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America was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The contradictory nature of these ideals become evident through the mechanisms by which they are attained, for none of them can be maintained or achieved without prescribing oneself to a culture of monetarism and profitability that is in direct conflict with the sustainability and cultivation of life.
To live, one must work for a decent wage (and, in most cases, exceed $20 an hour for it to be a living one). This, in itself, is not inherently wrong aside from the disproportion between cost of living and average income, however, it does give more incentive for individuals to behave abhorrently for the sake of profitability. Dishonesty, theft, and cheating are of little consequence to the determined, cut-throat nature of the "businessman" or ambitious politician whose agenda alters to win favor from whatever audience they happen to be soliciting. These personalities differ little from the criminality of psychopaths and yet they control the conditions for life on a global scale. Nor is the pursuit of happiness possible without wages on which to live. Liberty, at this point all but an illusion, is reduced to the short respite from working for a socioeconomic structure that is either ignorant to or dismissive of individuals and the humanity, creativity, and the emotions that bind us.
American culture encourages a focus on the acquisition of wealth for the individual and gives little incentive towards an interest in the arts unless they can be exploited for wealth, fame, or influence. An economy that determines its value solely on the basis of fiscal profitability corrupts nearly all facets of itself. This is no more evident than in government itself which was created to relieve ourselves from the persecutory and corrupt nature of the British monarchy; characteristics it now seems to embody more than it combats.
Politicians, employed to represent the interests of the people of their communities, serve only themselves, and the interests that continue to empower them. There us a plethora of videos demonstrating politicians contradicting themselves or lying and completely legal business tactics even though they're flagrantly immoral. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital made millions by driving companies it bought into bankruptcy. Investment firms often use "pump and dump" schemes that promote stocks to clients while selling them in other accounts. The ratio of interest rates charged to interest rates offered is grossly out of proportion. Healthcare is only as expensive as it is because hospitals were given the incentive to create chargemasters, which grossly inflated the cost of services, by insurance companies expecting discounts for including them in their networks and even in cases where corporate behemoths lose class action lawsuits, most of what they pay goes towards the winning litigators instead of the victims who have to divide up the leftovers amongst themselves. Though these are just a few examples it should be ostensible enough to any reasonable person that capitalism has been hijacked and exploited as a means of legal racketeering with no relief in sight.
All the while imminent threats from nature, cosmic inevitabilities, and man-made dangers could be circumvented by a socioeconomic structure that designated the mitigation of the aforementioned threats as more important than monetary profitability. Imagine a government that creates off-world colonies because it knows ours won't always be so hospitable; that combats food shortages and overpopulation with vertical farming and intelligent space management; that solves a water crisis with innovation that makes water from the air or desalinates the oceans; that builds cities capable of enduring the cataclysms of nature and climate change; that provides shelter, healthcare, and education for everyone; not because it's profitable, but because it is capable of doing so and because it acknowledges the inalienable right of every living thing to exist and to cultivate that existence in peace.
The American Dream has decayed into a living nightmare. Our prevailing economies offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness only to those who can afford to buy them or sacrifice their humanity and subject themselves to the enslavement of a workforce that maintains a socioeconomic structure that is ignorant to our humanity and impedes the egalitarian cultivation of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in congruence with nature. But it doesn't have to be this way. We could govern ourselves based on principles of altruism, innovation, preservation, cultivation, inspiration, and necessity if we were more inclined to invest in it by virtues of logic than we are to invest in endeavors of monetary profitability. Not to do so is to condemn our entire species to a preventable extinction.