Author Topic: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?  (Read 63409 times)

markbrynn

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Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« on: February 06, 2015, 08:00:32 AM »
I feel like I'm about to open up a massive can of worms. Luckily, I can only be criticized with words in a relatively anonymous forum, rather than tarred and feather in person.

My question is, why do so many Americans feel that it is normal/acceptable/patriotic/intelligent to say, "The United States is the best country in the world."?

A couple of notes from my life:
I'm not American. Lived there for quite a while. Don't love everything about the country, but certainly don't hate it.
I find patriotism of all stripes to be pretty silly. A general pride for what you do in life, your family, your sports team, your town, your country, your continent (Go EUROPE!!), your planet could all make sense to some degree. I just don't get the desire/need to go to "best." I like the country where I live, but not sure how I would ever be able to claim it's the best (even though it does many things well).

I bring up this subject at this specific time because of a comment I just read in these forums that said something about complaining about something in America, but then the poster pointing out that they know that they live in the best country in the world.

Any response, short of showing up at my house with pitchforks, is welcome.

iamlindoro

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2015, 08:12:36 AM »
Generally it's exposure to nationalist propaganda throughout elementary education (our history books are written from a point of view that casts us as the heroes of nearly every conflict we've been involved with) and a lack of exposure to other ways of life (our news outlets do a lot of reporting about other first world countries that state as fact subjective opinions like a certain form of government is inferior, etc.).  Basically, it's opinions stated as fact throughout an entire lifetime which leads to a general, inarticulable feeling of superiority.

It's a double edged sword, but this also means that we seem to be willing to take action against perceived injustice faster than some nations.  Sometimes that has been used to nefarious ends (Iraq), sometimes it has been a true force for good when others would say nothing.

odput

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2015, 08:13:30 AM »

My question is, why do so many Americans feel that it is normal/acceptable/patriotic/intelligent to say, "The United States is the best country in the world."?


Because 'MURICA!!!!!!!!!

Seriously though...probably because we have been told over and over throughout our lives that it is so.  I can't say I speak for everyone, but I can think of times even way back in elementary school we were told that America is the best country in the world.  When it is drilled into you from so early on, at some point you just believe it to be true, and when anyone says otherwise, you think to yourself "well that just can't be right"

netskyblue

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 08:15:32 AM »
Don't most people who live in a reasonably stable first-world country feel like their country is the "best"?

Ok, I wouldn't say that about America (even though I'm American), but I'd say I feel that way about my alma mater (Go Hawks!), my state, my city, etc.

Doesn't mean it IS the best, just that it's the most I could ever want.  It's the best for me.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 08:19:07 AM »
I don't proclaim the US to be the "Best" but there is still a LOT of opportunity here. 

To some degree, perception is reality.  99.9%+ of those who claim that the US is the best do not have means, ability, and/or desire to go anywhere else, so they might as well convince themselves that they made the best choice by default.

Here is a little reading you might find interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosterism

hunniebun

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 08:20:51 AM »
If you have only known one place, it is easy to accept it as being the best.  I think my husband is the best husband in the world...but since I have only had the one...who really knows?   I think generally we are all taught to be patriotic, I am Canadian and the fervor is not as strong...but generally the sentiment is the we live in one of the best places in the world (despite the freezing temperatures, high taxes and need to apologize for things that are in no way our fault).   It is all relative and really what is the harm?  If you love the place you live you are more likely to take care of it and the people in it, defend it when you need to, etc.

odput

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 08:25:33 AM »
If you have only known one place, it is easy to accept it as being the best.  I think my husband is the best husband in the world...but since I have only had the one...who really knows?   I think generally we are all taught to be patriotic, I am Canadian and the fervor is not as strong...but generally the sentiment is the we live in one of the best places in the world (despite the freezing temperatures, high taxes and need to apologize for things that are in no way our fault).   It is all relative and really what is the harm?  If you love the place you live you are more likely to take care of it and the people in it, defend it when you need to, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd0uaMynQJI


Jags4186

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2015, 08:33:36 AM »
I've tried typing this multiple different ways but couldn't write it without coming across as an American douche.

Needless to say our Founding Father's were a group of exceptional men, who thought what they were doing was exceptional at the time, what they created was exceptional, and since as a nation we revere the founding fathers as demigods, as we pass through the generations we are continually reminded how wonderful and awesome the United States is. 

