The United States is the greatest…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday I found myself in a multiple hour conversation with someone who was trying to convince me that the United States is the greatest place on earth,

There is no other place as awesome as the United States. We are truly the land of opportunity!” he said

Without getting into all the ins-and-outs of the conversation, my friend detailed five main points that he believed ‘proved’ that the United States is the greatest country in the world,

  1. United States has the best health care
  2. There are more employment opportunities in the United States than anywhere else
  3. We have more freedom than any other country
  4. Quality of life is the most economical here in the United States
  5. The United States is a beautiful country with easy access to lakes, oceans and mountains

Suffice to say, I took a contrarian position to what my friend was arguing and our conversation turned out to be rather lengthy; and my friend wasn’t too pleased with my opposing viewpoints.

For a while I’ve been suggesting that with many issues in life there is no right or wrong; most subjects are very grey and are nothing more than based on our personal opinions, perspective, biases, and positions. Opinions are GOOD. It’s okay for each of us to have different opinions.

My friend does not agree with me, he believes opinions are like asses; we all have them. He was annoyed that I suggested there to be ‘no right answer as to what is the best country’ and that ‘each of our opinions are valid’.

Kenneth, that is stupid!” he barked, “This is not a matter of opinion, it is a FACT that the United States is the best country and I have proved to you that it is! The problem is that you won’t accept the truths that I’ve presented to you!” he said

If the United States is so awesome, why does my friend feel he needs to ‘prove’ it to me? Hmmm, perhaps I’ll ask him that tomorrow.

Time to finish my coffee and begin my day,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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48 replies

  1. I just read a report about our health care compared to other countries: it’s more expensive than others and we get crappy results. The Great Recession was bought on by white collar workers who took their money from over priced housing and ran. I agree we have a beautiful country to look at but it’s not the greatest.

  2. For anyone to answer this question well, they need to have personally visited some other countries to see the differences first hand. Then, I think, they will see that America excels in some areas and fails in others. Still, there is no place like home.

  3. I think your friend needs to do a little traveling. I have found that people that have never left the state they live in have a very skewed vision of of the world.

  4. Well, to do a little devils advocacy: When you say there is “no right answer”, it’s like playing tennis and removing the net. It’s annoying. It’s true people like different situations, and there is “no right answer” specifically, but there is general agreement often. Some conclusions can be reached ‘generally’. For example, most people generally enjoy a safe environment, freedom from corruption, and clear, enforced laws.

    • Carl, good points. “corruption” though is rather subjective; what is corrupt for you might not be corrupt for someone else. I for instance tend to believe property taxes are a very corrupt system. It means I always have to have money to pay the government or else they take my property away from me; hence, I don’t’ really own my house, I’m merely renting it from the government.

  5. I have been a gypsy since I was relocated several times through my childhood with my naval father and then in my marriage and career. In the last 30 odd years we have lived in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Spain and as a young married couple we were sent from the UK to Houston for two years back in 1985 and we loved it. The people we met and still are friends with, the differing geography that we took full advantage of and the feeling of freedom and space. We have been back from time to time and as with many countries including the UK, the age of suspicion, protective borders and a resistence to welcoming newcomers has affected the way a country is perceived. The media and the worldwide web bring enormous benefits to us all but it is a double edged sword. Every country and its culture is under the microscope and all have good and bad points according to what we as individuals perceive as priorities. What has seldom changed for me though is the people and wherever we have lived, when I leave it is always those we have met who leave the greatest impression. Having been nomadic most of my life my greatest place to live is much, much smaller – wherever our home is and we are together as a family.

  6. Having lived in several countries, I can clearly say that the USA is not the best country on earth for ANY of the reasons that he gave. For the factual answers, it is easy to show. For the subjective answers, it is like this article: http://bit.ly/HowPoliticsStupid. I will bet your friend will NEVER read this article.

  7. This reminds me of one time someone told me that something was “objectively better” than something else. I replied that words like “good” and “better” that communicate an evaluation are subjective and therefore “objectively better” is impossible. That person conceded the point but was pissed off at me for a few days.

  8. This morning America isn’t the greatest country for me.
    Time for another coffee 🙂

  9. I believe that America had been the greatest country some time ago. But, to look at where it’s heading, I believe it’s on a steady decline to being one of the less desirable places to live. How many of us are living the American dream?

  10. I think you’re perspective is a bit more on target than your friend. Clearly, calling you stupid meant for him a need to be right and that obviously his view was intelligent. Whether the U.S.A is the greatest country in the world depends on the person that experiences her with their background and access to the systems in place.
    Certainly there opportunities here but the question is to do what? America isn’t today what it’s heritage is known for. We don’t produce hardly anything ourselves anymore, we over spend continuously, outsource our jobs and our manufacturing industry is scant if not non existent.
    We are service oriented, and live under the rule of Capitalism. I.E capitalize on the misfortune of others. America is great for the wealthy not great for the poor.

  11. Not. The US has a lot of propaganda but from the onset we killed a race of people to get our way – so we continue to pay for that. Since the Patriot Act and it’s most recent follower the National Defense Authorization Act, or maybe I should go back further to JFK – since the inception of the CIA let’s say – since the Federal Reserve Bank and the IMF – since the manifestation of Globalization – I would say that the civilized world is no longer where I would choose to live if I had a choice. I don’t have a choice however, so I make do the best I can. The US however, since the corporations moved all work overseas, is becoming a 3rd World Country – people in general are uneducated and rude – don’t have manners – are nihilistic – I am not fond of the US … my parents worked for the Voice of America – creating propaganda during WWII – they were sold on the American Dream and would make blanket statements like your friend did – I would say those statements are based in ignorance and not personal experience. They are what people say about the US who don’t want to take a good look at everything that is going on now – surveillance, banksters not in jail, unemployment, Korpratocracy, etc – and that may be it is still the land of opportunity for people coming from countries to the US who were raised with a strong work ethic – but to be born and raised in the US – no – I don’t agree.

  12. Well, I do agree with your friend’s point 5 . . . . and I would agree that there are specific countries that do far worst that the USA on points 1-4.
    I always find these USA-centric viewpoints quite disturbing. Partly just because it strikes me as being purposefully blind to both the strengths of other places and the weakness of this country. Also because without an honest look at our weaknesses, where will improvement come from? But mainly because, looking both historically and currently, the idea that “my group is the best” seems to have been a foundation for a lot of really harmful events.

  13. Speaking of asses….. he sounds like one. Of course, it’s a matter of opinion – and THAT is a fact.

  14. There are advantages and disadvantages in a country

    >

  15. I certainly disagree with your friend, Kenneth.

    Has your friend ever lived in another country? Has he ever had the opportunity to live within another culture or work in another land? How can anyone compare their own country to anything if they have not experienced a different way of life.

    Life is what we make it and no matter where we go or what we do, opening one’s eyes and truly seeing the beauty around us and experiencing joy in the simple pleasures in life makes our life a success. It doesn’t matter if you are homeless and living ‘rough’ or a millionaire in the grandest mansion, if you don’t make the most of what you have then it’s all rather pointless.

    “At the end of your life, its not going to matter how many breathes your took, but how many moments took your breathe away.” – Shing Xiaong

    There have been moments in nearly every country I’ve visited that have taken my breath away with their beauty and I’ve met some wonderful and inspiring people along the way. I’ve met some good and some not-so-good people, but ultimately it’s how one thinks about each life experience that matters. I like to think I’m at home where ever I lay my head, but I have to be truthful and say I’m glad I live in Australia at this time in my life. It’s absolutely perfect for me at this time.

    I thought London was perfect in the late 1970s.

    Nothing remains the same though. Just as today will become yesterday and tomorrow will become today.

    1. “United States has the best health care” If the US has the best health care, why are so many sick?

    2. “There are more employment opportunities in the United States than anywhere else” If the US has more employment opportunities, why are so many out-of-work?

    3. “We have more freedom than any other country” If you have more freedom, why are so many ‘locked’ into a life they’re are not happy with?

    4. “Quality of life is the most economical here in the United States” If your life is the most economical, why are there so many poor and destitute, and so many others drowning in a sea of debt?

    5. “The United States is a beautiful country with easy access to lakes, oceans and mountains.” Do you have more lakes than Finland or Canada? Are you surrounded by every ocean that exists? Are your mountains more majestic than the Himalayas?

    Who or what defines an accessible lake, ocean or mountain? Can you climb a mountain if you’re a quadriplegic?. Can you see the beauty in nature if you’re born blind?

    I rest my case.

  16. The United States has a lot to offer and, quite honestly, I am thankful to have been born in this country and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Having said that, too many Americans have their heads buried in the sand or have them stuffed up their…well, where the sun don’t shine. By almost any quantitative measure, whether it’s in health care, education, overall happiness/satisfaction, economic opportunities, the US is far from the top and is often ranks in the middle or lower when compared to other industrialized, developed nations.

    To say that the US is the greatest place on earth is to imply that there is no room for improvement because we are already the best. And that is pure nonsense. There is a lot of room for improvement. All one has to do is open his or her eyes and look around.

  17. Yeah, one need not prove a fact! Good one!

  18. The short time I was in a very small area the of States, Massachusetts and New York City, I loved it. The people were great, there was such a lot to see.

    But then again I loved travelling through Turkey too. I was born in England to a Norwegian mother and don´t feel the need to belong.

  19. I think it great that your friend can declare his love for his country. It’s a shame though if he allows his love to blind him to any faults others may see and therefore not take the opportunity to improve on things.There are other countries who have a different way of doing things which are to the benefit of the natives. Some have free health care, some a better system of education some have more employment and perhaps are more economical to live in.
    That shouldn’t detract from his love for America, just perhaps open his eyes to the possibility to improve things for those who live there.There may be some right and some wrong answers but he’ll never know what they are if he refuses to see them. If he’s blinkered he’ll go down with the good ship Titanic believing it to be unsinkable.

