In a recent letter to the editor, a Victoria resident warned Advocate readers that “a number of opinion leaders in powerful and influential positions are embracing dangerous ideologies like socialism and its variants.” He quoted syndicated columnist Walter Williams, who condemned “spineless administrators” for caving in to the demands of “campus snowflakes” with their “extremely limited, narrow-minded beliefs built on sheer delusion.”
The letter writer cited a recent survey revealing that 58% of millennials born between 1982 and 1999 would prefer to live in a socialist, communist or fascist country. If the survey is correct, perhaps, instead of piously warning against those opinion leaders and belittling those millennials, the letter writer and columnist Williams might consider that many young Americans and others are simply disappointed and frustrated by a nation not living up to its promise. Those young Americans might prefer to live in a country that is less hypocritical and more truly democratic.
Perhaps they find it difficult to support a system in which the gap between the wealthy and the poor steadily grows wider. The 400 wealthiest Americans own more than the 150 million people in the bottom 60 percent. The three wealthiest individuals own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent.
The federal minimum wage has not been raised since it was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009. Nowhere in the U.S. can a person earning only the minimum wage afford to rent a 2-bedroom apartment. For an increasing number of Americans, the dream of owning their own home is gone. Homelessness is rampant throughout the country.
More than half of U.S. citizens say they live from paycheck to paycheck. The long lines at food distribution centers during the current pandemic graphically illustrate this shameful situation.
Almost 14% of Americans have no health insurance and are one chronic illness or tragic accident away from homelessness. Ours is the only major industrial nation without universal health coverage.
College students are treated as cash cows. Total student loans in this country now surpass credit card debt. Young people are mortgaging their future with heavy loan payments in hopes of a future well-paying job or profession. Student loan debt often prevents them from buying a home or getting married and having children. But for-profit colleges have found student loans to be a bonanza.
The profit motive is all-pervasive. It leads to such practices as moving manufacturing plants to third world countries with sweatshop wages even lower than our minimum wage. It results in automation without retraining or other consideration of the workers it displaces.
Congress is controlled by corporate lobbyists from the financial world, big pharma, big oil, the NRA and others with big bankrolls. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can contribute unlimited amounts to political campaigns. The system lets an investor obtain exclusive control of a life-saving drug and increase the price from $13.50 to $750 per dose. It allows a wealthy family to deceptively promote the sale of its pharmaceutical corporation’s addictive painkiller, leading to the death of tens of thousands in the opioid epidemic. It permits privatization of the prison system, which means that to increase profits a steady stream of arrests and incarceration is encouraged, especially from black and brown communities, thus establishing a modern form of slavery.
It lets a U.S. President use his powerful office for the personal gain of himself and his family businesses.
The list is practically endless, but most Americans already sense this.
More power to the professors and other opinion leaders who are willing to point out corruption in the current system. Perhaps as they become more aware, more young Americans will insist on change.