United States of America
The United States of America is a capitalist and imperialist country that is the foremost superpower of the world, though a waning empire. It came into being with the ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, during the American Revolution where the Thirteen Colonies sought to break away from British rule. Presently it has the world's largest economy, with 15% of the world's GDP (PPP). It has created and exerts tremendous influence in many imperialist organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, and Human Rights Watch. The US has developed an immense and thorough apparatus for maintaining its power and dominance through economic, political, proxy, and direct warfare which has caused tremendous atrocities which the state covers up and denies.
The country is deeply corrupt, although masks this with terms like "lobbying" and practices such as revolving doors and the taking of donations from non-profit organizations that themselves take donations from special interests. Because of the entrenchment and hegemony of bourgeois wealth in politics, it is not actually broadly representative of its people like the term "republic" suggests, with its measures of freedom mostly being economic ones for the property-owning classes, with actual personal and civil liberties on a general downward trend. This attitude is further reflected by the United States' pattern of voting in UN resolutions: it voted against the right to food in 2005, abstained from recognizing the right to clean water and sanitation in 2010, and further opposed the right to paid maternity leave, the rights of children, rights of indigenous people, rights of the disabled, and the right to affordable, sustainable energy for all, on top of opposing a resolution calling for the elimination of racial discrimination and glorification of Nazism; despite almost every other country voting in favor every time. The pervasiveness of anti-communist ideology, close relationship between government officials and corporate leadership, pro-war tendencies, increasing state surveillance and decrease in civil liberties, and the presence of chauvinism, patriarchy, and systemic racism makes the US a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with traits of fascism.
Many Americans are convinced into the support or otherwise dismissal of their country's inhumanity by concessions and ideology — of which American exceptionalism is the most prominent, which conceals the contradictions of capitalism so that the working peoples do not seek to dismantle the status quo. Americans often believe that the American press is a free one, but even though American news networks like CNN and Fox News are not state-owned, they still massively support the bourgeoisie and the state regardless. Despite the propaganda, Americans generally have a vague understanding that their country is in an unsatisfactory state and is going in the wrong direction, with over three-quarters of the population believing so.
Despite its overall wealth, very many in the US remain economically immiserated, especially in states like Mississippi which has many poorly-developed areas and one-fifth of its total population living in poverty, compared to the national rate of 12%. As it happens, Mississippi also has the highest percentage of African-American residents, bringing up the fact that the US still suffers from immense racial inequality and unabating racial tensions; and actually they are worsening even into the 2020s. The US also ranks relatively low in education for its level of wealth, with higher education often burdening students with debt that takes an average of 20 years to pay off. In terms of healthcare, the US spends twice the proportion of other developed countries in terms of GDP while providing less health coverage. Because of costs, about 25% of Americans put off treatment for serious conditions, with this figure rising to 33% for treatment of any kind. 56% of Americans furthermore don't have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency expense, thus being put into debt from an unexpected car repair or urgent health issue. The United States also greatly suffers from pollution due to lack of regulation on sectors like animal agriculture, lack of relevant funding, while also failing to have nationwide quality standards — as a 2022 report found, half of all US water is too polluted for swimming, fishing, or drinking. US infrastructure is of poor quality too, with many bridges needing repair, millions of people exposed to dangerous levels of lead in water, poor city planning, and aging power grids that buckle under stress. The nation's various crises and issues in health, education, and overall well-being are even hampering its own effects to conduct imperialism — for example, over 70% of young Americans are unable to join the military due to factors like obesity, education problems, or crime and drug records. Major General Jason Bohm, head of the Marine Corps Recruiting Service, said far fewer than 30% of young people are eligible to serve in that branch, and that "If you break it down further into those skill sets, intelligence level, and the physical ability level, those that we're looking toward bringing into the Marine Corps … quickly decreases to about 7%, that's enormously challenging."
Slavery in the US existed in the land since the 16th century and was very profitable after the 1790s thanks to the cotton gin and Britain's need for cotton amid its Industrial Revolution. To quote Edward E. Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told:
… despite something of a northern consensus that slavery was backward and inefficient, and despite the hard times of the previous decade, plenty of southern readers and talkers answered the question of whether or not the South could continue to use slavery as its recipe for modern economic development with a resounding yes.
By 1860, the eight wealthiest states in the United States, ranked by wealth per white person, were South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, Florida, and Texas—seven states created by cotton's march west and south, plus one that, as the most industrialized state in the Union, profited disproportionately from the gearing of northern factory equipment to the southwestern whipping-machine.
Of course, in the long-run capitalist farming was superior. In fact, among the reasons why slaveowners wanted the "freedom" to extend slavery into new territories and states was to offset soil erosion and to prevent "too many" slaves from accumulating in one area, since there was always the risk of a slave revolt.
