Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Is America truly exceptional, can it be called the wealthiest country in the world?

So we can say that this country is exceptional and is the wealthiest one in the world but that doesn’t make it so.

How many times have we heard someone make the statement that America is the wealthiest country in the world?  And how often do we also hear that it is exceptional among the countries in the world? Americans feel very good when they heard those words. How wonderful it would be if that actually were the case.
 
Let’s discuss wealth and determine if America is, in reality, the wealthiest country. To my way of thinking, America the country is made up of people, all its people, not just the minority of the wealthiest Americans. living at the top.
 
One thing we know for certain; the large portion of Americans do not share in the massive wealth that this country possesses.  If there were some semblance of equity of income and wealth in America then the premise that it is the wealthiest would be entirely true, but it simply is not.
 
The richest 1% of Americans in this country own nearly 40% of its total wealth. This top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans combined. Three of this country’s richest men, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, collectively possess more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans, about 160 million people.
 
Let’s digress just a bit and take a look at some other measures of the wealth of a country. One way wealth is measured is based on GDP per capita. Qatar, a tiny country near Saudi Arabia,  is #1 by a wide margin. But that’s a tiny country with only about 2 million people. Among the largest nations, America is the leader.
 
The next measurement of wealth is based on which country has the largest foreign exchange reserves. China leads the world with some $4 trillion in reserves, nearly three times those of Japan, which is in second place.
 
The third way to measure a country’s wealth is by the value of its natural resources.  Russia is clearly on top as it possesses some $75.7 trillion in natural resources. This is nearly $30 trillion more than that of America.
 
Next, let’s talk about American exceptionalism. Exceptionalism can be thought of as: outstanding, extraordinary, remarkable, excellent, unparalleled, peerless, in a class unto itself.
 
Do those words fit America? Let’s determine that by taking a look at some of the things that are happening in America.  
How is it that the so-called wealthiest, most exceptional nation in the world has 42 million Americans that depend upon food stamp benefits, one in eight of its citizens?  U.S. military personnel, based on the latest report I’ve seen, received over $100 million annually in food stamp benefits. Who would think that?
 
Employees of Walmart, McDonald’s, and Amazon, plus other large retail outlets,   are at the top of food stamp recipients. Are those the “welfare queens” that critics of this program keep complaining about?
 
How does the wealthiest nation allow over 40 million Americans to continue to live below the poverty line? That’s shameful, a national disgrace. There should be little to no citizens of this country having to live that way?
 
If we have all these Americans living in poverty and on food stamps why in the world did Trump and the Republicans hand over the largest share of some $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the richest Americans and corporations?
 
Why did an exceptional nation that possessed a world-class manufacturing sector simply give it away to China? So that giant US corporations could greatly lower their labor costs and markedly increase their profits. Why would it close many thousands of plants and throw millions of workers out of jobs?
 
Does an exceptional nation let an epidemic of mass shootings continue unabated because its government has no intention or any inclination of doing anything to bring it under control? Any child in any school in America could be gunned down anywhere in our country, and so can you and I. That is incomprehensible.
 
Does an exceptional nation allow its government to continue to follow an agenda of endless war, with a massive military empire that spans the world, intimidating and dominating other nations? A government that was doing the right thing for this country would scale down this empire and use the funds on a plethora of needs that remain unfilled.
 
Well, I guess that the wealthiest, most exceptional country in the world, the U.S., should also be home to the happiest people in the world. Nope, that is most certainly not the case. According to the United Nations’ 2018 World Happiness Report, the U.S. is now the 18th-happiest country on earth,
 
Finland topped the list, with Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia rounding out the top 10. None of these countries are plagued with great poverty, massive inequality of income and wealth, and mass shootings. Maybe that’s why the people are so happy.
So we can say that this country is exceptional and is the wealthiest one in the world but that doesn’t make it so. It would be more accurate to say that America has the potential to become just that. That could be the case if we could somehow transform this government into one that places the needs of its people at the top of its priority list.

 

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Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.
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