What follows is my greatest effort to listing (in no specific order) the ten largest issues Washington ignores – issues the White House and Congress should be addressing, but aren’t – and perhaps by no means will.
- 1 1. The local weather disaster
- 2 2. Public corruption
- 3 3. Army overreach
- 4 4. Secrecy in government
- 5 5. Overspending on healthcare
- 6 6. Mass incarceration
- 7 7. The tradition of violence
- 8 eight. Chemical air pollution
- 9 9. A dysfunctional schooling system
- 10 10. A pricey and harmful meals production system
1. The local weather disaster
Not often do political issues rise to the level of existential crisis. This one does. As Mark Hertsgaard illustrates in Scorching by means of interviews with leading local weather scientists, the scientific consensus concerning the influence of climate change has develop into more excessive with every new report – but has by no means caught up with the personal projections of probably the most educated specialists. And David Wallace-Wells has gone him one higher in The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming with up to date info.
Absent dramatic policy shifts on a worldwide scale, which are unthinkable with out robust U.S. leadership, it’s attainable that Planet Earth will ultimately grow to be unlivable for the human race. We’re already destroying one million species a yr, and the erratically changing climate is compounding the issues brought on by human encroachment on animal habitat. In the meantime, the land obtainable for farming is shrinking in the face of accelerating urbanization, desertification, deforestation, and pollution. With or without human civilization, our international surroundings will probably be very totally different in the 22nd Century from what it is at present – at a minimal, far less hospitable to homo sapiens.
2. Public corruption
The dominance of cash in politics is the basis explanation for a lot that ails us. Large campaign spending, combined with lavish lobbying efforts, is largely answerable for corporate welfare, our shockingly inequitable tax code, the damaging bloating of the financial sector, and the company dominance of the information media. It’s additionally a significant factor within the country’s continuing dependence on fossil fuels. Each certainly one of these issues cries out for systemic change, but in a society the place the U.S. Supreme Courtroom’s outrageous Residents United determination holds sway, it’s troublesome to see how any meaningful change might be enacted.
The source of the issue lies deeper than coverage, in the values that company money has bought to the public – at heart, the delusion that freedom means independence from authorities oversight, that society presents a degree enjoying area to all comers, and that success can only be fairly rewarded if the winners take all. In The Self-Made Fable (reviewed right here), Bryan Miller and Mike Lapham expose this worth set for the illogical and self-serving strategy that it is.
3. Army overreach
The USA spends $700 billion annually on what is characterized with Orwellian talent as “defense.” This amount is reportedly higher than the combined army expenditures of all the rest of the nations on Earth and is definitely larger than the entire spent by all our potential adversaries mixed. Much of this cash might be so much extra productively invested in advancing our true national security – upgrading our academic system, restoring our once-undisputed lead in science and know-how, combating international poverty, and tending to our long-neglected public infrastructure. The late Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback collection – Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis – illuminate the extent of U.S. army overreach, and the steep worth we pay for the doubtful privilege of sustaining almost 1,000 army bases around the globe. We put Imperial Rome and the British Empire to shame.
4. Secrecy in government
Most of what we read about secrecy in our federal authorities considerations the “classified” paperwork similar to these revealed by Wikileaks every so often or the knowledge turned up by investigative reporters, typically after years of pursuing Freedom of Info Act (FOIA) lawsuits. Sadly, hiding mountains of written data behind a cloak of secrecy, reprehensible although it is, must be the least of our considerations. Much more threatening to our liberties and our future as a democratic nation are the top-secret operations of the National Safety Company, the CIA, and the Particular Forces – as well as numerous other activities carried out both at residence and abroad in our identify. Their work is all carried out under the veil of black budgets for businesses which have never seen the sunshine of day or by means of seemingly innocuous contracts with personal corporations. The Washington Publish’s Dana Priest and William M. Arkin did a spectacular job of reporting about this tragically ignored phenomenon in Prime Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.
5. Overspending on healthcare
The U.S. presently spends an unsustainable 17% of GDP on healthcare – about one-half more than the second-highest spender on the earth (Switzerland, at 11%). People steadily brag that we’ve got the best healthcare system on the earth, however that’s true solely for many who can afford to pay monumental quantities of money for probably the most superior care when a well being emergency strikes. Ours is the world’s costliest healthcare system, not one of the best.
