So my posts have been a little long the last week, right? That’s because they’re coming to you from the middle of a jungle in South America”¦Costa Rica to be exact. Costa Rica isn’t a Third World Country”¦.it’s a vibrant and exciting country”¦.with a 95% literacy rate. (Higher than the US) And universal health care that is, according to many metrics, better than the health care in the US. (91 % of women receive pre-natal care) Per capita wages are lower, but subtract from the already declining US per capita income, the per capita portion of the $53 trillion US debt (that’s the total outstanding debt we all owe) and that income differential starts to diminish. And what about the factors that don’t translate into straight number comparisons? Costa Ricans call themselves the happiest people on earth”¦.Americans pop pills and are treated for a phonebook sized list of anxiety and mental disorders. But back to the tangible”¦.Costa Rican life expectancy is only one year les s than that of the US, 77 versus 78. So much for all our high living.
As we left the international airport to begin the adventure, I was immediately struck by the fact that while the roads were teaming with new-ish vehicles, there was not a single American car to be seen. Suzukis, Hyundias, Toyota, Honda, Mercedez, Audi”¦.everywhere. The lack of American products was rather compelling. In previous trips around the world, you were constantly reminded of America’s economic reach because familiar logos were everywhere”¦.but that’s changing. It’s like we just ignored Central America”¦.but why? You see, I’ve always wondered why our foreign and economic policy has the US picking fights in the furthest corners of the globe while completely ignoring or botching foreign and economic policy right here in our own global backyard. To what end? Was there another way? Just imagine for a minute that instead of all our bombs and bullets we had invested some of the reported $3 trillion we spent chasing Osama or some portion of the $20 billion we gave to Pakistan on development and joint venture projects in Central America. What might our world have looked like with a strong, stable and Greater American economy? What if we had focused just a fraction of the might and will and determination that we’ve focused on conquest to cooperation? But that moment is long gone. Instead, we built our foreign and economic policy around an energy policy that requires us to constantly meddle in foreign affairs on the other side of the planet”¦but there was no better way, right? Well, the counter punch to our failed energy policy is found right here in the third world…you see, more than 90% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable sources, hydroelectric, geothermal, solar and Costa Rica will be the first carbon neutral planet on earth. Somehow the happiest people to the west of us have found a better way.
When I take these little backwoods sabbaticals, I get off the tourist-beaten track, venture into the backwoods and talk to the real people. Talking to people in Costa Rica is easy, everyone from the taxi-cab driver to the beach bums speak perfect English”¦in fact, virtually everyone in the city centers speak English. And they describe an economy that we would envy. You see, while the United States is suffering from perpetual and generational unemployment and underemployment, every person I surveyed reported that anyone who wanted a job in Costa Rica could have one”¦.and they, assured me”¦you had better have a job because there is no welfare, there is no unemployment payments”¦.this is a country devoid of the warm and fuzzy social safety net that more than 50% of the US population has become dependent upon. What does exist is a national culture that celebrates and glorifies work”¦.hard and industrious work. That same culture of work that was a mainstay of American society has now been replaced by a disgusting and destructive reliance on handouts of every manner and description. This reliance is another long term rot at the core of our country’s foundation. We have created untold millions of people who have become utterly incapable or unwilling to care for themselves and a culture of this despicable dependence that stretches back now for generations. These multi-generational wrongs will not be changed quickly”¦.if ever”¦. We have both eliminated the job foundation that is essential to maintaining a stable economy and created a dependent population which will ultimately be terribly destabilizing and dangerous. Populations cannot be permitted to languish and rot, the safety net must be removed and replaced with work and contribution and responsibility”¦.immediately. No long-term phase out, no incremental reductions”¦how “˜bout a little shock and awe on the entitlement front to get our economy and our national psyche moving again?
Now a frequent criticism of some third world countries is that they are fraught with fraud and corruption”¦.but take just a moment and compare the banana republic version of fraud with the abject and absolute corruption that has been practiced and is now perfected in all of America. Our entire government functions under a polished and pervasive corruption that no other banana republic can match. This is displayed so dramatically in our state houses and Washington DC where legislation is bought and paid for by the powerful corporate interests without regard to the long term impact on the people or the cumulative effect on the larger economy. The corporations suck in billions of dollars of American capital, they don’t pay a single dime in taxes, shave off an outsized portion of the profit for executive compensation, then shift the remaining profit far offshore, taking that money away from the good it might do Americans and the American infrastructure, neat system, huh?