  20. I have a love/hate relationship with this country’s pseudo-religion/political strategy called “patriotism.” I believe patriotism should be more like a “brotherhood/sisterhood” philosophy where we don’t ignore fact for punditry and we take a cold, honest look at problems and how our actions (great or small) can have an impact for our fellow humans – regardless of what line they live within or across. I think this latest statement, made so well on the HBO special “Newsroom” puts things in order just so. http://youtu.be/16K6m3Ua2nw.

  21. I have been pondering and writing about the issue of absolutism too in recent days. I escaped absolutism when I first realized that many of the things that were self-evident to me would not be so if I had been raised in a very different context (different country, religion, SES, etc.). That left me with two options – either my context was uniquely privileged to encounter TRUTH, or truth is not so easy to pin down. The more I learn the less impressed I become with how “right” I used to be.

  22. “Kenneth, that is stupid!” he barked, “This is not a matter of opinion, it is a FACT that the United States is the best country and I have proved to you that it is! The problem is that you won’t accept the truths that I’ve presented to you!” he said”
    Wow, this sounds just like some theological conversations I’ve been in. 🙂

    The US is a wonderful country to live in for many reasons. Of course, it also has it’s serious problems. It doesn’t make it the best in everything, nor does it need to be. And why does it even have to be a competition for us to just be able to enjoy and even appreciate the diversity and wonders of most countries in the world? And that’s definitely my opinion.

  23. I like what everyone is saying about traveling in order to have a comparable comparison…so…I am outta here! I send in a report when I return! 😉

  24. I come from Sweden, currently living in LA, and while I’ll agree that LA is perhaps a little more relaxed than the rest of the US, it’s still a pretty messed up country. The biggest problem is that you’re incredibly sheltered from information about the outside world, and of course you believe the US is great; your leaders and your media tells you so, and you have no point of reference.

  25. I think he missed a key one, the USA has one of the best systems of indoctrinating patriotism and creating blind eyes to realistic comparisons.

  26. The US is pretty great, but your friend needs to know a few things that may help the work towards making it even greater (I’m trying to say it in a positive way so it doesn’t sound like i’m America bashing).

    The US has the highest levels of child poverty of any developed nation. Even if you’re a hardcore, militant conservative there is no way to deny this is an absolute and horrific failure.

    The US has the highest per capita spend on health care, around two and a half times most developed nations, but actually has the worst health outcomes. That’s because there’s loads of brilliant equipment, not enough brilliant doctors – education is too expensive and financial outcomes not as rewarding compared to careers in finance etc so the brains are being drawn there.

    You HAD more freedom than any other country. Many rights have been lost and the systems that should protect people are corrupted – businesses have more rights than people. You can get them back, but you’ve got to fight the complacency.

    The inequality gap in the US is higher now than at any point in the world history. It now has the most unequal industrial relations system in the world – it wasn’t always this way…the employee rights fought for and earned post WW2 have been eroded away.

    The US does have some beautiful and unique natural features, many are at risk of destruction and in a dire state. Incredible lobbyist power and the fear of being called a hippy for caring about the environment means vast types of natural wonders are under threat.

    Your friend may well be right, but it’s on the brink/cusp of changing for the worse and blind patriotism or complacency won’t do. Educate them, people are still afraid to speak up in case their labelled a socialist or ‘commie’, but speaking up is what freedom is about and have a critical look at the real state of affairs is what moves you forward.

  27. On a global scale, the US actually has pretty terrible healthcare.

  28. Day17month11 is dead on about the whole indoctrination thing. I get a lot of “intelligence”/news from BBC or the business channels during the week and on Sundays for more overseas.”reading between the lines of the discussions.” My wife is going to visit her relatives in Sweden for ten days starting on the twenty eighth. She can’t just sell all her posessions and migrate back to Sweden with the money. She has to have something to offer the community other than her little bit of money. America lets anybody and everybody (to use an expression) come and enjoy the buffett. The thing is, nobody who has it good in their birthland ever leaves everything to go settle in a foreign country.

  29. No place is perfect. Often it is when we leave our homecountry that we realize that no country has found solutions to every big issue. I like it that Americans continue to be critical and eager to improve their life conditions. In other places people are more discouraged and expect their governments to provide solutions. A mix of public service and private entrepreneurship is ideal, I think, to provide for the majority of people.

  30. “If the United States is so awesome, why does my friend feel he needs to ‘prove’ it to me? Hmmm, perhaps I’ll ask him that tomorrow.”

    Yes, be sure to ask him that. Also ask him how many countries he has lived in and what standard he uses to decide which are better than others.

    I disagree with your friend. A country is only as good as the people in it. Because humans have the same flaws no matter what geographical location they live in, I would have to say that this is a matter of subjective opinion.

    Other matters I do believe are a matter of objective truth, but this is not one of them.

  31. 6,931,382,378+ non-Americans look on in amusement — some because Americans underestimate themselves, but most because Americans underestimate the rest of us. Arrogance is not thinking too highly of yourself; it is not thinking highly enough of others..

  32. I’m pretty sure those first four points are incorrect. The United States in not #1 in the rankings for those issues.

    I usually look at the United States and think it’s an okay place. It’s has things going for it and plenty of flaws to address. While it’s far from perfect, it’s not the worst place in the world to live.

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