Sunday, we will celebrate 245 years as a country, and yes, I will emphatically proclaim: “THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON THE EARTH.” So, how do you measure such greatness? If you listen to the written and broadcast press, the US suffers in many respects next to other countries in the world, and according to these media representatives, we fall short far more than we lead. The media declares that other developed countries, such as Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway, have lower poverty rates or better education and health care outcomes than America. If we take a liberal point of view, our country is failing, or at best sub-standard…yet…ironically they say our country needs more government intervention and control. This poses the obvious question; if our country is failing, or sub-standard, with our current government controls, why would we believe that more of the same controls would yield a polar opposite result? Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results;” Insanity indeed!!!
We are in fact the greatest country on the earth for the total package of reasons, not for just 1, 2, or even a dozen indicators. It’s the comprehensive totality of what is America that makes us the greatest. Let me expand upon this. For example, Luxembourg has a population of 620,000 people, the US has 535 times more people and has 28 cities with a higher population than the entire country of Luxembourg. The US is 30 times larger than Sweden and 60 times larger than Norway. I’m sure Luxembourg is a wonderful country, but can they really compare watermelons to grapes; they’re both delicious but their sizes are not comparable.
They also say the rest of the world doesn’t think we’re the greatest. A recent survey of over a dozen leading countries concluded that America’s reputation was at a record low – not surprising based on what is constantly reported in the US and abroad. This survey has been conducted for only the past 20 years and these are the lowest numbers the US has ever achieved. However, since the year 2000, the US has seen unprecedented growth with people continuing to flock to our country, both legally and illegally. So, as much as some of these illegal immigrants have created significant internal debates and challenges, why so are they flocking to the US at 10-20 times the rate of immigrants to any other country? This is just one factor. It makes one ponder what familial word of mouth have these folks shared or heard, contrary to the press and opinion polls, that leads them to believe the US is the place for them to raise their families? Could it be the truth outweighs their supposed “facts!”
Most people believe that this influx of people to the US is for freedom, and this is without a doubt a critical factor. For the middle and lower class, the US provides far more freedoms than most countries, especially the country’s these immigrants are leaving. Yes, we do still struggle to care for these classes of people, but these folks are far better off here, than in most countries, where at least here in the US the folks considered at or below the poverty levels are always a topic of efforts to improve their lives and provide them opportunities versus being completely forgotten or ignored. We have far more opportunities than those at or below the poverty level in other countries. The key here is opportunity – real, measurable, and sustainable opportunities. There is no question our country offers far more help, assistance, and real opportunities and many seek out and take advantage of these opportunities. Yes sadly many do not, but the opportunities are there and there is no shortage of people, organizations, and even employers looking to help these folks out.
However, there are those who question the notion that America is a free, equal, and great country. Again, based on these surveys, the US is ranked 7th globally, and quote lower in pollical freedom and civil liberties. Quite frankly, I’m not sure these are bad rankings. When you consider all the various needs of our people, in our democracy, most of our citizens are far less concerned about, nor want political rights, because the constitution already provides them this as a matter of law. Civil Liberties; everyone in the US is equally protected – key word equally. In many countries only the “different” or generally unaccepted classes have protectionist rules. Even though there are many in this country that want special privilege rules for their particular beliefs or lifestyles, the fact is everyone, regardless of these views, lifestyles, and beliefs, are already protected by law in the US. We don’t need more laws to support the laws already in existence. For example, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or an applicant for their age…PERIOD. Thus, we don’t need a “special” law that says you can’t discriminate against a person for being too young or too old…it’s already on the books – laws upon laws to support the laws already in existence…makes no sense to me but other countries feel forced to do, and not do this, in order to protect the less fortunate, as they would say.
By what criteria does one measure a great country? Is it Gross National Product? If so, when and if China surpasses America in GNP, does that make China better than the US? But let’s dissect this measure; the survey before said freedom was most important – ask a Chinese citizen about their freedom. Should the measurement be how happy and harmonious people are, in which case Denmark or Bhutan may be at the top? But explain to me how you measure happy and harmonious people – I must have missed using that meter or taking that blood test? If it’s confidence in government, then perhaps New Zealand wins the prize? I must somewhat agree to this one because there is very little confidence in our government, but let’s take a look at why; power and money – two things we have far more of than any other country. How about literacy rate? Again, it depends on how you are measuring this and yes this has been declining. However I would argue that individual and personal choices have led to much of the decline as well as the degradation of public school curriculum. Yet when you look at the key technological advancements, while international experts are certainly key, and play a role, the vast majority or bulk of the workers and leaders are still American.