Marx and Engels themselves wrote about the Civil War, and Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker wrote a summary of the origins and course of the war as well. Basically, the war resulted from the emerging industrial bourgeoisie seeing the spread of slavery in the American West as hostile to its own economic interests, hence why it backed the Republican Party which explicitly aimed to prohibit slavery in any new territories or states. This would also have the benefit of slowly undermining the political power of slaveowners in the Senate and Supreme Court as more free (non-slave) states were added to the Union. The industrial bourgeoisie had no interest in waging war against slavery otherwise. It was forced to do so after the slaveowners, in response to the election of Lincoln, seceded and started the civil war rather than accept the gradual and peaceful demise of their political and economic power. Even then, the Union kept insisting until well into the war that it wasn't fighting to abolish slavery, merely to bring the secessionist states back into the Union and accept the election results.
Sections of the American bourgeoisie did support slavery (see for instance Philip S. Foner's Business and Slavery: The New York Merchants & the Irrepressible Conflict), as they profited off of it. Likewise the British bourgeoisie sympathized with the Confederacy due to a combination of wanting a weak United States and the "cotton famine" that occurred as a result of the Union's efforts to blockade Confederate ports. British workers however sympathized with the anti-slavery cause as they were hurt by having to compete with slaves for wages, while at the same time receiving almost none of the gains of their cheap labor.
While the US undoubtedly has the greatest track record of imperialism, paradoxically it also supported plenty of independence movements — but of course just so it could get in those countries itself, by replacing their previous master. This was the case with India, Africa, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh himself was partnered with early on), and China, where the US pushed for the Open Door policy that would prevent European powers from carving up China and instead establish a policy of free trade concerning it. The US also opposed the 1956 invasion of Egypt by Israel, the United Kingdom, and France in the Suez Crisis, where the Egyptian leadership nationalized the Suez Canal that made its European owners fear it could be closed for oil shipments from the Persian Gulf to Europe, with Israel also particularly upset at Egypt for blocking the Straits of Tiran. The US took the side opposite of its allies and even threatened to refuse a massive loan the British needed for several reasons, for one being that it would destabilize the region and strengthen Soviet-backed liberation movements. There were also protests in oil-rich and strategically-important Islamic countries that were feared to come under Soviet influence, with the US also wanting to prop up the anti-Soviet Middle Eastern Defense Organization. The Soviets also threatened to nuke the United Kingdom, France, and Israel if they didn't withdraw. Although the three invading powers could have reasonably had a victory in Egypt, pressure from the United States ended up causing their withdrawal and major propaganda defeats, with many considering this point to be where the United Kingdom and France lost their empire status (convenient for the US as it could move in to exert greater pressure on their former colonies on top of the former masters themselves).
The US has around 80% of the world's foreign military bases, with roughly 750 of them in over 80 countries which receive an aggregate of over $80 billion per year. Al-Qaeda recruitment correlates with US troop presence in the Middle East, which conveniently gives more of an excuse to conduct aggressive intervention in the region.
The US spends more on its military than the next 9 countries — China, India, the UK, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea — combined. In 2021, its expenditure was $801 billion. Its carbon emissions are greater than 140 whole countries, putting it on par with the entire emissions of Portugal or Finland.
By leveraging its general influence and the dependence of international payments systems on its clearing houses, the United States projects inordinately large authority over transfers of funds around the world. Part of this is done through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which provides services for transferring payments between banks worldwide. Despite being based in Belgium, its data is intercepted and retained by the NSA and the US government uses it to cut off several countries at odds with US foreign policy, including Iran, North Korea, and Russia, from banking services on the system. Around half of international trade is dollar-denominated, with the bulk of that cleared through US banks — as it is then under US jurisdiction, the government can then monitor, deny, or even seize transfers. In 2012 for example, a Danish businessman bought $20,000 of Cuban cigars from a Hamburg-based distributor, but the transaction, which was routed through the US, was frozen by authorities there on the basis that it violated the American trade embargo against Cuba — though the businessman appealed, he was informed it will not be returned to him.
The United States is ostensibly a democratic republic, although the interest of the people is not represented in spite of this. Wealthy capitalists fund lobbying efforts to get representatives to act as they want, rather than what people need. Other times, consent for predetermined causes is manufactured by manipulating public opinion in favor of it. Thus a more realistic term that describes the Statesian political system is "oligarchy".
Bourgeois domination in election campaigns
The Citizens United Supreme Court case in 2010 allowed for the rise of "super PACs", which unlike regular political action committees can raise unlimited funds for political campaigns as long as they don't coordinate with them. This allowed wealthy individuals to translate much more of their wealth into political power — billionaire contributions rose 40-fold from the decision in 2010 to the 2020 Presidential election. From 2009 to 2020, just 12 people accounted for 7.5% of all federal campaign donations. This trend was aided by another Supreme Court case, McCutcheon v. FEC, which in 2014 decided that an earlier limit on the two-year aggregate campaign contributions of an individual is unconstitutional.
