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We are told that America is the greatest country in the world. We are told that we are free and enjoying a bountiful economy. If all this is true, then what is it about our society that people seek to escape from? Not a day goes by when there are not millions of people seeking to escape from themselves or their environment.

Thousands of bars are filled with people throwing back booze. There are lines in every convenience store with people buying 12-packs of beer on their way home from work. There are the drug stores where people are buying pills to help them cope with their lives. These are the tools of escape that are deemed socially acceptable. The means of escape go downhill from there.

Billions of dollars are spent every year in America on alcohol and illegal drugs. We are told there is a crank epidemic in rural America and a crack problem in urban America. People risk incarceration everyday to smoke, snort, inject, inhale or ingest substances to help them escape.

Even more bizarre is that some people who escape from reality using alcohol or prescription drugs feel the moral need to jail others for choosing other substances to help them escape. But, like so many other issues, this and the root causes of the need to escape go undiscussed in the public square.

It would seem that happy well-adjusted people living in the greatest and richest country in the world would have no need to escape from such a wonderful reality. The common thread that connects those who seek to escape is the need to feel better. People take drugs and drink alcohol to feel better.

What is it about our society that is creating the yearning to feel better? What conditions exist that create the need for pills to combat anxiety and depression? What is it about ourselves and our society that we seek to escape from?

Could it be that our educational, religious, business and political leaders have failed us? Perhaps Americans have bought the boatload of bullshit that these pompous charlatans have sold us. We have been conditioned to believe that if we all conform to the collectivist rules laid out by these leaders, our lives will be wonderful. Instead, it seems many people are not satisfied by serving as a cog in the machine we call America.

Maybe the combination of collectivism, materialism, consumerism and militarism has left people with an emptiness inside. Could it be that there is more to life than working in meaningless jobs as tax slaves? The drive for corporate profits has morphed into the extreme division of labor that has resulted in people working in cubicles performing repetitive keystrokes. What sense of accomplishment can be found in that?

Specialized laborers are assigned reptitive tasks to perform. Homebuilders don't build homes - they hire one man to install windows and another man to install doors. There is little satisfaction from hanging 100 doors compared to actually building one house. Imagine a poet allowed to use only one word or a musician allowed to play only one note.

Is it any wonder that people seek to escape from a world where they have been dehumanized to the point of being a replaceable unit defined by their ability to perform meaningless tasks? The average person is little more than a social security number entered into countless databases. Freedom exists only to the extent that the citizen obeys all the rules legislated or imposed by the establishment elite.

Success isn't measured in terms of the value of an individual's work product - it is measured only in terms of profitability. Cutting corners is valued more than durability or creativity. In the collectivist society, uniformity is valued over functionality. In the age of disposability, even the individual is disposable.

Standardization, uniformity and conformity are what the elitists seek to impose on the modern day slave. There is no room for individuality. The desires and basic rights of the individual are inconveniences to those who program the computer databases. Individual rights and preferences are always secondary to the operation of a collectivist system.

It is no wonder that people seek to escape from a system that values efficiency over morality and material wealth over the simplicity of peace and happiness. Those who believe that the structure of society and the politics of government have no effect on their lives are sadly mistaken.

Those who blindly support the establishment elite who seek to control and profit from the institutions of our society are doomed to a life of slavery - even worse, they impose this insidious serfdom upon their family, friends and neighbors. Peace on earth and goodwill towards men will never happen as long as people accept the false promises of paradise from leaders who seek to impose their will on others through the use of force and intimidation.

May we all enjoy a new year made happier by the rejection of the utopian promises of order and security. May we all escape the totalitarian paradise of tyranny - not through alcohol, drugs and mindless activities, but through the fulfillment of living as free people unencumbered by the forces imposed by the self-centered collectivists who seek to control every facet of our lives.

This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.