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Thu

16

Aug

2007

Voices from the Wilderness
Thursday, 16 August 2007 22:43
by Paul J. Balles

What's wrong with America (excluding Canada and Mexico)?

Isn't "America" the great place that everyone yearns to immigrate to? Judging from recent debates about immigration policies, the US is facing difficulty keeping Mexicans from invading the country.

For some, America is a better place to live than their home countries. I've heard successful businessmen praise the US for its diversity and ease of doing business. That diversity involves everything from cities full of entertainment and shopping facilities to farms and deserts and inviting mountains, lakes and streams.

A prominent Arab businessman told me that it was easier to do business in the US than in his home country. He said that he could go to America tomorrow and set up a business within a few days, whereas it would take months to get through his local bureaucracy at home.

After 38 years in the Middle East, it still amazes me that people here want to leave a homeland with no income taxes, where education and medical care are free, the price of petrol is low, housing loans are easy to get with low interest; and those who get a good education and are willing to work hard have well-paid jobs and opportunities for advancement.

I've heard politicians in the West say that “people want to come to America because of our freedom." No one seems to ask what kind of freedom is so alluring. Of course, a Palestinian living under the guns and behind the walls of the Israeli Defence Forces would look toward freedom from apartheid or worse.

A number of years ago, an academic acquaintance went to America to enjoy academic freedom there. She'd had trouble in the Middle East for speaking her mind about sensitive political issues. I hope she doesn't mind having her phone tapped when she calls family and friends here. She will.
She had also better not offend the major lobbies in the USA or she might find herself in the same boat with Victoria Fontan who was fired from Cornell University after a press release said she was "embedded in one of Iraq's resistance groups."

Some young men have admired the freedom in the West to date girls, something that's not easy to do in the Middle East. Young lovers can get in trouble in this part of the world, just for being lovers. In the West, they find a freedom to go to bed with girls who are loose and easy, saving their praise for the virginity of their Middle Eastern wives and the hereafter.

When you ask most people in the Middle East what freedoms appeal to them in America, they never speak of the kinds of freedoms that are major issues today or concerns about those freedoms that were incorporated into the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

So what's wrong with America? Here are a few of the astute voices from the wilderness:

Craig Winters, from New Mexico, says:

Multinational corporations sell our jobs to the lowest overseas bidders. The credit industry preys on our poor. The for-profit healthcare system is the leading cause of bankruptcy while hospitals dump indigent patients on skid row. Our country's infrastructure is breaking down from New Orleans levees to Minnesota bridges even as we are mired in a war that drowns us in debt and advances only the interests of big oil and arms merchants.

Another voice from the wilderness, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich writes from Southern California:

The demon of greed never seems to get enough. Over 1 million dead Iraqis - with Dick Cheney's old company KBR/Halliburton being the prime benefactor of theft, Mr. Cheney now has his eyes on Iran. More bodies, dead ones, are needed for the task. Once again, his old company, KBR/Halliburton, not only comes to the rescue, but benefits from the deal.

This cogent observation comes from Chris Floyd, American journalist based in the wilderness of the UK:

Most people persist in believing that the Bush Administration has "mishandled" or "bungled" the war in Iraq, when in fact they have achieved almost all of their goals. They have vastly enriched their cronies. They have installed a U.S. military presence in Iraq. They have expanded the size, power and scope of the armed forces and the intelligence services (which now have their own secret armies) beyond the wildest dreams of the most hawkish Cold War militarist. They have not only gutted the Constitution but proved that you can get away with it — an invaluable lesson for dictators to come.

From the wilderness of Washington comes the voice of journalist Mike Whitney:

The contamination from the massive real estate bubble has now infected nearly every area of the broader market. The swindle which began at the Federal Reserve — with cheap, low interest credit — has spread through the entire system and is threatening to wreak financial havoc across the planet. The Fed's multi-billion dollar bailout will do nothing to contain the brushfire they started or avert the catastrophe that lies just ahead.

Paul Craig Roberts, economist and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, said that it's old-line Republicans like himself who are the diehards in warning of the danger.

It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power. There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way.

Americans think their danger is terrorists. They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism.

These voices point to only some of the things that are wrong with America today. There’s more, but none of it will get corrected by apathetic people who remain unconcerned and uncommitted in a deafening silence.

These are powerful voices coming from the wilderness. They're all revolutionaries worth following and worthy of guiding, each a true patriot, a modern version of an American founding father and pamphleteer Thomas Paine. They tell unpleasant truths about what’s wrong with America. They’re voices for change, for an America worth immigrating too.

George Orwell, author of Brave New World, observed, "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
 
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a guest said:

0
George Orwell
George Orwell wrote 1984
Brave New World was Aldous Huxley
 
August 17, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

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...
You're absolutely right. Thanks for the correction. My apologies. Advancing years temporarily diluted memory precision of two prophetic futurists.
 
August 17, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

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...
I was fired from Colgate, not Cornell. Great article! Victoria Fontan
 
August 22, 2007
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