Americans have been dumbed down. The nation's educational institutions -- from the public schools through our elite universities -- have been fostering complacent mediocrity. Students are indoctrinated in submissive political correctness instead of being inculcated with individual critical thinking skills and habits.
As for virtue . . . look elsewhere.
Food stamps, mindless entertainment, and sports provide the modern substitute to the country's complacent commoners for the bread and circuses that the corrupt and crumbling Roman Empire provided for its plebians.
Yes, there are some vestiges of unease over the monstrous public debt when it is pointed out that we are impoverishing our children and grandchildren by sloughing off to them all the bills that we have piled up in an effort to continue basking in the undeserved good life that our forefathers bequeathed to us. But we elect to public offices politicians willing and able to continue to do the same thing while convincing us that it is fine and dandy to do so.
The ways in which the poseurs who constitute America's current political elite do this are many and varied . . . but a private businessman or ordinary citizen would quickly end up in the pokey for engaging in any of the same techniques.
For a look at a few of the three-card monty and fast shuffle tricks being used to disguise and obscure reality and to shield it from public view, take a look at this report.
Finally . . . don't blame the politicians. They are what they are and always have been -- charlatans who would eagerly sell their parents into slavery for a vote. Instead, look in the mirror -- we are the people who put them in office and tolerate what they do.