The American Scream

This last day of October, monstrous masks and creepy costumes aren’t the only thing to be afraid of. With all of the recent media attention, one cannot help but hear of the frightening state of our economy. Well, good news; we’ve found a book that not only adresses the issue head on, but offers a decievingly simple solution. Taken from Independent Publisher, the online magazine:


OverSuccess: America’s Dangerous Obsession with Success, Status and Celebrity
New book warns of problems and offers solutions

by Jim Barnes

It’s a frightening time in America, and I’m not talking about Halloween. From “Wall Street to Main Street,” economic woes prevail: the Stock Market is in turmoil, Americans are drowning in record debt, and consumer economic expectations are at their lowest level of this index’s 40 year history.


“Unlike previous recessions, it’s about more than high oil prices and a faltering GDP,” says author and former New Hampshire state senator Jim Rubens. “After three decades of pedaling harder and faster to meet our culture’s increasingly lofty goals and progressively more inaccessible role models, even the economically secure have reached psychological exhaustion. The good news is that we are ready to question these goals and role models and, in the process, to redefine the meaning of success in America.”


 In his new book, OverSuccess: Healing the American Obsession with Wealth, Fame, Power, and Perfection (Greenleaf Book Group Press, October 2008), Jim Rubens takes a look into America’s epidemic of obsession with wealth, fame, and power. According to Rubens, this “disease” is what’s depriving millions of Americans with satisfying and meaningful lives. Offering hope, the book outlines 20 ways that individuals, businesses, and volunteer organizations can satisfy the American drive for recognition and personal achievement without the burden of “Over Success.”


“We’re poisoned by this thing I call OverSuccess, and it’s not just the Congress and ‘pork barrel’ spending. Even our presidential candidates are grossly misleading us right now. To tell us the truth in these last few weeks before the election would be very risky. Jimmy Carter’s ‘sweater speech’ and Barack Obama’s tire gauge comment didn’t go over well with an American public obsessed with personal comfort and unfettered progress.”


“The biggest problem we face today politically is that we’re the world’s largest debtor, and the pace we’re on is unsustainable. We need to curb our consumption and readjust our practices and values accordingly. We’ll come through it just fine, but we will have to adjust to a new economic reality and face the social consequences.”


More disturbing statistics:



·  According to Federal Reserve Board data, total public and private debt relative to the size of our economy has reached its highest level in a century, our debt load doubling since just 1980. We’ve gorged on expensive houses, cars, wars, and bridges to nowhere to the point of threatening the entire world financial system.

·  One in four of us tell the General Social Survey that we have no close friends, more than double the friendless rate in 1985. Spouses in dual-income families with children spend an astonishingly small twelve minutes a day talking with each other. Almost 30 percent of working Americans take no vacation time at all, our average vacation being only thirteen days, half that of the next lowest industrialized nation. We say that having sex is our single most favorite thing to do, but we are so busy on our career and
debt treadmills that we spend only three minutes a day doing it.

·  Gallup polling finds a record 80 percent of Americans viewing our moral values as weak and declining. Ethical collapse is ubiquitous: Tax cheating has tripled since 1990. Sixty percent of high school and college students anonymously admit to academic cheating. Ninety percent of job seekers falsify their resumes.

·  Since 1960, obesity has tripled to one in three of us. Roughly one in four of us are addicted to at least one substance or behavior. The most extensive-ever survey of American mental heath found that the lifetime risk of major depression for today’s young adults is seven times higher than for those born two generations earlier.


How can we get off the hamster wheel of success when mass media constantly makes us want what we can’t have by filling our waking lives with images of the beautiful, wealthy, famous and powerful? We in the world of independent publishing know this all too well, as the conglomerated media has brought about larger audiences for “superstar” authors, but made it harder for first-time or little-known authors to break through. Is the solitary nature of the writer even compatible with celebrity?



“We need to stop being fixated on ‘bigness’ and superheroes, and start creating what I call ‘new villages’ in which to live, work and interact socially and politically,” says Rubens. “Building these communities from the bottom-up will require grassroots efforts where people get recognized for their contributions and talents. Smaller political units will be more responsive to people’s needs and local media and entertainment will offer healthy alternatives to the national, commercial-based mass-media that feeds our obsession with celebrity and consumerism.”



“Somehow the American Dream has been replaced with the trappings of wealth and fame, and we need to face this fact and start finding new ways to achieve healthy success.”



We asked Jim Rubens to explain more about OverSuccess and elaborate on some of his solutions.



To read the rest of the article, and IP’s interview with Jim Rubens, please visit 


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One Comment on “The American Scream”

  1. Tom Humes Says:

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

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