Here
and
Now

opinions

America feels ready to snap

55 Comments
By David Paul Kuhn

One day recently in Atlanta: Thousands of people barraged a shopping center. The goal was not to purchase the latest "it" item. It was to attain a public housing application. Folks cut the line. Some children were reportedly trampled. Riot police arrived. The coveted housing slots are for families with an annual income below $16,000.

In southern California, a man's car was being repossessed. The unemployed man rammed a rented U-Haul truck into the tow truck. The man proceeded to barricade himself inside his home. The local SWAT team was called in. Police negotiated with him for hours. He eventually surrendered peacefully.

A JetBlue flight was on the tarmac at New York's JFK airport. A passenger rose to retrieve his luggage while the plane taxied. Veteran flight attendant Steven Slater asked the passenger to sit down. The passenger cursed him out. The luggage, or bin, struck Slater in the head. Reports vary. The two argued. Slater took to the intercom. Let loose his own profane rant. Grabbed a beer. Opened the emergency-evacuation chute and slid away in a blaze of workingman glory.

On the other side of the country, not far from the repo-man standoff, Slater's mother was asked about the incident. "I can understand why he snapped," she said. So can America.

The nation feels ready to snap. Not as a people. But tens of millions are on edge.

Or as Peggy Noonan's recently column was headlined: "America is at risk of boiling over." No columnist captures the American psyche better than Noonan. Yet America has felt on the cusp of boiling over all year. It was last August that town hall meetings erupted across the nation.

That tension only seems to be building. Perhaps it's the disconnect between the country's leaders and its people. The ceaseless tide of foreclosures. Or simply jobs. Most are not coming back.

Long-term joblessness is at the highest level since the Great Depression. Nearly 15 million Americans are unemployed. About 11 million more adults have been relegated to part-time work or given up altogether. Half the nation has no net worth.

Job insecurity is at record levels. In spring, a fifth of workers told Gallup that they believe it is "very" or "fairly" likely that they will lose their jobs in the next year. It was the highest level recorded since the question was first asked in the 1970s.

That means higher rates of personal depression, of stressed families, of physical health issues.

America is stressed out. Much of it, at least. The need for state mental health services has risen as state budgets constrict. In New Jersey, its health crisis units saw a 20 percent increase in demand last year.

Many of those with work are also unhappy. In January, the Conference Board research group found the lowest level of job satisfaction, 45%, in its 22 years of polling the issue. How many Americans wish they could open an emergency exit and quit as Slater did?

The political ramifications are everywhere. The Democratic House might fall in November. The nation has the least confidence in Congress of 16 major institutions. Congress recently earned its lowest confidence rating, 11%, since Gallup first asked the question in the early 1970s. Only 31% of adults believe "the country is better off" than when Obama took office, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Meanwhile, less than half of the public approves of President Obama's management on 12 of 13 issues Gallup regularly polls.

Americans were most displeased with Obama's handling of immigration. No issue is more explosive today. About one in four adults say the number of illegal immigrants in the country makes them feel "angry," according to a CNN poll.

Yet this too cannot be divorced from our economic anxiety. The recession remains the dominant issue of these times. And in hard times, nations turn inward. The outrage over illegal immigration is, in part, a symptom of our national anxiety.

In fact, America has not felt this anxious since the 1970s. It was in 1976 that the movie "Network" made character Howard Beale an icon of disgust. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" the anchorman ranted.

Slater's slide was a Beale moment. He is a metaphor. This nation does not want to take it anymore. It has made Slater America's newest celebrity. Cameras already stalk his every move. Slater told several reporters, "It seems like something here has resonated with a few people."

© RealClearPolitics.com

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
Login to comment

The joys of capitalism. Riches and joy for a few, misery stress and depression for most. Long live the revolution!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Americans get what they deserve. They have been sold a bill of goods by politicians that they will get free stuff if they vote so and so into office.

As far as the dude quitting his job, why is that considered heroic? The guys a tool, and couldn't handle a disgruntled customer. He should've opened a flower shop instead of getting a job where he was going to be dealing with angry passengers for a living.

