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Third world America

Section(s): 
  • Collapsing bridges, street lights turned off, cuts to basic services: the decline of a superpower
  • Poverty Rate In U.S. Saw Record Increase In 2009: 1 In 7 Americans Are Poor
  • The United States of Fear
  • Empire of Illusion

Luiza Ch. Savage, MacLeans

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Ken Mitchell

Danny Wilcox Frazier/Redux/ Robert Galbraith/Reuters/ Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

In February, the board of commissioners of Ohio’s Ashtabula County faced a scene familiar to local governments across America: a budget shortfall. They began to cut spending and reduced the sheriff’s budget by 20 per cent. A law enforcement agency staff that only a few years ago numbered 112, and had subsequently been pared down to 70, was cut again to 49 people and just one squad car for a county of 1,900 sq. km along the shore of Lake Erie. The sheriff’s department adapted. “We have no patrol units. There is no one on the streets. We respond to only crimes in progress. We don’t respond to property crimes,” deputy sheriff Ron Fenton told Maclean’s. The county once had a “very proactive” detective division in narcotics. Now, there is no detective division. “We are down to one evidence officer and he just runs the evidence room in case someone wants to claim property,” said Fenton. “People are getting property stolen, their houses broken into, and there is no one investigating. We are basically just writing up a report for the insurance company.”

If a county without police seems like a weird throwback to an earlier, frontier-like moment in American history, it is not the only one. “Back to the Stone Age” is the name of a seminar organized in March by civil engineers at Indiana’s Purdue University for local county supervisors interested in saving money by breaking up paved roads and turning them back to gravel. While only some paved roads in the state have been broken up, “There are a substantial number of conversations going on,” John Habermann, who manages a program at Purdue that helps local governments take care of infrastructure, told Maclean’s. “We presented a lot of talking points so that the county supervisors can talk logically back to elected officials when the question is posed,” he said. The state of Michigan had similar conversations. It has converted at least 50 miles of paved road to gravel in the last few years.

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Related:

Poverty Rate In U.S. Saw Record Increase In 2009: 1 In 7 Americans Are Poor, Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti, Huffington Post

  • Experts say a jump in the poverty rate could mean that the liberal viewpoint – social constraints prevent the poor from working – will gain steam over the conservative position that the poor have opportunities to work but choose not to because they get too much help.
  • Special Report | American Labor in 2010
  • The jobs emergency

The United States of Fear, Bill Quigley, Common Dreams
You tell me what happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave since September 11, 2001.

Empire of Illusion, Jeff Dietrich, The Catholic Agitator

  • It's all about spectacle and debauchery. People are so disconnected from reality that they don't know how to read what is happening--they cannot grasp that the walls are tumbling down--and so they retreat into absurdities. This is the disease gripping American society today.
  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
  • Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline