The United States, a country of chronic insecurity, fear and armed and institutionalized violence. Daily reports of racial violence, shootings, kidnappings, killings, assassinations and arson have been reported. Dozens of people die every day as a result of this armed violence. This “democracy” has evolved into a police state in which law enforcement has the right to kill. The events of recent months tend to prove it. At the end of July, a white police officer charged with murder for the death of a black man in Ohio. At the end of August, the live murder of a journalist and her colleague in Virginia. Eight people (five children and three adults) were murdered in a residence in Houston. At the same time, the memorial ceremony for Michael Brown, a young black man murdered by a white police officer in August 2014, turned violent. A fussillade broke out. The police shot a young man who found himself in critical condition. A state of emergency has been declared in Tyrone, Missouri (Journal Le Devoir, August 11, 2015, p. B5). On September 26, a Black man in a wheelchair was shot dead by police in the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. On October 1, a dozen lives were lost with about fifteen injured in a massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the tragedy being the 45th shooting to occur in a school in 2015.
These daily dispatches make people shudder. No state is spared. The Americans are killing each other. A real massacre that reflects a real process of social decomposition, itself amplified and aggravated by the free circulation of firearms, hate and racist propaganda and the state of poverty in which an ever-increasing proportion of this society finds itself. This national entity that corresponds to the United States has developed an environment marked by insecurity for the majority of citizens. The unwritten rules of “self-defence” are followed. Murders become a commonplace thing and they multiply in indifference.
Several factors are at the root of this situation of chronic insecurity: the increase in poverty and its corollary the marginalization of an increasing number of citizens, the increase in unemployment, the forced use of precarious jobs, jobs that do not make it possible to meet basic needs. Thus, theft becomes a widespread practice. The rules of the rule of law are flouted in favour of criminal activities.
In this brief presentation, the third of three articles devoted to the United States, the first concerning its current military power, the announced budget cuts and the redeployment of its facilities, the second on the process of confinement of the USA observed throughout the world and this essay on the process of social implosion which tends to increase within the national territory and in which we will report on this alarming situation which prevails in this country still considered by many as an El Dorado while the general increase in the poverty rate, with the collapse of the economy as a backdrop, has seriously affected the social fabric in recent years.
I. Death is in the air. From Columbine to Newtown, 13 killings in 13 years
“Every day in the United States, guns kill more than 30 people. While most of them are settling scores between criminals, innocent people are regularly killed in mass killings, as happened on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people, including 20 children, were killed” (20minutes.fr).
These are the main killings that have marked recent US history between April 20, 1999 and December 14, 2012:
April 20, 1999: Columbine, 13 dead. Two heavily armed teenagers killed themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 13 high school students, teachers and administrative staff before killing themselves.
July 29, 1999: Atlanta, 12 dead. A man kills nine people in two brokerage firms in Atlanta, Georgia, after apparently killing his wife and their two children. He committed suicide five hours later.
October 2002, Washington D.C.: 10 dead. John Muhammad and Lee Malvo randomly shoot from their travels in Washington DC for several days. The total death toll is ten.
April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech: 32 dead. On the campus of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, a South Korean student kills 32 people before committing suicide. To date, it is the most deadly massacre in the history of the United States.
November 5, 2009, Fort Hood: 13 dead. A U.S. Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, killed thirteen people at the military base in Fort Hood, Texas.
January 8, 2011, Tucson: six dead. An unbalanced man opens fire in the middle of an election rally of Gabrielle Giffords, elected as Arizona’s Democrat in Congress. Six people were killed and thirteen others injured, including the member.
April 2, 2012, Oakland: 7 dead. A man of Korean origin killed seven people and wounded three in a Christian school in Oakland.
July 20, 2012, Aurora: 12 dead. James Holmes opens fire in a movie theater in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, during a screening of the latest Batman. He killed 12 spectators and wounded 58 others.
August 5, 2012, Oak Creek: 6 dead. Six people are killed during a service at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The shooter was shot by the police.
August 31, 2012, New Jersey: 3 dead. A shooting killed three people, including the shooter, in a supermarket in New Jersey.
September 27, 2012, Minneapolis: 5 dead. A former dismissed employee opened fire in his former company in Minneapolis, killing five people before taking his own life.
December 12, 2012, Portland: 2 dead. In Happy Valley, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, two people are killed when an individual opens fire in a shopping mall where customers were shopping for Christmas.
December 14, 2012, Newtown: 26 dead. A shooting occurs at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed. The body of the alleged perpetrator was also found in the building. Connecticut police report another death at a “secondary” crime scene. (20minutes.fr).
It is worth adding, here, some of the most recent ones: Ferguson in August 2014 (Figure 1), Charleston in June 2015 and Oregon in October 2015.
Figure 1: Michael Brown Sr (centre) led the march that began where his son, who was unarmed, was shot by Constable Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014.
Charleston. A horrifying killing (Figure 2)
A shooting occurred on the night of June 17-18, 2015, in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a city in southeastern United States located in South Carolina. The religious building is frequented by a black population. Nine people were killed by the shots fired, three men and six women (tempsreel.nouvelobs.com).
Figure 2: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
II. The roots of racial hatred
The general increase in the poverty rate, against the backdrop of the economic collapse, has seriously affected the social fabric in recent years.
The increase in poverty
The 2015 poverty statistics reveal that 50 million Americans now live below the poverty line and that 80% of the total population of the United States lives near or below the poverty line. The poverty line in the United States is less than $18,552 for a family of three and less than $23,834 for a family of four. In 2013, poverty affected 45.3 million people, or 14.5% of the total population of the United States (http://talkpoverty.org/basics/).
