To make sense of where we are today you must recognize that "we" are a huge and diverse conglomeration of souls. Finland and other small homogeneous nations in Europe are obviously going to display less violence, higher student scores, and more equal income, than we see in America. Their small congenial cities have an advantage: they are blessed with a small population of very similar and well educated citizens, while we are fractured into widely different classes.
Political history, for thousands of years back, is largely a record of elites manipulating and stealing from those they govern. But in the last 50 years America's elites have redefined this lust for power and money. Those in Washington and Wall Street have conspired to enrich themselves while turning all other classes against each other. Our leaders condemn our past, ridicule our institutions and religions, and claim to be transforming America for the better! But, they stand idly by as new beliefs destroy our family structures; while bankers steal us blind, and they ignore the fact that almost half our children are illegitimate, and half the kids in urban areas do not finish high school! The elites, you see, want to create an expanding underclass that accepts, even demands, their entitlements, accept their dependency, and give up any dreams of moving up the socio-economic ladder.
Since 1970, while work places have become safer and less physically demanding, there has been a six-fold increase in claims for Social Security Disability Insurance. In the last 50 years, the fraction of civilian men ages 25-34 who were neither working nor looking for work, approximately quadrupled. In 2012, more than half the recipients of poverty programs were not classified as "poor" but accepted being treated as needy. We no longer just provide a "safety net" for the truly deserving, but a free ride for any who can find a way to qualify for an ever increasing menu of benefits. This is what our elites want--a divided and dependent mass of voters to accept their place at the far end of the table.
In a recent editorial by George Will, he recalls Senator Moynihan's warning of a few decades ago: "The issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it, but what it costs those who receive it." As a growing portion of the population succumbs to the entitlement temptation, we see a transformation of the nation's culture and a weakening of America's distinctive conception of self-reliance, personal responsibility, and self advancement. This rending of our traditional social fabric, Will asserts, is undermining the history of American exceptionalism. And it undermines our national character, our finances, and our peoples' faith in themselves.
Those in the middle who do work find that they make no progress--inflation, taxes, regulations, and stagnant wages hold them locked in place. And everyone watches as the top .1%, joined at the hip to Washington pols, play dice with the American economy--heads they win, tails the public loses! The bankers run the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the SEC, and the economy for their personal gain. And no one in the White House or Congress wants to stop them because the financiers pay for their re-election campaigns! Can you blame the needy for grabbing whatever they can when they see the president, the media, Hollywood celebrities, and the Wall Street bankers reveling in their extraordinary affluence?
It has been this way for decades and it is hard to imagine it changing. Almost half the people now are dependent on government programs, and many of the rest are afraid to rock the boat or make any serious reforms. The Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party advocates are ridiculed, and none of their suggestions considered for a minute. The teachers and news reporters seem to like the present system, and they "teach" their readers and students to resist change. But, without an unprecedented change of direction, the fractures in our society will deepen and income inequality will become a permanent feature of American life. And, a house divided against itself will soon fall, weakened from within, and other nations will rise on its ashes. If there is a moral here, it is that Islamic terrorism and Global Warming won't ever kill us if we commit suicide first--and it looks like that is what we are doing!