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Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation (Commentary)

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Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation (Commentary)

 

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The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair. On this election eve, many Americans are losing faith in their country's future.

 

- Although parts of New York City, especially the island of Manhattan, are only a few meters above sea level, the city still has no extensive system to protect itself against storm surges, despite the fact that the sea level has been rising for years and the number of storms is increasing. In the case of Sandy, the weather forecasts were relatively reliable three or four days prior to its arrival, so that the time could have been used to at least make improvised preparations, which did not happen. The only effective walls of sandbags that were built in the city on a larger scale did not appear around power plants, hospitals or tunnel entrances, but around the skyscraper of the prescient investment bank Goldman Sachs.

 

- On the one hand, these consequences of the storm point to the uncontrollability of nature. On the other hand, they are signs that America is no longer the great, robust global power it once was. Europeans who make such claims have always been accused of anti-Americanism. But now Americans themselves are joining the chorus of those declaring the country's decline. "I had to catch a train in Washington last week," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, whose columns are read worldwide, wrote last April. "The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you'd have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City.

 

More below:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/divided-states-of-america-notes-on-the-decline-of-a-great-nation-a-865295.html


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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Great article, and completely fair.

 

*But I agree with surfohio that's it biased and going for reinforcement of current beliefs. That's the way journalism is these days.

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Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation (Commentary)

 

spiegelonline_logo.png

 

 

This entire article reminds me of an article in the Onion.

 

'Good Old Days' Traced Back To Single Weekend In 1948

 

This is the same emotional, self-serving rhetoric  that conservatives are rightfully bashed for. Except this time the persuasion is dressed up in liberal clothing.  It's easy, just pick out very select excerpts of good times past and by comparison, paint the present and future as bleak. It's a powerful tactic, except it almost always leaves out a multitude of facts and breezes past the complexity of the issues- issues of which I agree are serious.

 

Think about it. Take any one example of "America's long lost great past" and it's far too easy to point out something equally horrific, connected within the same series of events or time frame. Too many to list, actually.

 

This is Connie Schultz material folks**. It may stir you emotionally, but it rings hollow because the entire point is built on oversimplification. If you don't believe me, read for yourself the ridiculously simplistic, college freshman-esqe Newsroom speech that's touted as so "brilliant" by the author.

 

Yes, it's "brilliant" in the same way Rush Limbaugh is "brilliant."  It reinforces your current beliefs by pulling at your emotion.

 

 

** if you're not familiar with Connie Schultz, she's the Pulitzer winning CLE Plain Dealer schlock-columnist who writes things like "why the statue of liberty belongs to us all" kinds of stuff.

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No one is saying we lived in a utopia. However, Americans then had a true, enormous middle class with real jobs in manufacturing and mom and pop stores, thriving downtowns and affluent suburbs, a truly literate and educated population, two-parent households, limited military engagements other than Korea, a benign bad guy whom we could unify against, true patriotism, momentum in civil rights'

 

Dad beat up mom, gays were lynched, people weren't treated for mental illnesses...yeah, life wasn't perfect. But still, overall, being an American then was a source of pride. Today, not nearly as much.

 

 

 

evolution...it goes on and on and on.

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Downtowns (and inner cities in general) were actually on a steep downward trajectory in the 50's, the population was, sorry, far less literate by nearly any measure, Korea was quite a large and bloody military engagement to dismiss so easily, "momentum in civil rights" meant that black folks were still fighting to be at the front of the bus, let alone president, and I'm not sure what was so benign about communism.

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The United States still has the 8th largest GDP per capita in the world (with only tiny countries ahead).  This is astounding given the size of the United States' population.  The US has 50% higher GDP per capita than the European Union.  And while much of the industrialized world is currently struggling, the US economy is slowly gaining steam and I believe will have at least modest growth in the next few years.

 

I believe part of the point of view expressed in the article is based on comparisons to the rapid growth of countries that are quickly industrializing.  It is easy to have 10% growth when GDP per capita is $8,000 (China).  The US may be growing slower but is is still a few decades from even remotely being challenged economically.

 

I admit to being an unabashed liberal and I understand some of the views expressed in the article but I still think that America has some exceptional qualities that no other country can ever touch.  It is the only country in the world (except for maybe Canada) where you can be from anywhere but become truly American.  Multiculturalism has failed in Europe because most of the population is indigenous to the region and nobody else will ever have that heritage.  I think this American value will continue to be very helpful to leading to economic growth in the future.