The truth is...it is pretty sweet here.  Not saying it sucks everywhere else, but take this website as an example.  I see posts from people from all different countries talk about how much harder it is to gain FI where they are vs here.  The fact that you could conceivably work for 10 years and then live 60 years doing whatever you want in this country sounds pretty fucking sweet to me.

markbrynn

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2015, 08:35:21 AM »
Quote
Don't most people who live in a reasonably stable first-world country feel like their country is the "best"?

Ok, I wouldn't say that about America (even though I'm American), but I'd say I feel that way about my alma mater (Go Hawks!), my state, my city, etc.

Doesn't mean it IS the best, just that it's the most I could ever want.  It's the best for me.

I find this very interesting. Your first sentence is exactly the kind of thing I have trouble understanding. To answer the question, no, I don't think my stable first-world country is the best. I think lots of countries do different things well and what's the point of trying to determine "best".

Then, in the last sentence you say "best for me." Maybe that's my answer. Maybe so many Americans are just leaving out the "for me." Maybe if I insert those words every time I hear an American say "America is the best" then it will make more sense. (Though if you haven't never visited about 95% of the world I'm not sure how you can know it's the best for you.)

nanu

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2015, 08:35:35 AM »
I'm not American, and while currently living the US, I don't think it's the BEST country in the world (though I can't say I've lived in all countries to make an informed decision).
But I thought adding this link was appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q49NOyJ8fNA
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 08:38:14 AM by nanu »

Will

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2015, 08:39:06 AM »
I'm not American, and while currently living the US, I don't think it's the BEST country in the world (though I can't say I've lived in all countries to make an informed decision).
But I thought adding this link was appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q49NOyJ8fNA

This.  I was just going to add the shorter version of this when I saw nanu posted.  http://youtu.be/wTjMqda19wk

MandalayVA

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2015, 08:42:19 AM »
I'm not American, and while currently living the US, I don't think it's the BEST country in the world (though I can't say I've lived in all countries to make an informed decision).
But I thought adding this link was appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q49NOyJ8fNA

I was hoping someone would post that.  I always use a line from that when someone goes on about AMERICA FUCK YEAH: 

"We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending."

markbrynn

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2015, 08:43:30 AM »
Quote
If you have only known one place, it is easy to accept it as being the best.  I think my husband is the best husband in the world...but since I have only had the one...who really knows?   I think generally we are all taught to be patriotic, I am Canadian and the fervor is not as strong...but generally the sentiment is the we live in one of the best places in the world (despite the freezing temperatures, high taxes and need to apologize for things that are in no way our fault).   It is all relative and really what is the harm?  If you love the place you live you are more likely to take care of it and the people in it, defend it when you need to, etc.

Regarding the sentence I bolded. Yeah, this is the part that makes me think.

You have the extremes that could lead via a long and winding path to Nazism, but that's a bit of a stretch, so I'd prefer not to focus on that.

You also have the day to day disregarding of the great things that happen in other countries. There are a bunch of things that the US does well. One of which, pointed out in this thread, is allow people to work hard, get ahead and retire young. However, there are things that other countries do well (and arguably better than the US), have good healthcare and education systems, low crime rates, etc.

I worry sometimes that if people (not just Americans) focus so much on how their country is the best, they will fail to notice the strengths of other countries. Many of which could be copied to other countries' benefit.

Luck12

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2015, 08:56:27 AM »
It's brainwashing.   If you say anything less than 100% positive about this country, you are branded a pinko commie who hates America.   

The America is #1 mindset is bullshit and whitewashes a lot of atrocities this country has committed and still commits as well as preventing us from learning about and from all the good things being done in other countries.  There are many great things about this country, but here's a list of where America is most certainly not #1:

1) Health Care
2) Economic and Social Inequality/Mobility
3) Frugal living
4) Health/being in decent shape (have you seen all the fatass motherfuckers out there?) - esp noticeable if you go to Europe and Asia and contrast with the US
5) Crime
6) Educational outcomes
7) Affordable college education
8) We start too many unnecessary/illegitimate wars
9) Work-life balance (def too few vacation days, amount of parental leave is a joke in this country)
10) Too many people are religious and all the problems that causes
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 09:01:07 AM by Luck12 »

Kris

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2015, 09:08:14 AM »
Quote
If you have only known one place, it is easy to accept it as being the best.  I think my husband is the best husband in the world...but since I have only had the one...who really knows?   I think generally we are all taught to be patriotic, I am Canadian and the fervor is not as strong...but generally the sentiment is the we live in one of the best places in the world (despite the freezing temperatures, high taxes and need to apologize for things that are in no way our fault).   It is all relative and really what is the harm?  If you love the place you live you are more likely to take care of it and the people in it, defend it when you need to, etc.

