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A nation's dysfunction observed from public transit
Genres: Culture, Current Events, History

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Published Date

January 23, 2024 (U.S. & Canada) | March 7, 2024 (U.K. & Australia)

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Virtually every problem with the modern American mode of living stems from three major cultural characteristics: a pathological attachment to the automobile, a horrifying apathy toward the obesity epidemic, and a deeply engrained fetishization of employment. This should be plain to anyone paying attention, but it’s especially clear if you sell your car and spend six gruelling months riding public transit in Dallas, Texas, arguably the nation’s most regrettable example of urban dysfunction.

For the better part of a year, I got on the train in one of the biggest cities in the wealthiest nation of all time, only to find myself surrounded by people who are either homeless or commuting to a job that hardly keeps them above the poverty line. Most of them are morbidly obese, and those who aren’t are only slim because of heroin or some other destructive analgesic.

This country is in shambles for reasons that are material and obvious, but if you turn on the TV, the only issues our political and media intelligentsia find time to talk about are drag queens, QAnon crackpots, the sexual misadventures of partisan pseudo-celebrities, and other such sparkly hysterias. It’s all ludicrous political stagecraft that has absolutely nothing to do with the lives of normal Americans, to say nothing of the weakest and most miserable. These conditions, which constitute a clear cultural disease, are so ugly and glaring that a diagnostic report like this really shouldn’t be necessary.

Sam Forster

Sam Forster is a freelance writer based in New York City. He has previously lived in Edmonton, Montreal, and Dallas, as well as Toronto where he was a graduate associate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics. Since 2020, he has contributed political and cultural commentary to Arc Digital. He has a BA from the University of Alberta and an MA from the University of Toronto.

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