America is the best country in the world, right? Though, I don’t know how you could prove it when the US is not #1 in many categories except Gross Domestic Product and most incarcerations per capita. Wait, never mind, China took over GDP in 2018. Well, America has the highest cost of healthcare in the world, more billionaires than nearly all other countries combined, highest military spending ($732 billion) than nearly every country combined, tornadoes, and corn production. In any case, it is a great country to live in. Many Americans have escaped third world countries and terrible lives to seek an opportunity. We often take simple things for granted like clean tap water, safety, electricity, internet, cell phones, and even shelter. Well, these are usually true. Unfortunately, we’re not perfect. Below is a list of unethical, but legal, things in America.
Between 2000 and 2015, over 200,000 minors were legally married in the United States, or roughly six children per thousand. Some as young as 13 have been wed. Even worse, they cannot divorce until they’re at least 18 years old. n Florida, 16,400 children, some as young as 13, were married from 2000–2017, which is the second highest incidence of child marriage after Texas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_marriage_in_the_United_States).
For the sake of not creating an entire section related to this: child beauty pageants are also legal. Yes, it’s fully legal to flaunt a minor for their sexual attraction to adults. Our own former president delighted himself in this activity.
Businesses can lobby politicians
Neat, huh? Your employer can “donate” money to any politician in any amount they want. What those politicians do with that money is entirely up to them. Perhaps lean them in a direction of their favor? Here are the donors of 2019-2020. Notice how gas and oil companies along with churches typically donate towards Republicans while big technology and finance companies donate towards Democrats. I call it bribery.
Another problem has been this recent thing called PAC (Political Action Committee) where a group of individuals donate funds to a PAC for ballot initiatives or legislation. Look at half a million dollars spend below to fund legislations in their favor.
You’ve probably seen some of their efforts in recent elections. Received a pamphlet in the mail asking you to support someone? Individual contributors have small limitations for donating. PACs, however, do not. So, instead of donating a small amount of money to a candidate I like, I can donate a larger sum of money to a committee that supports a candidate I like.
Bills can have other bills in them
The Covid relief bill that was recently passed providing American citizens an unbelievable $600 while other nations offer their citizens at least 3/4 of unemployment benefits and often universal income due to the pandemic. While the $600 is certainly a slap in the face, what’s really surprising is that the bill over 5,500 pages long. Here’s where the money went:
They call this an “omnibus” bill. Other things included in the bill included:
- Clean energy tax incentives and research funding. Also, phasing out “superpollutant” hydrochlorofluorocarbons
- Forgives $1.3 billion in college debt for prehistorically Black colleges and increases Pell Grants
- Establishes the Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino as new Smithsonian museums located near the National Mall.
- Pipeline safety legislation
- Reauthorization of intelligence programs
- Improvements on FAA certification process so theoretically we won’t have the 737-MAX issue again
- Funding for community health centers
- End surprise medical billing from out-of-network providers
Generally, these are all good things. However, you can see how they could – and possibly did – add things that do not benefit the people.
For Profit Prisons
Here’s an idea: how about I start a business that makes money by bringing in prisoners. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Could you imagine with political lobbying that providing mental health assistance and education to the public is bad for business? That’s what for-profit prisons businesses do. It is in their best interest to house criminals and keep them there.
Any sane nation would have an education program within the prisons to get prisoners back into the public while contributing to society: getting a job, having a family, paying taxes, and being a good citizen. In the United States, it’s better to have the public spending taxes to pay prisons for profitability and keep citizens in jail. In fact, the United States has the highest number of prisoners per capita than the entire world (655 per 100,00 citizens).
Maybe we should eliminate this concept and start programs that benefit prisoners to become citizens again with a focus on mental health. The best part is that your taxes are paying for these prisons, so some executives are making millions off your taxes to essentially enslave people.
For Profit Hospitals
Similar to prisoners, it’s in favor of hospitals to make a profit on our poor health. Wait, what? Roughly 42% of Americans are obese. That’s good for the health business, bad for us. The fact that hospitals have to rely on being profitable to stay in business is mind-boggling.
It’s in their best interest to get us in quick, do the minimum to keep us alive and kick us out. Let’s look at the length of hospital stays around the world:
It’s not too bad, but it’s not good either. What’s worse, though, is that there is an estimated 137 million Americans who owe medical debt. It doesn’t help that hospitals often contract physicians like anesthesiologists. So, if I go to hospital A, which is covered under my medical insurance, that doesn’t mean the anesthesiologist I see is also covered by medical insurance. More often than not, they are not covered by any insurance policy. Why? They don’t get paid as well by the hospital
Furthermore, jobs are often tied to medical insurance. I’ve worked at three jobs in my life where I was not covered by medical insurance. I didn’t have a primary doctor nor office. If I became hospitalized, I would’ve been unable to pay any bills and declared bankruptcy. It’s ridiculous that your access to healthcare is dependent on having a job and being able to afford the insurance for it. And, okay, some people argue “well look at the DMV!” Counterpoint: Well let’s privatize firefighters then. It doesn’t always benefit you, so why pay taxes for them? How about they only save your life or help your fire if you pay a service fee?
