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The Left’s Myth of American Unexceptionalism

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I read an article by Ezra Klein the other day, in the liberal American Prospect magazine (Yes, I do try to read both sides) called, "The Argument Over Inequality, The myth of individual exceptionalism may undermine society on the whole."

The title grabbed my attention, after all, I always believed that individual exceptionalism was a real thing. Since I was a child, I was sure that there were people in my family and in society who were exceptional in one way or another. Not only that, I have often thought that perhaps I was exceptional in one way or another, that I had something special to add to society. Yet Mr. Klein was here to tell me that actually, everything I thought about exceptionalism and personal achievement is wrong, and might actually be BAD for "society on the whole." Surprising.

Klein starts by using CBO numbers dishonestly to establish that our current system of capitalism is unfair:

"2006 is now the most unequal year on record. The number to remember is 5,800 percent. That's how much the incomes of the bottom 20 percent would have increased since 1979 if they had been given the same $863,000 pay increase as the average member of the top 1 percent.

That didn't happen, of course. Instead, the number was 11 percent, or $1,600. That was the raise given to the bottom quintile during the past 30 years. Altogether, it could almost buy you a Macbook Air. Almost."

Never mind that the "poor" is a fluid definition in America, as opposed to most other countries in the history of man where the class you were born into was most likely the class you'd die in. Never mind that people who are poor in America today often move up tommorrow if they work at it, and sometimes those who are rich today, aren't always so rich tommorrow, all thanks to our "unequal" system of capitalism.

Using Bell's invention of the telephone and Darwin's evolution research as examples, Klein goes on to suggests that it's simply not fair for a select few to reap rewards for various inventions. After all, every invention builds on the technology that comes before it, and often times there are "parallel inventions." Someone, sooner or later, would have invented the magic doohicky:

"That is often the dull reality of progress: It follows a comma rather than a paragraph break. A field of research achieves a critical mass of ideas and underlying concepts and the next step becomes clear to a number of experts. A mixture of timing, PR savvy, and aggressive legal representation decides the name that gets etched into the history books. But the credit, properly distributed, should really accrue to the collective knowledge and expertise of society."

Think about that for a second. "The credit, properly distributed, should really accrue to the collective…" But society didn't invent the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell did. And he didn't do it for the collective. He did it for his own selfish reasons and thank god for that. Bell gets the credit, and society gets to use the telephone.

The article gets worse from here, thankfully it's short. Like Mr. Klein's intelligence. The problem is that this "collective" versus "the individual" mindset isn't just Mr. Klein's bright idea. To use one of President Obama's favorite lyrical instruments, this "false choice" of collectivism versus individualism, is the stock in trade of the left. This idea is the root of what Obama was talking about when he was promising hope and change. Hope for all of those folks who don't push themselves to reach a higher level in life, change for those who do.

Call it "The Myth of American Unexceptionalism."

On the foreign policy front, President Obama has operated from a position of equanimity with the rest of the world's nations. In many ways, Obama actually positions the US as a bad actor in the international community – America has to gain forgiveness for it's actions from the rest of the world. Obama doesn't believe in American exceptionalism, unless by exceptionalism you mean exceptionally bad.

The truth could not be farther from reality. America has had it's foibles, we've certainly made mistakes. But on the whole, the international "community" if you could call it that, has a lot more to apologize for than we do. Never mind the miles long list of positives America has contributed to the world, as well as the less quantifiable benefits of our democratic nation's mere presence as a the sole superpower.

The leftist will stop me right here and make the tired claim that the "last eight years" have destroyed America's reputation abroad. But this common refrain cannot survive even a modest study. How exactly is that true and who is doing the judging? France's Sarkozy was friends with Bush, and may have a man crush on Obama. Germany's Merkel has been a long time ally with the US, pre-Obama and now post. The UK's alliance with the US has been unshakeable, and looks to continue that way for years to come, even if we do give their leaders thoughtless gifts. So who hates us really? Russia? Spain? Bitch, pleeeze.

Despite this, President Obama went on his apology tour and made clear that the dastardly actions of the past administration will not be carried forth in Obama's new America. The crowds liked it but in terms of yield, there has been no benefit thus far. On the other hand, Obama's relinquishing our role as the sole superpower and defering to a dysfuntional U.N., the resulting loss of America as a true beacon of hope and an inspiration for freedom and democracy, will have it's costs, both in terms of America's direct interests, as well as the progress of democratic progress throughout the world.

Obama's entire domestic platform is based on an overt sense of establishing unexceptionalism. Bailing out irresponsible borrowers and corporations on the backs of tax payers (most of which are considered "rich" or close to it) is yet another venture into the realm of unexceptionalism. After all, it's those who were responsible with their borrowing, exceptional by today's standards, who have to pay for the mistakes of the unexceptional, the irresponsible.

Obama's definition of fairness doesn't take personal acheivement into account at all, except in reverse. Obama wants to restore "fairness" to the tax code but his changes will mean an already lopsided contribution scheme will only get worse. Obama favors raising capital gains on the wealthy, even if it stymies investment, because (he says) it's fair. It's not fair to the investors, whom already likely pay more in taxes than fully 40 plus-percent of the populace. Nor is it fair to the market itself. So who is really gaining from this fairness? Truth be told, no one, and I guess in that respect you can call it fair. Yet all this fairness does is encourage people to be less exceptional.

But the biggest area in terms of inspiring America to be unexceptional is in President Obama's health care plans. Americans are so equal, so unexceptional in their individual merits, that access to health care should be equal regardless of what they contribute to society.

The left will call me heartless for not caring about the 50 million uninsured, they will say that Obama is only offering health care to those who don't have it and the rest of us can continue to use our existing health care plans. However, by providing a government sponsored alternative, employers have no reason to continue paying into a private sector health care system, and this will ultimately lead to it's demise. This will impact not just the quality of health care across the board but also the level of ingenuity and advancement, given to us by exceptional doctors and researchers, whose individual work has benefited the collective.

The very people Obama has forwarded to run with the government take over of America's health care industry invariably support rationing as the main means to lower costs. (Tom Daschle wrote about rationing health care extensively in his book). Rationing is the ultimate expression of unexceptionalism – we are all so damn terribly equal and unexceptional in our individualism. Mere drones in the bees nest we call America. Even if there was a 1 in 20 chance that a certain procedure might help, it will be stricken from the arsenal to reduce costs, in the name of what's best for the hive. Yet we are not bees.

Perhaps at a high enough altitude, such moves in order to reduce the cost of health care on the collective, in order to make it more available, sounds fair. But to the guy who put in exceptional effort throughout his work life, being denied treatment that might save his life, on the grounds of "comparative effectiveness research" isn't really fair to him or his family.

All of this to solve the problem of health care. But there are other solutions to providing care to the uninsured who need it, and lowering costs, without dismantling one of the great industries in America whose improvements to the collective American quality of life has been nothing short of exceptional (please don't get me started on the United States' WHO ranking, even considering it's high cost).

The lessons learned from communism and socialism directly refute the sorry ideas of the left and Mr. Klein. The great experiment that is America proves that individual and American exceptionalism has benefited the collective way more than any other invention in history, especially those created in the name of fairness. True fairness is freedom. Freedom to be selfish even.

Fact is, individual exceptionalism is responsible for every single great thing that we benefit from in our lives today. Up till now, America has celebrated and encouraged the individual who was exceptional. I'm hoping that this doesn't change or America's exceptionalism will truly become a myth.

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About The Obnoxious American

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Bang-up article, OA. You hit on some vitally important points and raise the question which I actually think that real liberals on the left ought to be thinking about.

    Liberalism and all the writers and people who inspired the movement, celebrated the individual and individual accomplishment. Surely some on the modern left must realize how incompatible the current dominant ideology is with actual liberalism.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    You should perhaps take a moment and remove your red, white and blue glasses and step down from your hyperbolic perch. One would gather from your writing that Americans are the one and only beacon of light and life in the world. That all others are doomed to lives of uninspired drudgery – lives spent in a colorless world enveloped in a gray mist of sadness and unrealized dreams and potentials.

    But you know what? The sun does in fact shine beyond our “shining” seas. People not of our special ilk somehow manage to live well and work at good jobs. People who are curious, innovative and inspired. People who have ideas, some that even come to fruition. They do this in spite of the fact that they live in more or less socialist societies in countries having national health care. (The horror!) Perhaps Americans are just too greedy and stupid to figure all that out.

    You refer to health care as an “industry.” Therein lay the problem. Health care should not be concerned with the bottom line.

