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Paul Buchheit
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 1 October 2012
“At higher educational levels, Americans are paying much more than students in other countries.”

Seven Deadly American Sins

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The list doesn't include our most grievous offenses, those of military and economic warfare against the rest of the world. Sinful enough is our behavior at home. 

1. Sin against children

Perhaps "sanctity of life" ends at birth. According to Census Bureau figures, one out of every five American children lives in poverty. For blacks and Hispanics, it's one out of every three.

UNICEF has reported that the U.S. has a higher child poverty rate than every industrialized country except Romania. We are near the bottom in all measures of inequality that affect our children, including material well-being, health, and education. 

2. Sin against the poor

The U.S. poverty rate grew from 11.3% to 15.0%, a 33% jump, in just 11 years. The impact was felt primarily by minorities and women. The median wealth for single black and Hispanic women is shockingly low, at just over $100 (compared to $41,500 for single white women). 

Another shock. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent. 

Despite the continued economic assault on already-poor Americans, the number of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cases has dropped by 60 percent over the last 16 years. 

3. Sin against students

Students at all levels have been losing their nation's support. States reduced their education budgets by $12.7 billion in 2012, and in 2013 the majority of states will be spending even less

At higher educational levels, Americans are paying much more than students in other countries. Only 38% of college expenses come from public funding, compared to 70% across other OECD countries. While other nations continue to offer free tuition, with the recognition that education leads to long-term prosperity, the U.S. system has become more corporatized, to the point that expensive programs like nursing, engineering, and computer science have been eliminated to cut costs. The profit motive has blocked the path to academic excellence. 

4. Sin against the middle class

The middle class is shrinking. In 2011, according to a Pew Research analysis, 51% of the nation's households earned from two-thirds to double the national median income. In the 1970s it was 61%. 

One-quarter of America's workers are now making less than $22,000 a year, the poverty line for a family of four. 

Thirty million Americans are making between $7.25 (minimum wage) and $10.00 per hour. 

With the transition of middle-class workers to low-income status, entrepreneurship is disappearing. Innovation doesn't come from the upper class. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds. Small business creators come from the hard-working, risk-taking, nothing-to-lose middle of America, but their entrepreneurial numbers are down -- over 50% since 1977. 

5. Sin against the common good

A recent Tax Justice Network report placed total hidden offshore assets at somewhere between $21 trillion and $32 trillion. With about 40% of the world's Ultra High Net Worth Individuals in the U.S., up to $12.8 trillion of untaxed revenue sits overseas. Based on a historical 6% rate of return, this is a tax loss of up to $300 billion per year, money that should be paying for the public needs of education and infrastructure. 

Tax avoidance is so appealing that 1,700 Americans renounced their citizenships last year. Like Eduardo Saverin, who benefited from America's research and technology and security to take billions from his 4% share in Facebook, and then skipped out on his tax bill. 

Inexplicably, some have defended Saverin's actions, apparently failing to recognize one's obligation to pay for societal benefits. A Forbes writer said, "When individuals resist governmental hubris, we should exalt their actions." The American Thinker blog argued that "the U.S. tax code is so oppressive that smart and successful people like Saverin are compelled to renounce citizenship in order to keep more of their own hard-earned wages." Hard-earned, in truth, by the thousands of contributers to his social networking success. 

6. Sin against nature

A number of studies show that investment in renewable energy will create many more jobs than the fossil fuel industry. And the investment will likely pay off. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis determined that "renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050." 

But now the prospect of cheap natural gas is leading us back to a dirty form of energy independence, with a continuing reliance on fossil fuels, and on the fracking technology that despoils our land and pollutes our water. The national commitment and political will needed for the long-term health of our nation is more elusive than ever. 

7. Sin against common sense

The deception began, at least in the modern age, with Milton Friedman, who said "The free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people...He moves fastest who moves alone." 

