Through no real virtue of its own, the continental United States is shielded from the brunt of many tropical storms (up to and including major hurricanes) by the Caribbean islands. West of Africa’s Cape Verde, where most Atlantic hurricanes form, sit hundreds of islands which—as history shows—absorb much of the destructive energy from cyclones which would otherwise have a straight shot at North America’s eastern coast.
But it took nearly a year for the United States government to approve a $1.5 billion HUD aid package for its own devastated people on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Only two months ago, thousands of businesses and homes remained without electricity after hurricanes Irma and Maria—the second and first costliest Caribbean cyclones on record, respectively—tore through the island and its neighbors in September 2017.
It’s a credit to the resilience and tenacity of the Puerto Rican people that they didn’t mount a full-on rebellion against Washington, D.C. What does it say about our government that the wealthiest one percent of its citizens received hundreds of billions in tax breaks before the citizen victims of two consecutive natural disasters on a poor island under the U.S. flag received just one billion in relief?
The United States used to be a nation that was quick with assistance to parts of the world hit by catastrophes. Now, the first thing that comes out of Washington, D.C. is criticism of the victims! And I’m talking, again, about U.S. states and territories. Puerto Rico: “Mayor of San Juan is a bad person.” California: “Bad environmental policy is causing wildfires.”
So, when honestly observed, our beloved nation finds itself in a terrible predicament. A bad seed has bloomed into a plant of two toxic stalks. Despite the thousands of venerable values Americans share, our government reflects and respects only two: money and power. Over the course of four decades, it has gone from serving the “one percent” of its people to serving only one international network of crime syndicates.
Mafias don’t protect those outside the families except for profit. What has Puerto Rico done to benefit the presidents of Russia and the United States? What has California done for the godfathers’ families? What has the crime syndicate in the White House said to Puerto Rico and California other than “Hey, bafangool, eh?”
The U.S. ought never to have allowed a mafia to take charge of the executive branch. Of course, few of us saw it coming. Not exactly like it did, anyway. The damage done to our country after the fact, so far, has been mostly inevitable. Corruption literally means damage. And we see it clearly in the charred California forests and the blighted streets of Puerto Rico.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the failures of our trusted institutions. Most Americans want to live good lives and let others do the same, but those values are no longer reflected in our government. The majority of our elected officials are stricken with an avarice of a kind regular folks can only imagine.