 

I agree with surfohio that it is easy to pick out anecdotes to make a point but the overall picture is still very much in the USA's favor.

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I don't think America has declined, I think the rest of the world has ascended. America has only declined in terms of financial and economic stability, and not in a disastrous way. Nor are we alone in that. Regions of America have declined and ascended, but overall the country is not in terrible condition, and as others have stated, we're remarkably well-off given that we are a huge, high-population country. The question is really what the standard ought to be - ought people merely be grateful for the opportunity to squeak by, or should every citizen have access to certain services, which ones, why, and what's the point? I think the fact we engage in that sort of fundamental debate (although often in useless terms and for the wrong reasons) shows that, even in the age of Citizens United, our system is functioning fairly well...

 

This revisionist idea that all was well before, or would have been if only we had blah blah blah whatever, is poisonous because it then infects every subsequent argument or attempt at dialog. It's basically a feel-good conspiracy theory for the mainstream. Same thing on a smaller scale locally - 'Cleveland was ruined by the minorities' is still a common thought around here, and it's equally stupid - the city would have declined if it had been 100% WASP, and people would have invented another reason for it.

 

As a final note, Der Spiegel is consistently critical of the US regardless of the context, and this article engages in their typical hyperbole. The facts are right, the conclusions overblown.

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I don't think America has declined, I think the rest of the world has ascended. America has only declined in terms of financial and economic stability, and not in a disastrous way.

 

I agree with this somewhat, but disagree overall.  America has declined both at home & abroad.  We have more people (percent of population) on foodstamps, public housing, etc than any other time since Depression.  That has nothing to do with the rest of the world.  So many states & local governments are on the verge of collapse due to ballooning debt.  That has nothing to do with the rest of the world. 

 

Big picture, America has fallen behind in terms of military power & influence, economic prosperity & total GDP, and also in terms of educating children and test scores reflect that.  But these last items have more to do with the rise of China, Mexico, Brazil, etc.

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^I don't think the share of housheolds on foodstamps, public housing, etc. is a very good measure of decline.  For one thing, benefit usage is highly volatile based on current economic conditions [i.e., foodstamp usage has spike since 2007 because of the recession and broadened eligibility that was part of the stimulus]. For another, that metric presumes that the alternative is earning sufficient income to not quality for these benefits. So yes, in 1950 fewer people lived in subsidized housing, but many, many more people lived in shacks without running water or electricity. Surely we're better off now, no?

 

EDIT: I might agree with your ultimate conclusion to some extent though.  The lack of low-skill jobs has surely taken a toll on the lowest Xth percentile of households.  Just hard to come up with a single grand concept of decline to fit everything in.

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As Americans, we're also more exposed to any handwringing about American decline.  There is a fair amount of declinist thought in Europe right now with the political and economic struggles of that continent.  And there might well be in China, too, but not openly because such thoughts are suppressed there.

 

This is not to minimize our struggles or deny that we have reasons to be concerned.  We are facing massive demographic challenges that, because of political realities, are in many senses political and economic challenges.  Almost two thirds of our federal budget goes to senior entitlements; some of that is due to excessively generous promises made years ago by politicians who have long since passed from the scene (they won their votes and then left it to others to clean up the mess), but much of it flows from the fact that seniors are simply a much larger part of the population than they were 50 years ago.  Of course, part of that change is that we now have the ability to fight against conditions that would have been terminal 50 years ago.

 

We do have a lot of people on food stamps, subsidized housing, subsidized heating, etc.  As StrapHanger noted, we're hopefully nearing the crest of a peak-and-trough cycle on that score rather than on a permanent upward trend.  And I certainly do believe that our safety net is too generous, because the strain on the rest of the economy of maintaining it harms the recovery that would make it less necessary.  But we've got nothing like Europe's problems on that front.