    Being the only so called “super power” carries with it obligations. Being the supposed “beacon” of freedom and democracy also carries with it obligations. All too often we have left those obligations behind in pursuit of power and influence no matter the cost to others.

    You just can’t imagine how anyone cannot see us as the guys in the white hats. You can’t imagine that many see us as bullies, as arrogant, condescending and presumptuous.

    It would help us all if there were a few less people like yourself so convinced of our near divinity that we can do no wrong. “My country right or … yada, yada, yada.

    We are NOT exceptional. We are all “unique” in that like snow flakes, no two are alike, but we’re still just snow flakes. Being unique does not imply exceptionalism – at least not in a necessarily positive way. Jeffrey Dahmer was, I suppose, exceptional.

    As to “American Exceptionalism” when applied to the country as a whole and when considered in its more or less original conception, there is some case that can be made about its being “exceptional” in the world. But most of that exceptionalism exists primarily on paper.

    And with respect to Americans – we are Americans owing to nothing more “exceptional” than the accident of our birth. Not a one of us had a hand in the creation of this “exceptional” nation – nor even in conceiving of the “idea” of this nation.

    B

  • STM

    OA: “America is the greatest country in the history of mankind”.

    Bullshit.

  • Jordan Richardson

    If there’s anything America needs, it’s an even bigger ego!

  • STM

    They just need to get their hands off their tonks

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    OA,

    There are things here that I see that you do not wish to see.

    In foreign policy, the United States has not been a benefactor, EXCEPT when it went to war against the Nazis 68 years ago. Even then, the Americans refused to bomb the Nazi concentration camps, and when they liberated Italy, they also liberated the Sicilian Mafia to once again rain terror on Sicilian peasants. Since 1898 Americans have blindly raped the planet, backed by a blind view that caused them to expect everyone else to be grateful for being raped. That is where you get your own moniker, whether you realize it or not – “the Obnoxious American”. America has betrayed ally after ally, friend after friend, until now you are paying the price.

    You are broke, in debt up to your eyeballs to an evil regime that enslaves million, the Red Chinese, dependent on a monster of your own creation, the Saudi Thugdom of Wahhabi murder, so dependent in fact, that instead of overthrowing the evil bastards in Riyadh who flew a plane into the World Trade Center, your sitting president had a shit fit to destroy another former ally instead, Saddam Hussein of Iraq. And that shit fit has reduced you to penury.

    Your nation needs universal health care. Any civilized human being with a brain on his head (who doesn’t live in the United States) can see this plainly. But ironies abound, don’t they? Now that there is finally something of a consensus agreeing to this, now that you finally have a leader willing to enact such a program (I remind you that the first bill to enact universal health care in the United States was submitted by Congressman Meyer London (Soc. – NY) in 1904!), YOU ARE TOO DAMNED BROKE TO PULL IT OFF!!

    The land of your birth is falling apart around you, and as soon as the world economy reacts to the rampant printing of unbacked currency going on – another 18 months or so – the world will see inflation like it has never seen. If the economy of the world is still functioning, that is.

    Mexico, the land that you Americans halved and emasculated, is sending you the latest version of Montezuma’s revenge – the swine flu. It is only a matter of time before this flu, a disease that nobody has the solution for, or a mutation of it, starts killing in the thousands and finally millions. Flu season starts in October, by the way, and there is NO known antidote for swine flu.

    The final ironies that I notice here are these. You feature a book by a Jew, your criticize an article by a Jew, and you, a Jew yourself, cannot see that whatever blessing G-d may have bestowed on the United States has been cancelled. On this the 61st anniversary of the renewed of a Jewish entity in the world, I remind you to look east homewards, and to abandon the Babylon in the West – before it abandons you as it falls.

  • Clavos

    Cheer up, B-tone, you still have your ass-kissing, bowing-and-scraping, “Mea Culpa” president doing his best to destroy whatever tattered remnants of the notion of exceptionalism are still left out there.

    And if OA continues to insist on writing these disgusting, reprehensible screeds, you can always send him to a government school to be re-educated.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Baritone,

    You’ve totally blown my mind. Wow, I didn’t realize just how I wasn’t seeing the full picture, thank you (end sarcasm).

    Do you really think that I believe the world only sees us as the guys with white hats? I never ever suggested that. Why must you degrade my intelligence as not even realizing our sins, as opposed to responding to the points in the article. I even say in the article we’ve made our mistakes (it’s even in my byline) but on the whole our presence on the world scene has been a positive for the world. Care to dispute that? I dare you to name any other country that has contributed as much good to the world as the U.S.A.

    I never said that nothing exceptional happens beyond our borders, never said there aren’t exceptional people outside of the USA – I work with people all over the world on a daily basis, I get to see it first hand. That doesn’t change the point of my article. Part of the reason why others in the world have such an existence is because of the US. Ask yourself where would Europe be without the US? Where would China be without the US? In one way or another, we’ve set an example, or got directly involved. America has changed the course of history for the better on virtually every other continent in the world. The world without the U.S. would be a much darker place right now, regardless of how determined you are to not see that.

    On Health Care, it IS an industry whether you want to consider it one or not. The U.S. health care industry is largely responsible for extending the lives people all over the world, and enabling them to have socialized medicine that works to a degree.

    “To a degree” being the key phrase. In the rush to socialized medicine, did you ever ask anyone from Canada or the U.K. how they like their care? Guess what – they don’t like it very much. And guess what – it’s not free either!

    Bottom line, you take away the profit incentives behind medicine, and that means you take away invention and ingenuity. People are not going to work to discover new science just because they feel like it, and government ain’t going to spend tax payer’s dollars on a slim chance of some R&D effort being successful.

    I’m not saying that socializing medicine will mean an end to all medical inventions, but it absolutely will reduce them, as well as reducing the choices we currently have. For what end goal exactly? There are other ways to reduce costs, other ways to get coverage for the people that need them. Why throw the baby out with the bath water?

    In terms of us Americans – I agree you’re not that exceptional, because you were blessed to be born here and you don’t even realize it. Obviously, I had nothing to do with the founding of this great nation. But at least I understand why it was founded and am here trying to defend those founding principles, which is more than I can say for most on the left.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    Why is it that the more America turns against the right-wing policies that led us to this juncture – the worst recession since the depression and two ongoing wars (one of which was completely unnecessary) – the more the right wing claims they are the only true patriots, the only hope there is for America?

    Here’s the answer, by Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”

    H.L. Mencken appended the saying thusly: “But there is something even worse: it is the first, last, and middle range of fools.”

    This can be seen not only in America, but in EVERY country that experiences upheaval. It seems that many in the right wing believe that patriotism is their bailiwick alone, and that all others are somehow pretenders.

    But you know what, OA? You touched on health care. In your choice of whether to support UHC or not, your choice SHOULD be made with the evidence at hand – which countries have the longest life expectancy while spending the least amount of money to achieve that national life expectancy. All other talking points should be flatly ignored.

    But you are ignoring the evidence at hand! On the list of countries ordered by longest life expectancy, America is in THIRTIETH place, behind Jordan and Bosnia, respectively. The TOP TWENTY-SEVEN countries ALL have universal health care of one form or another…and they ALL spend far less on health care per capita than we already do.

    THAT, sir, is the crucial evidence. Bring out every single talking point you have, and I’ll shoot it down. In the end, examine the OVERALL picture, the BIG picture, instead of saying “this person” or “that person”. Try seeing the forest as a whole instead of looking at the problems with this or that tree!

    If you want to call yourself a patriot, then have the intestinal fortitude to support what is PROVEN to work, what is PROVEN to benefit the population as a whole (including your precious uber-rich) for FAR less money out of YOUR pocket.

    Being a patriot, OA, is supporting what is best for ALL Americans, and not just the Americans you happen to like.

  • Clavos

    Funny thing, Glenn.

    I can’t find the words “patriot” or “patriotism” anywhere in either OA’s article or his comment.

    In fact, I’ve noticed in the past that usually it’s you who most often brings up that strawman.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Glenn,

    Wrong, I’m not ignoring anything, in fact, in this very article you are commenting on, I link to another article that I wrote where I explore the WHO rankings and the issues around our life expectancy. I added this link within this article precisely so that readers would see WHY I ignore the WHO rankings and our life expectancy figures without having to read it here. To make it easy for you here is the link, again:

    The Obnoxious American Loves Hillary/

    You can disagree with me, but please try to understand my points before doing so.

