identified themselves by being a citizen of a city state or a subject of a monarch. I don’t really see why bringing up religion is relevant if we are talking about policies, but your argumentation doesn’t seem to be correct at all, you should be asking the following:
If you are such a believer in Christ and God, why do you have to drop the Mother of All Bombs in Afghanistan? Seems like a contradiction to me. Why do you support torture, I mean “enhanced interrogation techniques” if they are degrading, unhuman and proven to be useless? Of course asking these questions are a little bit harder, than screaming: “BIGOT!!” – at least for some.
Continuing his article he writes: “Where would you place a flag on a map when identifying a country that is […]”
Please don’t continue, unfortunately the U.S. education system isn’t really on the top of things in terms of geography.
– Tobies Stone describes income inequality and attaches figures and statistics to his argument. – “An article about a recent report on income disparity in San Francisco ranked the city equal with Rwanda for its gap between rich and poor. […] This sort of imbalance is what countries look like before revolutions. […] You only need to peer over at Venezuela for an idea of what can happen next.”
Income inequality is truly a profound problem in the U.S. and in the world today (World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%). But anybody who deeply looks into the problems with Venezuela has to realize that it is not just income inequality which created this problem and in a report President Maduro of Venezuela stated that they are working with their partners from the Vatican and the crisis will be quickly solved if they reach mutual agreement (if I find the video, I will link it here, below). Supporting these statements are among many other things:
It really looks like there is more to it, than just this. Of course if you accept that the Vatican also functions as one of the worlds biggest bank, then it is very well understandable (source).
So I strongly believe that there is much more than inequality to the Venezuelan crisis of today and it is kind of unique given the current political situation and yesterday’s economic policies of Venezuela. I wholeheartedly recommend the following video:
“What happened in Charlottesville was shocking on many levels, but for an English onlooker, the mere fact that any protest could make it that far when the protesters were armed and wearing combat gear, or carrying batons and shields, was astonishing. Forget the politics for a moment and ask yourself what sort of country doesn’t automatically arrest people who turn up to protest on the street carrying assault rifles?”
The right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution of the United States. It’s a slightly different culture than the one you experience when visiting the United Kingdom. This right was recognized by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and it meant to be the last line between the freedoms of the citizens and a tyrannical government: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Near the end of this paragraph Tobias Stone calls for the confiscation of assault weapons from the protesters. Confiscating assault weapons – even in the case of law-abiding citizens – could result such serious misunderstandings which could easily end in tragedy and loss of life. Add this to the fact that some states and some countries allow the citizens to open carry assault firearms and we are looking at a violation of the local law and the constitution at the same time. Honestly speaking the most important thing in these situations is to keep the protest peaceful.
In the photo below we see a Dodge Challenger running into a crowd of protesters. I have to add while many individuals in the crowd did possess a firearm, nobody has made the – bad – decision to shoot at the car after speeding into the crowd. What happened in Charlottesville was very catastrophic. It would be really intriguing if we could get more information why this protest in Charlottesville wasn’t being closely supervised by the local police department, and about how that muscle car could have gotten near the crowd considering the fact that many protests are being followed by local police officers ensuring that the streets are properly closed down from traffic preventing the possibility of something like this to happen. To my knowledge – the local police department didn’t close down the street for the protest.
You either see it, or you don’t.
“What we saw in Charlottesville were people who believe in ideas that have no basis in fact or history.”
Even if one accepts that statement to be true, it would be wise to hear the argumentation of the other side out before reaching to conclusions and blaming that side. I strongly disagreed with many things the newly elected president of the U.S. did in the last 6 months (including, but not limited to: the weapon trade deal with Saudi Arabia, the illegal military [according to international law and the U.S. constitution] strike on Syria with the 50+ tomahawk missiles, the use of the bomb code-named MOB, the current demonization of North Korea and its leader, and so on), but truth to be told I strongly believe that the statement of Donald Trump about the incident in Charlottesville was spot-on. The only thing perhaps is the fact that he wasn’t very elaborate about it which is a bit grinding my gears.
Both of the sides are being exploited by the fullest by the mainstream media and other elements to bring about a planned resolution of the artificially-created conflict. I cannot grasp how some people could claim themselves to be “liberals” (psst.: “progressives”) when they actively engage in creating “safe-places” where the notion free speech does not exist, furthermore and if somebody says/ writes or even implicitly refers to something, which is considered “bigoted” by them, they just go ahead and do a modern-day “book-burning” if they feel like it.
