How The USA Became A Third World Nation
How can anyone describe the USA as a third world nation? Surely the USA, as presented by Hollywood at least, is a place where slender attractive people run around having amazing adventures with the latest technological gadgets? As (still, barely) the world’s largest economy, surely the USA leads the world?
It’s fortunate for the peace of mind of nearly every US citizen that facts are something the USA is good at avoiding. In reality, the USA leads the world in nothing, although to be fair it was for a while the world’s most obese nation. But even this glory has passed now that countries like Nauru and Kuwait and Mexico have managed to become even more flabby than the average US couch potato.
When it comes to actual facts, the picture for the USA is consistently bleak. Let’s take something basic like infrastructure; it is abysmal even in the wealthiest States. Driving through San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge to 280 is similar to driving on some of the “roads” one finds in places like Ethiopia and Chad. Electricity generation and distribution is on par with nations like Mongolia and Nigeria where brownouts and outages are equally common as in the USA.
As for education, that’s embarrassing. Even in wealthy States like California the picture is abysmal: 25% of students leave High School functionally illiterate and 40% are functionally innumerate. In many southern States the figures are much worse. On average US students aged 18 are more than two years behind their northern European equivalents. Worse yet, US students know nearly nothing whatsoever about important real-world matters such as geopolitics and science.
As for the glories of hi-tech, the USA is a laggard here too. While Silicon Valley does invent some pretty nifty stuff, the average US citizen sees little benefit. Want to transfer money seamlessly across borders using your phone app? Yes in Kenya and most African nations, but not in the USA. Want to reduce the world’s highest incident of credit card fraud by adopting what the rest of the world has been using for the last 20 years (chip-and-PIN)? Sorry, not in the USA, mostly because US banks don’t believe the typical US citizen is capable of reliably memorizing a four-digit code even though ATMs require us to punch in a similar set of numbers encoded on an easily-readable magnetic strip on the back of our cards. Want high-speed Internet access? Well, go live in Switzerland where 200Mb/s is standard because US broadband in most locations is a small fraction of that speed. As for cell phone coverage, drive up 280 between San Jose and San Francisco through the heart of the US hi-tech zone and your call will drop multiple times. Maybe you should try making your call in Ukraine or Mozambique, where the networks are more reliable.
As for politics, anyone who’s spent time in Africa will feel right at home. Politics in the USA is purely tribal: red or blue, conservative or liberal. Just change the labels to Kikuyu or Luo, or Fulani or Yoruba, and you’ve got the whole picture, except that Kenyans and Nigerians tend to be rather better informed about the world at large than the typical US voter, who’d be hard-pressed to draw anything even vaguely resembling the Mercator projection on a whiteboard.
How did the USA get here?
Well, in fact it hasn’t traveled very far from its origins. Politicians have always been for sale, which is why Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) well over a century ago wrote, “we have the best government that money can buy.” Furthermore, US politics has always been tribal, with boundary lines drawn variously between federalists and anti-federalists, pro and anti racists, pro and anti industrialists, and so forth over the decades. Since the successful Nixon campaign of 1968 the Republican Party has relentlessly cultivated the simple-minded to the point where instead of exploiting the cognitively impaired it became captured by them as the Tea Party faction took control. This is the reason why every Republican president after Nixon has been rather dim witted: stupid appeals strongly to stupid voters.
While European politics during the twentieth century was largely driven by class and economics until such time as mass prosperity and social mobility rendered such divisions mostly untenable, US politics has always been driven by the need to appeal to enormous blocs of uneducated and largely unthinking voters. The easiest way to do this has always been to invent pretend enemies, inflate them into an existential danger, and then claim to be the Great Protector of the nation. Hence the USA has successively demonized indigenous inhabitants, immigrants, Mexicans (imagine the temerity of wanting their territory back! We stole it fair and square!), then communists, and now back to immigrants again. The USA has always defined itself by who it’s against, and only secondarily by means of appeal to illusory ideals.
For this approach to work consistently it’s obviously necessary to ensure that the average US citizen receives little in the way of real education. And so we see a long history of inadequate curricula, inadequate teaching, and of course massive segregation. The rich send their children to private schools where they can at least learn to read and write (though mostly they simply learn to leverage the connections they make throughout their schooldays) but the rest get Disney-style education which is more properly considered indoctrination as facts are scarce while empty assertion and falsehoods are the norm.
That’s why the average US citizen imagines they live in “the greatest nation on Earth.” It’s easy to believe this when you know literally nothing whatsoever about the rest of the world.
Which brings us to today. As populism has swept the globe since the middle of this decade, drooling imbeciles and wannabe demagogues have ridden to power across dozens of nations. Because the typical US citizen is ignorant about what’s happening elsewhere, it’s easy to imagine that Trump is somehow unique, somehow alone in his mindless inadequacy. But in reality he’s simply one of dozens of equally repellent cretins who now hold the reins of power around our planet and are through a toxic mixture of incompetence and vainglory destroying civilization faster than anyone imagined possible.
Ironically the US model has been adopted wholesale by nations that formerly could be considered civilized, just as the world previously adopted blue jeans, rock-n-roll, and McSlop. As such, it’s reasonable to say that we’re all US citizens now, albeit without the cute blue passport.
This is, in a way, rather comforting for the USA. Instead of being ashamed at its place near the bottom of every OECD index (education, health, general knowledge, infrastructure, corruption, etc.) the USA can simply wait a little while.
The rest of the world is rapidly sliding downhill and soon we’ll all be third world countries because all of modern life worships at the temple of the lowest common denominator. That’s where the money is and it’s where the votes are. Just like junk food, junk politics is bad for us But we simply don’t care.
The USA is our model of the future, which is a return to a much worse past.