“When even one American — who has done nothing wrong — is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.”
– President Harry S. Truman
Americans are known far and wide for their apathy toward government, employers, and everyone else that plays a role in deciding their fate. One well-known example is the vacation gap which sees a country like Germany providing 30 vacation days per year to all their workers while Americans are often afraid to take the mere one or two weeks they’re provided for fear of not being seen as a team player, which led to a very interesting observation by a German blogger living in America: “Maybe that is the reason that many Americans never been out of the country and at times there isn’t much understanding for foreign cultures.”
There’s something to be said for the concept that Americans are apathetic because of the mistaken belief that all other countries are undemocratic, oppressed, impoverished and war-torn. In a post I once read about the “ten reasons why America is the best country in the world,” the top two reasons were democracy and freedom. The author opined that America has shined as the beacon of freedom for two centuries in an unfree world, that America by definition means “free.”
Notwithstanding that pop culture has taught us that drug and sex trade laws in the Netherlands are lax, most Americans don’t realize that country also allows gay marriage and free speech of individuals (but, unlike America, their free speech laws exempt commercial entities… corporations aren’t people across the ocean).
The dirty little secret is that most of Europe, Australia and a large part of Asia is indeed free and even democratic. In many cases, their freedom and democracy actually outdoes our own, and any threats to their liberties are handled swiftly, like last year when French riot police nearly went on strike after being told they couldn’t drink on the job. In Europe, they know that if you give the government an inch of authority that they may take a mile.. so there is no compromise. The people win or the people strike. Such a change in America would..
.. Well, we can’t answer that because virtually every employer in the United States bans drinking on the job and drug tests everyone they hire regardless of relevance to the job. Freedom!
So what would make Americans strike?
In 1995, eventual Vice President Joe Biden and others drafted what would eventually become the USA PATRIOT Act. Put into effect in 2001 under the guise of protection from 9/11-style terror attacks, this well-prepared and far-reaching legislation gave the government powers that would have made Mussolini wet himself. The president who said he would prefer the United States were a dictatorship suddenly ran an administration with the authority to snoop on all communications, medical and financial records, even library book records with no warrant, no probable cause, and no restrictions.
In 2008, the American economy collapsed as the outright fraud and criminal behavior of Wall Street came to light. Millions were foreclosed upon by ruthless bankers who promised the world and, as they moved out, investors felt the second punch from the industry as their AAA-rated bonds were found to be loaded with mortgages that were likely to fail. As mentioned in previous posts on this blog, banks were even foreclosing on houses they had never held papers on. In the course of all these, the federal government determined that a financial infusion was needed to save people.. not the people being kicked out on the street but the bankers that had screwed everyone. Homeowners, investors, retirees… millions had played by the rules and were screwed by the bankers… then had their tax money diverted to the same bankers.
A few Americans have been jarred from their comas. The Occupy movement has shown promise at fighting back against the revolving door between the government and the private industry it is supposed to regulate. In response, wide swaths of the underpaid, overworked middle class have come out swinging… in favor of their oppressors. As police in military gear assaulted thousands around the country, the media portrayed the movement as college students looking for handouts instead of getting a job.
Not only nothing, but we are actively beating down the roots of our own revolution.
OK… we got this. This one will result in an outright riot.
Last week the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act which literally allows the military to kidnap and imprison American citizens indefinitely. With no due process. For any reason or no reason at all. With no recourse.
Nothing? Seriously? OK… how about this…
Three days ago, the House took control of this bill and voted by a margin of 406 to 17 to make the discussions surrounding this bill private, kept sealed from the American public which elected them.
And guess what, folks: Still nothing.
So you tell me, what will it take?