Impossible subscription cancellations
Have you ever had – let’s face it – either Comcast, CenturyLink,Verizon, or Frontier for an internet provider? They’re basically the only options (Monopoly anyone?). Have you ever tried canceling your service? Want to take a guess who you speak to do to so? A sales representative. It’s strange how you can literally sign up for any service whether it be a cell phone, internet, television, gym membership, or just about anything with a few clicks and typing basic information. To cancel any of these subscriptions could involve hours of work just trying to figure out how to do it, let alone actually canceling it. Totally legal.
This is different from a Ponzi scheme in one way: it’s selling a product. A Ponzi scheme, also called a pyramid scheme, works as you imagine. The idea is that each person invests money to a person higher than them. Each person above that person makes a cut from the person at the bottom. The idea is that person then becomes an investor, so their job is to get people under them to invest money into the scheme too.
The more people under you that bring in money, the more money you make. They make money by getting more people to bring in money to them. This works very well until it eventually becomes overinflated. At some point, the pyramid collapses. Either someone at the top runs away with the money, new investors slow down and the returns are smaller or diminished, or they’re arrested.
A Multi-Level Marketing scheme is a similar concept only with a product to provide no guarantee on high returns. One example is Mary Kay, a cosmetics company, or Avon. Are the names familiar? You can’t find their products in stores, but you’ve probably seen a friend selling them. Why? Because they make a cut of the sales. Their goal is for other people to sell the products too. If they do, then they get a cut of those people’s sales. The person at the bottom doesn’t see much of a cut because all the people above them see the larger slice of it. Totally legal.
Phone Call Spoofing
One time I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Normally, I wouldn’t pick up and unfortunately, I did. This person accused me of calling them. If anyone knows me personally, they know I absolutely hate talking on the phone and thus would never call someone unless I needed to. I informed the caller that I haven’t made a phone call in over a week, and they must’ve received a spoofed call.
A spoofed call is a proxy phone number. Imagine if I made phone calls from a computer and faked each outgoing call so it appeared that it was from a local number, like say one digit of your own phone number.
Sure, making robocalls and spam calls is against federal law if you register for donotcall.gov, but what good is it if the numbers are being spoofed and communication companies like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are doing literally nothing to stop it. They could enforce identification and tracing, but it doesn’t benefit them so they won’t. In fact, they all offer an application that you can subscribe to that uses their own internal “handshake” for phone call verification to prevent spam. So, they can do it, but they choose not to because they can make money off your pain.
Penalizing Sick Time and Lack of Sick Time
Look, I get it, there needs to be a way to hold employees accountable if they’re ditching work all the time to go to the Theme Park. That doesn’t mean you need to penalize everyone because of one bad apple. Personal rant: companies should never penalize everyone by removing a benefit because one person abused that privilege. If Jonny BeGood is pooping on the toilet, don’t remove the toilets because Mr. BeGood is a disrespectful ass. However, companies are not held accountable for dismissing employees who had no wrongdoing. What about a parent who needs to take care of their child? One company I worked at had a three sick days per year policy. I was suffering from horrible allergies and physically couldn’t breathe when they were bad enough. I was eventually fired. It turns out that workers have no rights.
This is especially an issue with non-exempt employees, like the hundreds of millions of Americans in the service industry: healthcare, restaurants, etc. They do not get paid for taking sick days. It’s to their advantage to NOT call in sick. Ever wander into a restaurant and your hostess is coughing up a lung and you ask, “Why don’t you go home?” They can’t. They need money to live, they barely make enough to live now, they don’t sick time, and they probably get yelled at for calling in sick because it hurts the business.
While we’re at it, America is dead last in OECD countries for parental paid leave with zero. More and more companies are starting to offer it to appeal to future employees, but it’s ridiculous that as a nation we don’t support new parents.
Data Caps for Internet
I’ll keep this one short. It’s completely legal for an internet provider to limit how much data you can use. My wife and I average nearly one terabyte of data every month because we’re working from home, which is near our limit. If we go over our limit, then it’s an additional $30 for that month. As someone who previously had a certification in networking, there is absolutely no need for data limits. Bandwidth at any point in time can be limited by the infrastructure, but that bandwidth doesn’t have an impact over a long period of time. Think of it as a drinking straw: Running water through it is only stopped if someone plugs up the other side – in this case like a data cap.
No-Knock Warrants and Civil Asset Seizure by Police
If given a warrant, police officers can raid your home at any point in time with or without your consent. This is called a no-knock warrant. It’s especially problematic for African Americans like Breonna Taylor. Black Lives Matters aside for the sake of argument, you can see where this problematic. There’s even a term that’s been used in the past decade known as “swatting” where someone fakes an incident and provides an inaccurate address, where an innocent bystander is shot and usually killed.
