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Is the United States the best?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Tweener, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it’s our culture too. Sorry. You don’t set the terms of the debate. The idea in your second graf helps produce the culture that’s exported all over the world.

    In addition, our university system - particularly collegiate athletics - is the world’s best.
  2. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    What we export culturally doesn't make us uniquely 'great.' And the pop culture exports you're talking about didn't begin until well after the Second World War.

    Japan and Italy and France and Germany all have long histories producing great films, for example.

    Or are we going to argue that bad hamburgers, a deluge of 'Billy Madison' DVDs and a boxcar of Coke Zero is what makes us 'great?'
  3. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Nor do you.
  4. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    A striking difference between nations is what one calls normal another would find disqualifying.

    America wags its finger at some of the lack of "freedoms" elsewhere, with good reason. People elsewhere look at US medical costs and acceptance of gun violence and think the nation has lost its marbles, with good reason.

    America wags its finger at Russia for its stance on gay rights. Russian families, who enjoy up to THREE YEARS of maternity leave for mothers (18 months PAID), can't believe American mothers have to deal with 12 WEEKS of UNPAID leave.
  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I really agree with this.

    I don't think you need to even preface it with what you did about racism and bigotry and ignorance and fear, because while those things exist in the U.S., as they do everywhere, they have never been the defining characteristics of America as much as they have been warts. Not even today, with the stupidity that has taken hold the last few years. And especially when you look at attitudes in much of the rest of the world.

    Culturally, most countries have unique claims to things that they can claim distinguish themselves. So I think that is a futile discussion. Everyone is proud of those unique things.

    Where America has really has stood out for most of its history, in my opinion, relatively to every other country in the world is twofold: 1) The economic opportunity it offered to people who immigrated here because those opportunities didn't exist where they came from (which is why they came here), and 2) The melting pot nature of the country that took hold because of that immigration.

    Personally, it's what I love most about the country. And it is where America really shines in my opinion, even today as we have drifted away from the value on individualism (why we are a declining empire )that made America an economic powerhouse and created those opportunities that attracted people from all around the world . Even with the uptick in jingoism and xenophobia we are seeing today (which has been there throughout our history), those values are still much more a part of the American nature than they are of other Western democracies, most of which are pretty homogenous societies and are relatively closed to outsiders.
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member


    And I didn’t set the terms of the debate. You did by saying what it isn’t and what it can’t be.

    I could reframe your answer about America to be something along the lines of “despite all the awful people in America, there are open-minded, good people like me and that’s what makes it great.”
  7. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    The rich paying shit taxes in the US should quit whining about it and trying to reduce their taxes. Have you seen the way the rich are taxed in other countries?
  8. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    That the United States is an economic powerhouse is probably the most important factor and we likely owe that to the accident of timing and location as much as anything. The country’s founders were lucky to have a laboratory filled with an abundance of natural resources to develop their system in a region that was sparsely populated by peoples who were fairly easily overwhelmed by unfamiliar tactics and technology.

    A very important resource was available space for expansion and to act as a pressure-relief valve for disconnect and political conflict. Those who disagreed with or couldn’t succeed under established systems could move into the interior or out west and create or fail on their own.

    But it simply isn’t true that this country has some sort of innate noble willingness to accept folks from outside and give them opportunities for a better life. We welcome folks in when it benefits and fuels the economic system that gives us power and, throughout our history, only give those folks equal standing when they have become a large enough part of that economic system that they have the power to demand what is due. Slavery, immigrant labor and the situation for women in society are pertinent historic examples. We, as a nation, are mostly content to use people for economic gain for the least expense from our pockets no matter the costs and hardship inflicted on them.

    Folks are welcome as long as they know how to work the mechanics of our economic engine. If they’re not a part of it, they are seen as dead weight that has to be carried, be they newcomers or pieces of the engine that no longer fit (for example, coal miners, factory workers, farmers, print journalists).

    Now that the nation’s ability to expand (into new lands and markets) is increasingly limited and new stores of resources are fewer, the pressure from various groups to gain or hold onto what they believe is theirs will increase.

    Through that process, we might discover whether our nation is really the greatest or if it might have been more an accident of place and time.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    Baron Scicluna likes this.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Not an accident. The American Industrial Revolution lasted somewhere from the 1790s until the early 1900s, and was definitely stoked by the abundance of resources and a scarcity of labor here. But it was the classical liberalism that this country was founded on and how ingrained it was in the country's make up, which made America an economic powerhouse. There was a primacy on individual rights here that was unique, and laisez-faire capitalism was almost a religion here.

    Not sure where you are getting "some sort of innate noble willingness to accept folks from outside and given them opportunities for a better life," from. In the 19th Century, Irish people fleeing the great famine would get off the boat here and get spit on. "No Irish need apply" was a common sign when a job was available. Extrapolate that to Jews, Chinese, Italian, more recently Puerto Ricans, Southeast Asians, etc., and there was often nothing noble about the behavior of many Americans during various moments in time.

    Yet, America DID let in large numbers of those immigrants, and even though it was often an uphill battle for those immigrant groups and took a generation or so, what was unique about America is that it does inherently allow people to assimilate, and what those people brought with them, feeds the melting pot and has made being an American an evolving sort of thing.

    This is human nature, not an immigration issue. You come here, there is opportunity, what you can make of that opportunity determines how well you fit in and are accepted. Opportunity -- and I am not painting America as the land of milk and honey, just saying that the amount of opportunity for most of our history made the country unique -- doesn't come with a guarantee. But when you are a poor Sicilian with little opportunity, or an Irish person whose country is in a famine, or a jew fleeing pogroms, or a Vietnamese person fleeing communism and war. ... that opportunity has been huge. I believe the fact that it is really hard to uproot your life, come to a foreign place, etc. has actually made it so that in the big picture, the people who came here seeking better lives have not become dead weight. They have been grateful for the opportunity, and by and large have contributed to the economic engine.

    My perspective is a bit different. I won't get too much into it, but I believe we have lost the rugged individualism that characterized the country during 1800s, when America became that economic powerhouse. We essentially have gone from a country that was hungry, and produced (and invented) things. ... to fat and too happy and more interested in consuming things.

    I don't think any of it has been an accident. ... the rise in American power, and the decline.
  10. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    I think that “rugged individualism” was greatly aided by the available space in which to plow new fields.

    With less opportunity to expand, we’ll increasingly see if there is something unique to the American system that makes it powerful.
  11. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    I don't normally agree with you but you're spot on about US medical costs. Yeah we've lost our marbles when it comes to that. At least a certain party has. It's just inexcusable that Americans go bankrupt because happen in any other Western democracy.
    Baron Scicluna and Tweener like this.
  12. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    Obviously,the best place to live is a matter of personal taste. If you are really into something like college football the USA is the best. Or if you generate physic satisfaction from the USA having a huge and very good military.

    I have worked on international compensation issues. I think that if you are an American with good health insurance the USA is economically hard to beat. If for example you are a journalist in the USA you probably have a larger house and for that matter a bigger car than a western European or Japanese journalist in a similar position.

    But if you do not have good health care Europe has advantages. European health systems are not bad and certainly provide better coverage than an uninsured American receives.

    And journalists, and other workers, in virtually every other country receive a lot more protection. It is extremely expensive to fire someone in the rest of the world so purges such as what have happened in the publishing industry don't happen as much. One of the most stressful events in life is to lose a job. Workers in other countries are far less likely to be fired and if they are the termination benefits are a lot better. Other countries provide more economic security.

    And while America has a lot of excellent research universities the cost of attending them is increasingly putting them out of reach of many.
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