Regarding the sentence I bolded. Yeah, this is the part that makes me think.

You have the extremes that could lead via a long and winding path to Nazism, but that's a bit of a stretch, so I'd prefer not to focus on that.

You also have the day to day disregarding of the great things that happen in other countries. There are a bunch of things that the US does well. One of which, pointed out in this thread, is allow people to work hard, get ahead and retire young. However, there are things that other countries do well (and arguably better than the US), have good healthcare and education systems, low crime rates, etc.

I worry sometimes that if people (not just Americans) focus so much on how their country is the best, they will fail to notice the strengths of other countries. Many of which could be copied to other countries' benefit.

Agreed.  The problem with certain types of "America fuck yeah" is that, well, we are the strongest, militarily, and our influence is completely outsized in the world, compared to our portion of the global population.  Decisions we make here have huge ramifications geopolitically.  And if they are made (or supported) by people who have un-reflected belief that America is the best and every other country's differences are to be disregarded, well, you have a situation of basically a giant baby with deadly weapons running rampant and sitting/shitting on everything around it.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 09:46:23 AM by Kris »

Iron Mike Sharpe

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2015, 09:27:57 AM »
People are stupid for the most part.  So they think their country, their religion, their race, their school, their generation, etc. are the best. 


hunniebun

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2015, 09:45:31 AM »
If you have only known one place, it is easy to accept it as being the best.  I think my husband is the best husband in the world...but since I have only had the one...who really knows?   I think generally we are all taught to be patriotic, I am Canadian and the fervor is not as strong...but generally the sentiment is the we live in one of the best places in the world (despite the freezing temperatures, high taxes and need to apologize for things that are in no way our fault).   It is all relative and really what is the harm?  If you love the place you live you are more likely to take care of it and the people in it, defend it when you need to, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd0uaMynQJI

LMAO :)

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2015, 09:56:15 AM »
Ha, this is a really thought-provoking thread. I have totally been brainwashed from youth, because it's way too easy for me to automatically think, "yeah! America's the best!!" without thinking, wait, why?? I think the default for a lot of people is "freedom": free to be anything you want, free to succeed, free to voice your beliefs, etc... but, uh, pretty sure you're free to do all those other things in other first-world countries with decent governments as well (e.g. most of Europe). So that's a pretty dumb reason.

So I guess it's not the best, I just really like it because I grew up here. I will say that one thing I think is really cool/"the best" about the U.S. is the awesome cultural/climatic/physiographic diversity within our borders, just by virtue of being so huge and having a history of diverse immigration (which itself is linked to the hugeness/natural resources). Off the top of my head I can't think of any other first-world countries that are similarly diverse, and I think it's a pretty neat feature.

HazelStone

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2015, 10:02:05 AM »
The question is, best in which respects? The actual land under our feet? Our original political structure? The culture? The diversity? The economic climate? The crime rates? Our universities and research environment?

I've done some traveling, too. While other countries have aspects to their culture that might be better, my overall conclusion was "I'm (very) American, and you know what? That's okay. I'm not going to apologize for it." Bringing up a few generalities:

We may be a bit workaholic, but don't underestimate the importance of a work ethic.

I hope we never lose our ethic of self-reliance. Trimming it back a wee bit might be healthy, but I still like it.

Europe may have better work/life balance, but anecdotally it is harder to break into the regular, full time workforce.

We may be facing a growing problem with income inequality, but around here, customers dressed as working class/casual/tradesmen do, on average, get a higher level of respect by default than they do in other countries. In other countries, clothes make the man/woman because you will get absolutely no help/respect if you appear to be a plebe.

We may have some ethnic/racial tensions but other countries laugh at our "problems"

Food here is still relatively cheap and high quality (I fear the latter may be on the wane, if you buy it in the normal supply chain...)

There's still plenty of places with a low cost of living and decent quality of life. Housing is way cheaper.

We have some awesome universities (and some that should be plowed under, I admit). On the average we have much less of a culture of cheating than some other places I could name.

You can travel hundreds, even thousands of miles and you are still in the same country and people are speaking the same language. We mostly take that boon for granted.

Ours on the whole is still a very open and friendly culture- to the extent that we weird out a little people from other countries.

The land itself has many beautiful places to see and gobs of resources.

Would I like to see an actual maternity leave program? Hell yes. Am I concerned about waning social mobility? Yes. Could we do better on allowing alternate transportation options to the car? Somewhat. Do I think for a second that there will be a social safety net by the time I reach old age? Not likely. And our taxation system is waaaay overdue for an overhaul.

