The United States is headed down­hill

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Over the Fourth of July week­end, many Amer­i­cans take some time out to think about their coun­try. This year, those thoughts might not be as fes­tive as in the past be­cause the United States is in de­cline.

A new Associated Press poll says that 80 per­cent of Amer­i­cans be­lieve the econ­omy is in bad shape, and they are cor­rect. With each pass­ing hour, Amer­ica’s $14.4 tril­lion debt rises with no end in sight. Tight money has crip­pled the hous­ing in­dus­try, and Wall Street’s lack of con­fi­dence in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­tard­ing busi­ness ex­pan­sion. Thus, fewer jobs are be­ing cre­ated in the pri­vate mar­ket­place.

Wash­ing­ton has not been able to stem the grim eco­nomic tide be­cause of ide­ol­ogy. The pres­i­dent and most Democrats be­lieve more gov­ern­ment con­trol of the econ­omy and higher taxes on the af­flu­ent will im­prove the sit­u­a­tion. Repub­li­cans are de­mand­ing smaller gov­ern­ment, no tax in­creases and less fed­eral reg­u­la­tion. The stale­mate is hurt­ing the folks, no ques­tion about it.

A poor eco­nomic out­look erodes power, both per­sonal and gov­ern­men­tal. One of the rea­sons Pres­i­dent Obama cited for “draw­ing down” troops in Afghanistan was eco­nomic. He wants to spend more money at home in lieu of nation build­ing in Afghanistan. That may be a good thing, but it is not a strong thing. A cash-strapped Amer­ica spells weak­ness to the rest of the world.

On the cul­tural front, things are also go­ing down­hill. Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are now ad­dicted to the In­ter­net, spend­ing count­less hours play­ing games and Twit­ter­ing their lives away. What was first en­vi­sioned as tech­no­log­i­cal re­cre­ation has now be­come a life­style for many, es­pe­cially younger peo­ple. The ma­chines are dom­i­nat­ing lives, leav­ing lit­tle time to ex­plore the real world and de­velop off­line re­la­tion­ships.

On the en­ter­tain­ment front, cheap re­al­ity TV pro­grams show­case the worst of hu­man na­ture. Crude dis­plays, greed, nar­cis­sism and sadis­tic im­pulses are all cel­e­brated nightly on the tube. Where once the coun­try ap­pre­ci­ated great writers like Hem­ing­way and Twain, now peo­ple like Snooki are be­ing paid tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to speak on col­lege cam­puses. “The Sit­u­a­tion” is right. There is a sit­u­a­tion. And it’s ap­palling.

Obama of­ten laments the grow­ing gap be­tween the rich and the rest of Amer­ica. And it’s true. A for­tu­nate few are able to ride cap­i­tal­ism to the ex­treme, liv­ing lives of in­cred­i­ble lux­ury. But there is also a grow­ing cul­tural di­vide. The masses are be­ing fed elec­tronic garbage 24/7 in the form of hos­tile mu­sic, gross-out movies and the afore­men­tioned re­al­ity TV atroc­i­ties.

Mean­while, a se­lect few are be­ing in­tensely ed­u­cated at amaz­ingly ex­pen­sive high-end uni­ver­si­ties. They will be the fu­ture Mas­ters of the Uni­verse. Most other Amer­i­cans will just get by.

This de­press­ing sce­nario is not how a nation ex­pands its power. Amer­ica be­came the most pow­er­ful coun­try on earth be­cause its peo­ple pulled to­gether eco­nom­i­cally and fought world­wide to cre­ate free­dom and dig­nity for those less for­tu­nate.

Now, we are run­ning out of money to fight the good fights, and we are frac­tur­ing along class lines.

This is not what the United States should be.

E pluribus unum? Not this Fourth of July.

Bill O’Reilly is au­thor of the book “Pin­heads and Pa­tri­ots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama”.

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