Over a decade ago, 1992 to be exact, Donald Bartlett and James Steele published the book, “America, What Went Wrong”. The book is a treatise on the virtual gutting of our democracy by unrestrained corporate greed exercised through the exploitation of our political system.
The book catalogs how, over the previous decade, the salaries of those earning $200,000 to $1 million increased 697%, those earning over $1 million increased 2,184%, while the salaries of the working schmucks increased only 44%. That was in 1992 – what are that chances that things have improved, as we stare into the gaping maw of the 2008 recession?
This book, and others like it, hardly made a ripple in the public consciousness. They try to document, for an increasingly illiterate and disinterested population, the dismantling of our pension system, the skyrocketing increase in the medically uninsured and the systematic deconstruction of the American Middle Class.
We now live in an America where (1) over 41% of our population believes (still) that Saddam Hussein is responsible for the 9/11 attack on New York and Washington and almost half believe that (2) Biological Evolution is false because it contradicts the literal interpretation of the Bible.
This America, this great experiment in democracy as it was considered by our founding fathers, is poised on the brink of eminent failure. A do-nothing citizenry has opted out of participating in its destiny, instead blithely handing over our future to anyone who will do our thinking for us. To politicians and businessmen (frequently the same thing) who we will blindly follow as long as they continue to tell us what we want to hear: That everything’s alright and will be better tomorrow. We, the People, so desperately want to believe the lie.
I am a Baby Boomer, a child of the 1950’s. I grew up in a time of hope and progress. It was a time when we matured into an America that we thought could do better. We ended a war that our fathers started, sending their children to death in Viet Nam, based on a lie. We put a stop to the degradation of a part of our population denied full privilege of the American Dream because of the color of their skin. We freed sexuality from the darkness of myth and false morality and found a new way to love.
But the powers that spin this globe have become out of our control. Some of us lost our way and are part of the forces that now threaten to end our Great Experiment. Most of us are simply too busy trying to survive to see the bigger picture; we hang on, white-knuckled least we lose our grip and swept by the current into bankruptcy and poverty.
I believe that our generation, the Baby Boomers, will have been witness to the best time America has ever had, or ever will again, during its short history on this planet. But we Boomers are the lucky ones, we will be “checking out” about the time things get really bad. We are sad, for our kids and our grandkids. We don’t know if they will have the strength to pick up the pieces of America when it finally breaks.