Many people in the US, especially ethnic minorities, the poor, and students, are effectively unable to vote through various methods, including the removal of proximate voting booths. While much of this is carried out by Republicans, the Democratic establishment also benefits through the suppression of more radical voices. In the case of college students, a disproportionate amount of them vote in early-voting periods — the Texas legislature for example, in response outlawed polling places which did not stay open for an entire 12-day period, practically shutting them down. In New Hampshire, where many students come to out of state, a new law was passed which required them to get a New Hampshire driver's license and auto registration in order to vote; which can cost hundreds of dollars annually. Preceding this piece of legislation was the state’s Republican House speaker, William O’Brien, promising in 2011 to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.” From 2014 to 2018 Florida flat out banned early voting sites at state universities, effectively reinstated in 2019 by a law that requires all early-voting sites to offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” — a difficulty for densely packed campuses. In 2018, North Carolina enacted a voter ID law that recognized student identification as valid, but with requirements so cumbersome that universities were unable to comply — despite a later relaxation of the rules, under half of the state's schools have certified their IDs for voting. In Wisconsin, poll checkers are required to check for signatures only on student IDs, though some schools remove signatures from their IDs as a security measure due to the cards working also as debit cards and dorm room keys. Furthermore, the IDs used for voting expire in two years, whereas most college IDs expire in four, with students further mandated to show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote. Though these measures were stated to combat fraud, there is no record of intentional student voter fraud in the state. In states like Texas and Tennessee there are laws intended to get high school students to register to vote, although either through a loophole or just refusal, this often doesn't happen.
Some states also disenfranchise felons even long after they have served their sentences — in Mississippi for example, 11% of the adult population is prevented from voting due to Jim Crow-era laws that disenfranchise even many people who committed nonviolent crimes.
United States elections generally use the first-past-the-post method, where the candidate with the most votes is the winner, rather than for example allocating each party an amount of seats in the legislature proportionate to its votes. This compels smaller parties to append themselves to either of the two major parties that they most agree with. This leads many to feel they aren't really represented in government. As George Washington was finishing his second term in 1796, he warned in his Farewell Address about the negative impact that opposing political parties would have on the country — and right with his successor John Adams the two-party system was established.
Wherever they differ, Republicans and Democrats constantly undo or sabotage each other's work, such as by legislating a repeal of previous programs, refusing to fund them, forcing a watered-down compromise, filibustering, or even refusing to enforce and uphold such programs. As the United States is strongly federated, with each of its states having considerable power to decide things on its own, many programs enacted nationally fail to be implemented in parts of the country whose governors and legislature are of the other party. This is as seen with the No Child Left Behind Act, the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes, we have one party here. But so does America. Except, with typical extravagance, they have two of them!— Julius Nyerere, anti-colonial leader of Tanzania and its predecessor Tanganyika from 1961–1985
In practice and especially on the most meaningful topics the two parties are very similar to each other. While Democrats have a more progressive veneer of the two, they like Republicans are a party oriented towards things like privatization, deregulation, imperialist war, and funding the military-industrial complex, as well as neglecting to substantially address racial inequality or the war on drugs. Examples of the two parties having essentially the same attitudes are plentiful and pervade through history:
- Bailing out large financial institutions in 2008 by mostly injecting capital into them
- In 2021 the Senate proposed a bilateral infrastructure plan that would be funded by privatizing existing infrastructure. Democrats strongly condemned this idea four years prior when Donald Trump proposed it, but then backed it as part of Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda; despite having earlier pointed out the damage the profit motive wreaks on this sector in particular.
- General deregulation for among many others, the banking, rail, energy, and airline sectors — helping create the modern state of financial meltdowns, catastrophic vehicle crashes, power outages, etc.
- Creating a police state
- Backing wars in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and many others
- With near unanimity, constantly restocking Israel's Iron Dome system. This is just a subset of all the bombs both parties gladly send over to Israel, and this itself is separate from the ammunition and other materiel provided with the same kind of enthusiasm, altogether making for several billions of dollars in aid every year.
- Backing a prolonged conflict in Afghanistan
- Stoking fear and aggression over China while also using this issue to increase military spending
- Creating the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was a unanimous act of Congress
- Providing constant and intense support for NATO
- Regularly killing civilians with drone strikes with no internal pushback. The practice of drone strikes began under George Bush, ramped up under Obama, and continues more or less enthusiastically by everyone after him.
- Going soft on punishing large, politically well-connected companies that admit to illegal wrongdoing
- Passing trade deals that allow corporations to offshore jobs en masse to exploit cheap labor
- Creating and fiercely supporting the war on drugs, for example through pledging to (and delivering on) expanding the police force and their budget, instituting harsher penalties, and establishing mandatory minimum sentences along with enhancements (additional penalties under certain circumstances). Even foremost Democratic politicians like John Kerry and Kamala Harris flaunt their backgrounds as prosecutors. Both parties have also contributed to the discriminatory nature of the way the war on drugs was framed, where white, middle-class drug users and dealers were seen as victims and poorer, non-white users and dealers were seen as the root of the problem, with penalties for the former correspondingly being minimal while maximal for the latter.
- Rejecting and mocking calls for decisive, large-scale efforts to deal with the climate crisis. Besides outcry from media moguls like Michael Bloomberg and various liberal columnists, among the most outspoken critics are leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, and Ernest Moniz, with plenty of them being multimillionaires with investments or job positions in fossil fuel companies.
