Much has been written about the rapid rise of China in the last decade as a major world power. On its front page, The New York Times, for example, last year published several articles describing China’s modern super-high-rises, its gleaming towers, and wide super highways that connect its major cities, and ultra modern stadiums, and clean parks. At a time when America’s economy is stagnating, China’s economy is booming.
Unemployment rate is well over 10% in the United States, with cities such as Detroit registering unemployment of 30% or more. Officially, the unemployment rate in Detroit is around 30%, but according to the Detroit News, the actual figure is closer to an almost unimaginable 50%. The number of the homeless throughout our nation is at a bewildering level, with more than three million houses repossessed in the last two years alone, and with three million more houses awaiting their turn to be repossessed this year. At a time when the number of families that are unable to feed their children is rising to shameful levels here, with reports that one out of four children in America goes to bed hungry, China’s booming economy is incomprehensible to the average American who does not read news papers or international magazines.
I have read that tourists who were dazed by what they saw in Beijing and Shanghai were shocked even more when they returned to New York, Detroit, or Los Angelus, and saw our dirty subways and crumbling infra-structure, and graffiti scrawled walls needing a coat of paint, and dirty floors needing a thorough scrubbing, and trash on the curbs, and desperation in the eyes and anxiety in the faces of the millions of the unemployed and the newly homeless. Judging from readers’ comments in national newspapers and magazines, there is increasing evidence that people have finally begun asking in earnest the question: What happened to America?
What happened is quite simple, actually. There is no mystery to it. Americans’ priorities changed in the last decade. We became war-obsessed. Even now I shudder when I recall vividly how some newscasters in the USA cheered loudly as bombs fell on the sleeping civilians in Iraq, during the abominable “Shock and Awe” carnage broadcast live on several TV stations worldwide; and here in New York, on a major network, two anchormen pounded their fists on the table, laughed, and roared, and showed a video clip again and again of a bridge in Iraq being bombed with precision missiles, and a truck on the road speeding and falling down the bridge and tumbling into the river.
While we continued to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, year after year, on needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chinese continued to spend about 45 to 50 billion dollars per city in both Beijing and Shanghai in the last two years, building soaring high-rises and sparkling towers and new museums, widening and repaving the roads, clearing all the trash, and improving their infra-structure. As a result, Shanghai has replaced Paris as the Queen of the cities at night time. With its economy booming, last year more cars were sold in China than in the USA, for the first time in over six decades. And China also built the fastest train on earth, the new magnetic levitation train, Maglev, that runs at an astonishing 430 KPH(Kilometers per hour, or about 267 miles per hour).
The rise of China and the decline of the USA will continue so long as the war-obsessed America continues the two wars initiated by us, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the one war in Palestine fed by us - by supplying tanks, bombs, missiles, and phosphorus bombs, and 2.9 billion dollars to Israel each year. We financed the wars using trillion dollars borrowed mostly from China and Japan.
It’s quite obvious to all but the close-minded, that our priorities had changed in the last decade. Our decline was inevitable. It will get much worse here in the USA for the poor and middle class people in the next four years. The rich, of course, will continue to prosper, and get excellent health coverage. Unburdened by the expenditures of needless wars, the Chinese will continue to spend billions of dollars to improve their infra-structure, agriculture, and health care.
As grave as our economic decline has been, our moral decline has been even more startling and precipitous. There is no doubt now that the detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons were indeed tortured, as revealed by the classified “torture memos” that were released by the Justice department, to comply with a court order that the ACLU obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. Also, the world is aghast that hundreds of detainees were held in captivity for more than seven years without being charged of any criminal activity, and that several prisoners were even tortured to death.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