Business Insider published an article titled “The Most Surprising Things About America, According To An Indian International Student.”
It is pure propaganda.
This article wasn’t written for Business Insider. They syndicated it from the author’s post on Quora. This is the low to which U.S. neoliberal propaganda has sunk: Business Insider is crawling around Quora, looking for posts that reify myths of American “prosperity” and “exceptionalism.” For the hundreds of ignored Quora posts that explore the ways in which the neoliberal economy is crushing all of us, “news” sources like Business Insider hold tightly onto the small handful of posts that paint the picture of a more rosy (even if fictitious) reality.
Moreover, when such posts are written by a non-U.S. citizen, they must be true: the outside perspective has a presumed “impartiality,” that the average (average, in our case, meaning working class) American would not have, of course (it’s not like they know their country). The perspective of a privileged international student, attending one of the top colleges in the country (with tuition at a mere $52,000 per year), Carnegie Mellon University, is seen as much more reliable than are the perspectives of the many, many more economically disadvantaged Latino immigrants. These individuals’ perspectives are insignificant; these stories are not posted on Quora, are not syndicated by Business Insider, are not heard by the world. A false “reality” is constructed—a reality of hardship and suffering hidden, buried, under a veneer of consumerist euphoria.
The author notes he found the U.S. to be
An almost-classless society: I’ve noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living. Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I’ve seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth.
Also, (almost) all sections of society are roughly equal.
Laughable. The U.S. has the worst income inequality in the “developed” world. It’s just above Turkey.
“The top decile share in 2012 is equal to 50.4 percent, a level higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the ‘roaring’ 1920s,” Berkeley Emmanuel Saez economist wrote in a recent study.
The reason the working class can afford Sedans and such is because of credit. In 2012, the average American household had approximately $16,000 in credit-card debt. This is just credit-card debt; it doesn’t include car payments, mortgages, etc.
The myth of the “American Dream” is barely keeping afloat on mountains and mountains of debt. The bubble will soon burst, and we’ll see the American “prosperity” exactly for what it has been all along: a myth.
The author writes
Almost every single person in America has access to basic food, clothing, water and sanitation.
If you live in the Silicon Valley, where the author was interning at the time of writing these statements, this might be true. But anywhere, everywhere, else, it’s sheer fantasy.
1 out of 4 children in the US lives in poverty. According to UNICEF, child poverty in the U.S. is the 2nd worst in the so-called “developed” world. Only Romania has more child poverty.
46.2 million Americans were in poverty in 2010—15% of the entire population—and it’s only gotten worse since then.
Over 630,000 Americans are homeless. That’s a homeless population the size of Boston.
The truth is, the Silicon Valley is about as representative of the country as is Hollywood.
Not all of the article is misleading. Some of the author’s observations are certainly telling.
Rich people are thin/ well maintained, poor people are fat. This stems from the fact that cheap food is fatty, rich people don’t eat cheap food — they tend to eat either home-cooked food which is expensive or eat at expensive / healthy places. Unfortunately, it is expensive to be healthy in America.
Dearth of African Americans in technical fields. This probably stems from the fact that they aren’t given enough opportunity, broken families, etc. I’m pretty sure you can extend upon this if you’d like.
Americans waste a lot of food. It is very easy to buy in bulk because it’s so much cheaper and as a result a lot of wastage occurs.
Fruit and vegetable prices, as compared to fast food prices:
– Bag of grapes : $6.00
– Box of strawberries : $5.00
– 1 lb tomatoes : $3.00
– McChicken : $1.00
– [McDouble] : $1.00
Aside from the engagement in the tired, racist trope of blaming black Americans for “broken families”—and the ignoring of the fact that it is the racist prison-industrial complex who is doing the breaking—these points are spot on.
Nevertheless, the combination of actual veracious observations like these with the pure lies dissected above lends the latter a completely undeserved degree of believability. Such is a classic technique of propaganda: mix fact with fiction, and fiction automatically seems more accurate, merely by association.
This article is complete, utter propaganda. The U.S. is “an almost-classless society” precisely in the same way someone is “flying” when they are jumping off of a building, falling to their inevitable, painful deaths just moments later.