The American entitlement attitude has gone too far. It's time for a correction, and people to realize they have to earn what they get. Not get it for free from the government.

And the government need to go. They're only exacerbating the problem. The CEO of Intel recently said it's getting harder and harder for businesses to be innovative in America due to excessive regulations and taxes by the government. When the government makes it hard for businesses to innovate (e.g. make new products, hire more people, and stimulate the economy) the economy will naturally shrink as a result.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Idiotic U.S. trade policy lies at the heart of America’s economic decline. In six short decades has transformed U.S. from the world’s top industrial power into a skid row bum. U.S. has become a host economy for badly overpopulated, parasitic economies like China, Japan, Germany, Korea and many others. They feed on U.S. market in a desperate bid to gainfully employ their bloated labor forces.

The real root cause of global trade imbalances is large disparities in population density. Free trade with such nations results in an automatic trade deficit for the U.S. and a shift in manufacturing jobs toward the one more densely populated. Almost without exception, nations with extreme population densities are either very poor or they are utterly dependent on manufacturing for export to maintain a relatively high standard of living. The only solution is a tariff structure on manufactured products that is indexed to population density. U.S. needs to substantially increase tariff for import goods immediately. U.S. really don't need most of the Chinese manufactured goods.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WMD Actually there's no such thing as capitalism in the US. Big businesses are well protected from the downs in the economy by the government. Perhaps if there were true capitalism many would fail, for the better?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Ready" to snap? I thought the concept of "going postal" was invented in the US a long time ago. At least in Japan, when things go bad, people off themselves and the most inconvenience is your train being late. In the US, they take out entire workplaces before going down themselves...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For 20 years the US blithely criticized Japan for its actions after the burst of the bubble in 1990-1991. Now the same thing happens there, and look how fast they pulled out the Japanese play book. What happened the "constructive destruction", let the banks fail, etc. etc. etc. mantras they preached to the Japanese? Nope, took out the Japanse playbook real fast.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another exaggerated over the top article.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Kwaabish: I don't know about what you said. There are plenty of people here who go postal....they just do it with knives instead of guns. And don't forget that guy in Hiroshima recently who rampaged through the Mazda plant where he worked for a short time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No. No. THIS is over the top:

You know, with millions of people ready to SNAP, I am just thankful that they don't have ready access to firearms, because that would make the situation so much worse.

Somebody could seriously get hurt. It is a good thing that Americans, in their wisdom, have shown the restraint to make sure that firearms never get into the hands of people who are unstable or those who might have ill will toward government officials.

Another great thing about the US is the way that they have built a society on egalitarian principles so that there is not much disparity between rich and poor. That would lead to a lot of animosity. Their tackling of drug problems and emphasis on education and health also will help them through these tough times.

It is a culture of peace and non-violence, so I am sure that even though there are a few crazies, it is not a society-wide problem.

Shinjuku-boy: I am not bragging, but I said years ago that I admire Japanese people for the way they have dealt with 20 years of recession following the bubble. I felt that was due to the strong points of Japanese society. I said then that I was very sure that America would not have done better. Well, the US will not come out well after the decade or so of recession that they have set themselves up for. The US will not pull the Japanese play book because they can't. They are already in debt up to their eyeballs, and their "social capital" has been squandered already. It is going to get really nasty.

sfjp: "nations with extreme population densities are either very poor or they are utterly dependent on manufacturing" LOL. Let me see. POOR or DEPENDENT ON MANUFACTURING. Well, that about covers just about all countries, doesn't it? Especially if you want to be vague about it. China's not poor. Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany and others are not poor. Russia has low population density, so it should get no tariffs, is that right? If you figure that a relative lack of land would lead to reliance on capital, well that makes sense, doesn't it? But many of the richest countries have moved beyond manufacturing to services, so how does that fit in?