    In terms of your suggesting that I am claiming patriotism as my last refuge as a scoundrel, you don’t know me, and you have no position to make such a claim about me. I live a law abiding, upstanding life. I contribute to society in a number of positive ways. My comments about the lack of patriotism are due entirely to the unpatriotic acts of our new president, and at the behest of the extreme left who seems to be able to drive Obama.

    Perhaps my dislike for Obama is more extreme than most of the populace, but that’s because I probably pay attention a lot more than most of the people polled. And what I see, an apologist who makes nice with dictators (even Gloria Borger on CNN had an issue with this) is not what I would call presidential and decrying our actions, especially in World War II as Obama did on his apology tour, is absolutely NOT patriotic, no matter how many other countries he also lambasts.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    True enough, I never even actually said the word patriotism. What I have been talking about is exceptionalism, specifically the idea of individual exceptionalism which is what America has been based on, which led to American Exceptionalism.

    And American Exceptionalism isn’t the same as patriotism, though both may manifest similarly.

    American Exceptionalism is a fact, and it has yeilded real benefits in the real world, like for example, not living with a Nazi Europe right now, or sparking the industrial revolution which has brough millions, perhaps billions all over the world, out of poverty.

    Patriotism by comparison, is a feeling someone has. And frankly, I care a lot less about feelings than I do about exceptionalism. Because everyone is patriotic for their country. But someone in the group is going to be exceptional. It can be us, or it can be someone else. Our choice to make here.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It is only a matter of time before this flu, a disease that nobody has the solution for, or a mutation of it, starts killing in the thousands and finally millions. Flu season starts in October, by the way, and there is NO known antidote for swine flu.

    Isn’t that what you said about bird flu, Ruvy?

    There’s no ‘antidote’ to any virus. Once infected, you just have to let the disease run its course. There are drugs and treatments, of course, that can manage the symptoms and in some cases kill the infection. Tamiflu works just fine.

    There are also strategies, which are as we write being put into effect, to help restrict the spread of the disease.

    The problem with this particular strain is that we’re playing catch-up: as you observe, it’s not flu season and not enough of the right drugs are stockpiled right now. But to claim, with barely-disguised glee, that there’s absolutely nothing we can do about swine flu is just complete and utter bollocks.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I dare you to name any other country that has contributed as much good to the world as the U.S.A.

    How far back d’you want to go? I’ll give you Britain, France, Germany and Italy for starters.

    Of course, it does rather depend on what you regard as Good.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, I raised some questions about the Allies and bombing during WWII on the thread of your “We Will Not Forget” article, comment #22. You never replied. That’s odd, considering most of your recent comments have been about that particular subject. I’m no historian. My understanding is that my comment #22 is accurate, but I could be wrong. Still, the longer you go without correcting it or even replying to it, the worse your credibility is on this topic.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc,

    I thought someone might ask that question, thankfully it came from you. And you’re right, looking at different periods in the course of history the world was vastly changed for the better by many countries. Being selfish, I’m more interested in our lives, so I’d ask you to look at recent history, the last 100 years or so. I think you will agree that humankind has made leaps and bounds in the last 100 years that is unprecidented in the preceeding history.

    Would I be overstating things by suggesting that 50% of the advancements of humankind happened prior to the last 100 or so years, with the remaining 50% of advancements coming within the last 100? I don’t think so. And what was a major driver in those advancements? Playing our role in WWII enabled the society we enjoy today. Playing our part in the end of communism enabled the society we enjoy today. Our mere presence has inspired capitalism in China of all places. Not to mention the actual tangible inventions we’ve contributed.

    Perhaps my belief in exceptionalism has pissed off some of the more extreme lefties here, but let’s forget party affiliation and Obama for a minute and just consider what the last 100 years would have looked like if the U.S. was not on the scene. America is nothing short of exceptional.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Not sure why we are talking swine flu here, and frankly I am pretty happy with the Administration’s response thus far. But one thing that really annoyed me with Obama was on his recent campaign stop yesterday, he spoke about the swine flu:

    “But one thing is clear – our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community. And this is one more example of why we cannot allow our nation to fall behind.”

    Obama went on to say:

    “Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century. Time and again we’ve allowed the research and experimentation tax credit, which helps businesses grow and innovate, to lapse…. And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas.”

    We’re talking about the swine flu, something that has existed for a lot longer than even Obama and it originated from Mexico, the U.S., the Bush administration, did not cause this. And we HAVE effective science to deal with this. So WHAT IS OBAMA TALKING ABOUT, and why does he use every crisis as an opportunity to blame the prior administration, the history of America, and then ask for more government spending? Scary stuff.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Although the site remains subject to problems due to “backend issues” (I assume that the problems are not anatomical) according to the trouble page I got many times yesterday and again a few minutes ago, I will try another comment.

    [idiocy begins]

    Many good and useful ideas come from outside the United States, and it is terribly arrogant for the U.S. not to adopt them all. In Muslim countries, for example, pigs are considered unclean animals and [the devout] do not eat pork because of religious restrictions. One Islamic militant Web site carried comments Wednesday saying swine flu was God’s revenge against “infidels.” Perhaps the U.S. should, along with Egypt, slaughter all pigs to prevent the further spread of swine flu. Of course, “Global health experts said the mass slaughter of pigs is entirely unnecessary and a waste of resources.” However, it is important to do something, even if it is quite ineffective, regardless of the cost. Change is good! The United States must be purged of the arrogant notion that even the silliest of ideas from abroad are not worth trying. Exceptional?? Ha ha! The United States is no better and is often far worse than any other country.

    [idiocy ends]

    Dan(Miller)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    You ignore the stats because they come from the World Health Organization (WHO)? Here’s a news flash: they’re NOT from the WHO!

    The life expectancy stats on the Wikipedia are from the CIA World Factbook, and the spending stats are from the World Bank.

    But I’m not surprised – you’re not the first conservative I’ve seen do his level best to dismiss offhand the evidence presented without even attempting to verify its veracity.

    In other words, the conservative maxim seems to be “if the evidence says something against conservative orthodoxy, the evidence MUST therefore be false!”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA –

    Here’s another set of examples of how grossly inefficient our system is versus those countries with Universal Health Care – but of course you’ll dismiss this one, too….

  • The Obnoxious American

    No Glenn. Ready the link I posted. I cover this topic extensively in that article (“The Obnoxious American Loves Hillary” written way back in 2007). Or you can keep arguing with your imaginary version of me. Your choice buddy.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Obnox @ #16: You’re right that the US has taken the lead over the last century or so, and that many of the developments which make our world a nicer place have had an American hand in them.

    However, three points. I think the pace of recent change is largely incidental to our discussion here. It’s the result of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, which began in Western Europe, and to which the US – as in a lot of things ;-) – was a late arrival. So the US has been building on the earlier achievements of others, just as every other world leader throughout history has.

    Second, it is entirely possible that the pace of human development may be even faster over the next hundred years – and may not be led by America. In the year 2109, do not be surprised to see Chinese or Russians or Indians pointing at how far the world has come thanks to their nations’ contributions, and how exceptional that makes them.

    Third, you have to look at how much of America’s influence over the past century has been due to its size. Two of the countries with larger populations than the US have spent most of that time working on elaborate ways of being unpleasant to their own people, a third has been struggling to come to terms with the idea that it is a country and not a mass of squabbling principalities, and the fifth largest has only recently got bored with its national hobby of having a revolution every five minutes. So the US has been in a unique position solely because of its size and stability. It would be interesting to try and analyze significant achievements per capita of population of various leading countries, and see where the US stands by that measure.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc,

    I agree with your insightful points. And a bit terrified of the next 100 years if China or Russia, and not the U.S., is in the superpower role for all the obvious reasons.

  • Baronius

    Dr, 1) The US definitely is part of the European tradition. No denying that.

    2) If demographic trends continue, the last Russian will have died fifty years before 2109.

    3) America has been able to outpace other countries because of its size and stability, yes. But those aren’t accidents. It takes a unique country to remain stable when you’re that big.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius:

    1) I’ll come back to that;
    2) Russia has significant immigration – don’t count on it;
    3) Your observation here is answered by your observation in 1).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    In paragraph 3, you tell us about countries number 1 and 2, number 3 and number 5. Which country is number 4, and if it has not done well, doesn’t that counter the notion that the United States’ “unique” position is solely due to its size and stability?

