Friday, September 09, 2005

Ten Things I Love About America

Wholly inspired by Mike Adams NewsTarget article "Why America is Still a Great Place to Live," I'd like to give my loyal blog readers the top ten things I truly love about this country.

#10 - The Beauty of the Land

America, from sea to shining sea. What a place this is! The coasts are incredible, the plains are breathtaking in their expanse, the mountains are a natural wonder, the deserts are so beautiful. While travelling, I find myself again and again just wanting to explore North America, without even considering the possibilities of travelling to Europe, Asia, etc. Why? Am I some kind of paranoid isolationist? No, I don't think so. There is just so much to see here. Why not try to take it all in?

#9 - The Melting Pot
If you come to America, there is a lot that's expected of you. You don't necessarily have to learn English, but you are expected to behave in certain ways. Coming from Canada, as I did years ago, this is a breath of fresh air. In Canada, we consider our country a "mosaic." This means that every culture can fit in "as is" without having to change to meet the Canadian culture. This causes huge problems. I can remember one problem with Sikhs who had joined the police force in Canada, knowing full well that they needed to shave their beards and wear an RCMP uniform, suddenly complaining that they had to keep their beards and wanted to wear a special ceremonial dagger on their uniforms. In fact, they didn't even want to wear the RCMP uniform, they wanted to wear a special Sikh garment. Give me a break!

The melting pot is a better cultural norm. Stick with it, America.

#8 - Patriotism
Although this may make you cringe, given the knee-jerk reaction of Bushies to world events, it is very important that America retains its strong patriotism. In Canada, we just don't have that level of pride in our country.

America's patriotism bursts out often, at Independence Day celebrations, during wars, during elections. And patriotism is shown in so many ways. Waving flags, honoring veterans, and disagreeing with the government are very common ways of showing one's patriotism here. And all are well accepted.

#7 - The Founding Fathers
What an incredible beginning this country had! The Founding Fathers - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, James Madison, and all - are such an incredible bunch of people, they've inspired all of us to this day with their ideas, their courage, their boldness. As you know, I'm reading a book about that era called "Burr" by Gore Vidal, and it is just showing me how these daring rebels formed the basis of a nation on rebellion. How this country can simultaneously be rebelling against itself and still be stable is a wonder. It also has shown me how the Founding Fathers really had many doubts themselves as to whether they could honestly create a new country all by themselves. But they did. And the spirit of the Founding Fathers lives on everytime someone tries to create something new here in America.

#6 - Convenience
Geez, I love convenience. The ability to shop on the Internet, get stuff delivered by Fedex, go to a mall where everything is just there - I really love the convenience. The level of convenience varies from place to place, even here in the U.S. I've found that Midwestern cities are more dedicated to convenience for people, whereas coastal cities seem to be less convenient. I remember working in San Francisco, and I suddenly realized that San Francisco was an expensive, inconvenient place, while my current home of Columbus, Ohio is inexpensive and convenient. But even S.F. is a whole lot easier to deal with than cities abroad.

#5 - The Political System
Again, with George W. Bush in office, it's hard to me to say how great the political system is, but you just have to compare it to the alternatives. Look at the British system of government, or Canadian, or even dictatorships in Asia or the Middle East. We got it good here.

The British parliamentary system (effectively copied in Canada), is horrendous ineffective. It just doesn't represent the people. In Canada, we always knew the results of the national elections before even one vote was counted from our home province of Alberta. It was disgusting. It was not equal, in the way guaranteed by the balance of the House of Representatives and the Senate here in the U.S. And in Canada, it's the usual thing for the Prime Minister and the majority in Parliament to be from the same party. That's how the system is rigged. When the Parliament has a majority for a particular party, that almost guarantees that the Prime Minister is going to be from the same party. Seeing how bad it is for America to have an all Republican government (like now) or an all Democratic government (like in the 70s), you can imagine what it's like to have that situation almost guaranteed by law. It just doesn't work.

#4 - A Culture of Innovation
America truly values innovation. Yes, the big companies try to beat it down when it arises, but it always arises anyway. Americans seem to assume that the big companies will get toppled over by the newcomer every few decades. The Microsoft's will beat the IBM's. The Southwest Airlines will kill the Delta Airlines. It's just going to happen.

What a great attitude. What an excellent environment for innovation.

#3 - People Who Care
Even though the political system here in the U.S. is meant to "preserve the power of the few," the little guys always seem to get through. I'm thinking particularly of a political movement I'm involved with right now in Ohio. It's an eye-opening experience to be part of this, much less leading it! And I'm learning so much about how it's very, very possible to change the political process with just a little bit of money and a few hundred supporters. It is possible, and it's not even that hard. You just gotta get up off your ass.

#2 - Outrage
Point #3 leads me to "outrage." I love the American capability to get outraged at things that aren't right. Look at the situation in New Orleans this month. Hurricane Katrina blew through and flooded New Orleans, and the federal and state governments were caught flat-footed. Then they started to lie to try to cover themselves, but everyone, I mean EVERYONE, caught them in the lie. I love it! I love the outrage, the calling authority figures to task. Let's see more of that, huh?

#1 - The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The most important reason for America's success, in my mind, is the capitalist economy. Nothing is more empowering, more wealth-creating, than the effective implementation of capitalism in a country. And that means that the overzealous government officials need to "let go" and let the economy work. That doesn't mean total hands-off, but it means the government refraining from offering hand-outs to corporations that give money to political campaigns. Get out of that business entirely, please! It slows down the innovation process, and it throws a wrench in our capitalist system. No friggin' hand-outs to businesses, please!

That's it for my Top Ten list. Let me know what you think, America.

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