- Refusing to address the origin of extortionate costs for higher education. The "radicals" among the two parties want to have such debts paid off by the state, which is really a transfer of public funds to loan sharks — and even that isn't allowed to pass.
- Moderate Democrats and Republicans, when polled on their stances on various values and opinions, are found to be almost in complete agreement with each other.
- Having close relations with convicted child sex traffickers like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislane Maxwell. Even former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have taken many flights with them on their private jet called the "Lolita Express", also being recorded on numerous occasions together.
- Passing a measure to "denounce the horrors of socialism"; approved by a vast majority of the House of Representatives.
While state governors are elected by popular vote, Section 2, Article 1 of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment have the president be elected by electoral votes, a system which essentially gerrymanders the country along state lines. If there are millions of votes cast in a state and a party gets just one more than the others, then it wins the entire state and the votes for the other parties have no impact on the result. One of the most extreme manifestations of such a system was in the 2000 presidential election in Florida, where nearly 6 million people voted and yet just 537 votes (0.009% of the total) resulted in all of the state's electoral votes being given to George Bush, with Florida decisively pushing Bush's electoral count number to 271, just over the 270 needed to win. Thus Bush won the election despite Al Gore having over half a million more actual votes than him nationwide. Similarly, in the 2016 presidential election Donald Trump won 34% more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, winning the election despite having 4.6% less actual votes (nearly 2.9 million) — interestingly, Donald Trump tweeted in 2012 that "the electoral college is a disaster to democracy". Because electoral votes are partially allocated by senator count, which every state has 2 of regardless of population, this leads to a situation where voting power is determined by where one lives. In Wyoming there is one elector for around 200,000 people, whereas in California there is one for roughly every 700,000; thus the voting power of a Wyomingite is around three-and-a-half times greater than that of a Californian. This does not however compel politicians to care more about less-populated states, as they are almost all safely Democrat or Republican (as Wyoming is), and thus a small group of swing states end up receiving the bulk of attention. Because of the electoral college, there is predictably lower voter turnout in states that lean considerably to a particular party as people with a minority opinion understand their vote essentially won't count.
This system has its origins in the 18th century slave-owning class of the South which realized that it would lose in direct elections, and so established a compromise where each of their slaves would count for three-fifths of an electoral vote on top of the free population, resulting in a situation where Virginia had 20% more electoral votes than Pennsylvania despite having 10% less free voters, and where slaveholding Virginians held the presidency for 32 of 36 years after the Constitution was ratified.
While no consensus exists on whether or not the US qualifies as neo-fascist, the bourgeois state has repeatedly demonstrated a propensity for neo-fascism, such as in ignoring neo-fascists breaking the law, permitting Eastern European neo-fascists to visit the country and train other white supremacists, ignoring or obscuring neo-fascism in Europe, permitting neo-fascists to run for senate, deploying neo-fascists in other territories, awarding governmental positions to some neo-fascists, and supporting neo-fascist politicians in countries like Bolivia and Ukraine.
US infrastructure is aging, fragile, and rather neglected, facing further pressure from climate change. This manifests in phenomena like increasingly common power outages, among the most damaging examples being the 2021 Texas power crisis, which disabled utilities for over 4.5 million homes and businesses while killing uncertain hundreds. The amount of power service interruption is slowly going up year by year, with privately-owned power companies failing for about twice as long as public ones — this worsened through continuing deregulation. What brings even more difficulty is winter energy use growing to new records, which is making utility companies institute rolling blackouts to deal with demand — while also hoping for the mercy of the weather to not break the electric grid altogether. The lack of care to improving the electric grid also bodes poorly for fighting climate change, as that will require the electrification of vehicles, stoves, and home heating. On top of this, over a third of bridges in the US (>220,000) are in need of repair, with over 43,000 being in poor enough condition as to be deemed "structurally deficient".
Due to lobbying from car manufacturers, the US is heavily centered on cars as a means of transport, whereas the country's vast expanses and population centers rather point to rail systems and other forms of public transport as being more appropriate. In population centers where there are many residences and businesses, city planners generally neglect public transport and walkways/bike lines, almost always instead opting to create stroads — high-speed, multi-lane roads as a means of thoroughfare despite being a practical hazard in population centers — especially for walking or cycling, which are thus discouraged and which compels more people to get a car, contributing to issues such as congestion, automobile-related injury, emissions, etc. Bike lanes are also placed dangerously close (immediately next to) car lanes, with bicycles many times banned from sidewalks, further disincentivizing the use of this means of transport. Legislation against high-density housing further makes travel take longer, placing even more pressure on people to get a car.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's water infrastructure a grade of C-. Notably, the system is aging and underfunded, in spite of recent programs and investment plans, with a water main breaking every 2 minutes on average, spilling an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water a day. The last major infrastructure overhaul was around 1945, with many sewer and water systems being from the 19th century. Thousands of dams and levees are furthermore on the brink of failure. Waste water systems are crumbling, with sewage water and waste sometimes spilling into the streets and people's yards, also spilling into waterways.
