Remember that it was Phil Graham who called Americans a bunch of whiners, not me.
I have no idea why I remember what I do and the way I do. Sometimes I wish I did not so that I would be able to learn new stuff easier. Still, I find myself looking up sources and information on "the bigger picture." I relearn things I already knew with updated figures. While we scream that the sky is falling over the present economic mess that we fear so much, I think that we should remember who we are, economically, and how we fit into the world.
Sounds a little deep huh? I promise to make it simple and painless. You are lucky!
Now, some folks don't like capitalism, and as a market system it can be cruel. I object to imperialism where our military is used to beat other countries over the head, in fact or as a threat. In spite of this, we cannot figure out why other countries in the world do not like us. Our politicians mask the reality of America in catch phrases like: "Our American way of Life." OK, so the politicians have not asked you to think about WHY some folks around the world don't like us. They don't want to bother you with details. We have been very fortunate for a long time, and we are about to throw it away to Asia where schools of engineering and applied science are sprouting up like mushrooms while we grouse about paying American teachers an attractive wage and insisting that the schools in which they teach are habitable.
"Why should I pay for that, I don't have any kids, it should not be my responsibility!"
So we have a list of what we feel we personally, are entitled to automatically and everyone has a different list. Here is some of my list.
We are 4% of the humans on this planet, which automatically means you have more space than you are entitled to.
30% of the people in this world have no access to electricity at any price.
Despite the cell phones popping up everywhere, over 40% of the people in the world have never made a phone call.
The doubling of the price of rice threatens the survival of one fourth of humanity right now, but Americans are the number one consumers of calories per capita in the world.
Yes, America is special.
We have the most millionaires, billionaires, and largest middle class (as a percentage of the whole population) in the world.
If it were not for imports we would have no clothing to buy.
We are number one in the world in military spending. (unfortunately)
We are number one in the world in death by guns.
Per capital energy use? No one can touch us, and we produce more carbon dioxide than any six other countries you might like to mention.
We lead the world in both municipal and hazardous waste production per capita.
OF COURSE we are the greatest consumer of oil in the world. One in four barrels in the world production for just 4% of the population. Hurrah for us.
And while we do all this we have managed to become the lowest voter turnout country in the Western democratic world.
All this while we pay some of the lowest federal and state taxes of any industrialized country in the world.
We produce more beef to eat per capita than I want to even think about, but somehow we still have the lowest math scores on average of any Western country.
If you look here, you can see, in spite of all this, where we rank in the world's economy. It would take the next five countries in size of GDP to equal or surpass our GDP.
The GDP for the world is 54 trillion in 2007, and we were close to 14 trillion of that total. That is 4% of the people with over a quarter of the goodies. Anyone figure out why they just might not like us in Pakistan? And that is before we have pushed anyone around, and we are really good at that!
So when you cry about the cost of this "financial bailout for the fat cats," please remember that without us, the 220 countries who are lower than "the big six" face hardships and starvation that you cannot even begin to understand. I also hope none of you ever have to understand this type of poverty. I see this poverty each day which is borne with dignity that would make you want to cry. Each of you who read this are, by world standards, very rich indeed as you have a phone, electricity, food, clean water, shelter and the leisure to read this posting rather than work every waking hour.
We must step up to the plate and put our house in order. Without us producing, and a vibrant banking system to support our production, the suffering in the world would be too awful to think about. Of course, no golden parachutes. Those who broke the law should be punished accordingly, but while we see uninformed Americans on the streets wailing that there should be no "bailout" we should know the damage we are really doing to ourselves and the world. I truly regret that it is not more convenient, these "truths," but all I can do is react as I know best. Remember, other countries are catching up to us, and we must do better if you want the gravy train to last.
America is, has been, and will be just fine! For as stupid, selfish and uninvolved as we are as a nation, we are also the luckiest people in the world. So far that, at least, has been damn convenient. I hope we can open our eyes and do better.