    While I agree that it would be “interesting” to analyze per capita achievements, beyond that, I don’t see what useful purpose it might serve. In addition, quantifying significant achievements would be a substantial obstacle, unless one decides that such advances as the hula hoop, polio vacine and the atom bomb are of equal value.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    But you are ignoring the evidence at hand! On the list of countries ordered by longest life expectancy, America is in THIRTIETH place, behind Jordan and Bosnia, respectively. The TOP TWENTY-SEVEN countries ALL have universal health care of one form or another…and they ALL spend far less on health care per capita than we already do.

    Reason and leftism are incompatible. B-tone. There’s no causal relationship here. The overwhelming majority of the countries below the US on the life-expectancy scale ALSO have Universal Healthcare. There’s zero evidence that it is Universal Healthcare which differentiates us from countries with better life expectancies.

    In fact, the one causal connection which CAN be proven with the lower life expectancy in the US is the greater amount of time we spend DRIVING. That’s what kills us, not the lack of universal healthcare.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    You’re right, Dave, and there’s another:

    We have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, which medical experts attribute to the large number of single, poorly educated women who become pregnant and who are ignorant of such things as prenatal care.

    In fact, the city with the highest infant mortality rate in the US ironically (because it’s the home of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital) is Memphis, which also has one of the highest rates of single motherhood in the US.

  • The Obnoxious American

    The whole discussion is absurd. As I said in the Obnox Loves Hillary article, since when does government do anything right?

    Does anyone really believe that a single payer, government run system will be cheaper? Doubtful with 50 million more added to the rolls, whether they need it or not, whether they are citizens or not, costs are absolutely going to increase.

    Well, ok, so if it’s not going to be cheaper, will it be better than the private run system we have today, right? Doubtful, see Katrina, the DMV, Medicare and Social Security.

    Wow, so if it’s not going to be cheaper, if it’s not going to be better, then why would we want government to run healthcare? Answer: We wouldn’t. Welcome to the Republican party :>

  • Ruvy

    If you had even bothered to read my comment, comment #6. OA, you would have seen the following,

    Mexico, the land that you Americans halved and emasculated, is sending you the latest version of Montezuma’s revenge – the swine flu. It is only a matter of time before this flu, a disease that nobody has the solution for, or a mutation of it, starts killing in the thousands and finally millions. Flu season starts in October, by the way, and there is NO known antidote for swine flu.

    and you would have figured out why swine flu is being discussed here. But you didn’t bother, so you don’t know.

    If you don’t want to read my comments, OA, I won’t bother commenting on your articles in future.

    If your are so damned informed, DD, you can write the article on the swine flu that your shit system wouldn’t let me write.
    As for ass-end issues going on, I’ve attempted three times to write an article using the new (shit) system, and three times, I have lost the damned article, with this half baked piece of shit system refusing to save my articles, refusing to give a preview or anything.

    Oh, and I already let Phil Winn and Eric Olsen know that this new layout sucks, and if I can’t even write a damned article (and NOT get paid for it here) I don’t need to hang around. Fuck it!

  • Clavos

    The Post Office! You forgot that paragon of efficiency and low costs, the USPS, Obnox!

  • The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy,

    I did read your comment. But to be honest, I didn’t want to chastize you publicly, I was doing you a favor. But if you insist, here goes:

    1) There is no vaccine for swine flu, but in terms of treatment, there are absolutely treatments for swine flu, such as tamiflu, which has been shown to work effectively on regular influenza as well as swine flu.

    In fact, many people that work with pigs get swine flu often and often they don’t even notice. Some can carry the virus and never exhibit symptoms. Moreover, for this to be a real pandemic, it will first need to mutate, which it hasn’t yet. I hope to god that it doesn’t happen, but we can’t jump the gun yet. Remember bird flu? That also needed to mutate, and despite the hysteria at the time it never did. Let’s hope the same is true in this situation

    2) I don’t (obviously) agree with your anti-US rant. The US is it’s own ally first and that means sometimes acting against the interests of it’s allies on occassion. Israel has done the same thing too, most recently in it’s war on Lebanon. I supported Israel’s effort understandibly, but was this action endearing to the U.S., did it help U.S.’s own diplomatic relations? No, not at all. In fact, in some (small) part, Israel attacking Lebanon further fanned the anti-Israeli sentiment here in the U.S., adding even impetus for throwing Bush and his Israel loving GOP out of power. And surprise, that’s precisely what happened and now we have Obama. I’m not drawing a direct line, but there is a very thin, very faint dotted line between the two events, Israel’s “warmongering” and our support of it, and the change of our political party in power.

    At the end of the day, if you listen to the way the left tells it, of all of the special interest groups, the Israeli one is the most powerful, the most influencial. I happen to think that our support of Israel has more to do with the fact that Israel is an important ally, as opposed to some tin foil hat conspiracy against lobbyists. But in either case, the U.S. spends an awful lot of capital on it’s support of Israel.

    More over, if it were not for the U.S., where would Israel be? Nowhere, it would still be called the Palestinian territories. Where would the Jews be? In Manhattan. At least we could have done lunch.

    3) Last but not least, I am Jewish, and proud of it, but I am also American, and proud of it. These are not seperate pieces that I can disconnect from that which is me. They are part and parcel of what makes up The Obnoxious American. To deny one is as arbitrary as denying the other, and I won’t do that.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    Lolll, that’s right. Honestly, I think we are a little hard on those postal guys though. Or maybe I am just afraid of getting shot.

    Ruvy,

    I would advise you to write the article outside of the admin interface, and when ready, just paste it in, so any issues won’t cause you to lose work.

  • Ruvy

    OA,

    You read the comment? If you are so dumb as to think Tamilflu will save your ass, then if, G-d forbid, the swine flu hits you, take it and find out otherwise. I feel sorry for you if you buy your government’s propaganda. I did the research on a swine flu article, and I know differently, and I know why as well, but until I get proper answers as to how to work the shitty article writing system that Olsen and Co. have stuck in here, I won’t bother publishing anything here.

    As for my “anti-American rant” you just read the facts without a varnish of patriotic bullshit. I knew a lot of this stuff long before I considered moving here, but I did not know or realize how duplicitous the American government had been towards countless peoples, starting with the Filipinos and Cubans in 1898 (google up “Kill, Kill Kill the Filipino”), working our way down through the years to the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein and many others. You didn’t answer me about American bombers never bombing the tracks to the concentration camps, by the way. And just to remind you, I did not mention Israel in my comment at all.

    But since you raised the topic, do you want me to detail the record of American betrayal of your own people, the Jewish people, the way I did for Jon Huie? Let’s start hereArutz Sheva; US General: Fatah Soldiers are ‘Founders of Palestinian State’, 29 April 2009.

    Finally, the big enchilada is the fact that you are broke. You didn’t answer that either – you know I’m right, and like most intelligent people, you are scared shitless of what you realize in your gut is coming your way.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dan @ #27:

    Country number 4 is the US. I was speaking in terms of population size. I agree that I could have phrased it better, so perhaps the powers that be could also agree that we need our comment previewing facility back. :-)

    (I can’t remember at the moment if the US has a larger or smaller population than Russia. If larger, modify the above comment accordingly.)

    I agree with you that significant achievements are difficult to quantify. That’s mostly the point.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy,

    I’m not a medical professional nor did I sleep in a holiday in express. But based on what they are saying on the news, tamiflu will help with swine flu. If you know different then so be it, and what a shame. But in this globalized world, this isn’t an American or Mexican problem, it’s the problem of the 200+ countries of the world, Israel included.

    You can bring up all sorts of sordid past history, it does not change the reality of what I said about Israel and the U.S. Nor do the ignorant comments of any one person in our government, many of whom do not agree with our support of Israel.

    All that said, I do agree that the friendship with Israel will be tested over the next four years. With Obama running around shaking hands with the likes of Chavez and making overtures to Ahmedinejad, meanwhile alienating Israel, this is a pretty sad time. And I don’t agree with it, and have been writing blogs to that effect, basically campaigning against the left, for the last year. Not sure what you want me to say other than I told you so.

    We’re broke? Agreed. Did I suggest otherwise? In fact, this is why I wrote my last several articles, lambasting and pointing out the misguided policies of Obama, and how his spending spree and his repositioning of America as not exceptional will lead us to a position of subordinance in world affairs.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Here’s the list of countries by population. We’re # 3 behind china and india, and russia is actually #9…

  • Clavos

    Ruvy,

    Despite your protestations to the contrary, the editing interface’s problems are only intermittent and temporary; otherwise, it’s not significantly different in principle from the old interface.

    OA’s advice to write your article in notebook, and then copy-and-paste it, transferring it complete, is good. That way, if an outage occurs at the moment of transfer or publication, you’ll have the original, and won’t lose your work.