 

As for our exposure to severe weather events: Hurricane Sandy, one of the most powerful storm systems we've ever faced, slammed into the most populated coastal region of our country, and the death toll as of yesterday, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/hurricane-trees-superstorm-sandy_n_2167017.html">as reported by the Huffington Post</a>, was a whopping 85.  In Europe, within the last decade, a <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4259-european-heatwave-caused-35000-deaths.html">heat wave cost them 35,000 lives</a>, many of which could have been prevented simply with more widely available air conditioning (but then their power consumption would have approached that of us sinfully wasteful capitalists over here ... oh, the horror).  And some major storm systems in developing countries have likewise claimed tens of thousands (or even six figures) of lives within the last decade or so.

 

Don't minimize the challenges we face.  But don't oversell them, either.  Mother Nature throws a mean right hook, but we took it and we're still standing.

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^Are you including SS and medicare as part of the "safety net"? FWIW, Fox reported last night that a whopping 16% of the federal budget goes to means-tested programs which to me makes it a second order strain after all the much bigger expenditures, but this might just be a matter of defining "safety net." 

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It would be nice if an isolated nation with a well-armed citizenry such as ourselves that gets along well with its neighbors wasn't so terrified of everyone that it has to spend more on defense than the next 15 nations combined.

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Yes, I am counting SS and Medicare as part of the safety net.  I was unaware that that was even disputed.  Even those on the other side of the entitlement-state debates from me often make emotional appeals against "gutting the safety net" when the subject of reining in the runaway costs of the entitlement programs comes up.

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Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest there was a real dispute.  Just semantics.  SS and medicare are described in any number of ways for various reasons so it's not always crystal clear what people have in mind with more general terms.  I know it's politically fraught, but adding some level of means-testing to SS seems like a reasonable way to reduce costs.  Increasing retirement age is probably more expedient, but it is pretty brutal given that that life expectancy for the people who depend on it most (e.g., lowest income rungs) hasn't really increased much over the decades.

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Go back and read popular commentary of the day, going back to the early 1800s, and you'll see stuff about the country going to pieces, reminiscing about better days, etc. There were always some things that were better back then. And there are some things that are better now. I guess it all depends on what things you value and what you do to make your own life better.


"Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you Buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it." -- Gordon Gekko.

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No one is saying we lived in a utopia. However, Americans then had a true, enormous middle class with real jobs in manufacturing and mom and pop stores, thriving downtowns and affluent suburbs, a truly literate and educated population, two-parent households, limited military engagements other than Korea, a benign bad guy whom we could unify against, true patriotism, momentum in civil rights'

 

Dad beat up mom, gays were lynched, people weren't treated for mental illnesses...yeah, life wasn't perfect. But still, overall, being an American then was a source of pride. Today, not nearly as much.

 

 

 

evolution...it goes on and on and on.

 

The USA and USSR multiplied their nuclear arsenal to an insane amount between 1950 and 1965 which explains why there were limited military engagements. Due to nuclear arms race, I don't see this era as some bygone glory period but, quite honestly, as the beginning of the end of our current civilization. It's only a matter of time before some nut pulls off the unthinkable.  Hopefully the nation or group that recieves the attack has a patient hand before sparking something unbelievably tragic.

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Finally.  A thread dedicated to musings from the perpetual "this country's going to hell in a handbasket" fist-shaking crowd

.  I think there's more than enough hard data out there to warrant a real conversation.  Dismissing it as musings from a fringe group just ignores the problems.  Yes America is still the greatest country in the world, but for how long? 

 

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I'm not dismissing it.  I'm glad you have a thread for your real conversation and hard data.  And I'm not acccussing you of being a member of any fringe group.  As KJP correctly notes, this is a constant theme in America.  It's certainly nothing new, nor is the introduction of 'data' into the conversation.  My grandfather was part of this 'group.'  I can remember him ranting and raving about this back in the 80's. 

 

Perhaps what helps us continually stave off this 'decline' is the insistence that this conversation never go away.  Maybe it is complacency and overconfidence which causes great superpowers to fall.  In fact, IMO, that point was a central theme of the President's acceptance speech.  Carry on.

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It bothers me when someone says this is the greatest country on Earth. Patriotism is nice, but nationalism is not. This is a great place to live in a world of many great places. I've visited nine countries in my life, and I've discovered great things in all of them including many things we don't have. I'm certainly most comfortable here in America because this is where I live. But when I hear someone say this is the greatest country on Earth, or when I'm asked to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag, that really creeps me out. America is an address. It's not a religion.


"Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you Buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it." -- Gordon Gekko.

