Sunday, April 24, 2011

American Exceptionalism - The Myth

Last night I dreamed that I was on a wonderful carnival ride, one of those big swings that goes round and round, undulating up and down so you feel like you are flying.  It seemed like it was getting out of control but I managed to get off and when I did, I was so dizzy, the ride had disappeared and I ran frantically around to find my children and say goodbye before I hopped on a motorscooter (very unlike me, I'm terrified of them) and left, zooming down a barren dirt road, feeling oddly exhilarated.

But I woke very sad, wishing I could persuade my family to get out of this country before it becomes too late, which could happen very quickly - it's impossible to predict which of so many potential and inevitable disasters will hit when, and where.  I was thinking, if only I could get them to go to New Zealand.  Of course, no place will be safe when the methane clathrates blow, but relocating could buy some precious time of relative civility while the US devolves into social bankruptcy and chaos.

So by coincidence before my coffee was even finished perking this morning, I came across an excellent analysis published on Alternet, comparing the American public's perception of our hallowed position in the world with some actual statistics, which is well worth reading in full - "We're Number One - Ten Depressing Ways America is Exceptional."

For a graphic view, below are the charts from the end of the article - the only one I would have added is  a comparison of the number of privately owned guns per capita.  Now that number, as well as our attitude of entitlement and arrogance, is essential to understand what is going to happen when a critical mass of people find they cannot possibly afford food (even processed junk food), gas and housing.

Update:  A quote from comments at Alternet attributed to CIA "Economic Hit Man" John Perkins (to which I would include that we live our lifestyles ONLY because we commit crimes against future generations):

What most Americans do not really understand or admit is: we are living our lifestyles ONLY because it is part of a very, very Vicious system of exploitation that dehumanizes and enslaves people everywhere….this is our Project of Empire..we are the world’s largest empire in history..and we have gotten away with building this empire through manipulation, torture, blackmail, assassinations, fomenting insurrections and instabilities against countries uncooperative to our WILL and the will of our Chamber of Commerce…

Note, the above chart stops at 2006, before the wave of foreclosures!


  1. I went to see Bill Maher in Asheville on Friday night and he was citing the same 10 statistics of American "Exceptionalism." At least when he was talking about it, it seemed funny.

    Unfortunately, there are some people in this country who are inclined to believe in fairy tales. They walk around feeling secure in their delusions until the proverbial s**t hits the fan, then they say, "oh well, it was the will of God."

  2. Yeah, or in the case of New Orleans, they were being punished for tolerating teh gays.

  3. I think using the words 'class warfare' puts shudders in right wingers. The words terrify them, something that they can't control. It's like talking about sex, something just not done in polite company.

    I was told 'it's destructive.'

    But destroying the whole parts of the planetary ecosystem with mineral extraction, drilling, and fracking, in the name of making more money is NOT destructive?

    I say we've always had CLASS WARFARE and the really rich have always gotten the upper hand by denying it exists or by refusing to discuss it.

    Class warfare may end in destructive revolution, but continuing business as usual and continuing to burn fossil fuels will end with even greater destruction: the 6th mass extinction.

    "At any time we are only 6 meals away from anarchy". And the really rich better not forget it. If the really rich should start sharing some of their great wealth with the general population it might do wonders for their image.

    Their image could use some polishing in my mind, and in a growing segment of the population's.

    It's not wealth envy, it's class warfare.

  4. /whole/still intact/

    the still intact parts of the planetary ecosystem

    My proof reader is a retired air traffic controller.


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