America: A failed state

America: A failed state

A "failed state" is one in which the authorities and institutions of the state either cannot or will not provide essential services and public goods to its citizens. However, failed nation states can wage war, foreign and domestic, and engage in other forms of coercion and violence.

Looking at recent headlines the case can be made that America, at the national level, and Oregon (among most other states) is failing in just such ways. SOU has announced budget cuts that will seriously impact its staff and damage its educational efficiency and administrative performance. Our county public libraries are similarly under attack and very likely will remain shut for a long time.

Too many of our citizens in Oregon and nationwide lack access to necessary and reliable heath care, giving America a shameful record among industrialized nations for high rates of unnecessary mortality and morbidity, despite a cost far above other states.

Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world and we have turned prisons into holding cells as well for the mentally ill, with fatal results. Our poverty rate is growing and is higher than that of any EEU nation, Canada or Japan. Public housing for poor and low income Americans is totally inadequate for the need and the federal government is now in charge of callous ideologues who do not believe in government programs for such people. Higher education costs have soared over the past twenty years and that ladder of upward mobility is now denied to millions of worthy youth. Those who do make it through are "strapped" with loans that will take years to pay back.

Nationally, the Bush administration has shredded the constitution and emasculated the federal government by at once waging a ruinous war and drastically reducing income taxes on higher incomes and taxes on capital, which overwhelmingly benefits only the richest Americans---the top 10 percent. American workers are rendered more exploited and "disposable," made redundant through globalization and outsourcing, while the "middle class" is vanishing.

Our nation's infrastructure, our roads, bridges, school buildings, dams, national parks, waterways and the like are falling apart and together need more that a trillion dollars in repairs and improvements.

In true "failed state" style, we wage impoverishing "wars" for the benefit of special interests. The American Empire is a big failed state, it is true, but a failure nonetheless.

Gerald Cavanaugh

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