1) The United States government (largely through the CIA and its predecessors) is directly responsible for the overthrow of at least half a dozen democratically elected governments around the world over the past hundred plus years. Among these are many of our neighbors in Latin America such as Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973. Further afield we have Iran in 1953, which is particularly ironic considering the dire straits of our present day relationship. This list doesn’t include the toppling of non-elected governments (almost all of them replaced by brutal dictators) such as Syria in 1949 and Ghana in 1966. It also doesn’t include direct invasion by U.S. troops such as the Philippines in 1898, Panama (first in 1895 and again at least eight more times since), Grenada in 1983, and most recently, Iraq in 2003. Although many Americans cannot even point these countries out on a world map and remain blissfully ignorant of American interference with their internal affairs, the residents of these countries have certainly not forgotten and in many cases haven’t completely forgiven us either. Can anyone blame them?
It could reasonably be said that whenever three or more people are engaged in any kind of joint decision-making process, politics will be involved. They are an inevitable part of human interaction and a seemingly unavoidable element of the power structures that go hand in hand with governance. It could also be said, without irony, that the biggest problem in our current political landscape is in fact, politics.
The gridlock, inaction, and partisan bickering that characterize the state of our elected officials in Washington, DC are largely a result of the pressures they face in constantly worrying about their next reelection. In the 2008 presidential campaign, the ballots had scarcely been tallied before the political wrangling for the 2012 elections had already begun. When it comes to congressmen, who serve for only two years at a time, and who, over the last forty years, have had an average reelection rate of over ninety-percent, their time in office is one never-ending campaign. How can our politicians be expected to do their jobs and focus on governing when their primary focus is on their own political survival?
• The United States has less than five percent of the total human population, yet locks up nearly twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners (the majority for non-violent offenses). That’s 2.3 million people behind bars – the most of any country on Earth and by far the highest per capita rate – almost five times that of Britain, eight times that of Germany, and a whopping twelve time that of Japan.
• The U.S. also emits twenty-five percent of global carbon dioxide emissions – the second highest of any nation in both gross tonnage as well as per capita.
• The gap in pay between CEOs at some of America’s largest companies and their average workers stands at a ratio of over three hundred to one – the largest of any developed country.
The Middle Ages in Europe are often romanticized as being a time of castles, jousts, and chivalry, with brave knights setting off on noble quests to battle against evil, and to rescue beautiful princesses held in captivity. Such ideas form the staple fare of many a classic cartoon for children. But in reality, the Middle Ages are synonymous with the Dark Ages – a time of rampant warfare, ignorance, plague, and injustice, when the vast majority of people worked as serfs, slaving away their days in servitude to advance the interests of their feudal lords and masters.