This unflagging adherence to free-enterprise individualism is consistent with Social Darwinism, the belief that survival of the fittest (richest) will somehow benefit society, and that the millions of people suffering from financial malfeasance are simply lacking the motivation to help themselves. Social Darwinism is a feel-good delusion for those at the top. Or, as described by John Kenneth Galbraith, a continuing "search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." 

A tenet of progressivism is that a strong society will create opportunities for a greater number of people, thereby leading to more instances of individual success. This is the common sense attitude suppressed by conservatives for over 30 years.

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ABOUT Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

Patt, Sadly, Black slaves

Sadly, Black slaves used to be considered "property" (not a Person").
That allowed the Owners to do whatever they wanted: Sell the Black man, beat the Black man, even Kill the Black man. You can call an unborn Human baby anything you want. It is still an unborn Human baby. You, I assume, are an adult Human.
No one should be allowed to take the life of any Human. Period. (Yes, I do NOT believe in Capital Punishment).
Our society should be Humane enough to provide ANY parents ANY support they need to carry the baby to term . Government AND/OR Non-government agencies are in every state and, I'm sure, every major city in the country.

Retailers have a lot to do

Retailers have a lot to do with whether goods are manufactured here or abroad. The manufacturer of Huffy bicycles moved to China partly because the market there for bikes was huge and labor was cheap, but also because Wal-Mart wanted to buy chep bikes, thus devastating manufacturers who wouldn't play ball.
#4. "Small business creators come from the hard-working, risk-taking, nothing-to-lose middle of America." So do a relatively few, such as engineers, who learn from established professionals so they can work for other professionals to build what somebody else invented. So do mechanics who get training from communnity colleges and auto manufacturers. So do chefs and cabinetmakers who serve as apprentices to learn their trades.
Entrepreneurs are badly overrated. Most self-styled "entrpreneurs" just try to convince potential buyers that they have a "silver" bullet" that will cure some obscure malady. Remember "restless leg syndrome"? Remember timeshare sales? Now that some previously popular vacation spots are getting bad press due to drug violence, some people claim that no timeshares are worth anything, so owners should pay them to take them off their hands.
As long as there is a sucker born every minute, there will always be an oversupply of snake-oil salesmen who call themselves "entrepreneurs." Some of the most worthless people I know sell insurance, real estate, financial advice, and home insulation.

All Americans should be very

All Americans should be very interested in Sin # 7. There is so
much consternation about the very rich parking their fortunes
off-shore and there is a simple solution. If the U.S. enacted
a Vat Tax (National Sales Tax) this would enable the U.S. to
repeal the income tax code for everyone. The very rich would
no longer need to keep their money outside the country and
the rest of us would not have payroll taxes deducted from our
paychecks. A 7% Vat Tax would be sufficient to fund the
current Federal budget (if we had one) without adding anything
further to the national debt. The tax would be added to the
existing state and local sales tax and the total tax percentage
added to the sticker price of anything for sale. We would know
the total of our purchase before we go to the register. The
current income tax code would be repealed and the 7% would
be sufficient to replace it. There are a number of Senators and
Congressmen who would support this if the bickering could
stop and they could convince the rest to do what is in the best
interest of the people. This would truly contribute to the common
good of the country and would bring huge sums of money back
to U.S. soil.

The VAT is just another

The VAT is just another corporate tax that is passed on to the consumer. The income tax is the best of all taxes. People with little income pay little tax (remember the 47%?). All other taxes just make everything more expensive or cause people to lose their homes. The property tax is just a way to coerce homeowners to keep paying rent to the state to live in a deteriorating asset for the rest of their lives, and then pass the burden on to their heirs.

8. Sin of voting for this or

8. Sin of voting for this or that evil

Democrats advertise hope, but they deliver despair.

The "progressives" are the liberals who keep voting for the corporate party's Democrats so they can keep protesting against what they keep voting for.