Another criticism is that the legal systems operating in third world countries are not fair, transparent or independent and that they suffer from a perceived lack of legitimacy by the people. But, WHOA take just two seconds to examine how the vital third branch of government is functioning in the US”¦” The Land that Created Real Justice”. Our version of justice has no become a perverse and obscene fiction. One of the most destructive aspects of the foreclosure crime spree playing out across the country is that our courts are not fair or transparent, they are no longer independent and they now suffer from a real lack of perceived legitimacy by the people. In Florida especially, our entire court system is utterly dependent upon the good favor and grace of the legislature who provides the (totally inadequate) funding necessary to keep the entire branch functioning. This dependence and the groveling it causes helps to explain how our corporate-owned legislature can buy their own court system and set it up to run with no regard for our naÃ¯ve notions of due process and the protection of individual rights.
The legislative branch, heavily influenced by the banking, real estate and other corporate lobbyists convinced our courts that the fate of our entire state’s economy rested on the court’s ability to grant foreclosures as quickly as the banks could write the checks that were essential to keep the lights on in courthouses all across the state. We’ve all wondered aloud, sometimes screaming in these imperial courtrooms, ” Why in the face of overwhelming evidence of document fraud, evidence fraud and outright violations of rules of civil procedure have our courts abandoned their role as independent shot callers and become utterly intoxicated by clearing cases by granting summary judgments?” The answer is simple, they need to keep the lights on and under our current funding, the lights don’t stay on unless those beautiful foreclosure judgments keep getting entered.
But there was another way. Faced with the crush of a massive case backlog and pressure from the corporate owned legislature, our courts should have rejected the ends-justify- the-means one time funding and held out for a long term funding mechanism that was not dependent on outcome. Our courts could have, and should have, applied the existing rules of law and evidence fairly and consistently, marking ” return to sender” on all the garbage they’ve choked our courtrooms. Turn the lights down for a bit, and demand the appropriate level of funding required to keep the courts independent and functioning properly. By the way, exactly what have we accomplished with all this foreclosing and rocket docketing anyway? How many hundreds of thousands of properties sit vacant across this state”¦how has anyone benefitted from all this systemic rush to (foreclosure) judgment? I don’t know if anyone has benefitted at all from all this rush to judgment, but I do know that it has caused a very real crisis in confidence in our courts and in our system of government in general. Foreclosure only exposes one very disturbing aspect of our national economy, but even this may not be the most damming.
The United States of America is crippled by a $53 trillion dollar debt. Forget the $14 trillion figure because that does not include our unfunded liabilities going forward”¦.add them up and the real number, your number, my number, your kids and grandkids’ number is 53. I just don’t see any way around the fact that this debt will crush us and I have not heard a single credible source describe how we have any way out of major calamity this number will cause. I don’t think there’s any way we can escape it. Adding to the problem, our global conquest and marauding have profoundly damaged our reputation abroad and in so doing, we have greatly undermined the overall value of US goods and commerce. At the same time decades of a failing education system and a warped immigration policy have taken the edge off our technological and commercial prowess. The US Brand is damaged badly and getting worse. Our goods are no longer perceived as superior in any way”¦Heck, that’s even true within the United States of America. And if our goods and services are no longer as sought after, our export balance will suffer and even greater pressure will be placed on our deficit. In short, the economic hole that we are staring into is only getting wider”¦.and much, much deeper.
When we returned from the jungle and got back into the capitol San Jose, it struck me”¦.you know how I’ve been studying and talking about pre-colonial America. The dynamism, the exuberant growth the unbridled opportunity of taming the country. It’s happening all over again in the rapidly developing worlds of central America. All of central America has a well-developed agrarian economy, but certain areas are developing very vibrant and successful industrial aspects of their economy as well”¦.kinda like a certain New World country called America not so long ago. But all of that has changed. More and more the United States looks like that arrogant and out of control imperial power with a corrupt and illegitimate government that has lost the respect and consent of it’s own people”¦.and that has very scary consequences. Oh, and one more thing”¦.the US devotes almost 5% of our GDP on military spending”¦.how much does Costa Rica spend”¦0%. You see they have no standing army and no defense costs. I’m no analyst, but I’m thinking the average Costa Rican is far better off and far safer than we are in the US”¦I’m guessing the risk of a dirty bomb or a terrorist attack is relatively small in Costa Rica”¦