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Food for thought.....

 

We're living the dream; we just don't realize it

 

(CNN) -- We've finally emerged from the season in which Americans were asked by the pollsters and politicians: "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" But sometimes it's important to contemplate the question of progress from a longer view: How are we doing on the scale of a generation?

 

To answer that question, take this brief quiz.

 

Over the past two decades, what have the U.S. trends been for the following important measures of social health: high school dropout rates, college enrollment, juvenile crime, drunken driving, traffic deaths, infant mortality, life expectancy, per capita gasoline consumption, workplace injuries, air pollution, divorce, male-female wage equality, charitable giving, voter turnout, per capita GDP and teen pregnancy?

 

The answer for all of them is the same: The trend is positive. Almost all those varied metrics of social wellness have improved by more than 20% over the past two decades. And that's not counting the myriad small wonders of modern medicine that have improved our quality of life as well as our longevity: the anti-depressants and insulin pumps and quadruple bypasses.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/24/opinion/johnson-progress-overlooked/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

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It bothers me when someone says this is the greatest country on Earth. Patriotism is nice, but nationalism is not. This is a great place to live in a world of many great places. I've visited nine countries in my life, and I've discovered great things in all of them including many things we don't have. I'm certainly most comfortable here in America because this is where I live. But when I hear someone say this is the greatest country on Earth, or when I'm asked to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag, that really creeps me out. America is an address. It's not a religion.

 

People risk their lives climbing into rafts or digging tunnels under fences or cross miles of desert with barely food or water....  to get into America.  How many other countries is this true of?  That's nothing of religion, America is still a place where anyone can succeed, regardless of who you are or where you came from.  If that creeps you out, well that's just sad

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People risk their lives climbing into rafts or digging tunnels under fences or cross miles of desert with barely food or water....  to get into America.  How many other countries is this true of? 

 

Actually.... probably quite a few.  It happens all over the world for a variety of reasons.  The US-Mexico border is probably one of the more extreme cases, given the disparity between the quality of life in those two countries.  But it's not like any Canadians are digging any tunnels, nor are any Europeans doggy-paddling accross the Atlantic, to get into America

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People risk their lives climbing into rafts or digging tunnels under fences or cross miles of desert with barely food or water....  to get into America.  How many other countries is this true of? 

 

Actually.... probably quite a few. 

 

Don't keep us in suspense, go ahead and name "quite a few" other countries where people are willing to risk their lives and separate from their families to pursue success like they do here?

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Libyans sneaking to Italy

 

Dominicans to Mexico.

 

There are plenty of similar situations to Mexicans/Cubams/Haitans sneaking here via dangerouse methods. America is not alone here.

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Over the past 8 years, more than 400,000 illegal immigrants from the Congo have been expelled from Angola

 

Bhutan has seen quite a few Nepalese refugees sneak across the border

 

China is building a "fence" between it and North Korea to stop the flow of illegal immigrants

 

France and the UK have hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants

 

India has countless illegals, many from Bangladesh

 

Iran constantly deports illegals back to Afghanistan

 

Libya has a large illegal immigration problem from the sub-sarahan portions of Africa

 

Mexico itself has some issues with people coming in from other Central American countries

 

Russia has a massive problem with immigrants sneaking in from other former Soviet states

 

Saudi Arabia is constantly guarding against a flow of illegals from Yemen

 

Look into the South African riots of 2008, mostly related to illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe

 

The list could go on and on, but I hope the above has removed any "suspense" which a simple google search could have resolved

 

 

 

 

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Interesting examples.  Crossing a border illegally has many motives.  America offers opportunity and success.  Some of the examples you mentioned are fleeing from persecution, not toward prosperity. 

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Yes.... refugees are somewhat different, which is why I had said "for a variety of reasons."  But no matter what the motivation for leaving.... the immigrants are certainly fleeing toward better prosperity than what their homeland offers.  If your argument is that America offers the *best* opportunity for success, that is much more debatable than any suggestion that America is the *only* country that offers an opportunity for success.  In fact, I would probably agree with that notion and I think our country has historically (up until recent times) embraced the invitation which was inscribed on the Statue of Liberty

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Frum shooting off some friendly fire again....

 

What's the GOP message if the economy booms?