    FYI, I have already edited and published several stories in this interface, and found it to be not very different from the old one; mostly only in appearance.

    Give it a try. I’ll be glad to help and work with you to get it published.

    You may as well get used to it, it’s here to stay.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Obnox, Russia probably was #3 when it was the USSR. Sic transit gloria russki.

    Ruvy, I don’t know what your sources are, but with your track record I wouldn’t mind betting that you researched until you found the most alarmist material on swine flu and then worked from that.

    I’ve read the opinions of a number of bacteriologists, epidemiologists and other experts in disease management and the general consensus is that this strain is far less agressive than the bird flu of a few years back. So far, most of those outside Mexico who’ve contracted it have suffered only mild symptoms and have made or are making a full recovery – something is clearly happening in that country which is making the effects far more virulent.

    What worries the scientists is that this is the same virus which caused the 1918 pandemic. It’s still a mystery as to why a previously innocuous strain suddenly got so nasty and then just as suddenly vanished, so the world is vigilant. In fact, health organizations have been expecting this for the past 40 years and are better prepared than they’ve ever been.

    The problem is that as usual you’re assuming the worst, and your warnings of wolves are getting rather faint. You tend to jump on every disaster from bird flu to Katrina to the confrontation in Georgia to the Red Sox losing in the playoffs as being the straw that will break the eagle’s back.

    With any one of these you may be right, but don’t count on it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy,

    The advice is good. I have for a long time written my stuff in WP, made multiple edits there and then saved it in rich text format to get back to later. It is best not to use some of the fancy WP goodies, such as “smart quotes” and the like — they caused some bad problems, particularly in HTML tags — for a while so I have disabled them.

    If and when I am reasonably happy with what I have written in WP, I copy the WP document and paste it into the BC interface and preview it. This helps to find bad tags, determine whether I need to add or remove paragraph breaks, etc. Sometimes, I copy the text in preview into WP and print hard copy for ease of review and in editing the HTML text. Otherwise, I often find the preview text difficult to compare with the HTML text.

    I don’t use the BC rich text editor, only the text entry and preview functions. I don’t like the BC rich text editor, probably because I don’t know how to use it. It does seem occasionally to drop stuff, though.

    I do some of my longer comments in the same fashion, and am very hopeful that one fine day the very useful preview function will be revived for comments.

    The show must go on!

    Dan(Miller)

  • Ruvy

    OA,

    I’ll not further argue with you. You haven’t a clue as to the facts of your country’s history, or who runs your country, or what dangers you face as a Jew living there. Apparently, I understand better than you do! What is worse, you do not even want to know. You do not want to face the fact that the Jew-hatred in America was the reason the Army Air Force was never ordered to attack concentration camps, even though it did attack factories right near by. I cannot tear the blinders from your face, OA.

    So, I bid you a good evening….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave: There’s zero evidence that it is Universal Healthcare which differentiates us from countries with better life expectancies.

    Incredible. Absolutely freaking incredible.

    That’s just like saying that there’s no causal evidence that strong pitching staffs do more for winning pennants than do strong batting lineups!

    Dave, if you were running a baseball team and you’ve got the biggest payroll in the league but your team is nowhere near first place in the division, your bosses – the owners – are going to be asking you what you are doing wrong that everyone else is doing right!

    Is your reply going to be “there’s no causal evidence…”?

    In UHC, Dave, people don’t have to make choices between paying the mortgage and paying hospital bills! If you’ll remember, in ’06 health care costs were the single biggest cause of bankruptcies in America!

    With UHC, you get to go see the doctor and take care of the little things BEFORE they become big things – remember the old oil commercial, “You can pay me now, or pay me later”? SAME principle!

    And how many families can afford $1,000 bucks a month for BASIC health care coverage for their families? That’s BEFORE ‘co-pay’ costs are taken care of! Maybe YOU can afford that extra grand a month, but that’s not so easy for most people! Again, pay the mortgage, or pay for the surgery – very few in ANY of the rest of the Free World have to make such a choice….

    AND let’s not forget that our car companies pay MORE in employee health care coverage PER CAR than they do for the steel put into those cars! Do you not see that while YES, we’d pay more taxes for UHC, but our manufactured products – both for domestic and exports – would be FAR cheaper and FAR more competitive?

    ‘No causal evidence’ indeed! Dave, you did more than just drink the Kool-Aid…you’re helping to fix the next batch for those not able to see past the BS on Faux News….

  • STM

    OA: “Just consider what the last 100 years would have looked like if the U.S. was not on the scene. America is nothing short of exceptional”.

    That takes us back to 1909. What was the US doing on the world stage at that point, apart from pursuing its own exapnsionist aims in the Pacific and the Americas?

    Let’s not fool ourselves about WWI either. The US actually had a very small role to play in that conflict, and certainly if it helped swing the balance by 1918 when its tropps were entering the front line, its contribution was negligable in the final victory and the war was pretty close to being won anyway. That is not to take away from their sacrifice. Americans did arrive in numbers (not huge numbers though) but, at the same time large numbers of fresh British troops arrived in equal numbers on the western front from the victory over Turkey in the middle-east.

    The initial breaking of the hindenburg line at St Quentin canal which smashed the German will to fight and sent them in to headlong retreat was not done in the American sector, which was actually a small area to the south in the Argonne forest near Sedan.

    Even American historians readily admit this, although American input doubtless made the Germans think their cause was unwinnable.

    Then there was the league of nations … Wilson’s great idea, but he never had the guts to push it through Congress.

    That is a different picture to WWII, however, where America undoubtedly won the war in the Pacific (we haven’t forgotten that down here as we struggled in our own war against the Japanese, and are never likely to) and was a major contributor everywhere else as it became a Superpower by 1945. When Americans describe these men as the greatest American generation, they are very, very close to the truth.

    So I say the world would look vastly different without American input from about 1942 onwards. Not quite 100 years.

    Plus, in that period, with all the good stuff, there’s been some debacles: Vietnam being the major one.

    Close but no cigar.

    America is great, but exceptional implies it has done more than others, and achieved more than others, and overall has consistently been better than others – and if you knows your history, history doesn’t back that up.

    Remember, it’s only in the years since the end of WWII that the US has been the only western, democratic superpower. That little island on the other side of the pond still had the world’s largest navy at the outbreak of WWII and wasn’t far behind the US at the end of it.

    The US has risen to greatness – true historical greatness – in the 70-year period since, but it’s unlikely that historians of the future will discuss it any other terms than those I’ve mentioned beyoind studying how it came to grow the way it did.

    Over-exaggeration, jingoism and chest beating coupled with a lack of knowledge about the reality of history being a common failing of many Americans, I don’t blame them for their navel-gazing as it seems to me that it’s obviously learned somewhere, probably at school.

    But unless it’s backed by facts, it’s important to point out that the truth remains shrouded in jingoistic myth.

    And I don’t care what anyone on that side of the other big pond thinks, especially from those who perpetuate this nonsense … my argument is based on study of fact, not myth.

    In the meantime OA, for that ridiculous statement about the US being the greatest country in the history of manjind, give yourself an uppercut.

    As for UHC, well, we’ve got it here, and it’s the best thing since sliced bread … even if it ain’t perfect.

  • STM

    Plus OA, in the period between the two World Wars, America was so isolationist on the world stage, beyond the export of its movie culture and its growing manufacturing prowess (largely geared to internal consumption in the US), it might as well not have existed in the global political sense.

    Its military forces were very small by the outbreak of WWII, although the description of grabbing a sleeping tiger by the tail is probably a pretty apt description.

    And the real game-breaker of Germany in WWI was the extended war over four years on the western front, and the Royal Navy blockade of Germany that stopped it from feeding itself and which led to growing discontent and pacifist sentiment in Germany by the end of 1917.

    I will add to all this, however, that if there hadn’t been a US in the period since WWII, the world would be a far worse place.

    In fact I’d hate to think what it would be like,

    People who criticise American foreign policy, and I’ll agree it’s not perfect, should be mindful that the ledger is still heavily in favour, not against.

    You still need UHC though :)

    Speaking from experience, in a place where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over its introduction here in the 1970s much like there is now in the US, I can say if its anything like our experience, you’ll never look back if you do it. You’ll be asking yourselves why you didn’t do it earlier.

  • STM

    The secret to America’s greatness and its stability (for a country of its size, discounting a couple of unpleasant episodes – War of 1812, Civil War) is in rule of law, the real protector of perosnal and political freedoms.