The point of what happened in Charlesville is basically “Divide et imprea.”, which means “Divide and conquer.” Many of those who are proud of their American heritage rises up against this artificially-created threat to their way of life. Unfortunately both of the sides are being exploited and used as “useful idiots” while progressively creating an ever bigger and bigger conflict which results in the polarization and radicalization of bystanders (the individuals who are not yet engaged in the conflict). Both of these sides are being steered by false narratives and leaders. According to many politilogists it doesn’t matter in reality if you go far left or far right, both way will cause to lead you in the very same spot (Horseshoe theory) (as we could witness in the case of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union). It is practically useless to rank the two leaders of those totalitarian regimes in terms of evil- and wickedness. Both of the two sides are representing the same values and ideals.
“This religious extremism affects the United States now at the highest level, with Christian fundamentalists in senior government positions, including the vice president, but also those responsible for science-related areas of policy like climate change.”
I am not aware of any “religious fundamentalist” developed Christian country currently in existence. I really wonder if the author knows what a “religious fundamentalist” country looks like. Just look at this:
The video is of a Saudi woman getting into his new Lexus SUV and driving it. The car is so new that there is still protective foil on the driving wheel and on the (left) sun visor. How could you deny this rare experience of driving a brand new car from her?
“Another aspect of the new Trump-era America that is more reminiscent of a madeup-istan parody is the gerrymandering. Stories, like that of North Carolina, that we would elsewhere call blatant vote rigging, will astonish outsiders who think of the United States as “the land of the free” and a champion of democracy. It seems bewildering that this beacon of democracy, in which Republicans claim to be the ones safeguarding American freedom, has such profound examples of (primarily) Republican politicians manipulating democratic system like this. It damages the United States’ leadership globally when it tries to bring democracy to other countries.”
The author could have stated that there is a lack of documented evidence behind Trump’s claims. Vote rigging will be always a very politicized and sensitive issue – I will be leaving it at that.
About the Democrats and the Republicans: many of these officials have become best buddies over the two decade they served in their respective public offices. Individuals from both parties are setting up hunting trips with people from the other party, they play golf with each-other and on occasions they get to know each-other’s families during private parties and cocktail nights (also: partners in crime). Basically speaking the two parties represent a choice of illusion nothing more. They are just two sides of the same coin. As stated above some of them know people from the other party better than the one in their own respective party.
“It damages the United States’ leadership globally when it tries to bring democracy to other countries.”
Currently the ongoing effort is to try to contain North Korea after North Korea by the orders of its supreme leader George Bush invaded Afghanistan…wait… the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Then: after North Korea killed 662 thousand Iraqis (source). Nope. Then: I guess it really must be that it was North Korea who completely annihilated Lybia and murdered Muammer Gaddafi! No, that’s still not it, that’s still not correct, perhaps then it was North Korea who fired more, than 50 missiles targeting an airfield on Syrian soil and breaking international law?! Nah..
Unfortunately it looks like that Tobias Stone, being an Englishman, – like many people – he is unaware that the United States is Not a democracy, according to the constitution, the U.S. is a constitutional republic. The main thing which separates democracies and constitutional republics is the basic fact that while in democracies the majority of the voters can make any decision they want to make, in a constitutional republic the constitution protects the minority’s rights from the vote of the majority, or as Aristotle (Greek philosopher put it): “Tyranny of the majority” and, of course: “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” and as we can see in many European countries when we are talking about systematical government corruption: “A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments.” which unfortunately holds true at least in some cases.
As you probably heard over and over, officials like to talk about their everlasting love of “democracy”, but they never even whisper a word about the “republic”, it is especially laughable when considering that the U.S. was never was or meant to be a democracy.
Everybody who has two brain cells to rub together know exactly that – at least part of – the current U.S. administration wants to invade North Korea because they allegedly “according to anonymous sources” possess weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the were same thing which was stated before invading Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and so on. Not the same agencies, but the same people lied to the American public that there are WMDs in those countries, but the reports after invading those were confirmed to be incorrect. And now those people are demonizing North Korea, which has a yearly GDP of approx. $2 billion, very much alike to the state of West Virginia. Of course they could also use the “communist card” which was exploited to its fullest military potential in case of Cuba, Panama and many other South American countries.
“Clearly part of this problem stems from education. People who are educated are more likely to use evidence to form arguments and are better equipped to weigh different points of view when building an opinion.”