Gaijinfo: "the government need to go." I think someone has already snapped.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These things are all the inevitable result of overpopulation. There more people there are, the smaller the slice of the pie. The US population has nearly doubled since the end of WW2. World resources have remained the same and people in newly developed economies all want cars and air conditioners, which means the resources the world has left will be consumed at an increasingly faster rate. And AK-47s are so cheap and ubiquitous that the days are over that an imperialist power can send in its troops and grab resources without incurring high casualties. Mr Kuhn is correct to be feeling anxiety for America's future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"In fact, America has not felt this anxious since the 1970s. It was in 1976 that the movie “Network” made character Howard Beale an icon of disgust. “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” the anchorman ranted."

Journalists REALLY love this movie. Is there any NON-journalist posting here who really really liked Network?

I can't believe this guy skates over the whole Reagan revolution, which was founded on tax protests. He also misses Rodney King. Protests about the war and Katrina and all the rest. This guy has to go all the way back to a mid-70s flick to find Americans complaining about something? Puh-leeze.

He ignores other parallels as well. He could have mentioned a Republican president leaving office in disgrace, followed by harried and weak Democrats. Poor economic conditions. Rising crime. Bullying and being bullied by mid-eastern groups and nations. Why did the journalist ignore all of those parallels and just mention some dumb schlocky movie?

Oh yeah. Because every journalist thinks Network was the best movie ever made.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a recession and everyone throws up their arms and wails that the sky is falling and writes silly articles like this. As a matter of fact, when articles like this appear, the recession is more than likely over.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In America you have freedom to cherry picking the over the edge issues. The bottom line is the individual self-esteem and responsibility. I am for certain, there are peoples are ready to snap all over the world. In most dictatorships controlled society such as communism, extreme socialism, citizens do not even have the right to snap or protest because the glorious concentration camp or mental hospital are awaiting. To be human and live like ignorance robots make no sense whatsoever. The wheel of imperfect world will move on until human freedom will be understood by all. Shame to those who promote otherwise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a matter of fact, when articles like this appear, the recession is more than likely over.

Krugman ,Rosenberg and others don't seem to think so.

http://www.helium.com/items/1933168-us-in-economic-great-depression

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, from my perspective things are far from snapping. I had a nice chat with one of my neighbors this morning, had a surprise phone call from an old friend, went to a city park that was full of folks enjoying the beautiful day, playing frisbee, walking their dog. The smell of backyard cookouts in the air this evening. Life is pretty good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article, and the comments here, points out the contrast between Americans and Japanese. Yup, maybe some Americans are ready to snap. But at least they don't allow themselves to simply be lied to and herded around like a bunch of sheep for over 20 years. What has Wa and a cohesive society gotten the average Japanese person? Nothing. Except a dysfunctional and financially-strapped government. Is that better than the U.S.?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article in a nutshell : it sucks to be in America right now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I totally disagree with the author, I'm not going to rant on why it's here or how biased it is. This is the Commentary section. Biased views are allowed here. You can write up a counter-point commentary and submit it if you like. They may even publish it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But at least they don't allow themselves to simply be lied to and herded around like a bunch of sheep for over 20 years.

Americans have been lied to for more like 110 years... and that's a conservative estimate. Even the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbour was -- if you'll excuse the expression -- blown up out of proportion and used to incense the public into going to war against Spain in 1898.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another exaggerated over the top article.

Fully agree, though it sells. People love misery, at least seeing it in others. Makes us feel better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I`m sure some Americans are ready to snap. TImes are tough. But the author just cherry picks every negative stat and anecdotal story out there to make his point. A more balanced view of the situation would admit that with times as tough as they are, and 300 million in the country, most of which could snap if pushed far enough, there are precious few examples of people loosing it.

The raising of this prima donna stewards to a folk hero icon, I find really disturbing. I found his behavior unacceptable. Many may find a moments release in imagining themselves acting out as he did but, they dont in their own lives and they would be beyond angry if they were on that plane, delayed for hours due to someone elses temper tantrum.

