The US is an extremely wealthy country (albeit with the wealth most inequitably distributed). I would be much more interested and glad to hear that the economy of some poverty stricken African country where people are lucky to live in shacks, is "doing great".
You might dig out an early 90s film by Godfrey Reggio, "Powaqatsi", if you'd like to see people living in shacks and "doing great". And its precursor "Koyaanisqatsi" to see people living in hypnosis and "being wealthy".
One of the less charming features of America is a delusion that the rest of the world are either cavemen or aliens from another planet. They're not. They're just regular people, same as you, me, or K-mac, living regular lives. They may dress differently and they may be more or less wealthy than the average American. There is no particular rule to it. In my travels I've seen more and worse poverty in America than in Europe or Oceania.
But I am parochial. I haven't visited Asia or Africa I reserve judgement on them. The one thing I can say from having visited and lived in more than one place is that you really don't know much about anywhere until you've spent a few years there. And both Asia and Africa are big
places - find yourself a dymaxion map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Dymaxion_map_unfolded-no-ocean.png
) - Sub-Saharan Africa alone is many times the size of the USA. It's hard to generalize at all about so many peoples.
The only thing I can really say about the world is that everywhere I've ever been is nothing at all like the way it's represented in the news.
1.) the middle class here is huge and doing quite well, and wealth is distributed to those who seek it and work for it (less Paris Hilton)
Almost every American calls themselves "middle class" no matter what their standard of living. But look at the "made in" labels on all the junk in your 3-car garage. Skilled jobs have fled America en masse and foreign tertiary institutions are vastly out-competing American ones. Job growth has been almost exclusively in the soda-jerk sectors. CEO pay is 250 times average pay. Everyone is middle class ... but some are a lot more "middle" than others ... and that trend is only accelerating.
The reason for the acceleration is that we're not spending money on infrastructure. I'm not talking about health care, though of course that's made us an international laughing stock with Moore's latest picture. I mean roads, schools, ports, and energy infrastructure - http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/index.cfm
. The fundamentals of our civilization are going to wrack and ruin while we sit and burble about how nice it is to have low taxes. America is a machine and machines need maintenance. There's no magic pixie dust to throw at infrastructure - it takes dollars to maintain it to a civilized standard. And no "business stimulus" is going to fix these problems. They're systemic.
2.) the poor in this country live better than the poor in any other country, they are fed, they are clothed, they receive healthcare...and if they're not, then they're choosing not to
Um ... any other country? Got figures to back that up? In my reading (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003589318_poverty26.html
) and in my direct experience the poor in America are considerably poorer than in other countries. They live in worse environments with worse social support and worse opportunities.
I'm not surprised that an affluent American is blind to this. American broadcast media affirm daily that someone's poverty is their own fault, that wealth somehow magically corresponds with virtuous living and moral fibre, and that being American means you're guaranteed opportunities. I believed all that myself before moving to America. In 7 years the scales fell from my eyes. Oh, I did fine - America is the land of opportunity if you're a technically educated white man. But what I saw on the streets was arrogance, intolerance, and ruthlessness toward the poor. Elsewhere in the world the poor are pitied and aided - they're regarded as symptoms of social failure. In America they are despised and imprisoned - they're an embarrassment, something to shun. And so their numbers grow ...
We've got the largest prison population in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_prison_population#Population_statistics
) - our country holds 25% of the entire world's encarcerated population - many more than in China or Russia. More than 1% of our population in jail, and we have to do work to clothe, feed and shelter them while they sit and stink and suffer. The prime reasons they're there are their poverty and our stupidity.
3.) if you are willing to work in this country, you will succeed. period. if you are lazy, no one has pity for you, if you have a disability or are infirm, there are a million charities run by both government and private organizations that will help you. no other peoples are as charitable as Americans and no other country gives away as much of its taxpayers hard-earned dollars as we do
Americans are charitable and American philanthropy is a marvel. But this has nothing to do with your thesis. American poverty is a growing quagmire. As the subprime loans collapse continues the number of struggling disenfranchised Americans can only grow. Your assertion that these people are "lazy" would not be worthy of comment if it were not such a popular American delusion. The poor in America have now way up and no way out - they can't obtain the educations needed to improve their situation because our schools are in squalor. They can't get a decent wage no matter how hard they work because there is no union movement. Since our public infrastructure is in a shambles many of them can't even transport themselves to the poor job opportunities that are open to them. Their environments are heavily polluted, congested, noisy, and dangerous. Plus they're generally afflicted with the diseases of poverty - not the least of which is the ignorance and delusion generated by the electronic drug of broadcast television.
