5 Signs of a Dying Society

Signs of a Dying Society

By Paul Buchheit

While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his “Outstanding Contributions to Society.”

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as ‘Honest Mistakes’

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America’s greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying “someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a ‘guilty mind.'”

One must wonder, then, what extremes of evil, in the minds of conservatives, led to criminal charges against people apparently aware of their actions: the Ohio woman who took coins from a fountain to buy food; the California man who broke into a church kitchen to find something to eat; and the 90-year-old Florida activist who boldly tried to feed the homeless.

Of course, even without the explicit protection of Congress, CEOs are rarely charged for their crimes. Not a single Wall Street executive faced prosecution for the fraud-ridden 2008 financial crisis.

2. Unpaid Taxes of 500 Companies Could Pay for a Job for Every Unemployed American

For two years. At the nation’s median salary of $36,000, for all 8 million unemployed.

Citizens for Tax Justice reports that Fortune 500 companies are holding over $2 trillion in profits offshore to avoid taxes that would amount to over $600 billion. Our society desperately needs infrastructure repair, but 8 million potential jobs are being held hostage beyond our borders.

(For more information, please see: Proof That the USA is Controlled by Foreign Corporations.)

3. Almost 2/3 of American Families Couldn’t Afford a Single Pill of a ‘Life-Saving Drug’

62 percent of polled Americans said they couldn’t cover a $500 repair bill. If any of these Americans need a hepatitis pill from Gilead Sciences, or an anti-infection pill from Martin Shkreli’s company, they will have to do without.

An AARP study of 115 specialty drugs found that the average cost of a year’s worth of prescriptions was over $50,000, three times more than the average Social Security benefit. Although it’s true that most people don’t pay the full retail cost of medicine, the portion paid by insurance companies is ultimately passed on to consumers through higher premiums.

Pharmaceutical companies pay competitors to keep generic drugs out of the market, and they have successfully lobbied Congress to keep Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices. The companies claim they need the high prices to pay for better medicines. But for every $1 they spend on basic research, they invest $19 in promotion and marketing.

(For more information, please see: Big Pharma and Organized Crime — They Are More Similar Than You May Think.)

4. Violent Crime Down, Prison Population Doubles

FBI statistics confirm a dramatic decline in violent crimes since 1991, yet the number of prisoners has doubled over approximately the same period. Meanwhile, white-collar prosecutions have been reduced by over a third, and, as noted above, corporate leaders are steadily working toward 100% tolerance for their crimes.

(For more information, please see: The War On Drugs: How the “Land of the Free” Became the “Home of the Slaves” for 2.3 Million Americans.)

5. One in Four Americans Suffer ‘Mental Illness’, Mental Health Facilities Cut by 90%

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 25 percent of adults experience mental illness in a given year, with almost half of the homeless population so inflicted. Yet from 1970 to 2002, the per capita number of public mental health hospital beds plummeted from over 200 per 100,000 to 20 per 100,000, and after the recession state cutbacks continued.

That leaves prison as the only option for many desperate Americans.

The Common Theme

There exists a common theme amidst these signs of societal decay: The super-rich keep taking from the middle class as the middle class becomes a massive lower class. Yet the myth persists that we should all look up with admiration at the “self-made” takers who are ripping our society apart.

About the author:

Paul BuchheitPaul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at [email protected].

This work originally appeared on www.commondreams.org and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


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  • Your1Friend

    Thank you, Paul Buchheit. You are a good journalist and a voice of sanity in and for our apparently dying nation.

  • elPaloMasGrande

    Interesting article! It is well known by many people from other countries which are the issues that push middle class americans to the edge. Yet I am from a little country you might heard of! Uruguay!
    I starded reading the article because of the head line and thought, ‘it looks like home’. If you in deed heard of us you might think: they are developed, thats the country where abortion & marijuana are legal. Let me tell you, that is just one little thing and that doesnt mean anything else. And like you in the US, or many other countries the middle class suffers from social experiments runned by the same old huge banks under a socialist false flag. Progressism they call it. I can tell you what it means: crisis in educational system, the highest taxes the working class and small companies had ever payed, a every day growing lowerclass and of course the separation of classes, margination of people, satured prisons.
    But it doesnt end there, you have politicians who ofcourse are so far away from reallity, having luxury in their homes while otherS struggle. And they keep trying to make us believe whose blame it is, this or that party (like trying to make differences between democrats or republicans for example). A justice system manipulated that allows the fraud goverment puts on us but imprisons people that have no chance in this social system, not to fix that but to put them away of the streets for some time, but they will go back sooner or later.
    Law makers dont recognize the constitution, they dont know anything or to little about the law and they couldnt care less about the people. Well… every five years maybe, making cheap promisses, but so cheap you wouldnt imagine.
    We had our our small katrina situation a few weeks ago, a tornado hits a city aways from the capital city, 90% of the families have no more roof on up their heads, goverments money for that kind of emergencys was 0! They spend it bailling out monopolies statal companys that make no profit allthough they
    Should. But the people didnt mind about that , everybody was donating or even trevelling to the place to help and contribiute with the cause.
    Here we can not blame our equals and our neightbours who go for a different candidate, if we are all blinded by the shinny lights those in power show. They arent even capable of creating something by their own, they are guided by big companys, banks, etc. They are the visible face of this well articulated engineering piece of mass control.
    So we wake a up whats to do next?