How I See the American Society!
27 January, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
America is the most prosperous nation and a super power. It is an abode of civil liberties, human rights, unalloyed democratic culture and individual freedom. In this unique country there is a galore of social and humanitarian perks and privileges for the citizens. One can find in America the best model of grassroots governance which is sustained through the county and city governments. The utilities like water supply and electricity never stop or disrupted. The environmental cleanliness is preserved like an article of faith.
Here, in place, is one of the best health systems for the low income groups or the senior citizens with none or meager income. These services are provided through Medicare or Medicaid outlets. The social security system provides monetary relief to the senior citizens who have no means of income. They receive the money amount throughout their life span.
The people can call 911 either for safety or for health emergencies. The police is always there to reach within the shortest possible time for help. In case of SOS calls for sudden health emergencies like heart attack, road accidents or else break-in; police and the medical staff reach the spot in minutes. There is no intrusion from anyone in one’s house. As such the lives of the citizens are well protected. The road, rail and highways network within cities and between cities is amazing.
However, there is another side of this most alluring and glittering picture. The American society bears ethnic or color based racial tinge also. While the American constitution guarantees equality for all citizens, there is a semblance of racial aversion between the white Americans, black population or so called African/American citizenry, the Latinos and the immigrants from rest of the world with different socio-cultural backgrounds.
This society is law abiding but equally law breaking. In social and human relationship, it is very moral but on matters such as sex and use of drugs it is immoral and relaxing. It debars the teen-agers from drinking and sex indulgence but ironically chunk of crimes, on these counts, come from the youth.
The people go simultaneously to the Church, sex dens and the night clubs. It is the most caring for its citizens yet the old age, on the whole is, stressful in this country. Apparently the majority harbors a sense of being very secure and behind this feeling of security is always a hidden and lurking dread of insecurity and fear of attack or assault from the invisible enemies or terrorists. This phobia has become trenchant after the 9/11 colossal tragedy.
The countless cars, the posh shopping malls, the big departmental stores with teeming shoppers exude the glimpse of a highly prosperous society. But with many people underneath is tension running to pay off the bills on time and to keep the credit unblemished. Most of the commoners hanker after more hours, double jobs or shifts to cover the escalating and inflating bills which deprive them of the due share of sleep and lead to psychological disorders. It would not be an exaggeration to maintain that a sizable segment of the American society remains psychologically upset and disgruntled.
There is pervasive liberty but there is rampant crime too. The crime rate in the poor and run down communities and neighborhoods is high due to a host of factors such as poverty, ignorance, and unstable socio-economic conditions and last of all easily available guns. There are sporadic outbursts of pent-up anger, frustration or depression by unstable individuals who resort to shooting in educational institutions, at work and public places and shopping malls.
Universally, poverty leads to thefts, larceny and other crimes of minor and major nature. In America it is equally true. Individuals with criminal tendencies and from less privileged sections of the society bug rob or break in at places like convenience, food and liquor stores or similar other places of small businesses.
Granting that it is not an ideal society, yet we cannot ignore the sordid fact that despite watertight statutes, people tend to by -pass, temper with and cheat in tax payments as well as in deriving their social benefits. The lawyers or the attorneys especially the upstarts try to prolong the litigations for constant flow of fees and remunerations from their clients. They pursue and induce their clients to claim for ill health, injuries, violations of contracts and similar claims.
Several cases have come to light about doctors who falsify and exaggerate medical bills to draw more money from insurance companies and the Medicaid and Medicare. Some medicos keep their patients hooked up to them for months and years for prolonged treatments.
It is a public knowledge that the injury or disease seldom heals up and all the three participants in the game i.e., doctor, attorney and the claimant keep making the ill gotten money for years together. Quite a few doctors who made millions through bogus billing from the Medicaid or private insurance companies are under trial for fraud or are languishing in jails.
The police is vigilant and professional but on occasions resorts to excessive force without any justification. Several cases are pending in the courts against police officers for exceeding the bounds of restraint. In one case a police officer lobbed 18 bullets in the body of his target.