Millions of Americans are exposed to high levels of lead in tap water, even in major cities. The Natural Resources Defense Council found in 2020 that 186 million Americans, or 56% of the country, drank water from drinking water systems whose lead levels were detected to have exceeded the 1 part per billion (ppb) limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Of this amount, 61 million people were found to be served with drinking water systems exceeding the FDA's limit of 5 ppb set for bottled water, with 7 million people being served by water systems whose lead levels exceeded 15 ppb, a level that is supposed to trigger additional action to reduce lead levels. These estimates are also underreported as an EPA audit found states failed to report 92% of Lead and Copper Rule health violations, which explains why no lead detections were found in the water systems of Puerto Rico — a part of the country particularly neglected in many ways. In spite of standards set for manageability, the EPA and health experts agree that no amount of lead above 0 ppb is safe. Water contamination further takes a regional character, with water in the eastern United States often contaminated by coal ash while water in the western part is often contaminated by nitrates from fertilizers.
Despite ostensibly featuring a 40-hour work week, this remnant of 20th century labor movement victories has degraded. Since 2000 and into successive decades, the average full-time employee in the US has worked 47 hours a week, even in conditions of high unemployment such as the Great Financial Crisis that began in 2007. This trend arises in the wake of neoliberalization in which practices such as mandatory overtime became widespread, with workers also "choosing" to work more as costs of living outpace wage growth.
The United States, despite being among the richest nations ever, is one of the seven countries in the world — the only wealthy one, that does not have mandated paid maternal leave — in contrast to the OECD average which provides 18 weeks. This is despite there being plenty of evidence that parental leave improves the well-being of parents and babies, increases women's participation in the workforce, and reduces gender pay gaps. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave for parents, conditioned by them working at least 1,250 hours over a minimum of 12 months and if there are at least 50 employees in that company. North Korea, for its part, gives 240 days of unpaid maternity leave — three times that of the USA. Only about half of American mothers take 5 or more weeks off for maternity leave, with a third taking none at all — of women making under $30,000, this rises to 62%. Whereas experts recommend six months to a year of paid maternity leave, the most radical lawmakers are only proposing 12 weeks, and they are having little success. The average amount of paid maternity leave given by companies is 8 weeks, but most don't have access to even this; in March 2021, 23% of workers had access to paid family leave and 89% had access to unpaid family leave. In the US, child care is seen as a mother's work, and despite fathers often being allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave, 70% of them take 10 days or less — setting an enduring standard in which fathers don't fully participate in family life and which reinforces the division of labor on gendered lines, besides failing to establish a work-life balance for fathers and reifying their value as tied to their job.
Inequality and poverty
The US has high levels of income and wealth inequality — a few people are multi-billionaires, whereas most are vulnerable to if not currently in destitution. The top 1% has 27% of the country's total wealth, which in 2021 became greater than the sum wealth of the entire middle class, often defined as the middle 60% by income, the position of which is becoming increasingly precarious. Because of bourgeois lobbying, the US tax code contains many loopholes for those of means to exploit in order to legally avoid taxation. This helps lead to a situation where the country's 25 wealthiest people have an effective tax rate of 3.4% despite the average worker paying 24-28% (depending on family status), with one large reason for this being that investments like stocks, which account for more of capitalists' income than that of typical workers', are taxed less than that of workers' paychecks. Paychecks get automatically deducted for Social Security and Medicare and are then subject to federal and then usually state taxes — stocks meanwhile are subject to a 20% capital gains tax if held for over a year. Executives of private equity companies have a loophole that allows them to report fees from managing clients' money as investment income, which is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. The wealthy also establish charities that they or their associates control and then donate to them, with that money largely ending up back in their hands. This is typically done by the very wealthiest; the top 25 who are the ones with the 3.4% average tax rate versus the 22% of the top 400.
Wages aren't even adjusted for inflation in the US, with 64% of Americans currently living paycheck-to-paycheck.
One in seven children in the US live in food-insecure households. 6.1 million children nationwide directly experience reductions in dietary quality, variety, food intake, and/or suffer disrupted eating patterns.
Medical debt is possibly the leading cause of bankruptcies in the United States, accounting for 40-62.1% of them. Around 41% of American adults, or around 100 million people, have medical debt, with 12% of adults having more than $10,000 of it. 63% of people with current or recent medical debt report cutting spending on basics such as food and clothing to deal with it, while 48% said they used all or most of their savings to pay it off. A quarter of medical debt holders have their bills go past due or are simply unable to pay it off. One of the largest causes of unexpectedly large medical bills is the involvement of out-of-network healthcare providers without the patient knowing about it, then the insurance either not covering the costs fully or at all. The most common types of bills that lead to medical debt are lab fees or diagnostic tests (59%), doctor visits (56%), emergency care (50%), and dental care (49%). Although there was a pricing transparency rule made in 2021 that required hospitals to post the rates they've negotiated with insurers for 300 common medical services, in reality just 14.3% of hospitals fully complied with the law.