This surprising new statistic means that 80% of the population is struggling with unemployment, or near-poverty. Many of them rely on the government’s help to help them pay bills or feed their families. Without this assistance, this statistical near-poverty means that they too would be poor. The Associated Press noted that last September, statistical data showed a growing gap between rich and poor.
Despite the repeated assertion that things are getting better, the loss of well-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector, which is used to provide a decent wage for the “working class”, is the likely cause of the growing trend of poverty in America. According to a revised census published in November 2013, the total of 3 million more poor than previously thought. This adjustment has resulted in a reassessment of poverty data (countercurrentnews.com, 2013).
The reassessed data also indicate that 5 million people were helped by food stamps to keep their heads above the poverty line. Without food stamp supplements, the real poverty rate would be even higher. This means that the number of very poor Americans is expected to increase from 16 percent to 17.6 percent.
In terms of minority communities in the United States, the number of Latin American and Asian Americans in poverty has increased since the last reports. Rates in these communities increased from 27.8 percent to 16.7 percent respectively and. Previously, they had been 25.8 per cent and 11.8 per cent according to government estimates. African American communities, however, declined slightly from 27.3 percent to 25.8 percent. The government’s study indicates that this change is entirely due to the government’s aid programs, still painting a bleak picture, that Republican politicians have repeatedly voted to cut these programs. White non-Hispanic poverty rates increased from 9.8 percent to 10.7 percent.
“The main reason why poverty remains so high,” said Sheldon Danziger, an economist at the University of Michigan, is that “the benefits of a growing economy are no longer shared by all workers as they were in the 25 years since the Second World War. “Given current economic conditions,” he adds, “poverty will not be significantly reduced if the government does not do more to help the working poor.
“While 80% of the population barely manages to stay above the poverty line, politicians continue to propose cuts in programs that keep so many afloat” (R. Abraham)
Figure 3: A 7th black church burned in 7 days
Extremism is becoming more and more threatening
We also see that “extremists” kill more Americans than Yihadites. According to the Times, the country has experienced a series of deadly attacks by people inciting racial hatred, hostility towards the government such as the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most laws. These actions have caused the deaths of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and civilians at random.
The New York newspaper reports that non-Muslim “extremists” have carried out 19 attacks since September 11, at the last count, compiled by David Sterman, an associate of the New America program, and supervised by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. During the same period, seven deadly attacks were reportedly carried out by Islamist militants.
A study that will soon be made public, based on police sources, ranks extremist violence against the government among the greatest threats, with a score of 74% against 34% for the acts promoted by Al-Qaeda, the terrorist network allegedly responsible for the September 11 attacks. This study does not include actions in a Colorado movie theater and the massacre in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which caused more lives to be lost than those related to ideology, according to the Times (cubadebate.cu, June 24, 2015).
The collapse of the economy
In a very well-documented and succinct article, Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Wall Street Journal and a dedicated and valued contributor to Global Research, offers an analysis that clearly and lucidly outlines the indicators that show that the U.S. economy has gone through a process of collapse. In particular, it analyses,
“official unemployment data that do not reflect the reality on the ground. A series of dithering with statistics leads to the real unemployment rate being falsified in order to give the impression that the US economy has entered a period of recovery. The figures indicate that labour market participation rates have declined since the recovery that began in June 2009 and continues today. This is very unusual. Normally, during an economic recovery, jobs rebound and people flock to work. Based on what he told his economic advisors, President Obama attributed the decline in participation rates to retiring baby boomers. In fact, during the so-called recovery, employment growth has mainly affected people aged 55 and over. For example, in July all new wage employment was for people aged 55 and over, while the 25-54 age group lost 131,000 jobs in July. He adds: “In the previous year (July 2014 – July 2015), the age group 55 and over gained 1,554,000 jobs and the young classes, 16-18 and 20-24, lost 887,000 and 489,000 jobs respectively. From 2009 to 2013, the number of Americans working in the 25-54 age group decreased by 6,000,000 jobs. These years of alleged economic recovery have apparently bypassed Americans in the maximum working age group.
“In July 2015, the United States had 27,265,000 people in part-time employment, including 6.3 million, or 23%, because they cannot find full-time employment. There are 7,124,000 Americans who hold several part-time jobs to make ends meet, an increase of 337,000 in one year.
“Young people cannot start households on the basis of part-time jobs, but retirees take these jobs to make up for the shortfall in income on their savings due to the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy, which aims to support the balance sheets of a handful of giant banks, whose leaders control the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. With so many industrial jobs and professional skills relocated to China and India, such as software engineering, professional careers are disappearing in the United States.
The capitalist system “applied to the extreme”, without regard to problematic social situations, would constitute the root of this insecurity and violence that we observe today in the United States. This country shows a deep unease that suggests an inexorable decline within the process of ever-increasing marginalization of the majority of the population. It must be said: Unbridled capitalism controlled by a tiny minority can only generate poverty in the context of a continuing crisis whose devastating effects are overwhelming society as a whole.
Real data on the employment situation and poverty rate can only cause concern among the majority. The increasing importance of part-time employment and the relocation of high-paying jobs abroad are weakening the economy and thus the social fabric.
The general deterioration in living conditions is contributing to the increase in insecurity. In this context and to repress any protest movement, a real police repression regime has been put in place, all within the framework of militaristic practices. One can then raise the idea that the general governance of this state can be assimilated to a dictatorial regime.