Politics in America is the exclusive pastime of the highly wealthy and super duper rich people. It is unthinkable for common people to step into the arena of politics, which requires huge funds and a very prominent social status and vast network. The ordinary people have the right to vote and choose their representatives and their role ends at that.
Beyond where decision making is involved, it is only the rich elite who have complete sway. What to speak of the national elections, the local elections can be beyond the wildest imagination of an ordinary person. The reason is the same. Every one doesn’t have the clout or the money to go into the election arena.
While there is a layer of material prosperity laid over the society, underneath is a simmering discontent and an overriding tension arising out of a host of factors most outstanding being the economic hardships and a running tussle between what they have to earn and what they have to pay.
The majority of people in American nurse high expectations, bloated hopes and hyped wishes but these are seldom realized. The poor dream of a glorious and luxurious life once they win a big prize in the lottery. The dream seldom comes true. They remain tied up in a vicious cycle of taking debts and paying them back.
The people are well fed; they can buy cars, houses, furniture and anything under the sun they aspire for. The key is the credit card. You can pay a fraction of the actual price and keep paying throughout your life albeit with interest. It is a blessing for many but nightmarish for those who cannot pay their monthly installments of the loans and go into default.
This is a pure and ruthless capitalist system thriving on the interest attached to purchases done on the credit. Yet it is a blessing in disguise as even with meager means, one can have access to a good life. But the only condition is to pay back the loan. The majority of the populace instead of direct cash payments makes use of the loans and credit for fear of IRS (tax collection department), which ruthlessly deals with those dealing in cash transactions. There is tendency to deviate and dodge the payment of high tax by concealing the actual wealth.
The overriding notion is against smoking and not drinking, although drinking is equally injurious for health. The promotional advertisements on the electronic or print media for smoking are forbidden. Yet the cigarettes are one of the most sought after and expensive commodities. Despite a mounting and continuous vigorous awareness national campaign about the risk in smoking, still a huge population lavishly smokes. The smoking and drinking is soaring like an epidemic with serious health hazards for the normal or chronic smokers.
More than the drinking and tobacco smoking, it is the use of drugs, dopes and a variety of intoxicants that are fast spreading among the people of all ages and social strata. Although there are punishments for use of contraband drugs yet their use is escalating in all sections of the society. But these punishments have seldom produced the desired results of curtailing not to speak of completely stopping the use of drugs like marijuana, Hashish, Cocaine and Heroin? As such some states have now allowed the use of some drugs.
Keeping in view the rapid proliferation of drugs may be one day the government allows the use of all these lethal drugs openly. That will be the pinnacle of civil liberties but at what cost: a whole nation falling into the pit of drug addiction .Who is going to work if every second person would remain doped and therefore become mentally or physically unfit for work. It sounds a worst case scenario but only a miracle can restrain the people from drug addiction. It would have a snowballing effect.
The sordid perversion if one could imagine of, is the bizarre deviation from the natural course of matrimonial bond .One may admit or bear the occasional homosexuality as has been rife in churches for ages. But what about a big revolt against the nature and for that matter God in shape of the marriages between a man and man and a woman and woman? The number of such males and females who have strayed into the unnatural frontiers runs into millions. This issue has now been given constitutional protection and thus no questions asked anymore.
This is a sheer and sordid perversion and a kind of immorality that cannot be condoned, forgiven or justified in the name of human rights, fundamental rights or social freedom. The religion and the Holy Scriptures are not allowed to come in the way of practicing this abominable trend.
The American society can be the example of a paradoxical society where contradictions abound. There are mega and super duper rich and there are miserable and scum of the earth. The only difference is that the rich are a few while the poor are numerous. The poor are content by going to cheap fast food restaurants and common clubs. The rich and the affluent go to posh and highly expensive hotels and lavish entertainment resorts.
Bi-polarity is ingrained in the very nature of many Americans. They are immigrants also but they call themselves the real citizens. Although they call themselves the nation of immigrants but then they hate or at least dislike other immigrants. The basis for such a behavior could be color, race, region, culture, religion or simply being an alien.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com