America Is a Country - Not a Business!
America is, increasingly, no longer a country; instead, we're being run like a business, and in some cases it's literally killing us.
Take for example, the ongoing problem of foodborne illnesses like Salmonella, which infects over a million Americans every year.
One of the most common ways of contracting Salmonella is by eating eggs. According to the FDA, 79,000 people get sick every year from eating Salmonella-contaminated eggs, and of those 79,000 people, 30 actually die.
This is a type of preventable problem that pretty much doesn't exist across the pond anymore.
Ever since the United Kingdom started requiring chicken farmers to vaccinate their hens against Salmonella, reported cases of the disease have plummeted, and I mean really plummeted.
There were almost 15,000 egg-related Salmonella cases in 1997 when the immunizations began; now there's close to none.
The FDA actually considered implementing a similar vaccine mandate here in the US, but decided not to in 2010, basically because chicken farmers didn't want to spend the extra money on the vaccines and they could buy lobbyists.
This is what it looks like when your country ceases to become a country and becomes something else -- a business, or maybe just another asset in a corporate portfolio.
How many lives could have been saved if the FDA had decided to look out for the public first and Big Ag second?
How many costly emergency room trips could have been prevented?
How many recalls avoided?
We'll never know for sure.
Which is just insane, because preventing things like Salmonella outbreaks is the whole reason we have a government in the first place.
When the founders created this country, they did so in the interest of the public good.
It's literally right there in the opening passage of the Constitution, which reads "We the People of the United States, in Order to... promote the general Welfare... establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Those words, which authorize the government to take action to protect "We the People" against factions like corporations are the true heart and soul of the American political tradition.
They're what gave us the New Deal, the Great Society, and everything else that makes life in America bearable despite the overwhelming power of corporations and the wealthy.
But ever since Reaganomics, we've followed a different mantra, and that's the idea that government isn't the solution, it's the problem.
This is the kind of bumper sticker slogan that sounds great the first time you hear it, but it's the source of pretty much everything wrong with this country.
By waging war on government, which they call the problem, Reagan and his modern-day followers in the Republican Party have sold us out to big business.
You can find evidence of this everywhere you look.
It's why we Americans pay more for healthcare than anybody else in the world, from drugs to eyeglasses to dental work, and why we are the only developed nation in the world that allows for-profit corporations to offer primary health insurance.
It's why you have banks like Wells Fargo ripping off their customers by opening up accounts in their names.
It's why you have Salmonella outbreaks every year even though they stopped being a real problem in Europe years ago.
It's why you have corporate farms spraying glyphosate basically everywhere, even though European countries are banning it.
The list goes on.
Thanks to Reaganomics, we have nearly lost our country.
It's been sold off to the highest bidder, and until we repudiate the free market fundamentalism that has infected our public discourse, we'll not get it back.