The US spends the biggest proportion of its GDP on healthcare than any other country, at about 17%, compared to an average 8.6% in other OECD states, with annual per capita healthcare spending reaching over $11,000 compared to other OECD countries that average half this sum. This however does not translate into better coverage, and actually correlates with the opposite. Because of costs, about 25% of Americans put off treatment for serious conditions, with this figure rising to 33% for treatment of any kind. To deal with healthcare costs, many Americans have resorted to begging from strangers and their social networks, implicitly incentivized to share their most private medical information in order to get more sympathy and interaction. On GoFundMe, one-third of all funds raised are for medical expenses, the largest category in the service, with only 10% of such campaigns succeeding. The National Opinion Research Center has found in 2020 that 8 million Americans have started campaigns for themselves or someone in their household to cover anything from routine medical care to major surgeries. Meanwhile, 62% of bankruptcies in the US are related to medical costs. Many millions of Americans are further either uninsured or have high-deductible plans that leave them insured only nominally, all the while high-premium and high-deductible insurance plans replace the market share of more affordable ones.
In 1984, the USDA laid out five food groups to be consumed in certain proportions, laying the basis for the food pyramid which was published in 1992, revised in 2005, and replaced by MyPlate in 2011, each of which were an attempt to visualize how much of each group people should eat, promoted especially in schools. These schemes were made up by lobbyists who have major influence in what constitutes the USDA's Dietary Guidelines, unfairly vilifying fats while promoting oversized portions of refined carbohydrates and dairy, all the while neglecting the importance of water, all of which drew wide ire from nutritionists and food scientists. Among the companies that have lobbied the USDA include the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, Nestle, and McDonald’s, whose impact on the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for example is evident in the downplaying of important nutritional facts while missing sustainability considerations for how food is farmed and manufactured — despite the USDA's own Advisory Committee recommending it.
Research based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on dietary health perceptions reveal that 85% of Americans incorrectly evaluate the healthy quality of the foods they eat, with almost all of them overestimating — the people who most accurately assessed their diet were those who said it was "poor", who were right 97% of the time. Americans also have very low "agricultural literacy", with researchers widely remarking that most people in the United States simply lack the schema for how food is produced and processed; that food for them pretty much comes from the store with very little understanding of how it gets there — this results in phenomena such as 7% of American adults believing chocolate milk comes from brown cows, 40% of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders not knowing that hamburgers come from cows, and the most popular answers to one's favorite vegetable being potato chips and french fries. Imaginably, the intense efforts of lobbyists, the general apathy towards education, and the widespread lack of literacy skills even among adults all contribute to the nation's lackluster dietary culture.
Because of factors like the wide influence of the fast food, snack, and other food lobbies in government, advertising, and culture, along with a corresponding lack of regulation, the United States has nearly the most obese population in the world, topped only by minor Pacific island nations. 41.9% of Americans over 20 are obese, and 73.6% of Americans over 20 are at least overweight. This epidemic drives the prevalence of obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer — among the leading causes of preventable, premature death in the country. In 2019, the estimated medical cost of obesity was nearly $173 billion, with obesity disproportionately affecting racial minorities too: 49.9% of Non-Hispanic Black adults are obese, as are 45.6% of Hispanic adults. From such data it may be inferred just how powerful the influence of capitalists is, and how naturally willing the political leadership is to sacrifice so many resources, the well-being of people and the nation, and racial equality for the sake of big capital.
The United States has an abnormally low life expectancy for its level of wealth — in 2021, this was 76.1 years, just three years above the world average and below Cuba, which had a life expectancy of 79.0 that year. America's life expectancy is among the ranks of countries like Columbia, Poland, and Slovakia, which have between three to twelve times less GDP per capita. Meanwhile, countries with a similar GDP per capita like Denmark and Norway have a life expectancy five to six years longer (with longer healthspans and general quality of life too). America's poor standing is the result of its perennial health problems as well as its particularly lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic — on top of obesity, drug, poverty, pollution, and violence epidemics within the context of an expensive, fragmented profit-driven healthcare system, much of the American public refused to take preventative measures due to misinformation and lack of education.
Drug use epidemic
From 1999 to 2022, nearly a million people have died from drug overdoses. Within that period, opioid deaths increased eightfold, and have manifested in three waves — the most recent one which began in 2013 being driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Despite the overwhelming majority of fentanyl traffickers being US citizens, right-wing media in particular scapegoats migrants for the crisis. Amid the rising overdose deaths, less than 1 in 10 people who need addiction care get it. The origin of the opioid epidemic is in the late 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies encouraged healthcare providers to prescribe the drugs at a greater rate, also reassuring the medical community that patients would not become addicted. As it so happened in reality, within two decades around 2 million Americans were addicted and were either misusing their prescriptions or taking non-prescription opioids. Over 70,000 die every year in the US from drug overdose, with around 70% dying from synthetic opioids (other than methadone, a prescription drug). With the quickly rising prevalence of opioids are consequences such as increasing amounts of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to their mothers' opioid use. Often what happens is a patient gets painkillers, then the insurance runs out but the patient is hooked and needs pain relief, and so ends up becoming an addict who sources their opioids from the street. Indeed, only about 40% of opioid overdose deaths are from prescriptions.
