America is exceptional, as it has always been. Much of the unease we have experienced of late is manufactured by the political class seeking ways to discredit their opposition. Those who plan to "take back America" have yet to tell us from whom they will take it back. Take this simple mental test, if you had heard or read no news at all for the past 5 years, how would you feel about your life in America today?
America is exceptional to me because I believe the worst in America is offset by what is best. We have enormous freedom and protections that millions of people in the world cannot even dream of. We are blessed with an enormous size of land that provides a variety of climates and natural resources. Our laws, I believe, provide a foundation for equality, though personal and instiutional biases work against it. Still, this is way better than some nations who outright forbid distribution of power to anyone but men. In my teens, I became a high school drop out with a lot of emotional problems. Nonetheless, I was able to work my way up in the financial services industry with nothing more than a GED and today I have a Graduate Degree an am just one final test away from being able to be a nurse practitioner. I'm not sure if I could have pulled that off in many other places. All of us today are receiving a dividend for sacrifices made by many before us. Some, perhaps too many, are wasting that dividend for a variety of reasons. What keeps us exceptional, I think, is that many are not wasting that dividend.
America is exceptional for all the reasons you two state above. it is not exceptional because we can go kick the ass of any other nation on earth. It is exceptional because of the freedoms and opportunities it provides for it's citizens. Are we losing it? Does our country need to be taken back. No it doesn't. As time marches on (and we all know that we can't stop that) and technologies and the world progress we have to accept the changes that these things bring. More importantly in a global economy and world as we have today we are no less exceptional, others are catching up to us. Why? Because we help them by sharing our exceptional values, beliefs, systems and ideas that the whole world benefits and rises with us. And that is what makes us truly exceptional.
What makes America exceptional?Is it our classic traditions our political democracy is it our economic freedom?Our classic traditions holds liberty and the protection of individual rights as foundational. Classic American tradition rests on the idea that the goal of government is to protect the rights of citizens, even when the federal government is strong and unified. Is that still true today?Alexis De Tocqueville realized this exceptionalism in 1831 when there were few democracies anywhere. The American democratic ideal is that every individual is equal in the sight of the law regardless of his status in society. Whether this holds true today is debatable as money is the true destabilizer.Is economic freedom still the right of individuals to own, gain, and dispose of property as they see fit?
Your comment made me think about a lot of things. I'm a broken record on this, but I believe real life is equally more simple and complicated than a lot of people are willing to concede. Paradox, I guess, is the word I'm looking for. We have a constitution that was created by some of the most visionary individuals in history, based on an intent to protect individual liberty. It is a very rational set of rules, but the individuals it is intended to protect have proven to engage in a lot of irrational behavior. I believe that foremost in the minds of the FF's was to respond to the abuse of concentrated power that had dominated Europe, be it Kings or the Church. I think they got that part right and the belief in the importance of individual freedom truly is an exceptional quality of America. And yet, taken to a ridiculous extreme, that same belief can and has caused damage to many. Again, paradox. Here, IMO, is where money has become the destabilizer. It's one thing when everyone competes on a more or less equal playing field. For a long time, I think we had many things in place that equalized the destabilizing effect of money. However, this arguably came at the expense of freedom of the rich to use their money to avoid having to work as hard as everyone else. It was handicapping, but I think to a large degree it worked. Having the freedom to own, gain and dispose of property doesn't seem like economic freedom to me if the best I can do is work a job that is stable but really doesn't pay a whole lot of money because I likely will not get to that point. Our current reality reflects a view that freedom matches your proposition here. Simultaneously, we have come to reject an idea that freedom rests on a sound economy that has a variety of jobs available that allow an individual to move laterally between them without risk of significant loss of income. Arguably, we have become a nation more interested in owning shit as opposed to a nation that creates shit.
Arguably, we have become a nation more interested in owning shit as opposed to a nation that creates shit.That's not even an argument but our reality as we traded creating for imported cheat long ago. The reality of today is the desire to move ahead, The destabilizing factor I see is government. If you can exist on what the government provides, why would you want to start working and get less in return? Some have no choice as they are unable to work. Others have a choice and it's to exist. Why would a person that makes 30K a year getting subsidies move ahead to 35K a year and receive less in subsidies?As to the wealth factor. In all of history we have endured those that have wealth. Nothing new there. Be honest, if you have 10 mill in the bank would you work 12 hours a day? Would you work 8 hours a day? Some would as they like what they do. For most they would not.
To some degree Lou, we are both overplaying our hand a bit to make a point. Deep down, I think we are making the same point, but I don't think you believe that. You are very focused on a single point, government assistance. The underlying point to me is this, it is possible to dis-incentivize people to work hard if they can get by with less effort. I see this as a trait of human nature. Further, I see no difference between the person in your first example and the person you describe at the end. Both cause harm to the rest of us, which is the majority of the county. Your example of 30-35k does not, IMO, represent the vast majority of people who get assistance. Yes, there are those who get section 8 housing, foods stamps and other benefits. That's not the norm. For the guy with 10 mil in the bank who decides he's just going to coast, he will still benefit enormously from the fact that if he plays it right, he can have much of his money protected by the government in case the bank fails, he benefits from the laws and courts that all of us pay taxes for, and as we have debated before, he has a Federal reserve who will also work to devalue the dollar and protect his money. To me, people who take and don't work, no matter what their level of wealth, are a detriment to society. Old school money guys would probably never have let their kids become the true sociopaths that many rich kids are today. Id agree that if we keep increasing the benefits for the poor, one undeniably bad outcome is that there might be an exponential multiplier where more and more people find it acceptable to look for handouts. That said, it has become just as bad if not worse for the uber rich who build up a shit ton of money with massive government assitance, refuse to invest that money, and then demand that we all wipe their asses and extend that demeanor to their spoiled children who grow up feeling every bit as entitled. Prior generations, who worked hard, showed what it meant to be exceptional, and went about their daily lives without asking for a medal for it. I don't think the government destroyed that mentality, at least not when I see the same smug look of entitlement. That asshole Shkreli is one example of what I'm talking about.