Third World and when do you qualify?
Several things characterize countries of the Third World, whatever precisely “Third World” means.
The first is corruption. America is rotten with it, but American corruption is distinct from corruption in, say, Guatemala or Thailand, being less visible and better organized. In most of the Third World, corruption exists from top to bottom. Everyone and everything is for sale. By contrast, in the United States, graft flourishes mostly at the level of government and commerce.
In the United States, corruption occurs at the level of policy and contracts, between corporations, special interests, and Congress. It is done gracefully and usually legally. For example, Big Pharma pays Congress to insert, in some voluminous bill that almost no one will read, a clause saying that the government will pay list price for drugs instead of negotiating for a better price. Over time, this is worth hundreds of millions, paid by you. Yet the clause is legal. Or military industry pays Congress to buy an enormously expensive and unneeded airplane. It’s legal.
In Mexico you pay your useless daughter’s useless teacher to give her grades she didn’t earn so that she can get into university. Corruption relies on individual initiative. By contrast, in America, corruption is a class-action industry. Large groups—blacks, women, Indians, unions—bribe or intimidate Congress into giving them special privilege: affirmative action, racial and gender set-asides, casinos, loans and preferences from the Small Business Administration according to sex and ethnicity. Corruption, plain and simple. But legal.
Second, unaccountable and often intrusive police not subject to control by the public. In America formal police departments rapidly grow more militarized, jack-booted, swatted-out, and their powers grow. [The days are over that a] misbehaving cop should worry intensely when said law-abiding citizen records his badge number with intent to call the chief. And any organization involved in controlling a population is a de factor police outfit, as are TSA, “Homeland Security,” the FBI, NSA, ICE, and so on. Against none of these does the citizen have any recourse. In principle, yes, but in practice, no. Third World, but far more efficient.
Third, lack of constitutional government. This is not the same as the lack of a constitution. The Soviet Union had an admirable constitution, and paid no attention to it. America heads rapidly in the same direction.
Fourth, impunity. Wall Street runs a clear and thoroughly documented scam, the subprime-loan racket, doing immense damage to the country. How many went to jail? How many were tried? How many now have high positions in the federal government? Third World.
Fifth, a yawning gap between rich and poor. As the American economy declines, the middle class sags into the lower middle class. Yet the rich prosper. In America they carefully remain inconspicuous, not flaunting their money. But they have it. Third World.
Sixth, a controlled press. Many Americans I suspect will insist that the press is free, because they are repeatedly told that it is. American control works on the principle of fooling enough of the people, enough of the time.
Mexicans know what kind of government they have. Americans do not.
[Excerpts of an article by Fred Reed]