by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 52, No. 12, Rajab, 1444)
One must give credit to the US propaganda machine. It has brain-washed people so thoroughly that while they live in a vast prison, they are led to believe that they are free. Beyond the self-serving headlines and optimistic projections, life for most people in America is “short, nasty and brutish”, to borrow the words of Thomas Hobbes.
People are under surveillance 24/7. This is the case in most western countries yet they are told that they are “free”. And most people actually swallow this propaganda. Reality, however, is finally jolting people out of the TV/Internet-induced complacency. The pandemic has contributed to this awakening, although partially and may soon be forgotten, yet most Americans have realized things are not quite right in the realm.
This was reflected in a survey conducted among thousands of American adults between December 5-19, 2022. The results were published on January 3. The findings of the online survey conducted by Gallup found that 90% of Americans expect political conflict in the country. This has much to do with the continuing influence of former president Donald Trump among many Americans.
The storming of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 is still fresh in the minds of most people. Political divisions were further reinforced by last October’s congressional election results with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives.
Politics, however, is not the main concern for most Americans; bread-and-butter issues are. Possession of fire arms is also an obsession. There are more guns in America than there are people. The Gallup survey found that nearly 80% of US adults think 2023 will be a year of economic difficulty.
With most economic activity shut down in 2020 and 2021, not surprisingly, it caused a huge decline in people’s income. Living from paycheck to paycheck, most Americans went into depression. Its negative repercussions were reflected in the number of suicides.
The regime in Washington announced a one-time payment of $1200 per person to compensate for loss of income and rising prices of basic necessities during the pandemic. Industries were given tens of billions of dollars through various schemes that enriched their executives and shareholders. While 99% of the global population suffered a decline in income during the pandemic, the 10 richest people in the world, most of them Americans, doubled their income.
The US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $25.72 trillion makes it the highest in the world. It also has the highest debt in the world: $31 trillion. Washington, however, has no intention to pay off this debt. Instead, by printing limitless amounts of dollars, it forces other countries to pay for it!
Despite the highest GDP in the world, the US is unable, or unwilling, to eliminate poverty. Official data shows that there are more than 38 million people living in poverty, most of them children and families of colour.
Poverty, chasing the ‘American dream’ and mental illness are closely related. Suicide is described as a serious public health problem. Suicide rates in the US increased 30% between 2000–2018, and while they declined slightly in 2019 and 2020, the overall rate is still very high.
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes. Studies in medical journals claim that mental illness is the result of chemical imbalance in the brain. While technically correct, this is only the symptom of a much deeper malaise.
Such findings ignore the underlying cause: impact of American culture on people’s physical and mental well-being. Not surprisingly, the medical studies that support such conclusions are published in journals that are sponsored largely by pharmaceutical companies that are eager to capitalize on mental illness by opening new markets among doctors concerned by their patients’ worsening mental health.
Americans are perhaps the most over-medicated people in human history. Virtually every American is on some form of medication. During the cold war, there was heavy use of Valium, a tranquilizer that was prescribed by doctors to ease the stress of living under the constant threat of nuclear war; no American bomb-shelter was without its long-term supply.
Medicated parents gave birth to the sixties generation, who eschewed doctors but took a variety of illicit drugs. When the crack cocaine craze drew attention to the illicit drug epidemic in the 1980s, their use abated, but America’s drug dependence continued: anti-depressants took off, with doctors now prescribing Ritalin and Prozac to millions of severely depressed people of all ages.
The American epidemic of mental illness and the accompanying culture of medication feed on each other. It is likely that further medical studies will establish this connection even more strongly. But for those people who are seriously concerned with long-term wellness, the cultural connections to mental illness should also be explored. More pills are not going to cure the increasingly well-recognized ill effects of modern American culture, which is fast becoming global.
And then there is the American culture of violence; gun violence to be precise. The non-profit group, Gun Violence Archive recorded 43,789 deaths in 2022 related to gun violence in the US. Even children are not spared as the latest figures released by Gun Violence Archive (GVA) on December 27 showed. At least 6,032 children, 17 years or younger, were killed or injured.
There have also been a series of murders perpetrated in schools, euphemistically referred to as “mass shootings”. With easy access to guns and the culture of violence glorified on television, it is not surprising so many students resort to killing teachers and students. The most recent shooting occurred on January 6 at an Elementary School in Virginia. A six-year-old student shot a teacher with a Taurus pistol that he had brought from home. The teacher is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Coupled with gun violence, America’s tough on crime policy has resulted in more than two million Americans being incarcerated. As of January 2023, the United States has the second largest prison population in the world. One out of every 5 people imprisoned across the world is incarcerated in the US.
According to the group, Sentencing Project, America’s prison population has grown by 500% over 40 years. Prisons have been privatized turning them into businesses. With profit as the primary motive, owners of private prisons are able to bribe judges, policemen and others to send increasing numbers of people to prison.
Welcome to the ‘American dream’ or, a nightmare in reality!