Used to be, the American dream…and the dream of America…was a beacon to the world. Not a “fire”, folks – a beacon. Big difference.
This is a great article, so go read it – here is my as-you-go commentary.
Don’t hold your breath for the next student radicals in a repressive regime to put up a little Statue of Liberty as part of their demonstration. We’re over as a symbol of freedom and liberty. No matter what we want to believe, we just aren’t a model for those things anymore, and it’s all because of W and his henchpeople.
In a recent BBC poll (see link of title)
“58 percent in the BBC poll see Bush’s re-election as a threat to world peace. Among America’s traditional allies, the figure is strikingly higher: 77 percent in Germany, 64 percent in Britain and 82 percent in Turkey. Among the 1.3 billion members of the Islamic world, public support for the United States is measured in single digits. Only Poland, the Philippines and India viewed Bush’s second Inaugural positively.”
That’s all bad enough – but worse than anti-Bush feeling is anti-Americanism and a rejection of american economic and political models (the article adds social models, but I don’t seriously think that many countries ever admired that to begin with and have seen us as simply in denial about things like class, unable to enjoy a good meal, lacking in real social cohesiveness, etc). Meanwhile, people turn to the European Union more and more – it sounds pretty good to me too since it is “based on generous social welfare, cultural diversity and respect for international law—a model that’s caught on quickly across the former nations of Eastern Europe and the Baltics.”
People don’t look to our constitution to write their own. Money “talks too much” in our system, socal welfare and issues of equality aren’t important enough, our system is no longer progressive. They don’t like our death penalty, the disintegration of our privacy. Americans don’t take care of their own. We don’t honor international agreements like the Geneva convention, and we won’t endorse an International Criminal Court. Don’t even get started on environmental issues. Our country officially doesn’t even recognize global warming.
Although our per capita income is still high, our system is based less and less on merit and individual opportunity. Other economies are growing faster and are more dynamic what’s so great about our system now? Northern European social democracies are more “robust” says this article, “not because it has resisted reform, but because it embraced it.”
We may pay less in taxes and have less “regulation” – but we work far longer hours and have far less vacation time. We have a lousy primary education system that is getting worse and worse as we teach to questionable testing. We have much less job security. We have in many ways that count a less desirable quality of life. Oh, of course we all have a lot of debt – but then, there’s Walmart right?
That flunky monkey Tony Blair is even doing much better for his people – instead of building military systems that will never work, his government spends a lot more (in percentage at least) on the public’s social welfare – an inspiration from Sweden, not us.
Actually Sweden – except for the cold and dark – is looking pretty good to me. I have some swedish blood in my mongrel body and I am pleased to know that in that country “universal child care, education and health care have been proved to increase social mobility, opportunity and, ultimately, economic productivity.”
This statistic I already knew – it’s shocking:
“Two decades ago, a U.S. CEO earned 39 times the average worker; today he pulls in 1,000 times as much.”
Heath care? We may have the best doctors and supplies and equipment, but we are the only democracy without a universal guarantee for access to it.
“U.S. infant mortality rates are among the highest for developed democracies. The average Frenchman, like most Europeans, lives nearly four years longer than the average American. Small wonder that the World Health Organization rates the U.S. healthcare system only 37th best in the world, behind Colombia (22nd) and Saudi Arabia (26th), and on a par with Cuba.”
Too many of our citizens in jail, race problems, sky-high child-poverty rates. We’ve made foreign students less welcome here – watch the brain drain. My own experience is that my education’s primary purpose has been to pay for my education. My own personal debt is staggering – lit. it makes me stagger to think of it. In most countries, much or all of my education would have been paid for.
We like to spread our “ideals” with guns. We aren’t the first, of course, but it’s so backward and vulgar and horrific to continue. We lack all subtlety in foreign relations now. Why would anyone look to us for advice?
We talk and talk about freedom and liberty, but it’s all lies. Our actions and our nation no longer represent those ideals.