Anecdotally, everyone I know back home is dealing with their situation with a positive outlook and nose to the grindstone efforts to make things better. There have been better times in America for sure, but there have been much worse as well. These articles will always pop up, I guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can understand that americans are ready to snap, they been told since they were on the bottle that they are NO.1, The best, etc.

Now problems are piling up and people are facing questions like "Why Me? Why Us?, etc". Plus, current immigrants are starting to take over so what is the American Identity?

IMHO, things are going to turn bad(violent) in the USA if they hit another prolonged depression. Very different frame of mind now as to when they hit the last big depression.

Personally don't think that America would come out of a 20yrs depression(like Japan) in as healthy a condition.

Many of my USA friends left the country many years decades ago and they feel the same.

Granted those are problems that are faced globally but I think Europe and other areas will fair better as we got a longer history of similar problems(immigrants, econoimic probs, etc).

We know that most problems(in historical terms) are storms in the teacup.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can write up a counter-point commentary and submit it if you like. They may even publish it.

Don't count on it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, Zenny. I think we agree on the US having some difficulty remaining stable. Institutions have been gutted one by one. Legislatures, Courts, religion, schools. It is almost as if someone has been rocking the boat for about 40 years, and now a heavy storm is coming.

I don't know. We'll see. Japan made it through by rapidly lowering expectations and grimly soldiering on. Stability has been key to helping people make plans and work out their mistakes over the long run. Things ain't great, but tomorrow might be better. At least you knew that nobody was going to walk into your house with a gun someday.

I don't know how the US spirit is going to deal with all of these feelings of anger, betrayal, instability, insecurity, etc. that people justifiably feel. Many are separated from family and their "roots" because they have moved to find jobs. Social costs have been dodged for decades and are now coming home to roost, as in California. Safety nets are already strained to breaking.

Either the tea party types are crazy thugs or educated middle class Americans. Which is more frightening? A system where that many capable people feel disenfrachised is creepy. Then consider all the other people who feel disenfranchised. It is just a matter of time until people run smack into desperation.

By the way, PaulinUSA is right. In the 70s all the panic books came out just as things started to improve. But considering that the internet sends ideas around a lot faster than Random House does, and considering that the US announces lower and lower outlooks for growth, it might not happen that way this time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

isthistheend.

So it is better that the USA becomes polarized between the major 2 parties(been done for many years now) and might end up in another civil war(possibility is getting stronger).

Up to you americans where you want to be in 5/10/15yrs. But conflict is brewing and it might tear the country apart as did to Korea and many nations current and in history.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think I know what the major problems are, but the average US citizens are not actually being told what the spending figures are in contrast to actual revenues - everything is in the Twilight Zone. Many citizens are looking for scapegoats, but are not told the actual situation. I have some idea, but must stay an observer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, sure, look who's in charge of the U.S. government, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If your a hard working american life is good. They will find ways to make it work until the good times come back. The ones who have it hard are the ones who alwasy asked for handouts and want things for free.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the reason why many americans are ready to snap go beyond economic means and the standard of living.

There will always be people who have hardships, regardless if the economy prospers or slumps.

Nah, I think the problems are deeper situated/rooted and can be compared to other countries before a major crisis hit(and yes that includes muslim countries).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think the article is "over the top". I am an unemployed American who has been unemployed for a while, I feel I am a "hard working American" even though I'm out of worked - I've worked hard my whole life. I'm a chemical engineer by training and have a license to practice engineering, but my last job was as a supervisor in a food plant, so I have adjusted to new realities - i.e. most of the factories are gone and are never coming back.

There are some good points made in the article, some of which are understatements even. The article starts off with information about people jumping a line for public housing spots with people below an income of $16,000 per year. There is a problem right there - why aren't average people eligible, why do you have to have a very low income? More to the point, subsidizing housing like this costs money as it keeps the price of housing artificially up and of course building and maintaining the money costs tax dollars.

From the article, " Long-term joblessness is at the highest level since the Great Depression. Nearly 15 million Americans are unemployed. About 11 million more adults have been relegated to part-time work or given up altogether. Half the nation has no net worth."