One could argue that the “best country on the planet” is the one that takes the best care of its people in terms of health, education, and elder care. Does that make Norway or Denmark the best countries on Earth? They are certainly near the top but when you measure this per person or per capita, more total people in the US can say this than in these countries. We already touched on having an excellent public educational system? Then perhaps the top country may be Singapore or Finland? The same holds true here, per capita we still have more opportunities for our citizens to seek out and receive a quality education. Would the richest country be the best in the world? The award then would go to Qatar, but really, you would compare Qatar to the US – give every person in the US the same access to oil driven wealth, as they have in Qatar, PER CAPITA, and you have many more US citizens making this claim.
Is having equal opportunity among all people regardless of race, gender, gender preference, or creed an important indicator of greatness? If that’s the case, does America successfully achieve that standard? The answer is YES without doubt, because as I said before, of that key word; OPORTUNITY – far more opportunities in the US than anywhere else!
The measures of a country’s greatness are varied and dependent upon how people rate the importance of each of these criteria – something on which Americans often have difficulty achieving a consensus.
While most Americans have not visited other countries, I am fortunate to have lived and worked in over ten countries, in my career. I see America and other countries differently because of my experiences and work. I am not saying I have clearer vision, just a different perspective. But I know many Europeans who have flocked to the US, not because of better quality jobs but because there are MORE of those quality jobs – Opportunity. We already mentioned the influx of people from the lower income countries.
I have worked extensively in Europe, and a smaller amount in other countries, and each time I venture abroad, I truly appreciate what is good about America as well as what could be better. Like America, each country I have been in, has its unique strengths as well as its weaknesses and, to be honest, it would be very difficult to rank-order best to worst in all these categories that our press and these surveys feel are important. But what I only see in the US, and not in these other country’s, is the total package of opportunities; freedom, education, wealth, employment, access to technology, and healthcare. When you see how these countries compare, and how the more progressive countries have improved and are nearly able to compete with the US, you have to study, or know, your history. The fact is, all the freedom and progress those other countries enjoy today would not be possible without the United States.
The reason that “a lot of countries have freedoms” today is because our Founding Fathers pioneered the principle of popular sovereignty, where governments answer to the people instead of the other way around; even though it’s easy to be cynical about this, even in our own country. At the time of our founding, the rest of the world was ruled by monarchs. Our founders established the first country in human history that was built on an idea — the idea of human liberty.
For most of our history, American democracy was the exception, not most country’s standard. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.
That dramatic explosion of freedom didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S. powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War, defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. From 1939-1942 Hitler ran over Europe, imposing his will, and Hirohito did likewise in Asia. But once the US entered the war, it took only 6 months, to the day (from Pearl Harbor 12/7/1941 to the battle of Midway 6/7/1942), to begin turning the tide to the allies’ advantage, and eventually the end of this war. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies, and over 80% of those who do not live in democracy, reside in communist China.
The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Just a couple of years ago, the Brookings Institution reported that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind ... some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered ‘middle class’ or ‘rich,’” a fact we truly rich Americans, which is nearly every citizen compared to the rest of the world, often take for granted.
None of this would be possible without the state of relative international peace overseen by the US, and to a lesser extend to our like-minded allies in the UK, which in turn is guaranteed by the UK and US militaries. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom’s frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap. We significantly reduced the risk of nuclear war by forcing the Russians to back down when the attempted to put nukes in Cuba. Today, the only thing that stops North Korea from invading South Korea or China from invading Taiwan is American military might.
So, let’s be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.
Today, for all its flaws, America remains more free, more innovative, and the most prosperous country in the history of the world. We invented the lightbulb and the iPhone. We put a man on the moon and a rover on Mars. We are a nation of unparalleled military power and unlimited opportunity…. there’s that defining word again; OPPORTUNITY. There’s a reason we have a crisis on our southern border; millions want to come here so that they can share in the abundance of American prosperity.
The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over our country during the various sporting events, and military flyovers, during the pandemic, in order to give strength to and reassure our citizens, these are the people who make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Presidents Trump, Reagan, and both Bush’s, were right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it, that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.
Happy Birthday America!!! 245 years of prosperity and opportunity - and we’re just getting started!!!
You all know I am a lover of truly great music and entertainment. So, I invite you to take a few minutes and enjoy the following presentations and/or songs that truly pay tribute to this great land of ours – click on the link of your choice, or all three below, and take a moment to reflect and respect our great country:
* Thanks to the great contributors to YouTube for the videos.
** Portions of this message can be attributed to an article written by Marc Thiessen, and published in the Washington Post on July 10, 2019.