Oh, one more thing. Since

Oh, one more thing. Since when did the President have the power to appropriate moneys? He can only suggest... it is the Congress that pays the bills (or not).

to Chris Wilborn "#1 Why

to Chris Wilborn "#1 Why NOT count all the Unborn humans that are aborted/killed every day in America ! Yes, the Sanctity of Life is THE most important of our "Sins". Before and after birth."

You have a very mixed bag of moral issues but the first is the most glaring.
According to your logic, a shopper, who wanted to buy three pounds of chicken, would be forced to take a dozen eggs instead and wait for the chicken to be born. After all... eggs are unborn chickens... right?

HOW can you compare a human

HOW can you compare a human to a chicken ? !
But, yes an egg is an unborn chicken ! Last time I checked, it is not immoral to eat either a chicken or a chickens egg.
Ask any pregnant women: she is expecting a "baby" . It goes without saying "a human baby". If she was unsure, humans would have a real problem.
Are You unsure ? Think about it . You were an unborn child at one time .
Your birth (leaving your mothers womb) did not change your human status.

Your pregnant woman is

Your pregnant woman is 'expecting' a child. She does not have one yet. What she has is a zygote.

"I don't know why they call

"I don't know why they call it 'common sense.' They should call it 'uncommon sense,' because if it were so common, more people would have it!"

--- Tim McCarver, baseball announcer

#1 Why NOT count all the

#1 Why NOT count all the Unborn humans that are aborted/killed every day in America ! Yes, the Sanctity of Life is THE most important of our "Sins". Before and after birth.
#2 Sad. But, I am sure that the largest part of this increase has come in the last three years. More people are now on Foodstamps than ever before. Obama owns this economy. His desire to make the Federal Government the sole controller of the economy, has brought the American economy to it's knees.
What he proposes might work (not very well) in Europe, but will never work in the USA. Just like Democracy would probably never work in China and Russia.
#3 It is the LACK of the Capitalistic principal of paying the Best teachers the best pay that has kept our quality standards so low. The NEA has successfully kept this from happening.
#4 Assuming that these stats are correct : The USA still has one of the highest percentages of Middle Class and the Best way to increase the size of the Middle Class is for the Federal Government to get out the way. Less rules and Regulations, Taxes, etc., would get Small Business's moving, the economy would start chugging along AND "All boats would rise."
Obama taking out the work rules in Welfare, will Only hold back the poor from taking the chance of going out and looking for a job. NO ONE wants every poor person to go out and look for a job, but not requiring those that can to at least look and take some job, any job, they many , many times wont. And they will stay poor .
#5 "Sin against common good " ? I must admit, I can't disagree with everything he writes. Yes, it's almost a sin that the Feds don't reduce taxes and a lot more would not pay-up and not go to such outrageous (costly) methods to avoid paying the "highest corporate taxes in the world".
#6 "Studies show..." Those studies are in the vast minority. Someday, someday way off in the future, maybe, but the technology is just not there , Even after billions dumped into the many failed companies That just happened to donate millions to Obama.
" natural gas is leading us back to a dirty form of energy independence.." This is an interesting choice of words considering that natural gas is the cleanest form of fuel . In my opinion, Wind and solar power farms, both despoil the views of our Natural Landscape.
#7 VERY Interesting : "the fittest" somehow equals the "(richest)". As a small businessman, IF I survive in this Obama economy, I am part of the "fittest" and I will consider myself a member of the "richest", only because I am a citizen of the best country on this planet. Finally, I agree with his last paragraph except it is the Progressives that have tried to block this "common sense attitude" that has worked for over 200 years ! One of our country's founders said it best : “The best government is that which governs least” .



Sure, let's have a government that governs least, meaning everything should be deregulated so the Holy Market can distribute rewards as it sees fit (meaning upward), while the hoi polloi have lead and mercury in their water, pesticides in their GMO food, college tuitions out of reach, and the broadcast industry airing lies and propaganda under the guise of "fair and balanced."

