"In a free society, government reflects the soul of its people. If people want change at the top, they will have to live in different ways. Our major social problems are not the cause of our decadence. They are a reflection of it." -- Cal Thomas
You've undoubtedly heard the old wives’ tale about frogs and boiling water. If you toss a frog into boiling water, he'll immediately jump out -- but supposedly, if you increase the temperature just a bit at a time, the frog will sit comfortably in the water until he's cooked alive. Is that true? No. However, if you apply that story to the way that human beings behave, there's a lot of truth to it. The world is extraordinarily complex and human beings are remarkably adaptable; so it's entirely possible that if changes are incremental enough, people will adjust to "the way the world is" without truly examining the size of the shift that's changed their world.
In the last few decades, our country has spiraled downward into decadence in ways that are genuinely threatening the continuance of the American Dream.
1) Our legal system is broken: There's nothing just about our legal system anymore. Liberals have pushed the idea of a "living constitution," which means nothing more than implementing left-wing policies and calling it constitutional law. Every constitutional case is now decided by the number of judges who still believe in the Constitution that happen to be on the bench for the trial. Laws are no longer applied equally either. If the people running the government don't like certain laws, say against illegal immigration, they simply refuse to enforce it.
Getting beyond that, because lawyers have become a corrupt parasitic class in America, innocent people can be crushed by the cost of defending themselves in court, even if they've done nothing wrong. "Right or wrong" is now often determined by who can afford to pay lawyers or whether it's cheaper to settle than fight it out in court, as opposed to who's innocent and who's guilty. There's also a "lawsuit lottery mentality" that has led to lawsuits based not on merit, but on the chance of being paid off because it's cheaper than a settlement or the hope of getting a large, undeserved financial reward from a jury that doesn't like the rich or a corporation.
2) Unsustainable levels of spending: We have a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit, a 14 trillion dollar debt, and 100 trillion dollars in unfunded Social Security/Medicare obligations and it's entirely possible that we could lose our AAA credit rating in the next few years. Not only has this issue been discussed so often that people's eyes glaze over when you bring it up yet again, but there are nations in Western Europe, with similar financial problems, that are staving off defaulting on the money they owe only because other nations are propping them up in a way that would be unfeasible for a nation the size of the United States.
The reaction to this could better be termed a non-reaction. The American people consistently oppose specific cuts and tax increases, while the Democratic Party is clamoring for more spending and running on opposing any serious attempts to deal with the problem. It's like having a massive hole in the bottom of your boat and having half the people on the ship fighting desperately to keep anyone from patching it up.
3) Demonization of success: We live in a country where half the country pays no income tax and the unemployed get almost two years on unemployment; yet we hear an endless parade of assaults on corporations, on the rich, on anybody who has made a success out of himself. You want to find "greed" in America? Then look at the people who are complaining about "greed." Greed isn't a rich guy wanting to keep more of the money he's earned; it's someone demanding that he get an even bigger share of someone else's money.
We're told by politicians that success is created by luck or taking advantage of people. We're told that it's okay to envy people who have it better than you and that it's even okay to want to see them punished for their success. We're taught to hate people and industries who've done better than we have -- and those small impulses are justified by sliming these people as somehow getting away with paying less than their "fair share"-- even though many of them pay more taxes in a month than most people pay in a lifetime. Instead of encouraging people to copy Americans who've become successful, we're encouraged to hate those people for having more than us. There's nothing good that will come of that.
4) An utterly corrupt political class: As time has gone on, we've not only given politicians more and more power over our lives, we've made jobs in Congress ever more lucrative. Members of Congress make $174,000 a year, they can direct earmarks to their business partners, their family members can get cushy jobs as lobbyists, and after their careers are over, the companies they've taken care of often pay them millions to lobby on their behalf as a reward. On top of this, because of gerrymandering and the advantages of incumbency, a job in Congress is a lifetime job for most of these politicians.
Because politics has become such a powerful, secure, and lucrative profession, it’s drawn a class of people who care much more about having a plum job than serving the American people.
Meanwhile, as the lack of concern these politicians have for doing what's right for America has become clearer, the American people have responded with learned helplessness. The worst sort of people are elected and re-elected and their constituents have increasingly turned a blind eye to affairs, prostitution scandals, perjury, bribes, KKK memberships, and even leaving a woman to die under a bridge.
In an age where politicians have been given such unprecedented authority that they can decide what sort of light bulbs we have in our homes, tolerating the worst sort of men in power is exceedingly ill-advised.
5) Moral decay: People have probably been talking about moral decay since the first time the phrase "the good old days" was used in a conversation. So the talk about the prevalence of pornography, the over-sexualization of society to the point where children are wearing slutty Halloween costumes, the increasing acceptability of drug use, the hostility to Christianity, and the garbage on TV like Jersey Shore probably aren't going to resonate with people who haven’t already become concerned.
However, there are other numbers that aren't as easy to dismiss. Fifty one million children have been annihilated via abortion, a number comparable to the total number of human beings who were snuffed out across the planet during WWII. We also have the highest incarceration rate on planet earth -- and that's no accident. Then there's the staggering number of children being raised outside of a two parent family; 36.8% of all births in the United States are out-of-wedlock births, which is the single biggest contributing factor to the size of the prison population. Are we doing anything to try to reverse that trend? No, to the contrary, we're making the institution of marriage into even more of a joke than ever before by encouraging gay marriage. Cries of "moral decay" may not be new, but these unprecedented numbers suggest that the issue is much more serious than it has been in the past.