Are We the Best Country in the World?

{Stepping up to the podium, tapping the microphone and with a sigh, I look out upon the crowd as the fear grips me. I come to the realization that I am about to say things that might not be popular or accepted. Swallowing the fear, taking a deep breath, I commit to the moment. }

Is the United States the best country in the world?

I have thought about this question many times over the past few decades. Once, I believed the answer was yes. We are the greatest, most advanced, and most powerful country that exists. Unfortunately, that time of naivety has evaporated along with the belief in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. The U.S. may once have been one of the greatest countries in the world. However, as the country grows out of puberty and into adulthood, the U.S. is exchanging its teenaged ideology for the complacent persona of middle-aged greed. To answer the question presented, no, the U.S. is no longer the greatest country in the world. Before the mob gathers the noose and prepares to hang me from the nearest tree, let me explain. 

Once, as a country, we held our heads high with a pride that was based on the core values of innovation, education, and integrity. We raced to the stars, fought for equality, and revolutionized industry. Pride was felt in a good day’s work. Our beliefs were based on earning everything you have and there was no such thing as a free lunch. Charity is what you did for others not what you held your hand out to receive. Success in school was measured by personal dedication and effort in all subjects, not just the subjects that appear on a national standardized test. Politicians were voted into office because of their stance on issues or principles, conviction, and a shared belief; not because of party affiliation. Yes, once we were the greatest country in the world and we earned that title through the blood, sweat, and tears of our people and their leaders. Somewhere, we lost our way.

We have become a country where social programs created to help those in need have become a crutch that encourages laziness. Why would someone strive to work or improve their situation if they can receive a handout for doing the minimum or nothing? These government programs allow the status quo to continue without putting ownership on those receiving assistance to change their situation. New government programs are continually created that are perpetuating this mentality by sustaining generation after generation of dependents on the program. How is this possible? The politicians that advocate the programs are seeking voters by creating a cycle of dependency.

The current reality of our political arena is much different than the world of our grandparents. Elections are bought by corporations and special interest groups who easily manipulate an ignorant populace. We are in the most polarized political landscape since the Civil War where voters no longer cast their vote based on belief in the candidate but the party they represent or rumors they believe. How are the voters expected to make informed decisions when the media, with its lost objectivity, clamors to spoon feed their political affiliates and satisfy their demographic focus for their advertisers? Making an informed decision has fallen to the sidelines in favor of the convenience of a ten-second sound bite. No longer are truth and journalistic creed part of the equation. Now is a time of instant gratification, tweets, and digital headlines where honest debate has slipped aside for tabloid politics. The integrity of the democratic process seems to have gone up for sale to the highest bidder on EBay.

What do the corporations get for their money? Corporations get a supportive political landscape that panders to their every whim allowing them to move jobs out of the country in favor of profits.  At some point, we went from being the greatest industrial nation of innovation and manufacturing to a nation of mostly service based industries. Why? Corporations, with the blessing of the government find more profit in moving jobs to other industrial nations, where the wages can be reduced and labor laws are not as strict? In return, factories that employed thousands are sitting vacant with only weeds and rust being produced where once steel, automobiles, and textiles flowed from their loading bays.

With the closing of businesses, communities not only lose jobs, families and stability but also the ability and willingness to fund education. In a panic to keep funding and comply with national and state education standards, school districts shift the focus away from quality education to meeting the objectives of standardized test scores. These standards are forced on the districts by policies of state and local governments based on political agendas. Educators, in the hopes of maintaining their jobs, are expected to push the agenda set before them at the cost of learning and creativity that once made the U.S. the innovators on the global landscape. All the while, teachers are blamed for not only lowering the education standards but also for not meeting the needs of the individual students. Emphasis falls on to the tested subjects with other programs falling away. Children are force fed the test subjects and expected to perform without the essential skills they need. Without a strong emphasis on subjects like history, the values and foundation our country was built upon are slowly slipping away from future generations.  As a nation, we are failing the future generations and dumbing down the population. Could it be that a less educated population is easier to manipulate?

Why do I have this view? I come from a generation that put emphasis on working hard for what you want, not expecting it to be given. I have the ability to write, read, and have intellectual thoughts because teachers were able to guide me into fostering my own ideas and opinion. I grew up in a time where history and the arts were taught to give an understanding of mistakes and accomplishment of our past. If I needed understanding, I searched through many ideas to find the answers, not open a browser and look for a bite-sized tidbit. Back then when honor in action and words meant something, where information could be trusted to be more fair and objective unlike the pretense of objectivity we now have in the age of 24 hour news channels and Wikipedia.

I love my country. I believe that we were once the greatest country in the world. Then again, the Roman Empire was once the greatest empire known to the civilized world. Once upon a time, the sun never set on the British Empire. We used to reach for the stars, now we reach for the remote and our wallets. We believed in what we stood for and held our heads up high. We were the envy of the world. I want to know that time again before I leave this world. Will you help me to achieve it?

{Steps away from the podium.}

Until next time…


© 2012

Related Post: Talking Heads Without A Voice; Big Business in America: The Money Pit; Help Wanted: Parents; Government Cheese…Burger?

4 Comments on Are We the Best Country in the World?

  1. I agree. I think America has become a lazy expecting something for nothing country. We want to do the least amount of work for the most amount of reward. In my younger years, when I was in need of assistance, I was grateful for the help I got. But was told that I should quit my job and let the government pay for everything as i “would make more” if I just sat on my ass and sponged off the rest of the Country. So sad……

    • Thank you for your comment. The sad part is that many would have done just that and quit their job to sponge off other’s hard work. I have seen many people that would rather stay on unemployment than to look for work. Most have commented that they won’t work for less than what they were paid before they were unemployed. Even the less skilled jobs pay more than the benefits that unemployment gives.

    • Thank you. When I first saw this show, I watched the clip that is above four or five times before I went further into the episode. It was a powerful rant and well timed. thank you for reading and sharing your comments.

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