The US ranks relatively low in education despite its level of wealth; around the OECD average and below many poorer countries. To top this off, higher education is very expensive and takes an average of around 20 years to pay off.
Major parts of the US school system are privatized as a result of lobbying efforts. Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill for one sell textbooks at a very high markup, leading to common practices among students such as buying cheaper, secondhand copies instead or pirating. In response to the former, Pearson has made plans to phase out physical textbooks and instead sell them as NFTs, so as to claim a cut from every subsequent resale. Texas Instruments for its part uses its market share within the school system to sell dramatically overpriced calculators, which get bought because they are incorporated into the teaching standards themselves and everybody is used to them. School lunches are privatized too — companies like Tyson Foods, PepsiCo, and Domino's buy influence from school lobbies to get their products in cafeterias, and although the products they sell to schools are supposed to be healthier than their commercial variants, they are still loaded with calories, sodium, and fat, contributing to America's obesity and general health epidemics. This is all against the backdrop of millions of students relying on free or low-cost lunches every day. The low quality of school food is widely noticed by students and is part of the mainstream consciousness about the American school experience, with food often being frozen, soggy, or expired, with much of it being thrown out by students.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of Americans aged 16-74 — about 130 million people — have literacy skills beneath the 6th-grade level. Despite literacy being absolutely crucial to developed economies, correlated with several important outcomes such as personal income, employment levels, health, and overall economic growth, this rather easily solvable problem remains to be neglected in the country. Using an international assessment method called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) that classifies literacy up to Level 5, an analysis by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has estimated that getting all American adults to at least Level 3 of literary proficiency (the minimum that qualifies for literacy) would generate an additional $2.2 trillion in annual income for the country — about 10% of GDP. Adults under Level 3 are unlikely to correctly evaluate the reliability of texts or draw complex inferences, at most being able to make simple comparisons and inferences at Level 2 or just being able to understand basic written instructions while having difficulty making any kind of textual inferences (Level 1 and below).
In 2021, about three-quarters of Americans identified with a specific religious faith, with 69% of the populace identifying as Christian; this breaking down into 35% Protestant, 22% Catholic, and 12% other or simply "Christian". 2% of Americans are Jewish, with the next largest religions being Islam and Buddhism, each represented by about 1% of the population. 21% reported no religious preference. 49% of Americans say religion is "very important" in their life, with another 27% saying it is "fairly important" and 25% saying it is "not important". This represents a continuing decline in religious adherence, with 90% of adults in 1971 being Christian, 6% believing another religion, and 4% having no religious preference. Furthermore, in 1965 70% of Americans said religion was "very important" whereas this figure decreased to 49% in 2021.
In the US, evangelicalism is a large movement among Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of spiritual rebirth as well as evangelism, the act of preaching the gospel. In 2012, The Economist estimated "over one-third of Americans, more than 100 million, can be considered evangelical". A 2017 poll by LifeWay Research found that 80 percent of evangelicals believed that the creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that would bring about Christ’s return. This generally accords with a 2003 Pew Research Center poll which found more than 6 in 10 evangelicals believed this, compared to around a third of Americans overall. The LifeWay poll also found 45% of evangelicals take the Bible as their biggest influence on their views on Israel, with two-thirds of evangelicals strongly believing that the biblical promise of the Holy Land to Abraham and his descendants was an eternal one from God. More than half of evangelicals further said that they support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times prophesy.
- ↑ United States' share of global gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) from 2016 to 2026. Statista.
- ↑ GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESSES HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS IN FIVE COUNTRIES, AS IT ADOPTS 60 DRAFT TEXTS RECOMMENDED BY ITS THIRD COMMITTEE. United Nations.
- ↑ General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Access to Clean Water, Sanitation as Human Right, by Recorded Vote of 122 in Favour, None against, 41 Abstentions. United Nations.
- ↑ General Assembly Adopts 59 Third Committee Texts on Trafficking in Persons, Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines, as Delegates Spar over Language. United Nations.
- ↑ Black Panther Party (1970) Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide
- ↑ Fred Hampton (1969) It’s a Class Struggle, Godamnit!
- ↑ Minju Joson (2016) Final Doom of U.S.
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- ↑ Mississippi still nation's most poverty-stricken state. gulflive.com.
- ↑ Race Relations. Gallup.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries. Pew Research Center.
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- ↑ Obesity and Other Problems Barring Teens from Military Service Need National Attention, Leaders Say. Military.com.
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- ↑ The United States Spends More on Defense than the Next 9 Countries Combined. Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
- ↑ One word makes this claim about US military pollution false | Verify. WUSA9.
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- ↑ America’s aggressive use of sanctions endangers the dollar’s reign. The Economist.
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- ↑ BILLIONAIRES ARE SPENDING 39 TIMES MORE ON FEDERAL ELECTIONS SINCE CITIZENS UNITED SUPREME COURT DECISION IN 2010. Americans for Tax Fairness.
- ↑ ‘Get big money out of politics’: Same 12 ‘mega donors’ discovered to be behind billions in US campaigns. The Independent.