This is understatement - the 26 million number is probably fairly accurate, I think it may be more like 36 million, but it doesn't change the author's point. The elites still call it a recession. It is a Depression. And if half the nation has no net worth - I think this may be an exaggeration - there will continue to be problems with anger and envy. The solution isn't so much to "Share the Wealth" as to once again have a society where "a rising tide lifts all boats".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"So it is better that the USA becomes polarized between the major 2 parties(been done for many years now) and might end up in another civil war(possibility is getting stronger)."

It is worse than that. How could it be worse? The US has always had strong forces pulling or pushing it together. Nationalism. Expansion. War. Domestic business. Investment, or just downright NEED in the early years. All of those forces have become weaker. Cultural cohesion is breaking down. You have large gaps between haves and have nots. There is uniform distrust of central authority. Everyone is taking and noone is giving.

And the divisive elements are gaining strength and momentum. Because they are fueled by fear and panic, and because they can create fear and panic, those groups have metastisized in the body politic. I won't say that religions do this, but anybody else can say it if they want. Cults certainly do. Beck and Rush and Sarah do. And they are just the ringleaders. Others are trying hard to outdo one another. They find fertile ground in Idaho, Alaska, Utah, Lousiana and Mississippi, and now Manhattan?

It will not take much more to push things over the edge. The violence in Mexico might just do it. Something like the Bonus Marchers might shape up with Beck's parade in Washington or at a Tea Party event somewhere. Just imagine that somebody lets loose with automatic weapons at a rally instead of a school or museum or army base. Things could get really bad, especially considering how little people trust the government.

It will seem unthinkable until it happens.

"If your a hard working american life is good. They will find ways to make it work until the good times come back. The ones who have it hard are the ones who alwasy asked for handouts and want things for free."

I could not agree more. Unfortunately, being a hard working American depends on having an employer and customers stable enough to support those high moral principles. When things break down, the hard workers have to scrabble and scramble just like everyone else, and they had better have guns, because all those lazy people have them too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Klein2

The use of the word schlocky... absolute gold! I love it!

oh, and the rest of the stuff you said was pretty intelligent too,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The joys of capitalism.

Capitalism has never existed in the U.S so...

Perhaps if there were true capitalism many would fail, for the better?

Revolution with a twist...I like it.

You know, with millions of people ready to SNAP, I am just thankful that they don't have ready access to firearms, because that would make the situation so much worse.

Not really, I've owned firearms for the majority of my life, and so have my friends and family and not one gun crime in the bunch. The only time I've ever experience a gun crime was in an attempted mugging in Detroit and that turned out badly for the mugger. I did, however, get a neat scar from a hunting knife in Chicago.

it sucks to be in America right now

Yet it really doesn't. Nobody starves to death (barring an eating disorder or getting locked in a closet), nobody puts you under arrest for not agreeing with a majority, U.S. prisoners enjoy more comforts than most law abiding citizens in the rest of the world, and you have virtually unlimited potential you just have to tap into it. There is absolutly no other place on the face of the earth I would rather live.

Unfortunately, being a hard working American depends on having an employer and customers stable enough to support those high moral principles.

Not really, most of my jobs have been working for jerks and most of them involved forced overtime, less than minimum wage, and verbal abuse. A hard worker will always find a place to work even if he hates it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of the main reasons for uncertainty in the USA is Talk Radio Hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'rielly, Hannity & Holmes, Fox News and MSNBC. Their constant "DOOM & GLOOM" rhetoric including the undermining of President Obama's agenda. Our country is infested with the "RADICAL" side of Sarah Palin (Clueless) the "NO" Party who want President Obama to fail. Our country is a good example of "ECCENTRICITY SOCIETY" "If you're going through hell, keep going"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

