How America Has Allowed Itself to Sink into a State of Stagnation and Regression

Michael Payne 
RINF Alternative News 

America appears to have entered the era of the New Normal, a condition in which the people of this country accept and become resigned to the economic stagnation that exists. So, let’s take that term and show how it should be used to describe a condition in this country that is far more problematic than just the economy.

This New Normal might well be applied to all major institutions and sectors of this country, from the government to the business world to this society itself; all of which show definite signs of regression and stagnation, a condition that the people of America appear to have accepted and to which they have become resigned.

The New Normal is best illustrated when we so often hear this remarks by apologists or those who refuse to accept reality; “Oh, things aren’t all that bad, sure we have problems but they could be a lot worse. So let’s not blow this situation out of proportion and let’s try to be satisfied and content with what we have. Remember, America is still the greatest nation in the world.”

Stagnation means “to stop developing and progressing” and, while that is bad enough, regression, which means “to move backward and progressively decline”, is far worse. What we are experiencing in America today is a condition in which both of these negative trends are in play.

During the 1980’s, it seems that just when America was poised to rise to greater heights of achievement, powerful influences in the government and the corporate world took control of this nation’s primary agenda and took this country in the wrong direction. America became engaged in a succession of unjustifiable wars and military conflicts; the defense industries grew and prospered while the rest of U.S. manufacturing began to drift downward.

When examining stagnation in this country, what better place to start than the nation’s sluggish, lifeless economy? Sure the good news is that America still has the largest economy in the world but we should remember that quality is of greater importance than quantity; the bad news is the majority of the wealth generated from it flows upward to those who occupy the top of the income spectrum, while millions of Americans struggle to survive and millions have fallen into poverty.

So, with this in mind, let’s see what some other much more progressive countries might be doing differently, in particular, China and Germany. Germany has a very vibrant economy fueled by a strong manufacturing sector. While America had a massive trade deficit of $471.5 billion in 2013, nearly a half trillion dollars, Germany had a trade surplus of $270 billion. China and Germany concentrate heavily on manufacturing and exports while the U.S. is shedding manufacturing jobs and heavily dependent on imports. These two countries are going in the exact opposite direction that America is taking.

China and Germany are proactive countries that are on the way up; America is regressive and reactive, and sliding downward. Germany’s unemployment rate has been steady at about 5% and I would bet money that its not a fabricated rate such as that of America’s which continues to exclude the millions of Americans who have given up on trying to find a job. In Germany, unions and workers are not the enemy of corporations and the government; they have found the ways to co-exist in the process of moving the country forward. Not so in America where unions and workers have become an endangered species.

Another example of stagnation: When are we going to do something about our addiction to and dependence upon petroleum, the cause of so many of our environmental problems and, instead, concentrate on the development of solar power? Why are we content to watch as Germany, followed by Spain and Japan, continues to lead the world in the development and the installation of this energy of the future? Germany’s megawatts of solar power installed to date is 8 times greater than that of the U.S. We in America have resigned ourselves to the fact that the giant petroleum corporations are calling the shots relative to energy policy in this country and nothing can be done to counter their power.

What better example of stagnation than the financial sector that, without the constant infusion of billions upon billions of dollars from the Federal Reserve, would collapse in a heap. We have a banking industry that no longer is interested in providing loans to businesses to create more jobs for Americans but, rather to create more and more poisonous derivatives that could, at any time, ignite a financial collapse. Congress and the White House aren’t going to do a thing about putting an end to this financial manipulation and the people of this country have no other alternative than to keeping investing their savings with these masters of deceit.

Now let’s turn to the condition of regression: Why have we allowed our roads, highways, bridges and electrical grid to deteriorate so badly? Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has referred to America as “one big pothole” and that “America is facing an infrastructure disaster”. Well, maybe it’s because we have other far more important priorities such as maintaining our military empire and recklessly engaging in military conflicts all over the world. Besides, not to worry; when the American infrastructure gets bad enough this Congress will provide the funding for it by further slashing food stamp and mental health programs.

Why, in this so-called greatest nation in the world, do we have a failing education system that is doing such a great disservice to the youth of this nation? There’s no mystery involved here. Why should this country spend multi-billions to fund an education system when the need for graduates majoring in science, mathematics and physics is greatly diminishing because America is no longer at the cutting edge of creativity and innovation? That’s the reality of the situation and, yet again, the American people seem to be resigned to this negative situation.

How about the U.S. Congress, that body of our government that is so scorned and reviled by the American people? During the year 2014 the House of Representatives will only be in session for 112 days. But, then again, does anyone really care one way or the other when the members of this body of government don’t do anything of substance even when they’re in session? We need action on job creation, immigration reform, climate change, control of military spending, gun controls, a minimum wage increase and attention needs to be given to a wide range of other problem areas; but all these critical issues simply languish in this regressive, stagnated body of government.

Millions upon millions of American people see their democracy dying and their Constitution being shredded but, instead, of fighting against this dangerous trend, they do nothing and far, far too many, don’t even exercise their right to vote. In this country, with all the problems we face, we should see millions more Americans showing up at the polls to cast the ballots to rid Washington of these pitiful politicians. But more and more of people indicate they want nothing to do with the process. Another example of how this democracy continues to regress.

We have a mainstream media that should be at the forefront of a movement to turn this nation around; those giants of proactive and objective journalism such as Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are long gone and America’s journalistic wasteland is now inhabited by the likes of O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Hannity. Journalism in America is not advancing, it is dying a slow death. The few courageous journalists who are trying to awaken the American people to the vast abuses of this government, such as Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald and others are being harassed and castigated by those who want to do away with honest, objective journalism.

So now let’s ask this same old question that never seems to have an answer. Is there any way out of this state of regression and stagnation? And the apparent answer seems to be — no, not really, for there is no great motivation or inclination to do the things necessary to remedy the condition; because we are living the New Normal that has become acceptable to this government and its people.

We might well conclude then, that as a country, if you do not progress you will regress; if you do not build and strengthen you will stagnate, and if you do not grow you will die.

Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process.