This is in response to Candy's excellent post below. I wanted to answer her in the comments, but I'm afraid I can't put my feelings into a comment.
APATHY- Yes, Americans have become apathetic to their fellow countrymen, let alone the world in general. It has been a growing trend since WW II and has only gotten worse as the decades have rolled past. Since the 80's it seems as though Americans (through the age of Yuppyism) have also become apathetic to their own neighbors. First it was "keeping up with the Jones'", then it was 'taking care of number one', now it seems its just trying to survive from day to day.
The Middle Class have effectively vanished, taking with it a large tax base that supported the social programs that tended to the ill, elderly and economically challenged. Now the Middle Class IS the economically challenged; petroleum products (heating fuel, gasoline) rising at exorbitant rates, the cost of groceries rising even faster than that with utilities close behind. No one has the time or energy to fight back or rise up against the oppressor when they are working night and day to keep their homes and food on the table for their children.
Foreclosure rates are at a decade high, predatory lending practices are rampant, and I'm sure we all remember those huge changes to the bankruptcy laws they passed during W's first term. The economy is sinking fast, workers are losing healthcare benefits, getting no cost of living increases and are being forced to take on more and more responsibilities for the same or even less pay than they did a decade ago.
That Patriot Bill, the one that took away our rights, the one that was passed during a frenzy of terror and 'trust us, we'll protect you' smarmy smiles and pats on the head. The mismanagement of the country, its money and its people. The loss of lives, not just on the battlefield that was once Iraq, but on the streets and in the schools.
I constantly hear people complain about the quality of life issues; drugs, traffic, pollution, education, civility but these are all related to one basic human need. The need to feel safe and secure; we lost that a long time ago, 9/11 was just the point in time that most people came to realize it. Too bad so many of those people have stuck their heads back up their collective asses and haven't realized how much we're STILL losing. And that as things get worse for the middle class the rate of violence and crime are going to go up with it.
Now maybe I sound like a conspiracy theorist, or maybe someone in a position of power saw the same things I have and decided to use that against the country to their own ends. But this is not something that has happened overnight; its been happening for years, decades even. We (the People) may make a few token advances, but we are so far behind the 8 ball in this game that we may never gain back what was taken from us.