who cares?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article is a joke. You could write a similar article about any country. The article sounds like America is permanently dark, and the sun is no longer rising there. The reality is despite the problems America is going through right now it is still the economic, military, entertainment, higher education, etc.. gold standard of the world. Pakistan(insert Haiti) floods(earthquake) American military is first on the scene with aid, and America cutting the largest check for them. Trapped miners in Chile...Chilean government is bringing experts from NASA to coordinate the engineering portion of the rescue. That is just recent news. Although the Yank bashing may at times be justified it is for the most part usually pure rubbish. All these people that love to America bash act as if something further catastrophic were to happens to U.S there is some other nation out there ready to step in and take America's place. Is is the EU with all there economic problems, and millenniums old distrust of each other. Is is going to be Japan? A parasite economy that is completely dependent on the American markets buying power. China? and overpopulated communist country where 3/5 of the population are still living in dirt huts. Show me place 1/4 of the size of the U.S where things are better than in the U.S. I would love to be there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder what Sarge was saying about the U.S. government when ol' Dumble-Dubya was proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" after: Not catching Bin Laden, starting a SECOND war before the first had been resolved, not discovering the WMDs that were the "reason" he started the second war, and eliminating the government revenue surplus in his first year of office. What, exactly, was the mission he accomplished? Based on the evidence, I'd say it was the humiliation of the United States of America. He did an EXCELLENT job of accomplishing THAT mission.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

America will pull through like she did before. As much as I 'hate' the US, that country has contributed more, both good and bad than most countries on the planet put together, to the world. If America goes, it won't bode well for the rest of us, believe me. As many crazy, greedy idiots there are in the US, there are also almost an equal amount of decent people who care enough and want to make a positive change to the world, environment, social condition etc. It's their government that's the problem, not the people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a pathetic commentary.

Zenny, while there are people in America who are having financial troubles there are a lot of others who are doing very well. I'm from Hamilton, Ontario Canada close to the Canada-U.S. border. I have family and friends in the U.S. and they are all doing well. It goads many that the U.S. is the global engine and has been so for a very long time. Americans bought goods from all over the world to help prop up the global economy. The rest of the world is just as guilty as the buy now pay later mentality that a lot in the U.S. had. Certainly British companies knew very well what was going on yet I constantly hear Brits whine about what the Yanks did to the global economy. From my perspective it is hard to stomach the verbal slagging the Americans get from everyone else especially when they are guilty too, especially the Europeans and Japanese who rely heavily on the Americans to buy their goods. This article is shameful as is the constant slagging the Americans get from the people who sell them their goods.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When Libs are fighting Libs -you know it's getting bad.

Hopefully American can take back its' debt Gov before everyone turns into slaves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As much as I 'hate' the US, that country has contributed more, both good and bad than most countries on the planet put together, to the world.

What an absolute idiotic comment that is! Are you seriously suggesting that America has contributed more than the ancient Romans/Greeks, and closer to date, the Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French and British, to name a few. The way our society runs today was pretty much orchestrated by these countries. E.g. The Dutch created the banking system as we know it today, along with the first publicly traded shares of the Dutch Indian Trading Company. Don't even consider comparing America to the Britain in the way it managed to ascertain it's authority under it's empire.

With the exception to some of the excellent products to come out of Silicon valley, I'm struggling to find anything that America does exceptionally well, bar being a hypocrite!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And how many billion dollars $$$$$ continue to be spent in Iraq and Afghanastan? What is more ironic, many of those suffering probably voted for Bush, the man who wrecked the economy and gave us two wars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Dutch created the banking system as we know it today,

The bastards.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's their government that's the problem, not the people.

Maybe a bit of both.

It's been real interesting to see how the American public have handeled themselves over the last couple of years. Shocking at times. I've said it before, Jerry Springer and American Idol pretty much sum up the American psyche at the moment. That's their value system.

Seems nowadays people have deeply held agendas...and that becomes their identity, so they hold onto it at all costs. Even at the expense of logicical and rational thinking. Everthing now is centered around emotion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's more like 80 percent of Americans are doing well, and almost 20 percent are unemployed or underemployed. That is serious cause for concern, but it is not as if America is ready to snap. You will always have the odd nutcases. They are remarkable only because they are rare. America has roughly three times the population of Japan, and therefore three times the number of lunatics.