- ↑ The Student Vote Is Surging. So Are Efforts to Suppress It.. The New York Times.
- ↑ One in 10 Mississippians are disenfranchised by this Jim Crow-era law. Reckon.
- ↑ Bipartisanship on Jobs Bill: Agreeing to Fail. In These Times.
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- ↑ Bipartisan Senate Infrastructure Plan Is a Stalking Horse for Privatization. The American Prospect.
- ↑ House passes $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome system in blowout vote. Defense News.
- ↑ Despite concerns, US restocks Israel with ammunition. Yahoo News.
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- ↑ Pelosi and McConnell: Cranking Up Bipartisan Madness for NATO. The Real News Network.
- ↑ Our Bipartisan Apathy Toward Civilian Drone Deaths. Mother Jones.
- ↑ Going Soft on Corporate Crime a Bipartisan Affair. CounterPunch.org.
- ↑ The Bi-Partisan Origins of the Total War on Drugs. CounterPunch.org.
- ↑ Impossible Criminals: The Suburban Imperatives of America's War on Drugs. Journal of American History.
- ↑ Slandering the Not-So Radical Green New Deal: A Bipartisan Operation. CounterPunch.org.
- ↑ Supreme Court Appears Skeptical of Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. The New York Times.
- ↑ People worry that 'moderate' Democrats like Joe Biden are the same as Republicans. Our study suggests they may be right. The Independent.
- ↑ Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testifies Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew flew aboard Epstein’s private plane. CNN.
- ↑ Jessica Leigh Collins on 4 November 2019. Twitter.
- ↑ House Denounces “Horrors of Socialism” in Bipartisan Resolution. Democracy Now!
- ↑ The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists. Time.
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- ↑ MacGuill, Dan (2018-05-01). "Is a Neo-Nazi Running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in California?". Retrieved 2020-04-17.
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- ↑ Blumenthal, Max; Norton, Ben (2019-11-11). "Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire – with foreign support".
- ↑ Cohen, Stephen (2018-05-02). "America's Collusion With Neo-Nazis". Retrieved 2020-01-29.
- ↑ Golinkin, Lev (2019-02-22). "Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine". Retrieved 2020-01-29.
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- ↑ Norton, Ben (2018-10-01). "Remembered as 'Human Rights Champion'—Illustrated by His Hanging Out With Fascists".
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- ↑ Norton, Ben (2019-09-23). "Bomb-plotting extremist American soldier tried to join US-backed neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine".
- ↑ U.S. customers experienced an average of nearly six hours of power interruptions in 2018. U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- ↑ Intense cold strained, but didn't break, the U.S. electric grid. That was lucky. NPR.
- ↑ ASCE's 2021 Infrastructure Report Card. infrastructurereportcard.org.
- ↑ Millions Served by Water Systems Detecting Lead. Natural Resources Defense Council.
- ↑ The Average American Works 47 Hours Per Week, Gallup Finds. Entrepreneur.
- ↑ How does the U.S. compare to other countries on paid parental leave? Americans get 0 weeks. Estonians get more than 80. The Washington Post.
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- ↑ What data does the BLS publish on family leave?. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- ↑ DOL Policy Brief: Paternity Leave: Why Parental Leave For Fathers Is So Important For Working Families. U.S. Department of Labor.
- ↑ Top 1% of U.S. Earners Now Hold More Wealth Than All of the Middle Class. Bloomberg.
- ↑ 75.0 75.1 Wealthiest Americans pay just 3.4% of income in taxes, investigation reveals. The Guardian.
- ↑ Taxing Wages - The United States. OECD.
- ↑ As inflation heats up, 64% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. CNBC.
- ↑ Food Insecurity for Households With Children Rose in 2020, Disrupting Decade-long Decline. U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- ↑ 100 million adults have health-care debt — and 12% of them owe $10,000 or more. CNBC.
- ↑ 80.0 80.1 GoFundMe medical campaigns reveal a big problem with health care. The Hill.
- ↑ Millions of Americans Donate through Crowdfunding Sites to Help Others Pay for Medical Bills. NORC.org.
- ↑ The Food Pyramid & How Money Influences USDA Dietary Guidelines. GreenChoice.
- ↑ Majority of Americans Think Their Diet Is Healthier Than it Is, Study Finds. Healthline.
- ↑ Do Not Underestimate The Ignorance Of The American Eater. Forbes.
- ↑ Obesity and Overweight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- ↑ Adult Obesity Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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- ↑ U.S. Life Expectancy Is in Decline. Why Aren’t Other Countries Suffering the Same Problem?. Council on Foreign Relations.
- ↑ U.S. Life Expectancy Falls Again in ‘Historic’ Setback. The New York Times.
- ↑ The Opioid Epidemic Demands Public Health Solutions, Not False Claims About Immigration. Center for American Progress.
- ↑ What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?. HHS.gov.
- ↑ Low Literacy Levels Among U.S. Adults Could Be Costing The Economy $2.2 Trillion A Year. Forbes.
- ↑ How Religious Are Americans?. Gallup.
- ↑ Half of evangelicals support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times prophecy. The Washington Post.