Regardless, we have it sweeter than we sometimes realize.  I find quite a few Americans who think they sounds educated and worldly by ragging on their own country and idolizing certain other locales...have never been out of the country more than two weeks.

Cultural differences can be a hard thing to wrap your mind around. What works best for Country A will not work so well with Country B. But some in Country A think Country B's differences are due to circumstance and if they could emulate the ways of Country A, they would. They just can't because of their circumstances, and we'll just be understanding of that. Then they visit Country B, talk with people there, and the residents of Country B say "Why the hell would we do it like that? Are you mad?!"

Yaaay, culture shock.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2015, 11:26:38 AM »
How many countries were founded by a group of people with the ideals of our founding fathers?  If not for the US, what would Europe have looked like from the mid-1940s on?  How many countries can come close to inventing the things that have been invented here?  China may have 10x as many people, but they don't have a fraction of the innovation we have here.  In how many countries is obesity the biggest health problem?  Do most countries have people willing to risk their lives walking across the desert or rafting in shark-infested waters to enter them?  In how many countries do people who are considered poor own TVs, computers, iPhones, refrigerators, and microwaves?
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 11:37:48 AM by Schaefer Light »

mak1277

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2015, 12:11:06 PM »
I think competition, and the desire to be the best, is one of the reasons America became the country it is today (for better or worse).  I think the desire of our founding fathers to create "a more perfect union" (i.e., the best country possible) started the ball rolling and the freedoms and capitalist ethos of Americans has driven it home.

It doesn't surprise me that a non-American finds it hard to understand...just as it doesn't surprise me that most Americans totally nod and say "heck yes, America is the best" or at least "I want to live in no country other than the best one". 

The other issue is, without a doubt, America is the most important country in the world, from an economic and geopolitical standpoint.  So when you're a citizen of that country it's awfully hard not to feel like you live in the "best" country...even if we aren't #1 in healthcare, crime, or whatever.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2015, 12:45:25 PM »
2 things come to mind:

--The country was founded on ideals of liberty and independence that were not widespread among major countries at the time. We are still proud of this.

--Unfortunately, there is also a strong tendency to believe that the US is "The Greatest" in every way, and to view the slightest criticism as disloyalty. Past success is taken as proof that we deserve to dominate the world. The fact that we came out of two world wars stronger than before is seen as evidence of our divine greatness, rather than the result of being safely separated from Europe by oceans.

I'm US-born and raised and I don't wish I lived anywhere else, but I also recognize that this country has its flaws like others, and doesn't do everything better than everybody.

randommadness

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2015, 12:56:21 PM »
I'm not American, and while currently living the US, I don't think it's the BEST country in the world (though I can't say I've lived in all countries to make an informed decision).
But I thought adding this link was appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q49NOyJ8fNA

Awww I only came in here to post the same thing =P

Beric01

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2015, 01:07:34 PM »
The US is probably still the best country in the world to make and save a lot of money. Taxes are relatively low, and salaries are some of the highest. If you can fight the incredible push of consumerism and live far below your means while you're working here, you can do well.

But after you're made your money and hit FI, the best plan is to get out. There's too many problems with this country, and it's past saving.

odput

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2015, 01:11:49 PM »
/snip
...and it's past saving.

Y'know...I was going to reply lashing out at this statement, because rarely are things "beyond saving."  But as I stopped and thought about what I might type, I changed "sides" simply because the fact that most people don't realize it needs saved is what makes it likely to be true

2527

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2015, 01:38:38 PM »
Over the course of 250 years, there were many years when we were the only democracy, and there were many years when millions of people were voting with their feet about what they think the best country in the world is.  Then after WWII, our standard of living was head and shoulders above those of other countries.

Now, I think there are countries with standards of living, levels of education, and democracy on par with ours:  much of Western Europe, Japan.  Maybe Korea?  But not many others.

2527

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2015, 01:45:16 PM »
Over the course of 250 years, there were many years when we were the only democracy, and there were many years when millions of people were voting with their feet about what they think the best country in the world is.  Then after WWII, our standard of living was head and shoulders above those of other countries.

Now, I think there are countries with standards of living, levels of education, and democracy on par with ours:  much of Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand.  Maybe Korea?  But not many others.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2015, 02:01:21 PM »
We've lived in Australia a few years now.

I think, at this point, Australia is probably better overall. We're still moving back to the US. I feel a bit guilty, because I'm worried I'm not doing the best for my kids (main reason we're going back is a bit selfish, mainly homesickness). At least we've exposed them to a different culture, and will be able to keep that door open for them.