    Doc’s right there too … the founding fathers didn’t just pluck that out of thin air either; they got it from the liberal democratic tradition they’d already inherited prior to the revolution.

    They took the best of it, and added to it, but the schools of thought already existed (ie, Locke, and even in the political style of William Pitt, the 1st Earl of Chatham, who spoke in favour of reconciliation – also sought by Washington – and the granting of Americans what they wanted prior to the revolution).

    Definitely IMO the US has been an extension of the western european experience of democratic liberalism (I don’t mean that in the American vernacular).

    It is only recently that those places and others now find themselves drawing on the American experience of liberal democracy.

    We have here, for sure, moving closer to America and away from Britain to the point where we look like a little America in virtually every, way shape and form. Apart from UHC :)

  • Doug Hunter

    “Does anyone really believe that a single payer, government run system will be cheaper?”

    Probably, if we move from the leader to the follower model. We can cut down expenses by rationing care, cutting back on expensive end of life treatment, and diverting resources from R&D. To those people who would have been saved by future medical technology who won’t have a chance, you’re not important becuase that would require a thought exercise not just a here and now emotional victim story that is so appealing to our liberal friends.

    US medical research stats:

    Medical Nobel Prizes (10 year period)
    US born 12
    Foreign working in US 3
    All others 7

    Medical Research Expenditures
    US (all sources) 98 B
    US government 35 B
    EU Govts (combined) 8 B

    Our medical research not only helps here but it’s products spread (and indeed are bought cheaply in bulk or simply copied) overseas. Those with universal healthcare do something for their citizens but they can afford to give little back to the global knowledge pool.

    The benefits of universal healthcare for us here and now would be something, the future losses to the entire globe because of our failure to innovate and create will cost much, much more.

    That’s one of the issues with socialism. The more you have of it, the less innovation and progress you can continue to make. When taken to extreme it almost locks you into the present. Some regimes that had revolutions in the 50’s are still stuck with 50’s technology and 50’s standards of living. Europe has balanced slower growth with mixed systems. The US has favored freedom and been the driver of innovation and progress…. the question is will it continue to be.

    I believe socialism is here to stick and the US is about to take a backseat. I don’t think anyone is prepared to take a lead though so the world will just simply not live up to it’s potential. Really, that’s not a bad problem to have. People don’t get emotional over hypothetical coulda beens, and they can’t be proven anyway.

    Freedom always was a difficult thing to defend and I’m just happy to enjoy a bit of it in it’s waning days. The world is getting small and crowded, we’re packed in like sardines so everything we do effects everyone else therefore it is necessary that we should be forced to do the ‘right’ things.

    The problem is, freedom to do only the right things isn’t really freedom at all.

  • Baronius

    STM, Doc, what are we arguing about? I don’t think anyone said that the US emerged from the ocean a fully intact superpower.

  • STM

    DH: “That’s one of the issues with socialism.”

    I’d hardly describe UHC as socialism. It’s no more socialism than having everyone pay their taxes, get a driver’s licence or compulsory eduction.

    It’s a legitimate and fair use of everyone’s own taxes.

    Plus those stats you quote, do you think that might be because US drug and medical corporations are among the richest in the world – because of the size of the US and its former manufacturing prowess – and are funding all the research so they can sell to their global markets?

    Why would universal health care for Americans change that one iota.

    If anything, they’d probably be getting more funding through the government as well.

  • STM

    Baron: “STM, Doc, what are we arguing about?”

    We’re arguing about OA’s contention and that expressed elsewhere on the site that the US is the greatest country in the history of mankind, that if it wasn’t for the US in the past 100 years, the world would be – what? I don’t know – and that because of these things and more, America is exceptional.

    We’re arguing that it’s not. We DO agree it’s great, though, and historically great at that.

    I’m arguing from points of history, Doc’s presenting more rational arguments.

    But we’re here to argue our points whatever the case.

    Perhaps what we’re really doing is trying to inject a touch of reality into the “exceptional” debate.

    Not being American, and having Americans belt us over the head with this stuff constantly, perhaps we feel that we’re men on a mission.

    Can’t speak on that score for Doc, though … but I suspect he gets as tired of it as I do.

  • Doug Hunter

    STM, you’re absolutely right there, the problem is not universal healthcare (which believe it or not I think we’re ready to have some form of) it’s the general attitude in this country right now. We’re setting up to knee jerk too far the other way because of a bust in the free market. Socialism is a very relative thing anyway.

    I’ve always held that free markets were the engine of the economy and social spending was a drag or load on it. As our economies get stronger we are able to carry more load with us (what good is all that money anyway if you don’t do something good with it?) Alot of people have witnessed this and have kind of put the cart before the horse. Social spending is not a driver of progress it’s one of the signs of it. We shouldn’t forget that.

  • Clavos

    Doug writes:

    …if we move from the leader to the follower model. We can cut down expenses by rationing care, cutting back on expensive end of life treatment, and diverting resources from R&D. T

  • Clavos

    Addendum to #53:

    All of those are widespread practices in single payer UHC schemes.

  • STM

    DH: I agree with everything you’ve said there. I guess one of the things I love about my own country is that some of what I’d call social engineering – UHC, federally set collective wages and work conditions (through courtrrom arbiration if necessary) – all go hand in hand with a very robust free market capitalist system.

    True, we pay higher taxes for our UHC, but somehow wages tend to settle around all these things and rise anyway if the rest of the economy is doing well.

    I choose to have private health cover too, which for a very, very reasonable $65 a week gives me TOP family hospital cover (for the three of us), ambulance, and also pays the gaps between the government’s Medicare payment to a surgeon and a private surgeon’s rate if there’s a difference.

    Medicare, which I pay through my taxes, covers things like trips to a GP, x-rays, etc.

    There’s also a tax break for me for topping up with private cover.

    No jobs were lost when we went to this …. but many were created.

    There is much medical research going on, nd Australia has been for some years a pioneer in heart/lung transplant surgery – through the hospital where my wife works.

    I have a feeling though that size is everything – good things come in small packages.

    This is a country of 20 million people, not 300 million, and so the bureacracy may not be as unwieldy as it might be should this happen in the US.

    However, my experience of Americans is: “Can do”.

    If Americans put their minds to something, it gets done and it generally gets done properly. Imagine what a good system you could have with that kind of attitude.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m afraid the “can do” spirit is on the way to extinction, unless your want to include our financial geniuses in the fold.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave,

    “Liberalism and all the writers and people who inspired the movement, celebrated the individual and individual accomplishment. Surely some on the modern left must realize how incompatible the current dominant ideology is with actual liberalism.”

    I would take exception to the last part of your statement (remark #1). It’s the idealism of the Left that wishes to extend equal rights and justice not just to the Americans but the world at large. And in my book, this is to celebrate the individual, not to shackle him.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    I think the left wants more than equal rights, or rather, they have a pretty weird view of what a right is.

    For example, there is a difference between giving the people the right to do something, like for example, live in any neighborhood they choose (something I support), versus the automatic right to housing (which I don’t support).

    An enabling right, versus a right to something tangible that the person is not paying for.

    We here in the US already have equal rights, it’s when the left demands that we also have equal pay and equal benefits that I start to have a problem. People need to be responsible for themselves, and when things are merely given to them, it ceases to be liberating, and in fact becomes confining for the more productive elements in society.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Let me also say that to your comment about the left’s desire to help the world at large – that’s all nice and everything, but charity begins in the home. I would like to see a more America first viewpoint coming from America’s left.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OA,

    All the advances in terms of Civil Rights, sexual harassment at work, gay rights – you name it – they haven’t been granted by benevolent businesses but all were very hard fought for and won by activists – whether feminists, or environmentalists, you name it. So don’t be pushing on me your naive ideas about the benevolence of unsupervised corporations. They’ll push as far as they can and as far as they can get away with it. Peddle those ideas elsewhere. I’m sorry, but I will have to assume an adversarial tone with you in spite an earlier expressed desire to the contrary. We do have diametrically opposed views on this. And no, I don’t believe anyone’s gonna give you anything unless you fight for it. All those rights have been fought for and won – none were bequeathed out of the goodness of the human heart.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OA and Clavos –

    If UHC is socialism, then the military health care system for all military retirees (the VAST majority of whom are conservatives) is socialist…and my personal experience with the military health care system (as opposed to my experience with profit-driven civilian sector health care) is nothing short of superior.

    Socialized medicine – also called the American military health care system – saved my life, and the lives of my wife and youngest son. Profit-driven medicine – also called ‘normal American health care’ by most Americans – cost me a child.

