DISCOVERING AMERICA AS IT IS, is a monumental study of the devastating effect American-style capitalism was already having on the American people during the so-called “boom” years of the Clinton era — even before the systemic ravages that have resulted from the policies of George W. Bush. It raises serious questions not only concerning America’s role as a leading model for development, but even as to its future capacity to compete due to the deterioration of its human capital resulting from anti-social domestic policies.
Anelauskas, a Lithuanian patriot and former anti-Soviet dissident, paints an extraordinary portrait of the America he discovered — the America as it exists for most Americans. While it has been argued that capitalism in Russia failed because the Russians “didn’t know how to do it,” in the United States, the veritable beacon of world capitalism, capitalism does not appear to be working for most people, either. America’s two-decades-long love affair with its free market gurus under Democrats and Republicans alike, gutted the body politic, leaving the American Dream of prosperity for the ordinary man little more than a charade the U.S. corporate, media and government elite successfully fronts to a credulous world.
Twelve highly-documented chapters — on poverty, crime, health, education, homelessness, the deterioration of the family, income inequities and the replacement of welfare by workfare — detail the public disarray which results from an unfettered system of great wealth where the rich determine the social priorities.
In thousands of citations, Anelauskas documents the precipitous plunge in living standards of American citizens, measured not only against the standards enjoyed by citizens in other capitalist countries in the industrialized world, but against their own past levels. Among the many searing results: in all categories that measure economic equity, citizens of all other industrialized countries generally fare better than do Americans.
This blistering reality is culled from innumerable researches by international organizations, domestic and international NGOs, independent U.S. think tanks, journalists, scholars, and even from American government sources, documented in over 80 pages of endnotes. While most critiques focus on one social sector or another, this multidimensional study brings them all together, and the impact is staggering. What this book enables us to grasp — intellectually and emotionally — is the predatory and wasteful operation of unbridled capitalism in its systemic dimensions, and the needless, preventable injury it wreaks upon millions. The linkages between government, wealth, poverty and policy, the conflicts between elite interest and collective well-being, clarify as we read.
Here are just a few of many mind-catching findings scattered liberally throughout the book: An American child has one chance in 432 of becoming a doctor — but one chance in five of growing up illiterate. One in four Americans working full time does not earn enough to stay above the official poverty line. “Food insecure households” add up to over 34 million people. The notion that stock ownership is widespread in America is false.