A lot of the remainder of us can be much better off in France or some other industrialized nation where authorities covers all prices and negotiates truthful prices with pharmaceutical corporations and other healthcare providers. And all the present speak about “reining in the deficit” is so much pointless chatter with out two simple coverage modifications that would make a very big difference: a drastic reduction within the Pentagon finances, in fact, and adopting Medicare for All, in any other case hideously labeled “single-payer healthcare.”
6. Mass incarceration
Considered one of my biggest disappointments with the Obama Administration was its continued prosecution of the so-called Conflict on Medicine, the congeries of insurance policies, police practices, and courtroom selections that has resulted in locking away more than two million People and subjecting our internal cities to a profoundly racist police regime. Michele Alexander’s landmark research, The New Jim Crow, lays naked the startling dimensions of those issues and their deeply rooted origins within the politics of the Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton administrations. That such policies might persist two generations after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is abhorrent.
7. The tradition of violence
In the wake of yet one more horrific mass murder that takes the lives of so many innocents, public debate focuses on such “solutions” as banning assault rifles and decreasing the variety of bullets permitted in an ammunition clip. Even if such measures could possibly be written into regulation, which is unlikely, they might be laughably ineffectual. More than 9,000 individuals die yearly of gunshots within the U.S. – not often from assault rifles. Collectively we possess an estimated 300 million weapons, most of them handguns, roughly one for every American. And anybody can easily buy extra at 51,000 licensed retail firearms sellers (compared to 36,000 grocery shops). None of this must be a shock in a society that glorifies violence in film, tv, video video games, and comic books and obsesses about football, probably the most violent of contact sports activities. It’s time for America to develop up!
eight. Chemical air pollution
A lot of the 9,000 or more artificial chemical compounds now used in on a regular basis products in the U.S. have been launched after World Conflict II. Tons of of them depart residues in our our bodies with largely unknown penalties. (Only seven % of “high-production” chemical compounds have been absolutely examined for toxicity.) In different words, we’ve been carrying on a harmful biology experiment with our lives and our youngsters’s lives for more than two generations. What we do know is that health issues that have been once unknown or uncommon have gotten widespread, together with bronchial asthma, reproductive abnormalities in infants, many forms of cancer, and autism. A simple concept – the precautionary principle – might tackle many of those undesirable consequences by stipulating that the burden of proof concerning the security of any product falls on its producer. Almost half a century after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, isn’t it astonishing that we should always still should make this argument?
9. A dysfunctional schooling system
For decades, it’s been widely known that many excessive faculties are simply warehousing young individuals to keep them off the job market. Now it’s beginning to look as though that’s the case with so-called greater schooling as nicely at many schools and universities. When employers (myself included) complain that some current school graduates can’t write or spell and either can’t read or simply choose not to take action, you’ve received to determine there’s some fact to those observations – and that there’s something basically improper with the best way our nation educates its youth.
Whether or not the basis cause is that faculties train the incorrect things, that they train within the mistaken ways, or that the incorrect individuals are doing the educating is inconceivable to inform. But clearly the reality lies in some mixture of these notions – dramatically compounded by our society’s failure to take a position sufficient cash to do the job proper. Making an allowance for the variety of hours that American academics work, they’re paid far lower than academics in virtually another industrialized country. Shame on us!
10. A pricey and harmful meals production system
An occasional outbreak of e coli infections or a newsmagazine exposé on the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock reminds us that each one is not nicely with the best way we People produce and procure our food. Nevertheless, fact to inform, the size and extent of the problem is far greater than most of us perceive.
Ninety-nine % of the meat we eat is produced in methods which are inhumane, ecologically unsound, and harmful to our health. The world’s unrelenting hunger for meat is answerable for producing extra greenhouse gases than all modes of transportation combined and is thus one of many single most vital elements in international warming. Pollution from manufacturing unit farms is poisoning the water table in agricultural areas all through the USA, and the dramatic overuse of antibiotics in livestock that aren’t sick is exposing us all to ever more lethal antibiotic-resistant illnesses. Jonathan Safran Foer’s ebook, Eating Animals, exposes these and different truths about our meals production system.
If any of the above leads you to consider that I feel america is in worse shape than different nations, you may contemplate the neglected issues I’d determine, say, in Bangladesh or Tanzania. For those who don’t know from direct remark, take my word for it: they’re in far worse shape than we are. Even with a dysfunctional, narcissistic, compulsive liar within the Oval Office and a deeply divided Congress.
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