Eight out of ten Americans think their country is heading in the wrong direction. The hapless George Bush is partly to blame for this: his approval ratings are now sub-Nixonian. But many are concerned not so much about a failed president as about a flailing nation. . . .
American house prices are falling faster than during the Depression, petrol is more expensive than in the 1970s, banks are collapsing, the euro is kicking sand in the dollar's face, credit is scarce, recession and inflation both threaten the economy, consumer confidence is an oxymoron and Belgians have just bought Budweiser, "America's beer." . . .
Between 2002 and 2006 the incomes of 99% rose by an average of 1% a year in real terms, while those of the top 1% rose by 11% a year; three-quarters of the economic gains during Mr. Bush's presidency went to the top 1%. . . . this lot, rather than building trusts, avoid taxes and ship jobs to Mexico. . . . a nation built on immigrants is building a fence to keep them out. . . why, many wonder, should American children do worse at reading than Polish ones and at maths than Lithuanians?
Abroad, America has spent vast amounts of blood and treasure, to little purpose. In Iraq, finding an acceptable exit will look like success; Afghanistan is slipping. American's claim to be a beacon of freedom in a dark world has been dimmed by Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the flouting of the Geneva Conventions. . . . American health care . . . manages to the the most expensive on the planet even though it fails properly to care for the tens of millions of people[.]
From The Economist, July 16th-August 1st 2008, page 15.