Healthcare doesn't seem any worse, and is in many ways much better. Wife had to stay in the hospital about a month due to pregnancy complications. Private (though not guaranteed) room, three meals a day, round the clock care. Total cost for the hospital stay and the numerous tests (there were a number of ultrasounds, forget what else they did)? $0.

People seem more accepting of people's differences. You can work a white-collar job and have visible tattoos and piercings. Two examples of this: the lady who put a visa label in my wife's passport (lots of tattoos on her arms, I don't remember piercings) and midwives my wife works with (definitely tattoos, and I think piercings as long as they don't interfere with their work, but don't quote me on that). I see old ladies walking around with bright purple/red/blue/whatever the heck color hair (you can get some really cool colors when you're starting with white hair) and I smile just a bit. You can be openly gay here. Maybe that's just in the tiny section we've spent most of our time in, but we've traveled around a bit and it "seems" similar all around.

Food seems to be higher quality. Finding high-fructose corn syrup (think it's called glucose[maize], and there's a wheat version) is rare. All milk is hormone-free (as in, it's banned). In the US we had to pay a premium to get the non high-fructose corn syrup food, and the hormone-free milk (have to buy organic to get more than a "we pinky-swear not to" guarantee). Argue amongst yourselves whether these are legitimate concerns.

Shaun Micallef. He's funny (mad) as hell.

For all the good, Australia does fall far short in some categories.

High cost of living. Ouch! Have you SEEN the home prices? Not to mention electricity rates.

Seasons are reversed. Seriously, wtf is up with that? I demand you move winter to Christmastime. Pass a resolution or whatever you call it.

Vegemite. This is some kind of cruel joke, right?

Beric01

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2015, 02:18:05 PM »
/snip
...and it's past saving.

Y'know...I was going to reply lashing out at this statement, because rarely are things "beyond saving."  But as I stopped and thought about what I might type, I changed "sides" simply because the fact that most people don't realize it needs saved is what makes it likely to be true

I have a similar perspective to you then. I used to think it was possible to stop the US from going further downhill if only people would wisen up, but eventually I realized that by the time the country truly realizes how bad things are and where we're going, we truly will be past saving. Most people are truly oblivious.

Now, I think there are countries with standards of living, levels of education, and democracy on par with ours:  much of Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand.  Maybe Korea?  But not many others.

The world opens up when you don't define countries merely by "standards of living" (read materialism/excessive spending). Level of education? As long as everyone can read or write, that's cool by me - mandatory college degrees just to work at Starbucks don't count as education to me. And Democracy? Try Oligarchy. Is there really any difference between governments? Some governments keep their corruption in secret, others (like the US) put it out on the open. There's not a single government that isn't corrupt, even if elected by the people.

markbrynn

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2015, 02:41:32 PM »
One thing that always surprised me about US nationalism is how many otherwise intelligent people get caught up in it. Clearly, based on that statement, you can guess that I think nationalism is the domain of the ignorant. Why should I feel special because somebody I don't know invented Apple computers? Does the fact that he lived in my country make me more special? What about some of the famous serial killers, does that make me less special? What does the spot where your mother gave birth to you have to do with your value as a person? Or your proximity to somebody who actually did something useful for the world? Aren't we just lucky or unlucky on where we were born and aren't we mostly riding on the coattails of people's greatness that we had no influence over?

So, why do intelligent people get defensive about America's greatness? What do you care about what I or anybody else thinks about your country?

mak1277

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2015, 02:48:10 PM »
So, why do intelligent people get defensive about America's greatness? What do you care about what I or anybody else thinks about your country?

I'll flip this on its head...what is wrong with wanting to be the best? 

If you don't feel that being the best is important, of course you're not going to understand American nationalism and the desire to be the best.  But I believe that Americans are raised to be competitive and to desire being the best (regardless of your personal definition of "best"). 

odput

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2015, 02:50:19 PM »
What do you care about what I or anybody else thinks about your country?

Mostly I hate the stigma of being an American when traveling abroad.  If I wasn't profiled as being a typical American and treated accordingly, I wouldn't care at all.

markbrynn

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2015, 03:01:24 PM »
Quote
I'll flip this on its head...what is wrong with wanting to be the best? 

Nothing wrong with trying to be the best. Trouble is, saying it doesn't make it true.

It's the words that irk, not the intentions.

markbrynn

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2015, 03:07:45 PM »
Quote
Mostly I hate the stigma of being an American when traveling abroad.  If I wasn't profiled as being a typical American and treated accordingly, I wouldn't care at all.