 

(CNN) -- Here's the next thing the Republican party needs to rethink. What does it say if and when the United States returns to prosperity?

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

But the indicators are suggesting that by 2013 and 2014, the Obama record will begin to look a lot better, assuming, that is, that the two parties in Washington don't recklessly push the country off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

For too long, the Republicans have predicted apocalypse, debt crisis, the loss of freedom, the overthrow of the constitution. As the economy improves, that doom-saying will seem even more out of touch than ever.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/opinion/frum-gop-prosperity/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

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Our country is the laughing stock of the world.  Thanks, Opposition Party!

 

A Lack of Strength

 

...The hatred of big government has reached a level in the United States that threatens the country's very existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the nation and its proud Stars and Stripes, but when it comes time to pay the bills and distribute costs, and when solidarity is needed, all sense of community evaporates.

 

Then the divides open up between Washington and the rest of the country, between the North and the South, between the East and the West, between cities and rural areas, and between states whose governors often sound as if the country were still embroiled in a civil war.

***

The president didn't keep his promise to unite the country politically, but for that to happen, the participation of both parties would have been required. Instead, the more Obama sought to accommodate the Republicans, the more extreme their positions and the more hysterical their criticism became, eliminating any prospect of compromise. The three most important pieces of legislation Obama pushed through Congress since his inauguration in January 2009 were achieved with the votes of his fellow Democrats, even though they incorporated key Republican demands.

 

***

A Systematic Crisis

 

Does this sort of stonewalling already signify the collapse of a representative democracy? Naturally, an opposition party's role must be to fight the government's policies. Nevertheless, such deep-seated opposition as there has been in the Obama years is unprecedented in the last few decades of American politics. Many bills were never even put to a vote in Congress, because the Republicans, more frequently than ever before, threatened to use or did in fact deploy the so-called filibuster, a delay tactic with which votes on legislation can be completely obstructed. In the last five years, Republicans in Congress have used the filibuster a record-breaking 385 times, or as much as it was used in the seven decades between World War I and the end of the administration of former President Ronald Reagan in 1989.

***

But Republican governors in states with routes where high-speed rail would make sense simply refused to accept the government funds. Once again, their refusal reflected the desire to thwart a plan by "socialist" Obama, and the determination not to be accused by their supporters of having accepted money from the agents of "big government."

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Interesting examples.  Crossing a border illegally has many motives.  America offers opportunity and success.  Some of the examples you mentioned are fleeing from persecution, not toward prosperity. 

 

Having traveled throughout Western, Central and Eastern Europe, I was quite struck by the diversity of people. Many asian, carribean, african, indian, middle-eastern, etc. etc. Much of Europe is very advanced with a higher quality life than what America offers. I think if you look at the numbers, Europeans are more educated, have better health, live longer lives, promote investment in their own economies first. We in America are very insular and are largely unaware of what the rest of the world is doing. We try to make ourselves feel better by reporting stories about economic problems in Europe or the Orient yet do not report what makes them attractive to immigrants.

 

For some reason, Americans like you have deluded themselves into thinking our country is alone as a beacon to the world's economic downtrodden. Get over it by getting out and seeing the world. Yes, America is a nice place to live. But we're not only nice house on the block. Some actually offer healthier, more educational, more comfortable places to live.


"Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you Buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it." -- Gordon Gekko.

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Our country is the laughing stock of the world.  Thanks, Opposition Party!

 

A Lack of Strength

 

...The hatred of big government has reached a level in the United States that threatens the country's very existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the nation and its proud Stars and Stripes, but when it comes time to pay the bills and distribute costs, and when solidarity is needed, all sense of community evaporates.

 

 

If only everyone here LOVED big government, then all of our problems would be solved! 

 

 

 

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Interesting examples.  Crossing a border illegally has many motives.  America offers opportunity and success.  Some of the examples you mentioned are fleeing from persecution, not toward prosperity. 

 

Having traveled throughout Western, Central and Eastern Europe, I was quite struck by the diversity of people. Many asian, carribean, african, indian, middle-eastern, etc. etc. Much of Europe is very advanced with a higher quality life than what America offers. I think if you look at the numbers, Europeans are more educated, have better health, live longer lives, promote investment in their own economies first. We in America are very insular and are largely unaware of what the rest of the world is doing. We try to make ourselves feel better by reporting stories about economic problems in Europe or the Orient yet do not report what makes them attractive to immigrants.