When people are starving, and they shut down the cell phone networks and cable TV because no one can pay, I'll be seriously worried. We have problems, as always. They are neither insoluble nor trivial. I grew up in the age where most males could count on a notice from their draft board, and some of my peers did not survive. It's been a good life so far, and with a lttle luck and some work, I expect it to remain so.

You need to keep things in perspective, something this article does not do very well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I'm struggling to find anything that America does exceptionally well, bar being a hypocrite!"

Then tear of them denims, throw yer nikes in the trash, turn off yer rock music, stop using products via "mass production", give up plastics- silicon- velcro, food labeling-packaging-inspection laws, never go to a movie again, hope and pray you or any of your relatives ever needs emergency medical care- or worse yet a transplant, best head on over to North Korea, Cuba, or Zimbabwe if you think they offer a better form of government and leadership, and most of all... stop using the damn internet- it's just another "hypocritical American invention" anyway !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When people are starving, and they shut down the cell phone networks and cable TV because no one can pay, I'll be seriously worried.

-Don't worry --> the media will find some way to get the indoctrination message to you. The Gov guidance that you desperately seek will always find a way to infect your brain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Then tear of them denims, throw yer nikes in the trash, turn off yer rock music, stop using products via "mass production", give up plastics- silicon- velcro, food labeling-packaging-inspection laws, never go to a movie again, hope and pray you or any of your relatives ever needs emergency medical care- or worse yet a transplant, best head on over to North Korea, Cuba, or Zimbabwe if you think they offer a better form of government and leadership, and most of all... stop using the damn internet- it's just another "hypocritical American invention" anyway !

Hmm, interesting. Some of the things you stated are by no means 'American'. Velcro was invented by a Swiss, www. by an Englishmen. Will you tell us next, that Henry Ford invented the automobile, IBM the computer? I seem to recollect that Adi Dassler and his brother were making footwear far before Nike even hit the market.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

all you Doom and Gloom people claiming that the US needs to pull out the Japanese playbook or that it's all over for the US have 1 thing in common; you are all unbeleivably niave and totally incorrect. first of all the US economy is already coming out of the recession; US corporations are almost all showing profits and most banks have re-paid their bailout money to the govt. in a recession the last things to improve are unemployment and the housing market; usually takes between 3-6 years for those to fully recover. second, pulling out the japanese playbook, ha ha ha ha what a joke; what playbook??? for the last 15 years japan has absolutely NO economic playbook at all. the country has been in a 15 year deflationary cycle that the govt refused to identify as such. this is a stupid Doomsday article written to elicit knee-jerk responses from the uneducated masses, nothing more, nothing less.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

whitepocky - You ask if America has seriously contributed more than the Ancient Greeks/Romans, and the Chinese, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and British. As you know, that is eight other countries. Also, depending how you look at, Rome last about 2,000 years, China has been a more or less existing entity for longer than that, and the other countries have existed for say 400 to 800 years. The US and colonies have existed for about 400.

I don't understand your comment about cars: The automotive industry is an American invention - the ability to manufacture, market and distribute vehicles was the key, not the ability to make a prototype or two. As for Velcro, who cares?

I myself do feel that The British Isles have had a more decisive effect on World history than the US. Among other things, it is where some form of limited government developed, which is perhaps the key legacy to its North American colonies. Also, it is where the Industrial Revolution began, and it is the land of Shakespeare and of Newton.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The British Isles ???

"it is where some form of limited government developed"

Nonsense ! The concept of democracy and governments was invented by the Greeks- and is well documented !

As for Earth shattering inventions with more "decisive effect" on world history- try the telephone, the light bulb, the television, air conditioning, the PC, the internet... yeh, just try to live on this planet without any of these little diddys ! Granted the British Isles did give us failed colonies and fish and chips- so there is something to hang yer hat on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@whitepocky #

What an absolute idiotic comment that is! Are you seriously suggesting that America has contributed more than the ancient Romans/Greeks, and closer to date, the Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French and British, to name a few. The way our society runs today was pretty much orchestrated by these countries. E.g. The Dutch created the banking system as we know it today, along with the first publicly traded shares of the Dutch Indian Trading Company. Don't even consider comparing America to the Britain in the way it managed to ascertain it's authority under it's empire.