It's not fun to be stereotyped, but the thing that a lot of people don't notice or haven't experienced, is that most countries are stereotyped. Some examples:
French = rude, arrogant
Dutch = cheap, blunt
American = ignorant, demanding (service)
British = drunks (young), prudes (old)
Germans = something about the war
Swedes = depressed, sex-crazed
Mexicans = lazy, stupid
the list goes on and on

If you try to go low profile, blend in and have a sense of humor these things are rarely held against you for long (at least not by anybody worth your time).

deborah

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2015, 03:43:52 PM »
I am Australian. As with many people who are not from the US, I have always found it totally ridiculous that
so many Americans feel that it is normal/acceptable/patriotic/intelligent to say, "The United States is the best country in the world."?
I am someone who has never been to the US. In fact partly BECAUSE of this perception by US citizens, the US would be one of the last countries in the world that I want to visit - there are others that are lower - North Korea, South Sudan, Saudi Arabia (although there are some things I would like to see there), but it is very low.

How can I, who have never even visited either American continent, have that view? How can I even know this about the US unless I have seen people say this on television (I don't even have one, so it must have been television at work), on films, on radio, or the US citizens I have met? Is it just a mantra they say all the time while, really, underneath, they think something else? Does it even mean anything to these US citizens, who don't really know anything about anywhere else? For instance, the US citizen I met briefly in Japan who commented on how well I spoke English when I said I was Australian (she was lost - couldn't even read a map). Or the US citizen who couldn't understand why I find it morally repugnant for people to carry firearms, because any US citizen can in their own country. It comes across as so very arrogant, and I want nothing to do with it.

Yes, as an Australian, I think Australia is pretty good. Possibly the best country on earth - New Zealand might be better, and so might Canada if it wasn't so freezing cold there - but I am firmly committed to Australia. And other people from other environments certainly find other countries "the best country on earth". In fact, I have a friend who thinks Myanmar is the best country on earth, and is completely miserable in Australia because of it.
We've lived in Australia a few years now.

I think, at this point, Australia is probably better overall. We're still moving back to the US.
This is exactly how most people feel about their country - the deep love that makes it the best country on earth for them - without the arrogance of thinking it is THE BEST.

Anyway - what would Christmas be if it didn't threaten to be over 100F in the shade one year out of four?

Oh, by the way, the US is not the world's oldest democracy. I wish US citizens didn't say that as well.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 04:02:34 PM by deborah »

Jules13

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2015, 03:57:01 PM »
 
Because 'MURICA!!!!!!!!!
[/quote]

Okay, this cracked me up.  Mainly because my husband (disclaimer: he's an Aussie) says it all the time when he's making fun of rednecks. 

I had a friend genuinely commented to me once about how Australians "just love" Americans.  Which, frankly, I think most Australians are just pretty easy going and likeable and give pretty much anyone a chance to be the same in return.  But making a blanket statement like that I thought was just weird and wondered how he came by that assumption.  He said an Aussie told him that.  I told him that guy was probably teasing him/making fun (that's the only equivalent I can think of to 'taking the piss').

But, I do find it a blanket assumption among many Americans that everyone would rather live here than anywhere and that we are the best at everything.  When, in point of fact, it's just not true.  America is definitely great at some things, maybe even the best.  But also super crap at just as many others.  And, to say anyone or any place is the 'best' at everything is just a bit silly and sort of kindergartenish. 

Granted, I think this and patriotism are different things.  I think you can have a huge amount of pride in your country while also still recognizing the failings and need for improvement. 

MidWestLove

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #36 on: February 06, 2015, 04:29:04 PM »
:)

I do not know, may be because it is?  everyone gets what they want - it is a huge land (3 most populous and 6th by territory)  with tremendous amount of variability in terms of 'social contract' (each state is different) and great foundation of laws that are better than anything I ever saw anywhere else. if you do not like nanny state of California, you can move to Arizona, if you do not like Arizona, move to New York , etc. 

and for x-Soviet immigrants, I would never consider any other country especially on items like firearms laws. Australia in that regard in terms of personal freedom is far, far behind and falling further. so , it is whatever rocks your boat.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2015, 04:32:36 PM »
I don't proclaim the US to be the "Best" but there is still a LOT of opportunity here. 

To some degree, perception is reality.  99.9%+ of those who claim that the US is the best do not have means, ability, and/or desire to go anywhere else, so they might as well convince themselves that they made the best choice by default.

