America is much more of a business than it is a country.
This statement came from a friend over a glass of wine and a discussion on politics. He certainly isn’t what I’d call a liberal but being from Southern California doesn’t blindly side with Conservatives. He also has a PhD in chemistry so is obviously pretty smart.
It was the first time I had heard such an idea and have been thinking about it from time to time over the past year while the USA struggles with the most polarization between political camps it has ever seen. I read the news, see the mean memes and comments on social media but most of all, pay attention to the legislation and actions of the Republicans and Trump administration which champion the privatization of everything and work for the benefit of profit over country.
Let’s start with my idea of what a country should look like and for this I can think of none other than Japan. Japan is extremely homogeneous, have national healthcare and a sign that says “Welcome to Japan” in English but “Welcome Home” in Japanese. Japan has political parties but the Liberal Democratic Party has been in power pretty much continuously since 1955. Having a homogeneous population and one party that always wins means things get done. I think focusing on healthcare in Japan and in the USA is the best example of what I’m trying to explain here.
Japan has national healthcare because everyone is Japanese (with a small smattering of Koreans). Furthermore it is a middle class society without too much disparity in income although that is changing. So, with everyone being from the same tribe, and making similar amounts it is an easy thing to see that national healthcare could be put into place with very minimal fuss. The main reason the USA does not have national healthcare is because it is a mix of many races and social economic classes. Individuals do not want to pay for those making less and who are different from them. Japan acts more like a socialist country in that resources are dispersed so that its entire population has access to this basic human right.
The USA on the other hand acts as a business with each healthcare business trying to maximize profits at the expense of being able to provide affordable care. The hospitals are there not so much to take care of people but to make a profit. The vendors, insurance companies, doctors and administrators all want to not only increase profits but take them to the max no matter the consequences. And so we have a situation where a simple routine visit to the doctor’s office will cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
I’ll tell you a story. I get a yearly physical here in the USA but also got one in Japan last year at the insistence of my wife. I explained I had my physical in the USA so why would I need one in Japan? She told me to ask my American buddy who had already done so. He said “In the USA they’ll tap on your chest a couple of times, touch your balls and run a simple blood check, that is it! But in Japan you’ll get a comprehensive exam all for much much less, even without insurance than what you’d pay in the USA.” And you know what? He was absolutely right.
In Japan I got an exam, blood work and even an MRI all for around $400. Why? Because Japan has worked out how to keep costs low and for the benefit of its population rather than just try to increase profits. The business of America is business and its model is entirely in trying to maximize profits no matter the consequences.
When I look at the history of America this system fell down during the Great Depression and thus the New Deal was enacted. This New Deal dealt with dispersing resources for the benefit of the public, not for individual corporations as it is now. This changed under Ronald Raegan when he said “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He then went on to cut taxes, cut public funding and sold “the trickle down” solution whereby companies could pay less in taxes that would have gone to the public good and thus increase profits. The idea was by companies getting rich, money would “trickle down” to everyone.
Well, this didn’t happen. What happened was that executives pocketed those profits and we’ve had wage stagnation for the past couple of decades. People’s jobs were shipped overseas so that workers could be paid much less and the average American citizen was left high and dry. This is easy to see in economically dead small towns all across the USA. There simply is no work, their jobs have gone overseas to other countries.
So when I consider that America is a business given just the above examples of healthcare and jobs being shipped overseas I ask myself what is the benefit of being a citizen of the USA? It is not looking out for your well-being and the opportunity to earn a wage and not only that but doesn’t even offer access to healthcare should you get sick? The Democrats are trying to look out for the good of their people but the Republicans look out for the interest of companies and companies do not operate in national boundaries alone.
Let’s shift now to current events and the best one here to express my point is the response from the White House to Saudi Arabia and the Khashoggi murder. As far as I’ve been alive we learned that the USA stands for human rights and are the good guys in a very difficult world. Simply put, we do what is right, we are the “shining city on a hill,” and with our might and power will always strive for what is good, moral and reflects the Christian character of the country.
