For as long as I can remember, whenever I went through the checkout line at our local supermarket, the cashier would ask politely, “Did you find everything you were looking for, Sir?” Until recently, I routinely answered, “Yes, thank you,” although I would think to myself, Of course I found everything, this is the United States. No longer.
For the past year, when I am asked that question by the always very polite supermarket cashier, my answer has become, “No, but thank you for asking.” In my mind, I find myself wanting to ask the cashier, have we become a Third World country?
Welcome to the Brave New World of Biden’s America, where empty grocery store shelves and gas station pumps festooned with the little yellow bags indicating empty pumps have become the norm.
Dealing with empty grocery store shelves and gas pumps, however, is not the only or even the most serious evidence that America today is not the America of previous eras, especially the nation that, since the end of WW II, has served as the world’s beacon of political and economic freedom.
Having to circumvent shortages of one product or another in food purchases or searching for a full gas pump are things that can be dealt with, at least in the short term. Working around more serious indications of the decline in our heretofore expected standard of living are problems not so easily dismissed.
Inflation, long a hallmark of economies of developing and Third World countries unable or unwilling to rein in impediments to free market economics, is now in the United States at levels not seen since the disaster that was the 1970s Jimmy Carter presidency.
This year’s inflation, which looks to continue apace in 2022, is primarily the product of forces within our control — conflagrant federal government spending and deliberate shuttering down of domestic energy sources by the Biden Administration.
Other indices of a nation’s rise in status to a fully developed country, and in our case as the world’s only superpower after the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union, include:
- secure borders,
- controlled crime,
- sound education,
- faith in public institutions,
- a cohesive national identity,
- a strong middle class,
- a positive vision for the future,
- the sanctity of contracts, and
- a strong military focused externally.
Frighteningly, in considering each of these (and other) fundamental indices of a nation’s posture at or near the apex of global modernization, the United States appears clearly to be backsliding.
Our southern border remains not only poorly secured, but not secure at all, resulting in the predictable dilution of our country’s sense of citizenship.
The middle class, bowing under the pressures of major inflation and widespread loss of jobs, is shrinking rather than expanding or even holding its own.
Serious crime in major cities from New York to San Francisco is ravaging communities and reducing hope for millions of working-class families, even as it causes an exodus of those financially able to do so.
The federal government decrees that lawful contracts between landlord and tenant can be arbitrarily voided, and the courts sustain such abuse of power.
In our closed, two-party political system, voters, candidates and political operatives share a deep and open distrust of the most basic index of a democratic society – a fair electoral system.
I could go on and on, but as someone who grew up until graduating from high school living in countries far less developed than ours, perhaps the most disturbing evidence that America has lost its status as the world’s “shining light” of freedom is that our military and our federal law enforcement institutions are being used for improper purposes.
There is clear evidence, for example, that ongoing federal investigations and prosecutions are being driven not by objective and fair enforcement of criminal laws, but by adherence to a set of political beliefs held by supporters of the current administration. At the same time, we see increased military presence on our streets and a push to “cleanse” the armed forces of those perceived to have disfavored political views.
These are the characteristics of a nation not committed to individual freedom and liberty, but signs of a government concerned solely with control and self-survival.
As a child, I lived overseas in such countries. I never dreamt I would be doing so in my own country.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.