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July 1, 2014

Book 26 of My 2014 Goal

America: A Cultural EnigmaAmerica: A Cultural Enigma by Donald L Gilleland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I did not have much faith in finding America: A Cultural Enigma by Donald L. Gilleland interesting. After all, this is not a story with characters but a book that highlights some personal observations covering some cultural changes over the last fifty years. We all observed some changes (many of the same ones the author covers) so how interesting can this book be? Now that have read it all I can tell you, it is extremely interesting!

I admit I don't always see eye to eye with the author on every subject: illegal immigrants for example. The author states: "The sentiment seems to have changed from a willingness to deport illegal immigrants to the belief that we must embrace all those who came to our country illegally." I don't see it that way because the sentiment is not by us (the legal American general population) but forced on us by those who have the money and power who are seeing this as an opportunity for votes. Let's face it, if you were an illegal immigrant living in the U.S. and you are given voting rights, are you going to vote for those who gave it to you or those who want to deport you? I have yet to meet a majority of people who believe that the illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and reap the benefits that citizenship comes with especially when our fathers and grandfathers had to wait and come here legally even though they were poor and often from war torn areas either from a past war or as a war rages around them. To me, giving citizenship to illegal immigrants is a slap in the face to every American family that immigrated legally to the US. (I won't even get into the financial or health reasons which only makes me shutter.)

Another issue is Social Security and other programs which the author claims we rely on the federal government for. Let's just look at Social Security for the limited time of 1883 to current. Social Security is a government program but it is not an optional program, we have to participate because the government says so. It was suppose to be a program where everyone paid into it and when they reached retirement age, they can collect the money based on what they paid into it. (We all pay into it and it is funded by payroll taxes and doesn't contribute to the nation debt.)

In 1983 the contribution into the fund was increased significantly because not only were the baby boomers required to pay for preceding generations, they are also paying into it for their own retirement. This generated approximately $2.5 Trillion dollars surplus ( and ( that was suppose to be in a trust fund. Guess what? Yep, the money is gone. The government has spent all of this surplus of the Social Securities collected from the people on Non-Social Security related projects. The only thing they left is what was needed to continue to make the current Social Security payments. So now the government wants to cut benefits, raise the taxes or both for those who paid the most into it because there is not enough money. (Noticed I didn't say they wanted to pay back the money they stole out of it.) No wonder all the baby boomers are upset since they are the ones being blamed for depleting the Social Security Funds. The reason they rely on it, what choice do they have? It isn't like the average American can save any money for their retirement. We are all too busy paying this and other taxes which leaves us no money to save!

But don't get me wrong, I do agree a lot of times with the author, especially about the slavery issue. The author states: "What is seldom remembered is that many black Americans in the 19th Century also owned slaves." He furthers states: "Considering only five percent of all the trans-Atlantic slaves ended up in North America, it is amazing that the majority of U.S. films, books, and articles concerning the slave trade concentrate only on the United States, as though slavery was a uniquely American aberration." I know we were never taught in school that other countries including Africa had slaves long before the United States. In school, it was only talked about as if the United States and only the United States had slaves and it was always the white family who owned the blacks. Never was it brought up that it originated in Africa long before ever coming to the United States or that blacks also had black slaves.

There are just way too many subjects to cover but they are all interesting. Most are very current issues that are still being debated in one way or another even today. It doesn't really matter if you or I agree or not with the author on every subject (and he knows that many of the readers won't agree with him) the point is that it all make sense (even those points I don't agree with). He provides tons of information and even had me thinking about things I haven't since I was a teen. (Why do we still celebrate Columbus Day? He didn't discover America nor was he the first.) I also found myself thinking about things I never knew. The author is great about telling his sources and the movie, From Conception to Birth (he provides the address in the chapter) was amazing!

Even the unpopular topics such as abortion, same sex marriages, and religion to name a few are all done in good taste. Also covered are some topics that I wish I didn't read right before bed. The subject is disturbing but everyone should be aware of foreign and domestic threats. The author explains it well and even if you don't agree (although I find it hard not to agree with him) it is still good to at least keep it in the back of your mind.

I found this to be an excellent book and recommend it to everyone!

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