Archive for September, 2008

The Rapidly Disintegrating United States of America

September 30, 2008

Wall Street is gone: 25,000+ people lost their jobs overnight. Investment banks no longer exist.

The US government scares me: The Secretary of the Treasury seriously requested unfettered power to use $700 billion as he wishes – which would effectively undermine the Constitution. Our elected officials in Washington are making plays to secure their re-election rather than doing what is necessary to mitigate the fallout from this financial crisis.

American leadership is a farce: The US presidential elections have been reduced to cheap gimmicks. A woman who doesn’t believe global warming and a man who recently stated that the fundamentals of the American economy are sound are still in serious consideration for the White House.

Surrealism:
Living abroad as an American in 2008 has been a surreal experience, and my home country – a place I lived, worked, and studied in for 23 years – seems to me, at best an abstraction and at worst a caricature of its most negative self. What is going on at home cannot really be happening, right?

For the past nine months, I have watched and studied the events of America’s economic and political soap opera as an outside observer, lacking the social and emotional elements that I had previously taken for granted and then grown tired of, and I wonder was America as crazy and messed up when I lived there?

Perhaps I am now so far removed that I can objectively understand that irrational demands for power by the government are nothing new (recall Bush’s call for unilateral power in the year following 9/11), that illogical, laughable, and pathetic campaign tactics have become a hallmark of the US presidential elections (recall the 2000 & 2004 races), or that the (false) security and safety that many Americans feel really is slipping away.

It doesn’t seem real to me. America is impervious to pain, right? The US is a land of true democracy, logical thinking, stoicism, and financial security – at least that’s what I was lead to believe. So when I return to the US in time for Christmas, this will all be over, right? Forgotten like a bad dream. Or is the nature of my country forever changing? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem real and it sure is crazy to watch from across the Atlantic.

-J. K. Wade

Credit to Ben Stein for the title of this post. See his NYTimes post here.