    Even NOW, we just saw a civilian doctor about a problem with my wife…and we compared notes with what a military doctor had told us last year. It was obvious (to those with a real clue about health and medicine) that the civilian doctor was out-of-date and flat wrong. Back to the military hospital we will go.

    The socialized medicine that I (and every retired military person and spouse) have is by and large better than anything else out there. Why? I’ve never heard of ANYone being denied care because “we don’t cover that one” or “that’s a pre-existing condition”…

    …and the military health care system does it FAR more cheaply per capita than anyone else in America does!

    Ah, but I guess I’m an eeeeeevil Socialist for suggesting that something more effective, cheaper, and already accessible by our retired military would be better for all of America….

    STM –

    What America did that no one else could have done is that (as you pointed out) we won the Cold War. Other than that, (as you pointed out) WWI was in its closing phases by the time we arrived on the scene, and Germany’s defeat in WWII was assured with the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union…for it has become apparent that even without all the vast amount of Lend-Lease aid we gave the Soviets, they would have won anyway. I don’t want to in any way belittle what we did on the Western Front, but compared to the gargantuan hell of the Eastern Front, the Western Front was – relatively speaking – a minor front, a sideshow.

    What’s more, if we had never entered the war (don’t get me wrong – I’m doggone glad we did!), even if Japan had decided to open up a second front in Siberia, the Soviets still would have won. Why? Because of two old generals that have protected Russia since time immemorial: General Winter, and General Mud. No army in history (other than the Russians themselves) has ever been properly prepared to face those two generals.

    I should note that Patton’s desire to continue the fight on to the Soviets would have been disastrous. Other than that one moment of sheer lunacy, he was a great general.

    BUT IF WE HAD NOT ENTERED THE WAR, then the Soviet Union would have been in a FAR stronger position.

    And to give the diggers their due, if it hadn’t been for them, the Japanese would have been able to send a great deal more naval power to Pearl Harbor, and particularly to Midway. I really don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that without Australia, our unlikely victory at Midway would have been next to impossible. If they’d had even one more carrier….

    Yes, I know that sounds like patronization – but all our nations did their part, and honorably so.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    First off, I’m not sure what adversarialness has to do with anything. I’m not attacking any person here, this is a discussion of ideas. I don’t understand why you think that if I do not agree with you, our interations must then be adversarial. Realize, my own dad is a liberal, and I love him anyway.

    Back to the topic…

    Advocating civil rights is great, and I support it. But when rights mean that now I am responsible for paying for someone elses something, it no longer is a right we are talking about, but rather an entitlement, and entitlements need to be paid for by someone. So then, the question becomes one of the rights of the payees of these entitlements.

    And this starts to get to the heart of the article. If because a bunch of advocates for a cause start piling on entitlements that I have to pay for, my right to my pursuit of happiness (such as spending the money I worked for on what makes me happy, whether that be buying my family a nicer house or something more frivolous) starts to get infringed. Rights are not only for the poor and needy, ALL Americans, even the successful ones have rights too.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    First off, I’m not sure what adversarialness has to do with anything. I’m not attacking any person here, this is a discussion of ideas. I don’t understand why you think that if I do not agree with you, our interations must then be adversarial. Realize, my own dad is a liberal, and I love him anyway.

    Back to the topic…

    Advocating civil rights is great, and I support it. But when rights mean that now I am responsible for paying for someone elses something, it no longer is a right we are talking about, but rather an entitlement, and entitlements need to be paid for by someone. So then, the question becomes one of the rights of the payees of these entitlements.

    And this starts to get to the heart of the article. If because a bunch of advocates for a cause start piling on entitlements that I have to pay for, my right to my pursuit of happiness (such as spending the money I worked for on what makes me happy, whether that be buying my family a nicer house or something more frivolous) starts to get infringed. Rights are not only for the poor and needy, ALL Americans, even the successful ones have rights too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We’re talking about civil and human rights, not the rights to dispossess you. In every just society, there is some redistribution of income – through taxation. Fact of life. The right to equal protection – under the law – are also guaranteed to all citizens, and that’s regardless of less than equal ability to pay. So yes, in that sense justice is a distributive concept.

    Rights and entitlements aren’t the same, and you know I wasn’t addressing the latter.

    You can post your response later. I’m due for a chess session.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Glenn,

    You’re confusing a few ideas here. The military are in effect employees of the national government. They are providing a service of government for the American people, and as a result, they should be offered health care as any employer (and this level of care should be exceptional given the risk to life and limb our military faces).

    If the government feels that they should do this directly via a publicly owned system of hospitals, rather than using the existing private health care system then so be it, but in either case the government, the people should be paying for the healthcare of the military while they serve, as well as continue to pay for health care for the military for health issues incurred while in service that might still exist after completing their service.

    That said, and while your life has been saved by the care the military offers (BTW, thank you for serving this country and protecting my freedoms), we’ve heard about Walter Reed, and some part of me feels that the average military man isn’t getting as good of a level of care that I may be able to get here in Manhattan’s hospital row (on our upper east side). Perhaps the military should be cared for in the private health care sector, paid for by the government, so as to ensure the best care possible. Perhaps there is a constitutional reason why this isn’t possible.

    But here is another thought about this. There are roughly one million Americans serving in our military. And the system as it is has it’s flaws (Walter Reed to wit). Now, imagine expanding that system fully 300 fold. I sure hope you’re healthy!

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    We’re talking about civil and human rights, not the rights to dispossess you. In every just society, there is some redistribution of income – through taxation. Fact of life.

    Wrong, it is actually completely unjust to redistribute income of hard workers to give to those who aren’t putting forth their best effort. Not only wrong but leads to the unexceptional America I speak about in this article.

    Should there be a social safety net? Sure. I definitely see the value in things like unemployment and even welfare. People lose their jobs or homes and there should be a system to help them through the storm. But what you’re talking about seems a lot more intrusive than a mere safety net.

    The right to equal protection – under the law – are also guaranteed to all citizens, and that’s regardless of less than equal ability to pay. So yes, in that sense justice is a distributive concept.

    Well last I checked, equal protection under the law already existed. Not sure what you are talking about when you say “regardless of the ability to pay.” The law is the law. Based on this (and correct me if I am wrong) seems like you are talking about entitlements rather than rights. Perhaps you can give a specific example here.

    Rights and entitlements aren’t the same, and you know I wasn’t addressing the latter.

    Sounds like it. What rights are you talking about specifically? Usually when people start throwing the term Justice around not in regards to the law, such as Social justice, it’s a alias for the real term they are using, socialism.

  • Clavos

    Ah, but I guess I’m an eeeeeevil Socialist for suggesting that something more effective, cheaper, and already accessible by our retired military would be better for all of America….

    No, but you are making the mistake of thinking that the civilian branches of the federal government are anywhere near as efficient and good at what they do as the military, which is frankly, one of the very few parts (NASA and NOAA are two others)of the fed that are well run, well staffed and actually accomplish what they are supposed to.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OA – don’t start living up to your name. You know what rights we are talking about. A civil society throughout its progress expands rights that previously weren’t accorded to all (and only to some) because either it becomes of age or is forced to. I don’t have to be giving you a lesson in American history to show that it has been so. I don’t know what kind of a dream world you’re living in, but taxation is already a certain redistribution of income and wealth. Get used to it rather than keep on crying over spilled milk. Do I like it? Yes – to some extent I believe tax should be progressive; to what extent, I’m not ready to tell. But a civil society (and its members) do have some (at least moral) obligations to all members. Am I absolving therefore all members of responsibility for their all actions? Of course not. And there will definitely be some inequalities – which is perfectly fine with me because not everyone is equal with respect to their genes, abilities, and so forth. The touchy question is which should be rights and which should not.

    So don’t reduce this discussion to the level of mindless simplicity, because then you will have lost me and I will not participate. It is not black and white as you’re apparently keen on representing. These questions are deep and require a great deal of deliberation and thought. So if you want to keep at at an intelligent level, fine. Otherwise you can engage with others.

  • Franco

    Great piece OA, really substantial.

    What Klein and his like minded unexceptionaists all decline to account for is that the most who benefit from individual exceptionalism are in fact the masses otherwise they would not be exceptional.

    You said it best and needs repeating

    “The lessons learned from communism and socialism directly refute the sorry ideas of the left and Mr. Klein. The great experiment that is America proves that individual and American exceptionalism has benefited the collective way more than any other invention in history, especially those created in the name of fairness. True fairness is freedom.”

    It also blows my mind how the far leftwing commenters in this thread, by there own free fill, choose not to comment on the things you said, but choose to comment on things you did not say.

