From "E Pluribus Unum" (from many, one) to "I'm ok, fuck you"
This post started with the article "Pagan statism": The frightening corporate/Christian alliance that invented "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" about how advertising executives - bankrolled by major corporations - starting in 1949 sold the nation on "the importance of all religious institutions as the basis of American life." (see One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America)
UPDATE 25 May, 2015
Another article by Salon that ties into how corporations bought out the Jesus: Jesus is a political prisoner: An American history of Christianity’s corruption.
Corporate America had lost the labor movement to unions early in the 20th century and was trying to find a way to push back. They thought that freedom under God would be an easier sell since it would come from pulpits, not boardrooms.
They start pushing the idea of unfettered capitalism by pushing libertarian ideals.
Along the way, individualism picks up the ideals of Ayn Rand and we start heading towards the dystopia we have today.
Rugged individualism rejects the idea that we are all in this together and pushes the idea that only alone can the individual make it. A romantic ideal, but one completely divorced from the reality that some things are just better done by governments.
Health Care: The most expensive system in the developed world, with the price of common surgeries anywhere from three to ten times higher than in much of Europe, and with 43 percent of sick Americans skipping doctor’s visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs. Medicare, on the other hand, which is largely without the profit motive and the competing sources of billing, is efficiently run, for all eligible Americans.
Banking: Thanks to private banks, interest claims one out of every three dollars that we spend, and by the time we retire with a 401(k), nearly half of our money is lost to the banks. But the public bank of North Dakota (BND) had an equity return of 23.4% before the state’s oil boom. The normally privatization-mindedWall Street Journal admits that the BND “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.”
Law Enforcement: As public money for police protection is depleted, our communities are being subjected to law enforcement officers who are insufficiently trained, poorly regulated, and often unaccountable to the public for their actions.
Water Management: A water security expert suggested that “One promising solution is to create water markets that allow people to buy and sell rights to use water.” But a 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services.
The Environment: According to former World Bank Chief Economist Nicholas Stern, climate change is “the greatest market failure the world has seen.” Yet Bloomberg reports that “Wall Street firms are investing in businesses that will profit as the planet gets hotter.”
Government Itself: In a study of outsourcing, the Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 out of 35 cases “the average annual contractor billing rate was much more than the average annual full compensation for federal employees.” (I can personally attest to the last point. I would make much less as a government worker for the same work.)
This now rounds around to news that Scott Walker's Wisconsin is slashing funding for public parks leading to drastic cuts and possibly permanent damage to our common park system.
But individualists will come out with the claim that "those who use the parks should pay for the parks". But this totally ignores the add on effect of things like parks. The parks increase the land value and general desirableness for surrounding areas. Tourists to the parks spend money in local shops, hotels and restaurants. Park employees are well paid and spend their money in local shops, hotels and restaurants. And healthy parks are a treasure that will be enjoyed by generations to come.
The goal, of course, is for groups to claim the failing Wisconsin parks as "proof" that the government can not work. The long term goal of the GOP is to privatize the parks. This will mean skilled and trained rangers will be replaced with the lowest cost workers they can find while the money that would have gone into proving good jobs and excellent parks will be extracted and funneled into high executive pay and dividends for shareholders.
Study extractive empires and you will see how extraction economies work great for those doing the extracting, but eventually collapse when everything of value is stripped. Parks and nature have great value for us now but for corporate interests, they are just targets to strip that value for short-term gain.