Well, not anymore. The Trump Administration has completely failed to punish Saudi Arabia for the blatant murder of a journalist, someone who was critical of their despotic regime which frankly belongs in the Middle Ages. Even with Republicans wringing their hands that something must be done as punishment the Trump Administration refuses to do so. Why?
The reason again is America is a business. Punishing Saudi Arabia would put billions of dollars of weapons sales in jeopardy. Here money and business ‘trump’ our very ideals and everything we thought we stood for.
And it isn’t only the Khashoggi killing but it was also Saudi Arabia, its financing of extremism that lead to 9-11 when Saudi Arabian nationals drove planes into our buildings. What did the USA do? It attacked another country which had nothing to do with 9-11. America had to do something and so it chose to not attack the country responsible for 9-11 but another country entirely! Saudi Arabia is a major regional ally and enormous buyer of American products so again, business trumps our very ideals!
So to reiterate; we’ve been taught that we’re the good guys in a very tough world, yet our actions speak to that of increasing profits. It is very disheartening when one truly believes we are the former but through world experience and paying attention realize that it is the latter and we’re nothing more than a business. I’ve never been so let down.
Here is a story. When I was a student in Japan at Waseda University some of the other international students would get very critical of America. Eventually I tired of this and wrote my paper on why America is the best country in the world. The top professor didn’t like this and demanded that I change the subject. My thought was that you’re here to correct my Japanese, not my opinions and so I didn’t change my paper. Well, that lead to me failing that class and thus not receiving my certificate of Japanese study. I already had a certificate from the year prior and my intent was to learn Japanese and not earn certificates so I really didn’t care.
I wouldn’t write that paper today while we deal with this farce of the Trump Administration. America is no longer the good guy on the block having damaged relationships with all of our allies, gutting healthcare, hurting the environment, denying science and the list goes on and on.
It would be better to just drop the mask of being “the good guy” and recognize the country for what it actually is which is a business. The current policies are not for the good of the citizens, not for the good of our allies and increasingly what seems to be only for the good of the 1% and Russia.
If I look back to pre-Raegan days and after the New Deal and WWII, I see a very big example of where America has also acted as a business and nothing stands out more than Vietnam. The government told us we went to war to “stop communism” and since the idea that communism is a very bad thing has been beaten into the heads of all American citizens a very big portion of the country accepted this line. Communism is bad so we must invade a sovereign country that just recently threw off their colonial rulers and kill a lot of their citizens to stop this communism. How stupid people can be.
The real reason the government wanted to stop communism was that the rich in America were afraid communism could spread in the USA and that would threaten all of their wealth. So, they were willing to send thousands of young boys to their deaths all in the name of money.
Make no mistake, the world is run by the super rich and these super rich make war, divide up countries, control governments and all in the name of profit. We are all pawns to this great game and our lives mean nothing when it comes to preserving their wealth.
Corporations are the new rulers and as we’ve heard from our politicians, corporations are people. Not only that but any curbs on their power were removed with the Citizens United decision and now corporations are free to buy whichever candidate they prefer. It is with this legislation that the last pretense of an independent government, one that is “of the people, by the people and for the people” has been stripped away.
So let’s drop the mask. It would be better for America to come to terms with what it actually is than play pretend that we’re all on the same side which we certainly are not. We are not all together as a country but are a collection of individuals after our own enrichment.
As an individual I’ll pay my taxes which at the federal level the only benefit I can see is the military so some foreign power doesn’t come and take over our business. What other benefit is there? It is my state taxes that will provide the bare minimums here locally such as roads and other small benefits that are good for society but which hopefully I’ll never need such as an out of work stipend.
I realize this might read as a veiled endorsement of socialism and the Democrats but I assure you it is not. Yes, I would love to see everyone getting along in harmony in a world were people take care of one another. But I realize that government is very inefficient and I personally cringe when I have to deal with the government in any way whether that be paying taxes, dealing with immigration, going to the DMV or God forbid any government office. I’d much rather pay extra and go to a private company that can accomplish the same things for a premium.
I’m only asking a question and conveying my disappointment in being lied to.