But hey, isn't that what we have already? Guess the Reagan Miracle really set things up fine for the corporations, and now we have a Supreme Court that allows them to buy the public airways to keep it that way.

Obama owns the economy? He can't even get bills passed by the Tea Party House of Representatives! When did a president ever "own" the economy in America?

Natural gas the cleanest form of fuel? If you're talking about Fossil Fuel, that may be true, but it's not the cleanest form of ENERGY.

Oh, so you want the view of the "Natural Landscape" to be unspoiled, so more CO2 can be added to the greenhouse gasses, the excess of which is now threatening the survival of civilization as we know it? Wow! You have a lopsided sense of values, Chris.

We have to wean ourselves from the use of fossil fuels. Its earlier abundance, and relative cheapness, created a population explosion that now threatens our resources and bio-diversity, and since its availability is shrinking rapidly, and can't be renewed, it behooves us to look for renewable sources of energy that we can always count on, and will not threaten the very existence of life on the planet.

I have a son who is also a small businessman, and yet his values are quite different from yours. He works hard, delegates when he can, and is making a profit in a spartan economy. He doesn't consider it an Obama economy, but a Bush and "compassionate conservative" hangover from the riotous years of launching unpaid wars while handing out tax cuts for the 1% and government contracts to non-bidding buddies to rebuild the Iraq that his unwarranted invasion destroyed. Even McCain had the honesty to say that the Bush Congress was "spending money like a drunken sailor."

Obama just inherited the whole sorry mess of a monumental deficit and an economy that was in free-fall. Bush and his allies in Congress wrecked our economy and federal budget for years to come, and they had 8 years of free-wheeling handouts to do it in. And let's not forget, he GREW the government, whereas Clinton actually shrank it. When conservatives say they like "smaller government," that's a code that means, "don't saddle me with concerns about the safety or welfare of my fellow Americans; just let ME make money for MYSELF!"

You've had your brain laundered by Faux New and its well-paid yammering male prostitutes. Your declamation of ME-FIRST values, here and on other posts is astounding. Your quote of the Reagan mantra that "government should get out of the way" is dated, and what we have right now is the fruition of those principles over the past 30 years.

2. Obama owns the economy? Do

2. Obama owns the economy? Do you not understand that it is the legislative branch that passes laws? Both, however, are owned by the corporations, so I think your angst is too narrowly focused.

3. Is the lack of capitalistic principle of (not) giving the best teachers the best pay applicable to the CEOs of the big banks? They were paid most generously for not performing at all, or worse, for performing criminally.

4. No one took the work rules out of welfare. No one.

5. As an individual, I'd gladly file as a corporation to pay what are among the highest corporate taxes in the world, and I'd hire GE's accountant. Then I'd pay $0. The corporations don't need to go to outrageous lengths to avoid taxes; it's built into the tax code for them.

6. Wind and solar power farms despoil the views of our natural landscape? You didn't mention mountaintop removal to get at all that coal. In my opinion, that's even uglier.

#2 You should know that the

#2 You should know that the President proposes a budget and it is voted on in the Senate. Obama had a Democrat for the first two years of his presidency.
His most recent budget was REJECTED by Both Houses Unanimously ! Does that say that it was not popular by even his own party ! He certainly has been paid a bunch by Many Corporations.
#3 If the CEO's did not produce some good they would be kicked out. Low profits do not always mean that a CEO has not provided high paychecks and dividends. Other than that, I do not begin to understand the Corporate world.
#4 Stop listening to JUST the National News Media. It happened . It is just that the States rules are changed : it is no longer a requirement. That is another way of saying "it is not required by the Federal Government"
#5 GE doesn't pay taxes (like many other Corps) because Obama has given them so many New loopholes. And you are worried about Capitalists, I would worry about Obama who is enabling the Tax-evaders.
#6 Tell where that is currently happening .... I can tell you all sorts of places where the wind farms are despoiling the "pristine views".
Nice try, have a good and profitable day !