The western university systems are in a structural decline and it it is evident if you pay close attention to the new courses, degrees and diplomas. Do you want a diploma from Liberal Arts, Gender Studies, English Studies, Communication, Psychology or Turism? They call all of these – and similar – things diplomas and degrees, but many of these new courses are only there to push and popularize certain viewpoints within our societies. I don’t believe that anybody with those degrees can get a real job – if you exclude such positions such as burger-flippers at McDonalds and similar ones to that at other fast-food restaurants. Of course if you are after a serious law degree or you would like to be a doctor of medicine, that’s fine, just don’t waste your precious time and money on English Studies and Communication expecting that a real job at the end of the tunnel awaits for you.
You see when you go and get “educated” in any institution which exists today, most likely that “education” will be degraded to a often basic level of learning definitions, phrases and sentences from a book and then recalling those when writing your exam. One could assume that “education” is supposed to be based on facts and the fruits of critical thinking, but rather it forces a narrow range of viewpoints upon you, which you must accept to a certain degree to be able to remember those while answering the questions of your course-unit examination.
I, myself has talked to many people who claimed themselves “intellectuals” but failed to use basic critical thinking in their thought process to distinguish truths from half-truths and lies. Unfortunately most of the “intellectuals” are taught to be trusting in state institutions and officials alike, and they would only realize that they made a mistake of trusting those after their beloved country began falling apart.
“Other countries with this many guns, and this many gun deaths, are either at war or suffering a civil war.”
As I have mentioned above in my article the U.S. has a Second Amendment to its Constitution which grants the rights to possess and bear firearms.
I would classify the statement as being a half-truth (source).
“I wonder how many on Trump’s team are familiar with these statistics.” (after showing that statistically maternal mortality is on the rise along with death rates, while life expectancy is surprisingly low)
Trust me on this, the richest cabinet in history (source) probably got other things on their mind. Given what General Mad Dog and others on the cabinet did (war crimes and crimes against humanity) in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t really believe that they care much about American lives either.
Tobias Stone, the author of the original article, many times implied that he wants to see a free or at least an affordable healthcare system in the United States. I make the argumentation, that such as a system must also be able to work in practice. There is nothing wrong about universal healthcare in many well-doing European countries. On the other hand it would be really questionable what quality of service would be offered if there was such a bill in place.
If we are looking at the possibility of American education system – which clearly has problems and faults – being free of charge in the future, we should know that there is no such thing as free of charge. Somebody must always foot the bill, in this case the country (from taxes and other revenues).
Consequently there would be no reason not to go and get higher education after finishing high school, so more and more students would enter the system of higher education, because they are getting it for “free” and they don’t have to spend – outrageous as of today – amounts to get it.
The price of college and university could – at least in theory – promote other means of spending that amount of money and time on other, more worthwhile things which could enable them to get the jobs they want to get. So while universities and colleges are “free” there is no reason to represent or teach something of value, the legislative and administrative body of the country should make sure that these institutions are up-to-date in terms of equipment and learning material. If these institutions are paid than there is a bigger likelihood that they have to present some value to their courses.
However, looking at just numbers, such as GDP and GNP and it is very beneficial for a country to have as many educated people as possible on the higher level the better. Similarly to paid universities and colleges non-free health-care provides could also prioritize representing value with their services.
Of course you cannot put a price tag onto health, that’s why it is essential to safeguard low-income families and individuals, to make sure that they get quality service in time and in the right quantity.
Conclusively there are strong arguments to be made for and against a free education or a universal healthcare bill.
“Whoever takes on the mantel of opposing Trump needs to take this statistical picture and make it part of their campaign. The United States needs to confront the fundamental problems that have developed over generations and that will require radical, intelligent, informed policymaking. When Trump points at employment and GDP as a mark of his success, his opponents need to point to the numbers that read like a developing nation as a response.”
I wish instead of personal splats the United States would come together to face the country’s issues in unity. There should be no room on mainstream or alternative media to ruthlessly criticize or blame anybody for everything he/ she does without presenting proper evidence and recommended solutions for it. Yes I am writing about Donald Trump. Surprisingly the grand majority of mainstream journalists seem to have a great passion of writing about him and/ or blaming him for various things. Of course when it’s about the illegal (according to international law and the constitution of the U.S.) military strike on Syria, many people claimed that that was “The day Donald Trump became president” (source). Try maybe warmonger or criminal. And as for the alternative media: Donald Trump doesn’t have a crystal ball or guidance from any god, so don’t make him out something he definitely isn’t.
All the media and all of the politicians are talking about the differences of the people who are embodying a nation. The things that separate us, the things must us different from one and other. They want everybody to focus on the drama, rather than the things that really connect us, our mutual future with our nearly the same wants and needs, only a bit different in terms of very minor things.
The only medicine to all of this is being compassionate and keeping the Peace. ☮