Here is a little reading you might find interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosterism

I have the means and bureaucratic ability (i.e., easily accessible visas) to migrate elsewhere. I wasn't born here but was certainly bred here and I agree that the 'Murica #1! mentality has a lot of defensiveness and jingoism behind it. But it comes from a place of truth at least with respect to certain important measures. The US is not #1 in a lot of ways, but "we" are #1 in some very important ways - namely economic opportunity and freedom, especially of speech. I think if you take the whole of its relatively short history, blemishes and all, you cannot help but find that America has been (on average) the best place to find opportunity and freedom. We have also devised a system that is exemplary (though of course not perfect) in assimilating families, like mine, from all different corners of the world with all sorts of customs. I put "we" in quotes when I first used it above because my family wasn't here when that system was devised. But we've certainly been a beneficiary of it and contributed to it in our small way. I realize it's gotten to the point where the rest of the world is sick of hearing it, and where the US' military exploits disqualify it as an aspirational place to many, but that doesn't make it less true that the US has been the best overall place for economic opportunity for as long as anyone on Earth has lived. I say that not just as an immigrant here but as someone who is likely to FIRE overseas for personal reasons, for what it's worth.

MidWestLove

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2015, 04:34:33 PM »
and as far as productivity goes

GDP of US - 16.7T
GDP of EU - 17.5
Population of US - 320m
Population of EU - 507m

1 US worker   ~1.5 EU worker in productivity . yes, Dorothy, they do more and do it better, at massive scale.

midweststache

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2015, 04:40:25 PM »
American Exceptionalism (not that [we] Americans think that, but rather that it is a cultural ideology that pervades the American experience at home and abroad, whether one buys into it or not). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

Cookie78

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2015, 04:51:15 PM »
and as far as productivity goes

GDP of US - 16.7T
GDP of EU - 17.5
Population of US - 320m
Population of EU - 507m

1 US worker   ~1.5 EU worker in productivity . yes, Dorothy, they do more and do it better, at massive scale.

This is something I hear Americans brag about often, but don't understand at all. In the same breath they are talking about 60+ hour work weeks and not enough vacation time, or time with their families. If i were to choose a 'best' country it wouldn't be the one where I'm far more likely to be expected to work overtime with no compensation and give up 'my life' for 'my job'. I would think that most people on this forum would agree to that.

surfhb

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2015, 05:04:02 PM »
The United States is the best country in the world for two things only:   

1.   It provides the fastest track to financial independence for those willing to do the work.

2.   We have the finest and most diverse and national park system on the planet


We rule!!!

nanu

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2015, 05:04:25 PM »
Quote
Mostly I hate the stigma of being an American when traveling abroad.  If I wasn't profiled as being a typical American and treated accordingly, I wouldn't care at all.

It's not fun to be stereotyped, but the thing that a lot of people don't notice or haven't experienced, is that most countries are stereotyped. Some examples:
French = rude, arrogant
Dutch = cheap, blunt
American = ignorant, demanding (service)
British = drunks (young), prudes (old)
Germans = something about the war
Swedes = depressed, sex-crazed
Mexicans = lazy, stupid
the list goes on and on

If you try to go low profile, blend in and have a sense of humor these things are rarely held against you for long (at least not by anybody worth your time).
You are aware that those are American stereotypes for people from those countries, right?
Different countries have different stereotypes for those. I'm from Israel, and we'd probably say nothing
about Mexicans (since there are almost none of them in Israel), we are generally fond of the Dutch and Swedes,
think Americans are ignorant and don't stray from the rules (no matter how stupid they are), and the list goes on.

By the way, Americans are mostly construed as ignorant because of that "America is best" mentality and because,
generally speaking, they seem to know significantly less about the world than people from other countries (which might be because "America is best, so why bother?").
The fact that many Americans only speak one language and many have never left the US or have studied much world history doesn't exactly help.
In comparison, pretty much everyone in Israel speaks two, if not more, languages (I speak three, though only fluent in two), has traveled to
several countries in Europe, and in general is more aware of what's happening in the world than most Americans (or so it seems, at least).

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2015, 05:07:31 PM »
So, why do intelligent people get defensive about America's greatness? What do you care about what I or anybody else thinks about your country?

I'll flip this on its head...what is wrong with wanting to be the best? 

If you don't feel that being the best is important, of course you're not going to understand American nationalism and the desire to be the best.  But I believe that Americans are raised to be competitive and to desire being the best (regardless of your personal definition of "best").

But what's "the best" when it comes to countries? How does the concept even make sense? A nation can be best at something specific and measurable (best soccer team, highest per capita income, lowest infant mortality). But how can one country be "best" at everything? And is that the same as being the "best" place to be alive? (As if you could define one place that was best for everyone.) Having the biggest army or the most billionaires or the fastest runners doesn't say anything about quality of life.