 

For some reason, Americans like you have deluded themselves into thinking our country is alone as a beacon to the world's economic downtrodden. Get over it by getting out and seeing the world. Yes, America is a nice place to live. But we're not only nice house on the block. Some actually offer healthier, more educational, more comfortable places to live.

 

Careful targeting me in your comments bud, my passport is stamped aplenty and I minored in Russian studies in undergrad.  Go ahead & post some data for life expectancy for men East Europe.  How about the unemployment rate for men of working age in Europe these days?  Even in Western Europe & other places, everyone smokes, and alcoholism is much more common.  How many of those people you are referring to own a home, have any sizeable savings?  What are you referring to exactly when you speak about higher quality of life?  The fact that they get 8 weeks of "holiday" and only work 36 hrs a week so they can sit around, sip expresso and chat about the world news?  Of course they travel more than Americans.  You can see 5 countries from a day trip in much of Europe.  Hardly the case in America, with our giant landmass...

 

We're off topic so if you want to debate Europe quality of life, send me a PM

 

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Real quick -- if you have better retirement benefits, you don't really need to save as much money.  The way it is here, there are actually two problems: #1 you have to be incredibly smart and lucky about your retirement savings plan, then #2 you have to luck out and die quickly.  Chances are, even with a middle class income, you're going to burn through several hundred thousand dollars in declining health. 

 

 

 

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Careful targeting me in your comments bud, my passport is stamped aplenty and I minored in Russian studies in undergrad.  Go ahead & post some data for life expectancy for men East Europe.  How about the unemployment rate for men of working age in Europe these days?  Even in Western Europe & other places, everyone smokes, and alcoholism is much more common.  How many of those people you are referring to own a home, have any sizeable savings?  What are you referring to exactly when you speak about higher quality of life?  The fact that they get 8 weeks of "holiday" and only work 36 hrs a week so they can sit around, sip expresso and chat about the world news?  Of course they travel more than Americans.  You can see 5 countries from a day trip in much of Europe.  Hardly the case in America, with our giant landmass...

 

We're off topic so if you want to debate Europe quality of life, send me a PM

 

 

Bud? Classy...

 

I'm aware of life expectancy in Eastern Europe. My girlfriend is Ukrainian and have been there to visit her family.

 

But this thread is about the decline of a nation, and you stated that immigrants in Europe fled FROM something whereas immigrants in America fled TO something. If you've traveled in western Europe then you know how good the quality of life is there. Maybe you share different values than what they have, in terms of what is "quality", but that's not relevant. It what the immigrants who chose Europe over other places (like America) consider is quality.

 

So getting back to America, I consider home ownership as something that isn't all that its cracked up to be. For a brief time in American history (the second half of the 20th century), more Americans owned homes than didn't. It was during a brief high after a world war that devastated worldwide economies (except ours), when America still had the largest oil reserves and other natural resources, and we were willing to tax ourselves for the betterment of the whole for such endeavors as interstate highways, aviation, transit and other things that instigate commerce.

 

So during that time, America was virtually alone in its prolific ability to generate wealth for its citizens. And our citizens expected to be paid. Now, our natural resources are being depleted, we aren't willing to tax ourselves to fund commerce-instigating projects, and we have competition for industrial development from places on the planet whose citizens aren't paid as well as ours are (or were). So our ability to own homes, afford cars, and other luxuries are diminishing.

 

I bought a home because a home "always" appreciates in value -- or at least it did during much of the American century. Now my home is worth $15,000 less than what it was five years ago, dropping to the same price I paid for it in 1996. Fortunately my mortgage principal is low enough that I'm not underwater. But I cannot easily sell it (there's six other condos in my building already for sale). I cannot quickly move to another city to take available jobs. So not only am I not physically mobile, and I am not economically mobile. And that's because my home is now an economic anchor, not an economic lifter, because wages in America haven't kept up with the cost of living for more than 30 years. With the continued assault on the middle class, antagonism toward unions, permitting free trade with countries whose citizens are paid far less than Americans, etc. I don't see this ending anytime soon.

 

So whenever I am able to sell my home, I will be very reluctant to ever own a home again.


"Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you Buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it." -- Gordon Gekko.

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