We divorce more than people in any other country.

“In survey after survey, Americans show up as valuing marriage more than people almost anywhere else. Yet at the same time we have the highest divorce – and romantic breakup – rate in the world."[1]

The United States is in “a continual state of unconscious immersion in a market turnover culture”; meaning that we are perpetually replacing what exists for the purpose of obtaining the new and improved lifestyle or product.

This disconnect between what we claim our values and choices are, and how we behave, manifests itself outside the family.


What we say:

What we do:

1. The uninsured need health care.

Look for someone else to pay for it.

2. Equal rights are protected.

Oppose same-sex marriage.

3. Sex discrimination is illegal.

Sustain Internet pornography.

4. Private wagering is a crime.

Allow state-run lotteries.

5. Free market competition is fundamental to capitalism.

Erect trade barriers.

6. Abortion is the taking of human life.

Capital punishment is justified.

7. In business, it is survival of the fittest.

Bail out industries that are too big to fail.

8. People may earn as much they can, provided they do not break any laws.

Allow bankers to market credit default swaps and engage in predatory lending, unfettered by regulation.

9. Preserve the environment.

Refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.


You could argue that we are a large country, and individuals supporting an item in the left column are not engaging in the conduct on the right. That is true in some cases; but in others the same people are playing both sides.

My view is that as Americans, we demonstrate a remarkable duality on an large number of inherently incompatible positions. My list of examples barely scratches the surface.

[1] “Families, Class and Culture” by Arlie Hochschild, The New York Times Book Review, October 18, 2009, p. 27.