My question is, what is the benefit of being a citizen of the USA in terms of benefits? Yes, the land is beautiful and prosperous but the prosperity comes from companies and companies will hire who they want regardless of national borders. So isn’t it better to work for a really great company more so than it is to be a citizen of a certain country? Currently, the best path to saying in the USA is becoming a citizen, or marrying one but what if we took things a step forward and just privatized who can become a citizen? Take that power away from the government and in the spirit of capitalism just sell citizenship to the best and brightest anywhere in the world? To be honest I think the only reason we currently don’t do this is a racial one. The population is still overwhelmingly white and selling to people of color, even very rich ones, would be poking the beehive too far as America is still, kind of a democracy (see gerrymandering), and buying politicians only goes so far.
And my disappointment is in thinking I’m part of a country, a team that I care about and that cares about me. Well, after living overseas, learning other languages, reading history, watching Republican legislation and having Trumpers call me a socialist I realize we’re not a team at all. I could easily integrate into a couple other countries so I’m not bound by neither language or culture. I work for a great company which looks after me and thus makes me want to work very hard and contribute as much as I can to its success. What then is the benefit of being a citizen when Republicans have made it clear company profit is their top priority?
To be honest the only benefit I can see is I get to live here in this beautiful place. But that is countered by the fact that any of us could be sent to war and die. That would be acceptable if we were still the good guys and doing what is best for America and to protect each other, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the last couple of wars. Those were wars in order to enrich companies and I’m not willing to put myself on the line just to increase some companies profits. And as for each other? Well, the right and left hate each other so much that this hatred is destroying the unity that came with simply being from the same country. I think Trumpers, while they might be decent people otherwise, are downright dumb when it comes to politics/international affairs so if they want to alienate allies and start wars then they can go fight them alone. The hatred was started by Fox News and has destroyed so much that was good about the USA but for them, the Republicans and Trump, it is ruling at any cost no matter the damage.
In closing, I think it would be best to drop the mask and see America for what it is. It is a business in the pursuit of profit at all costs. As an example, let’s look at the Super Bowl, a uniquely and 100% American event. The American flag, hot dogs and Budweiser are everywhere. This absolute explosion of American culture is held in a corporate arena (Mercedes-Benz this past event) with teams that have so many loyal fans but often leave them behind and go to other cities just so they can make more money and have a new stadium. They leave the very people that supported them, were loyal to them and loved them, often for generations, for money.
As for the USA, let’s look at the 4th of July. We shoot of fireworks, have parades and wave our flags. We all love our country! Then, our jobs are shipped overseas, our healthcare benefits cut and anything with the word ‘public’ in it under threat of being de-funded by the Republicans. Look closely and the only thing keeping the country together are culture and language, without those there would be a big black void.
And yet, the Republicans and Trumpers cheer as though they are at the Superbowl. But no matter how loudly they cheer their team might leave them anyway. They cheer at the 4th of July for a government that is already doing its best to remove any sort of social safety nets and yet they cheer even more.
It kind of reminds me of the situation millennials are in at work. Their pay stagnates or even decreases and what do the executives do? They throw a pizza party once in a while or buy a Foosball table in a futile effort to drive loyalty. But the millennials well know there is no loyalty, you just quit and get another job that pays more. Thus the average is now 1 or 2 years at working in one place for them. But instead of acting like an upward bound millennial the Trumpers would cheer the pizza party and be extremely grateful for the Foosball. They are just not sophisticated enough to see their situation has deteriorated.
Let’s drop the facade, America is a business and it would be better for everyone if we came out of the closet and recognized the country for what it truly is. If we are going to destroy safety nets and anything public then could we at least please privatize the last remaining vestiges of government? Let’s sell citizenship and privatize all functions of government. We already sell housing to the highest bidders to international clients which as created housing shortages for citizens here so why stop there? Privatize the DMV or better yet do away with it completely, why should the government say if I can drive or not? Chaos you say? Well, then privatize it where bad drivers can just pay more for their license.
Give the Presidency to the person who can spend the most for it! Oh wait, we kind of already do that, never mind.
If we’re going to be a business then be a business! But if we realize that the naked pursuit of profit might not be such a good idea when it comes to the well-being of humanity then we better start taking some action because we’re sliding to far in the corporation’s direction.