With the exception to some of the excellent products to come out of Silicon valley, I'm struggling to find anything that America does exceptionally well, bar being a hypocrite! #

I'm talking current era, as in the last few decades or so. The article deals with the present, not ancient history. For one thing, without the US, we won't be arguing this on the internet. I'm not saying they only contributed positively, that's why I said both good and bad, eg. Vietnam War, Hiroshima, Agent Orange, the CIA etc etc. I'm not daft, ya know, there's 2 sides to a coin. And don't insult me again online. If you like to, set up a time and place and do it in person. It's easy to be brave behind a monitor and keyboard.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This story makes for sad reading about once-great America. As an outsider looking on, I feel very sorry for America. However, they did vote in the Democrats and Obama, so they actually brought this disaster upon themselves. They have the answer - kick the Democrats out of Office in November, both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Follow that up in 2 years` time, if America is still a democratic country, by kicking Obama out of Office. That will go along way to solving the problems.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In America, the very IDEA of an "America" - a unified people - has been steadily deteriorating ; I'd say since the 1950s, most definitely since the 1960s.

The forces of political, social and class division steadily outpace and overpower what cohesive influences remain. Even right after the 9/11 attacks, there were loud voices calling for unity, for action ... and plenty of equally loud voices saying how we "deserved it", what an awful country we were and that we shouldn't do anything but apologize to our attackers.

This increasing divisionism is not a vast conspiracy, but a predictable emergent property of the kind of "democracy" practiced in America.

If you want to stand out in a crowd in the USA - be it in politics, business or 'media' - you have to "one up" the competition. Otherwise you'll remain un-noticed, a nobody. This has led to a sort of "devils deal" between politicians and the news media.

In order to make money, a media company has to offer "interesting", "compelling", "controversial" material. Politicians quickly came to understand how they could use this to their advantage by presenting more extreme positions than their opponents. Say outrageous things, suggest policies that you KNOW will enrage the opposition.

Your reward ... the news media will fight over who gets to put your face and your interviews on their TV channels and newspapers. "More extreme" = "instant fame" and free publicity.

Now the news media people aren't stupid ... they understand this game and are willingly complicit. Indeed, if you're "almost interesting" they'll try hard to MAKE you a "controversial" figure just to attract an audience (Sarah Palin is an example).

So, populist politics feeds the news media and the news media feeds populist politics. This creates a positive feedback loop wherin the clearest path to more money, more fame, is to become more and more extreme. The easiest path is to divide the population into groups of your choosing and set them against each other. Polarization = profit.

Unfortunately, this game, this positive feedback loop of ever-escalating extremism and divisionism ... in the end it can lead only to calamity. It's like a jet engine with the throttle stuck on full ... revving faster and faster until it explodes.

Both the politicians and news media bet that it won't explode TODAY, not on their watch. They bet that they can extract their rewards and get clear before the shrapnel starts flying.

Of course for the ordinary citizens it's not a game - and it's they who stand to suffer the most serious injuries. If America really does come apart along its fault-lines it would be a disaster for its people. Large well-organized nations suffer the most when that organization breaks down. Even worse, unlike in the 1860s, the "sides" in America have no geographical locus. This means "the enemy" is likely to be the guy next door. When neighbor hates neighbor there is no end to what evils may be done.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While Americans feel they are ready to snap, us Mexicans, the rest of Central America see the USA as the land of milk and honey! The USA does not have to deal with all the daily killings of the narcos, most Americans do not have to worry about being kidnapped 24/7 what the heck is their to be so up tight about in the USA, go down to Venezuela where the people are killing each other over politics in the streets, learn to appreciate what you have in the USA, then you may be happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites