Van Buren takes us on a tour of many parts of the US, and in doing so he sheds much light for those of us over the age of 40 on the dramatic changes that have appeared across this land in the last three or four decades, changes which parallel the much more devastating changes our masters in the One Percent have wrought across Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine. Outside of the enclaves of One Percent neighborhoods, the only areas resembling America 30 years ago are odd little immigrant places like Spanish Harlem and military bases. However, military base communities are heavily subsidized, rather artificial places that come with authoritarian rule. Welcome to neoliberal America!
I grew up in the Midwest at a time when the country still prided itself on having something of a conscience, when it was a place still built on hope and a widespread belief that a better future was anybody’s potential birthright. Inequity was always there, and there were always rich people and poor people, but not in the ratios we see now in America. What I found in my travels was place after place being hollowed out as wealth went elsewhere and people came to realize that, odds on, life was likely to get worse, not better. For most people, what passed for hope for the future meant clinging to the same flat-lined life they now had.