Thursday, May 3, 2012

Land of injustice

Columnist wonders how US looks to outsiders

By Paula McFadden, Opinion Columnist

What would the United States look like to an alien visiting earth, seeing our advertisements, political feuds and controlling corporations for the first time?

Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis and E.L. Doctorow explored this idea in their essays in The New York Times for a writer’s festival in New York City next week.

I could argue the United States would look like a land of opportunity where people can speak freely, worship freely and live freely, but this is easy for me to say: I am a white, educated female.

The reality is freedom only comes to a select few, and they have obtained their power through money. In a report by National Public Radio, Andrea Seabrook said African Americans make up 12 percent of the United States’ population and 44 percent of our prison populations.

According to the American Leadership forum, one in three African American boys born after 2001 have a risk of going to jail, and in 2007, one in 15 African American children had at least one parent in jail.

Now that prisons have been privatized, companies make money off those the government incarcerates, and I am positive the prisoners do not feel freedom the same way I do.

The way taxes are constructed is another example of a lack of freedom in the United States. Politicians blame the poor for their own personal problems instead of looking at the overall growing issues in the United States.

The fact Warren Buffet pays less income tax than his secretary is ridiculous. He is one of the richest people on earth, yet he cannot be bothered to pay a little extra in taxes.

With the economic recession, the government has had to make tough decisions to cut government spending, which means education, care for veterans, public libraries and other programs are being cut, making higher education almost unattainable for the majority of young people in the United States. This sounds like freedom to me. Take a moment to note my sarcasm.

So, what does this mean for the United States? Are we doomed by our own political and social shortcomings?

The likelihood of aliens coming to earth is not very high, but the notion is simple: We have become blinded by the world around us. People in the United States should take a moment to look at our country with new eyes and see who is really in control.

In the land of economic, religious and political freedom, it should be you.

Paula McFadden is a junior at Pacific Lutheran University pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in writing and minors in communication and publishing and printing arts. She lives on campus but calls Lakewood, Wash. home.