    Keep up the good work OA.

  • romm

    Too much emphasis given to ‘leaders’ like Obama, Sarkozy etc. as if somehow what these individuals think and perceive represents all or most individuals in their nation-state and there is a sort of leader worship going on here. Our leader the great helmsman will guide all of us into the sunlit uplands because he/she can.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Franco,

    Thanks much for the kind words. Obviously, I totally agree with your comments.

    Roger,

    Not really sure what you’re talking about. As I said, care to be specific? I thought that the original set of rights that our framers came up with, namely Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (not happiness itself) sums up pretty well what rights we should have. Anything else would seem to be redundant, or an entitlement. Perhaps I am misreading your comments, so any specifics and I’ll be happy to discuss further.

    Romm,

    Totally agree. And what stinks about it is instead of the concept of America being great, instead of our principles and framework for our system of freedom being great, Obama is great and without him America is…

    Obama’s whole premise is that America is flawed and needs some change. What no one has been able to explain however, is what specifically is flawed, how would this be “changed” and what has Obama done to qualify as the arbiter of change? Those questions were never answered and he was still elected. I have a feeling that buyers remorse will only increase, as it has been.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OA, I spoke of that already and I’m not going to do it over again – civil rights, e.g., had to be won in spite of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The present debate over Health Care is essentially a debate over rights; you may call it entitlement, but many would disagree. The pro-choice is a right, not an entitlement; and that had to be won. And so with many other things.

    But basically, I just don’t subscribe to what I view is a simplistic picture whereby the original documents suffice to deal with the complexity of the society we have inherited in the course of 250 or so years since they were first drafted. If you think they are sufficient other than in their capacity as guidance, then we really have nothing further to discuss.

  • Franco

    60 – roger nowosielski

    Right back to you roger our liberal dodger.

    All the advances in terms of freedom to work and take personal responsablity for yourself and improve your living conditions and life – you name it – they haven’t been granted by benevolent Civil Rights activists – whether feminists, environmentalists, or gay rights, but all were very hard worked for and won by those taking individual responsibly for themselves. So don’t be pushing on me your naive ideas about the benevolence of unsupervised activists. They’ll push as far as they can and as far as they can get away with it. Peddle those ideas elsewhere. I’m sorry, but I will have to assume an adversarial tone with you in spite an earlier expressed desire to the contrary. We do have diametrically opposed views on this. And no, I don’t believe anyone’s should give you anything unless you work for it. All those rights have been fought for and won – all of them were bequeathed out of the goodness of the human heart.

  • Baronius

    “The pro-choice is a right.”

    I love watching abortion supporters contort themselves to avoid saying the word “abortion”.

  • Franco

    71 – The Obnoxious American

    Your welcome.

    I have to correct/edit one of my comments.

    “It also blows my mind how the far leftwing commenters in this thread, by there own free will, choose not to comment on the things you said, but choose to comment on things you did not say, as if you had said it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, maybe so, Baronius, but then again, your side had set it up with the “pro-life” agenda. So “pro-choice” is but a riposte.
    I’m sure glad we’re out of the Middle Ages when people of your ilk can no longer tell what women can or cannot do with their careers, lives and bodies.

    It must be difficult for a good Catholic to accept – to be living in the midst of such a sinful society. I feel your pain.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Franco,

    You haven’t done jack shit for me – nor for the women’s or gay rights, nor anybody else’s rights for that matter except your own miserable self, so don’t be preaching to me the dogma of personal responsibility while cutting a sorry figure of a human being that you are. I bet that for all your patriotic fervor you try to display, you haven’t even served in the armed forces or ran a corporation.

    Well, I have done all those things, and more; and I’m certain I could teach you more of America than you can even dream of – the high and low places. So don’t be spewing at me the ideas of a third-grader and think I’ll be impressed with your feigned wisdom or sophistication. Save them for simpletons, of which I’m certain there are many in your inner circle.

  • Franco

    77 – roger nowosielski

    Reveling his true nature through an out of control elitist ad hominem melt down. Which I might add, is one of the more substantial displays of this seen in a while

    Roger, you don’t know anything about me. And what you assume and thus profess you think you know about me speaks volumes, not about me, but about you.

    Based on what you have just displayed, the very ideas I put forth have proven to ruffle your feathers to the point of causing you to reveal your true nature, which is anything but what you claim it to be. For showing the truth and power of the ideas I put forth, I thank you.

    FYI, I will project my ideas whenever and wherever I choose here on BC. You on the other hand have your freedom to choose to regain your composure and engage on the ideas themselves, or you can choose to take your elitist ball and go home, which you often threaten to do with others here on BC.

    The choice is yours, choose wisely.

  • Baronius

    Roger, what’s up with the religious smears? You’ve launched three or four of them in the past week.

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, it’s common for liberals to change the topic when they’re losing an argument. I think you’re trying to induce a digression. But if it makes you feel better, 90% of the board activity in recent weeks has been on the digressions of torture memos and swine flu, which serve to distract us from the economic and international debates we should be having. That’s our fault, following the lead of the mainstream press while Chrysler, and Pakistan, fall apart unnoticed.

    Boy, this “add your comment” window seems smaller than before. It’s hard to do my standard three-paragraph comment. Maybe it always was this small, and I didn’t notice it because I could review my comments before submitting. My feelings about the new site design match my feelings toward the Obama presidency: it’s a work in progress, so I’m trying not to judge, but it hasn’t done much to impress me so far.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    Why should you regard it as a smear? I’m only trying to make sense of your own convoluted outlook. And to do so, I have to piece it together with the information that’s available, which, BTW, you yourself have provided. So are you perhaps being somewhat ashamed that a good Catholic would be so uncharitable in their views and attitudes?

    Yes, the world is falling apart, but that’s no excuse not to deal with such indignities as torture. So no, it’s not a distraction by any means but properly belongs in the center of things, the center of everything what we’re about, where we’re going, the future. Humanity and how we relate to it comes before politics, before America, before you and me. But I shouldn’t have to be preaching this to you, Baronius, because you should know these truths. So please don’t make me, because really, I don’t take the pleasure. If you’ll start measuring up, perhaps you’ll see a significant difference in the quality of my responses – to you!

  • Baronius

    Your offer of nicer comments if I agree with you confirms that you’ve deliberately been less than nice recently. Am I supposed to take “convoluted” as “uncharitable” as compliments, just as you complimented me with the name “Goebbels”?

    I consider the torture memo debate to be a distraction because it’s not about current policy, and is overtly unconstitutional. There’s nothing uncharitable about my position. It might improve your understanding of my outlook if you judge my positions by the quality of the reasoning, rather than whether they match some predetermined outcome.

    I am against torture. I don’t believe that the US actions constitute torture. I don’t see any legal options for those who disagree with the previous administration’s interpretation of US policy. Where’s the lack of charity in that position?

    I’m sorry about being off-topic.

  • Baronius

    Does a one-comment page not come up? I thought I posted comment #81 an hour ago, but it’s not loading.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Franco,

    My feathers wouldn’t be ruffled by anybody like you, rest you assured. But I have a better strategy than to engage in third-grade discussions, because it only cramps my style.

    So taking the lead from good ole Mark, remember him? I’ll just say “fuck it.”

  • Bliffle

    OA reveals one of the dark ideas responsible for his mad theories.

    “Bottom line, you take away the profit incentives behind medicine, and that means you take away invention and ingenuity. People are not going to work to discover new science just because they feel like it, and government ain’t going to spend tax payer’s dollars on a slim chance of some R&D effort being successful.”

    Do you really think Jonas Salk carefully calculated, as a young man, that creating a polio vaccine would make him rich?

    Did you know that MOST of the medicines sold at high prices to patients (including the most prescribed: Lipitor) were invented in taxpayer funded universities and the NIH?

    If we truly had to depend on the profit motive for medicines we would soon expire while armies of plastic surgeons stand around waiting to perform the only thing they know: liposuction.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Your brain on indoctrination:

    OA the US citizen : “America is the greatest country in the history of mankind”.

    OA the Nazi : “Germany is the greatest country in the history of mankind”.

  • Franco

    “My feathers wouldn’t be ruffled by anybody like you, rest you assured. But I have a better strategy than to engage in third-grade discussions, because it only cramps my style. I’ll just say “f—it.”

    At what a tremendous height above others does roger here place himself! And note the arrogance with which he speaks.

    I wonder when roger was in third grader how many toys he used to threaten to take away from others and go home if they did not play all the games by his rules.