Civil Forfeiture is also completely legal and doesn’t even require a warrant. In this circumstance, the police may take any belonging of yours if they believe it is involved in illegal activity.
Child Conversion Therapy Camps
If a child comes out as gay, transexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. their parents can sign them up for a child conversion therapy camp where their entire responsibility is to teach the child that their coming out is a choice and to convince them that they’re actually straight. Yes, many people believe sexuality or sexual preference is a choice, or that their child is “confused”. Suicide and high levels of depression are extremely common among those kids that attend these camps.
To put it simply, we should not be teaching people something that goes against who they are. Denying someone’s reality only worsens the struggles they fight with on a daily basis.
Tens of millions of people rely on a Payday Loan every year. It’s an unsecured loan for people who typically cannot afford an upcoming bill like rent, or a utility bill, that also do not qualify for a common loan from a bank either due to lack of credit or poor credit. They will write a post-dated check to the lender with some fees and receive instant cash.
The problem is if the check bounces. The APR can run up to 7000% and cause people to default, further damaging their credit history. There is no regulation on this subject. The high interest rates can cause borrowers to be continually in worsened debt that can be almost unescapable at times. The industry makes nearly $1 billion annually sapping poorer communities.
Advertisements for Medications
“Talk to your doctor about..” is the most hated phrase I hear on television commercials. I’ve never heard it in any other country because it’s illegal in almost every other country. In the United States, though, it’s almost normal to hear a medication advertised on television every commercial break. The concept is simple: mention generic symptoms, the patient tells their doctor about the medication they heard about, and then the doctor prescribes it. Except, this doesn’t happen.
95% of the time the doctor won’t recommend the drug the patient brings up. Even more troublesome, fewer people have a primary care doctor. According to a recent study, 33% of the millennial generation doesn’t even bother having a primary doctor. The reason I already mentioned above: most of them don’t have jobs that provide health insurance, and the ones that do change insurance too frequently to bother.
Tax-Exempt Mega Churches
I don’t attend church, but I can understand why people go. Most churches have somewhere between 30-500 churchgoers on any given Sunday. That’s fine. Then there are churches that have anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000. What about churches with 52,000 attendees per week like the Lakewood Church and seats 16,800 people. In 2017, they had an income of almost $88,000,000. Sure, I’m cherrypicking the largest of them, but there are hundreds. They sell books, merchandise, and everything under the sun for the “word of God.” And, worse, they preach that God wants us to be prosperous, which is against everything Jesus taught. Despite millions of dollars of income, private jets, mansions, luxury vehicles, and millions of dollars for personal income, they pay zero taxes.
While the churches are taking advantage of the tax system to provide massive income, they’re also involving politics in their message. Separation of church and state is one of the amendments, and they’re crossing that bridge. They should rightfully be taxed.
All votes matter, right? Kind of. Districts matter. Who determines districts? Usually the elected officials. They can alter the districts in favor of their own political party. So, let’s say there are 10 cities in an area, but one of them is strongly Democrat, and that city happens to larger than the 9 other cities. With this city in the same district as the other 9, in the next election, it will vote as Democrat. However, if the district is redrawn and the city is removed, then that district votes Republican.
The impact can have everlasting results, such as turning the House of Representatives or Senate in the favor of the controlling party that designs the districts. We have to remember that America is a republic, not a democracy. While we do vote, we vote for representatives, not legislatures, and gerrymandering can sway those legislatures.
Imagine chickens living with only two square feet of total space where there are tens of thousands share the same floor. Above them, another floor. The worst part is that all of these chickens could still be certified organic: no antibiotics, have outdoor access, receive organic feed, and have at least two square feet. Organic doesn’t dictate their living conditions or whether or not they actually go outside. The chickens get fat to the point where they can’t walk and they’re always lying down.
The problem is many other animals that we eat suffer similar fates. I get it. We have to feed hundreds of millions of people efficiently and cost-effectively, but do we have to do it inhumanely? What’s wrong with having an outdoor ranch full of chickens that can enjoy the sun, different weather, and enjoy the worms in the ground like they naturally do? For the record, we own 9 hens and this is how they live.
Up until Tesla came around and starting suing the states, did you know it was illegal to purchase a car directly from a manufacturer? In many countries, this is completely normal. This is why so many Germans drive a Mercedes or a BMW, and it’s not only because they’re manufactured there, but because they’re very affordable as they don’t have to pay dealership fees. Car dealerships are an unnecessary middleman and have pushed laws to force people to buy cars through them. I think it’s fine having car dealerships themselves, but forcing people to a vehicle through them is unnecessary, especially when we’re in a nation that is completely dependent on owning a car.
The lobbying of car dealerships prevents true competition for cars. This is partially why the US is limited in car brands existing around the world. Furthermore, it’s preventing the evolution of cars. Dealerships are salespeople and the only reason major manufacturers like General Motors and Ford weren’t producing electric vehicles was because the dealerships told them there was no market. Except, that isn’t true and Tesla proved it with their constant backlog of orders and 235,000 cars sold in 2020.