If by "the best" you mean "being the best that you can be"--the US has plenty of work in a number of areas before it can say it lives up to its ideals.


Christof

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2015, 05:08:23 PM »
Taxes are relatively low, and salaries are some of the highest.

No. You do have more flexibility to pick a state were taxes match you way of living, but taxes are not lower than in many places in Europe. We have about four times the median income and our effective tax rate is between 22% and 28%. Our property tax is about 0.08%.  I've seen worse in the US when combining federal, state and property tax.

The median household income in German is a bit lower than in the the US (37,000 Euros vs $ 52,000). The exact numbers depend on the exchange rate. Right now it is about 24% lower, a year ago it was a few percent higher. There are also a lot of single income families here.

Miss Prim

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2015, 05:16:31 PM »
I'm curious Deborah, why you would pass judgement on all Americans if you have never been to this country and base your views on television, movies and a few American's abroad that you considered rude? That is basically stereotyping and I really hate when people do that.

I work with a lot of different kinds of people from different countries of origin and I always try to keep an open mind about people and judge them on their actions, not preconceived notions.  I have found that most people, no matter where they are from are kind and friendly if you act the same way with them.  How great or not America is, never comes up in a conversation.  Really, most people I have met just want to live and raise their families in peace. 

                                                                      Miss Prim

neil

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #46 on: February 06, 2015, 05:39:08 PM »
http://ctj.org/ctjreports/2013/04/the_us_continues_to_be_one_of_the_least_taxed_of_the_developed_countries.php#.VNVayS6_quM

Now you could probably argue they may not be including something but they claim it counts state and local.  I can only take the studies at their face value.  I don't really care where the taxes are levied; they are all imposed on the consumer eventually.  The only way to avoid taxes is to be completely unplugged from the economy.  You can also argue GDP is not a good measure of how much an economy is being taxed, but I don't know what other measure would be better.

firewalker

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2015, 05:42:52 PM »
I can end this thread with two words: DALE EARNHARDT! Now simmer down, go get yourselves a beer, and go watch some Dukes u Hazzard reruns.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #48 on: February 06, 2015, 05:58:50 PM »
I can end this thread with two words: DALE EARNHARDT! Now simmer down, go get yourselves a beer, and go watch some Dukes u Hazzard reruns.

I have every single episode of the Dukes of Hazzard.

Even the stupid one with the aliens. WTF was up with that?

deborah

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Re: Best Country in the World - why do you say this?
« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2015, 06:10:23 PM »
I would never consider any other country especially on items like firearms laws. Australia in that regard in terms of personal freedom is far, far behind and falling further. so , it is whatever rocks your boat.
This is a matter of national opinion. I am aware that many in the US equate personal freedom with the ability to carry a gun. You may not be aware that many outside the US (particularly in Australia) equate personal freedom with the inability to carry a gun. Most failed states are places which have the ability to carry a gun.

The United States is the best country in the world for two things only:   
2.   We have the finest and most diverse and national park system on the planet
You are right - the US has some fantastic National Parks. However, I am not sure about it being "the best". There are plenty of countries with a greater percentage of their area protected (eg. US has 13.8% protected, Venezuala has 53%). There are possibly other countries with as wide a range of diverse protected environment (for instance Australia - our highest mountain is on the part of Australia in the antarctic circle, and Chile). 
I'm curious Deborah, why you would pass judgement on all Americans if you have never been to this country and base your views on television, movies and a few American's abroad that you considered rude? That is basically stereotyping and I really hate when people do that.
So do I. You have completely missed my point. I did not judge all Americans - nor even all citizens of the US. However, it is really amazing that amongst the relatively small number of US citizens I have seen (including clips of your Presidents) the topic of this thread has been quite noticeable. I don't have a TV, and don't go to movies. Most people for the US are nice people, the same as most people are nice people. The topic of this thread is one thing that makes me cringe a lot, especially as some of our misguided politicians are trying to change us to be as vocal about how wonderful our country is - and there is a lot of push back about us taking on US ways (just as I'm sure there is in Canada). I was taught that nice people don't boast. I was making an observation, including my internal reaction to the topic.

Australia is home to an enormous number of migrants, and, in fact, I remember one job I had where I was the ONLY person in the 250 workforce who was born in Australia. And when I worked, there was one group I managed who were all migrants who had become Australian citizens. Something like 49% of our population was born overseas. Last time I looked, we were considered to be second only to Canada in our multicultural acceptance.