America has deep, structural problems that have calcified over the past few decades. Polls repeatedly show that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the current political system, economy, direction of the country, and many of the foundational institutions. However, paying lip service to reforms and marginally tweaking a few policies will not eliminate the underlying decay, which will only continue to accelerate. Here are four dark secrets that Americans must confront and resolve if they want to drive substantial progress.
There is no Democracy
President Lincoln defined democracy as “of the people, by the people, for the people.” That obviously doesn’t apply to the U.S.A. anymore. The government is made of millionaire politicians, run by corporate lobbyists, and makes policies for the plutocrats.
You can vote all you want, but even well-intentioned politicians cannot push through meaningful reforms. This is because of what Francis Fukuyama calls “Vetocracy.” This is the ability of the rich and the powerful to veto anything they don’t like. You can already see this in action with the Biden administration – corporate taxes, student loan forgiveness, $15 minimum wage, infrastructure spending etc. have all been thwarted or diluted.
A Princeton study looked at bills covering 1700 public policies over three decades. And the summary of the research: The rich win and the masses lose.
Americans don’t even have the freedom to vote for a viable third-party candidate because the oligarchs are too lazy to manage more than two puppets. DNC and RNC are undemocratic private entities that carefully screen the candidates to eliminate anyone who might challenge the status quo.
There is no Free Market
In a free market, there is no manipulation of money supply, the government doesn’t bailout enterprises, and corporations are independent entities. None of this is true in the U.S. anymore.
The Federal Reserve creates trillions of dollars out of thin air and sets the interest rates that are vital to the economy. This is a centrally planned economy where visible hands pull all the levers. The money creation, financial engineering, rigged Wall Street, and the exploding debt have transformed capitalism into a joke.
Think about this for a moment: If the government borrowed $1, should the GDP go up by at least $1? Yes. Ideally, it should be a lot more, as the government should make smart investments and the country should also have natural growth. However, last year, the government borrowed more than $3 trillion, while the GDP went down. If you think it’s somehow because of the COVID-19 pandemic, look at the data for 2009-2019. In that decade, the cumulative rise in GDP was $7 trillion. And the rise in federal debt? $11 trillion! It’s like a blackhole – put in $11 and get $7 back. Trillions of dollars are being siphoned off into the oligarchs’ (offshore?) bank accounts, while the American public is left holding the bag for the debt. However, greed has no limit. As new leaked IRS files show, billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bloomberg often pay $0 in federal income tax.
As I wrote in an article a couple of years ago, all public corporations in the U.S. are linked to one another through a cloud of board of directors as well as a handful of giant shareholders. Thus, there is no real competition either – instead, we have virtual monopolies or oligopolies with the same owners. All public corporations might as well just change their names to One Corp.
Mainstream media also come under this network of corporations. Thus, the media is no longer the independent agency that acts as the watchdog. Instead, it’s a corporation of stenographers who write what they are told in a way that maximizes clicks for ad revenues.
Omnipresent Spins and Lies
The popular TV show “Mad Men” explores the rise of the marketing culture. Now, everyone is a mad man – journalists, analysts, lawyers, lobbyists, scientists, experts, and politicians. The concept of “perception is reality” has been thoroughly democratized and internalized by everyone. There is no truth, it’s all just opinions and spins.
And this has real consequences – for example, financial analysts and journalists cheered the housing bubble that ended disastrously in 2008; warmongering experts lied about the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq; Big Pharma scientists fudge the data to sell new expensive pills; GMO scientists hide the long-term effects; and economists lie about all kinds of statistics – inflation, unemployment, debt, asset bubbles, and the sustainability of the entire system.
Everyone is a sales person in our system. People who are politically shrewd know what their superiors want, what sells, and how facts should be spun. Conflicts of interest abound, but as Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding.” As I explain in my new book “China, China, Chyyna – Greatest Disruption to American Century,” groupthink blinded China watchers and U.S. tech CEOs from foreseeing the re-emergence of China and still prevents them from acknowledging the strengths of the China model. When everybody is wrong, nobody is wrong.
Of course, in an environment of misinformation and disinformation, the best strategy to win is through sensationalism. Facts are boring and unconvincing. Hence the rise of “American jihadism.” In a rational world, we would discuss policies such as minimum wage, healthcare, taxes, cost of living, immigration, student loans, debt etc. as topics of economics and math. Instead, such logical matters are turned into ideological battles where emotional slogans and soundbites win debates. Your choices are either for or against a phrase — there are no nuanced discussions. For example, if you don’t support “deregulation,” you cannot be a good Republican. Such irrational behavior is why social media had to ban Trump and many of his supporters. However, this censorship only creates more polarization and echo chambers.
Needless to say, more complex matters such as foreign policies are also reduced to childish narratives. If people understand that democracy is fake in America, they will realize that all the wars to “spread democracy” are also fake. Nobody wants to think about why the United States wants to topple all the progressive (leftist) leaders in Latin America; and only countries that don’t host U.S. military bases are portrayed as evil.
When was the last time U.S. elites cried about freedom and democracy in Qatar or Kuwait? But say the word “Hong Kong,” and the U.S. establishment cannot stop sobbing. Furthermore, try to find one BBC or NY Times article that demanded democracy in Hong Kong when it was a British colony.
America hates terrorists unless they are going to wage proxy wars on our behalf. That’s why the Al Qaeda leader in Idlib, Syria, put on a suit and gave an interview for PBS two months ago; and that’s why ETIM – the Uyghur terrorist group that the U.S. bombed three years ago – is now off the terrorist list.
During WW2, communist USSR was an ally. After the war, it suddenly became an enemy and we were told to hate communists. Then Russia gave up its Soviet empire and communism, but is still an enemy. Nixon went to China, Carter normalized relations, and the U.S.-China honeymoon lasted 40 years. Now, suddenly, China is an existential threat. Every day, the media is replete with anti-China hysteria.
It’s not hard for the U.S. to be a peaceful country that doesn’t have grave enemies. If the globalists want, they can create a rapprochement with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela etc. within a year. But American jihadism is essential to control and distract the American public. When will Americans realize that there is no revitalization at home without peace abroad? When will Americans understand the broken democracy and the un-free market? When will Americans detect the relentless propaganda? What America needs is a thorough transformation and a reset of the economic and political systems, which are now on dangerous and unsustainable paths.