In short these people are trapped and they have to work as hard as they can just to live. If you don't believe that, and you can't shift yourself to google the subject, just go meet a few of them. Seriously, go down to your local soup kitchen and just chat for a while. You won't hear anything too surprising about their problems and prospects. But you won't find anyone "lazy".
4.) maybe those african nations should fight for their freedoms the way that we did/do. once they get the tyrannical dictators out of control, they have the power to change their own nations....or are you suggesting the US start additional "nation building" wars? because you guys already hate us for that too and frankly, I'm sick of wasting my money on countries that insist on letting their dictators steal our aid
Um, you might want to read a bit more on this. We are most philanthropic to foreign dictators. Have been for generations. America loves dictators! Not so much in Africa - we prefer them in the Middle East and South America. We generally don't invest in nations with working social systems because, hey, how the hell can we make a buck off them?
As for "nation building" wars, that's the conservative agenda, not the liberal one. Democrats go in for a strong UN, a peace corps, all that bleeding heart stuff, you know? If you conservatives could please explain why you care more about Iraq than you do about America, why you like propping up dictators more than spending money on our children's schools, and why you think poisoning the planet with carbonic acid is a good idea ... well, we liberals would really like to understand that stuff, 'cause it just seems dang ol' nuts to us.
1.) I agree that the current administration has been a very disappointing failure; however, I completely disagree with you that the economy here is not the best it's been since Sept 11th. Just look at the stock market and how it has rebounded. As I said before, yes, certain sectors are suffering, but many more are booming. And that's quite typical of any markets.
The stock market is fixed (http://www.sprott.com/pdf/TheVisibleHand.pdf
). And not just by the plunge protection team; America is founded on monopoly and corpocracy, with no relation between "economic growth" and real progress. Take a look at the GPI (http://www.eoearth.org/article/Toward_an_ecological_economy
) to see what the real state of the nation is. Quality of life in America peaked in 1975 and has been going backwards fast in recent years. The real question on the stock market isn't how well are we doing - it's how long can our government keep manipulating global markets and global politics before the next bunch of bastards beats them at it.
2.) I wud'nt kno aneething bout wurkin' Me just dumb Amaricun. Such an ignorant comment. You know what America imports and exports? Brains! Why do you think the worlds best and brightest come here/stay here to work and study?
We come because America is a great place to live if you have a good education. But American schools are being heavily outcompeted by those in India, China and Europe. We still produce a whole mess of liberal arts grads. Technical degrees - science and engineering - are no longer an American strength. Manufacturing and technical jobs aren't in America any more either. We are an avowed service economy - we don't make anything that anyone else in the world needs. We don't have oil any more, our farms are getting hammered by the weather wobbles, we don't make cars anyone else can use, we don't have a lock on software any more ... all we have left is "high speed pizza delivery".
We are an inward facing country. As our dollar continues to plummet we're going to find it getting harder and harder to get what we need to maintain what we use. And we're hooked on importing stuff - disposable stuff. Stuff that breaks easy. Now that the Chinese are turning off the credit spigot we can't keep importing stuff - and they have all the manufacturing infrastructure now. We don't. With the collapse of the mortgage bubble the last domestic industry we had going is turning off. We do indeed have brains - and now is the time for us to use them to reinvent ourselves.
As for the rest of that stuff about college campuses and Ayn Rand, you're not addressing my argument or arguing with a position I support. I'm actually quite sympathetic to libertarianism/extropianism. The problem with it is its tendentious sense of entitlement. The fact is taxes really are a stupid way to fund infrastructure. We can do better - and we're pretty soon going to have to do better!