Yes, I think we Americans are, in fact, victims of our own success.
We believed that everyone should be able to live in a beautiful, brand-spank'n new McMansion that they probably couldn't afford. Guess what? Many of those folks really couldn't afford the McMansion, or are one work injury away from being kicked out onto the curb. Now we have the entire world economy on it's head because, at least part, we somehow believed that there is a McMansion entitlement.
We believed that every guy, no matter how sick, decrepit or aged, should be able to have sex whenever they want. So what did we do? We put the weight of our medical science on the problem and presto, you have "stiffy pills". Yes, we have babies that are dying of AIDS and there is no cure for diabetes, but my God, 75 year old men can in fact now have sex.
We believe that there is a magic pill to cure everything (even over and above decrepit old men having sex). In fact, I think we've taken it so far that we now have pills just in case you feel sad. Now I know, more so than most people, that there are real medical causes behind things like depression. However, I've seen first hand in my family how easy it is for pharmacology to take the place real introspection and personal change. Why face your inner demons when you can simply have a pill that makes you not want to face your inner demons?
We believe that drinking is bad, that drunk-drivers kill people and that alcoholism is a disease that is "bad". Same thing with tobacco products. We also spend millions the encourage young people not to use to use those perfectly legal products, while simultaneously both the alcohol and tobacco industries spend millions in advertising to encourage people to use those same products.
We believe that we should support families who are working poor with things like food stamps, because said families don't have enough money to buy food on their own. However we don't seem to mind that they have money for things like beer and smokes. No, for some reason it's okay to spend $5 on a pack of Newports and then claim that you don't have $5 for 2lbs of hamburger. Anyone else see the irony in someone buying food in a Convenient store (where prices are way too high by the way), using food stamps, while they talk on their cell phone?
We believe that (per a recently announced presidential initiative) everyone everywhere should have access to broadband Internet service. Maybe it's me, but I live in a more metropolitan area precisely because want access to services...services like DSL. I agree that having a phone and electricity is a necessity and that the government should facilitate that kind of infrastructure. I don't believe that there is an entitlement for streaming video for the residents of Pig's Knuckle Cover, Arkansas.
We believe that if we are wronged in some way, we have the right to get rich as a result. Get whacked by another car? Sue'm. Spill hot coffee on yourself as you attempt to drive and talk on the cell phone? Sue'm. God forbid have a spouse that is killed by a truck on the highway? For your grief you should be awarded a large sum of money in the form of an annual annuity. Money can't bring your spouse back, but damn, that Porsche will sure help in the grieving process.
We believe that obesity causes all manner of health problems, including high blood pressure. So what do we do? We create pills to combat the problem...of high blood pressure. Never mind that for some folks, this wouldn't be a problem if they didn't over-eat.
We believe that we should feel bad about starving children in Africa, as we throw away the left-overs from dinner because our children "don't like" left-overs.
We believe firmly in the separation of church and state, but we prefer that our politicians don't actually say that they believe in the separation of church and state. In fact, we have some religious leaders (such as Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino) that in fact insist that politicians vote FIRST as members of their faith and then SECOND as representatives of the majority will of the people.
We believe that it's perfectly okay for a baseball player to make millions of dollars per year doing something that 12 year old boys do in sand lots while ER nurses make barely enough to live a middle class life as they save human lives.
We believe that it's perfectly okay to celebrate the success of things like college sports programs (UConn comes to mind...) while turning a blind eye to the graduation rates for student athletes. Now this isn't true for all sports and all schools...for example Notre Dame has traditionally had very high graduation rates...but in many instances...particularly in basketball...we seem to forget that it's "Student Athlete" not "Athlete-Student".
We believe that winning isn't everything, but we want you to win anyway. Cut corners, as long as it's done in a manner that isn't easily noticeable. This happens in virtually every aspect of American society...from college sports (Florida is famous for it's college "jock factories") to business (AIG...Enron...etc.).
We believe that violence is bad and so is the objectification of women, but yet we celebrate during music awards ceremonies those "artists" that promote nothing more than glorified advertisements for "gang-banging".
We believe that women are more than sex objects...but then Madonna performs on TV or we see the latest spew from the likes of Britney Spears.
We believe that saving and thrift are virtues to be encouraged, but yet we tax the results of saving and thrift. What do we the opposites of saving and thrift...borrowing and spending? We often times offer tax breaks for them.
We've become a society were somehow logic, proportion and reasoning fall to the way-side as we strive to make everyone "happy", as if "happy" is some kind of chemical that, if sprayed per manufacturers directions, will have the desired outcome. Now I'm not suggesting that everything these days is messed up and that we need to return to a more virtuous past (because the past wasn't more virtuous), but I am saying that we really do have our priorities severely mis-aligned.