Mr. Wilborn, you do love to

Mr. Wilborn, you do love to slurp up the lies.
#2-Obama never had the super majority to get things done:
#3-they were paid their bonuses because the were 'contractual', not earned.
#5-Obama built in the tax loopholes? Uh, maybe you need to go back to google.

As far as the other points, the function of this site, when responding, does not allow one to go back to earlier comments while responding.

WOW, a Pro-Life Capitalist.

WOW, a Pro-Life Capitalist. Talk about your conflict of interest !

Every Pro-Lifer I know

Every Pro-Lifer I know (well-off financially and not-so well-off) is a Capitalist.
Being Pro-Life means that we believe biological facts that an unborn human is still Human. Unborn children are being born successfully earlier and earlier.
It is our societies job to protect the weakest from those that would do them harm. (Does that sound like a compassionate Capitalist ?)
That is why Pro-Lifers offer assistance to BOTH born and new born babies.
Being Capitalist does NOT mean profits at any cost. Some Capitalist are immoral , JUST like some Socialists. That is why we have laws and those laws need to be enforced . IF, the laws allow for immoral actions in day-to-day activities, new laws need to be enacted . BUT, "profits" should never be outlawed. If that were the case , You would not be allowed to change jobs for higher pay . THAT is an important part of a Capitalist Society.

Hey Richard, Sorry, I 'm just

Hey Richard, Sorry, I 'm just leaving work will reply tomorrow.

People like Eduardo Saverin

People like Eduardo Saverin should be on a persona non grata list for entry into the U.S. even as a visitor.

He earned his money here; he chose to renounce his citizenship rather than pay his fair and just taxes; he no longer has any right to anything this country has to offer.

He's far from the only one.

He's far from the only one. Those company's that shipped their jobs to China thereby wrecking whole communities in this country and throwing workers and their families overboard after they trained their foreign replacements and then headquartered in the Bahamas to avoid paying taxes in this country should be denied access to their gated mansions in this country. All of them fit nicely into that category labeled Capitalist Parasites !

We saw this happen on a small

We saw this happen on a small scale starting in the late 1960's in a place called Detroit, MI. Investment $$ stopped coming into the city proper and those $$ were redirected into the suburbs. The motives were, in part, racially based. But then there was all this cheap, lower taxed land just begging to be "improved". Non-minorities and the few minorities who could afford to leave Detroit, did so. As more of the middle class ended up in the suburbs, more businesses went to be with their customer base. This left the poor and those unable or unwilling to move stranded. This took 30-some years but we see the effects clearly today. Lest we forget, state government was a clear supporter of this and so was George Romney. So Mitt did not fall that far from the tree.

Now expand this to a national scale. For the past 30 years, government has been working very hard to push business investments to any country just as long as it is not the US. And this time, racial minorities have become the have-nots of all sorts of ethincities, colours, etc. Just like Detroit, those with the means are leaving the country or forming areas (new fangled suburbs of sorts) that are insulated from the "others". Just as it was with Detroit, those outside the city limits said "Rot in Hell for all we care. If you were hard workers (at that time and white) you would be with us out here in the 'burbs."

All Seven Deadly Sins were played out in Detroit and after 20 successful years there, the ruling class took the plan nationwide. And no, Detroit was not the only city in the '60's in the kill-the-union-minority-cities by de-invenstment program, it just was the most successful in terms of destroying the fabric of society, the physical city, and it even took down the whole state. I doubt a nuclear bomb would been this effective in killing Detroit and essentially the state.

As a country we are now at the point of no return. We need bold leadership and the spine to say no more. We the People (not corp-people) are in charge and the rules have changed. Our government must once again be For the People, By the People, and Of the People. We must rebuild our middle class or we will see vast areas of the country devastated by economic de-investment neutron bombs with small suburban like areas, where the super rich live well protected from the "others".

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