AlterNet / By Alex Henderson
September 5, 2013
What will it take for America to reverse its dramatic decline?
In the post-New Deal America of the 1950s and ’60s, the idea of the United States becoming a banana republic would have seemed absurd to most Americans. Problems and all, the U.S. had a lot going for it: a robust middle-class, an abundance of jobs that paid a living wage, a strong manufacturing base, a heavily unionized work force, and upward mobility for both white-collar workers with college degrees and blue-collar workers who attended trade school. To a large degree, the nation worked well for cardiologists, accountants, attorneys and computer programmers as well as electricians, machinists, plumbers and construction workers.
In contrast, developing countries that were considered banana republics—the Dominican Republic under the brutal Rafael Trujillo regime, Nicaragua under the Somoza dynasty—lacked upward mobility for most of the population and were plagued by blatant income equality, a corrupt alliance of government and corporate interests, rampant human rights abuses, police corruption and extensive use of torture on political dissidents.
Saying that the U.S. had a robust middle-class in the 1950s and ’60s is not to say it was devoid of poverty, which was one of the things Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was vehemently outspoken about. King realized that the economic gains of the post-World War II era need to be expanded to those who were still on the outside of the American Dream looking in. But 50 years after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963, poverty has become much more widespread in the U.S.—and the country has seriously declined not only economically, but also in terms of civil liberties and constitutional rights.
Here are 10 ways in which the United States has gone from bad to worse, and is looking more and more like a banana republic in 2013.