Published December 10, 2013
"The Wire" creator David Simon slammed America's poverty gap and called the country a "horror show" in an impromptu speech delivered at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia, this weekend.
"America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics," Simon said, according to the U.K.'s Guardian. "There are definitely two Americas."
Since the end of World War II, Simon says the way of thinking in the West has been on a downward spiral.
"We've descended into what can only be described as greed," he said. "This is an inability to see that we're all connected, that the idea of two Americas is implausible, or two Australias, or two Spains or two Frances."
Of the United States specifically, Simon notes: "In my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are."
Simon evoked the principles of Karl Marx in his argument, and says that inequality in the United States now extends beyond a racial divide.
"That's what 'The Wir'e was about basically," he said. "It was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15 percent of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow. That's the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people that we've managed to marginalize?"
Simon said he's not optimistic about the future of the country. "If you watched the debacle that was, and is, the fight over something as basic as public health policy in my country over the last couple of years, imagine the ineffectiveness that Americans are going to offer the world when it comes to something really complicated like global warming."
Read his full remarks here. What do you think of his speech?