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How can America maintain its greatness?

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“There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.”

– Jeff Daniels’ character

on HBO’s The Newsroom

It’s interesting that producer Aaron Sorkin’s lead character doesn’t follow his rant by naming a greater country.

Hmmm...

In a political diatribe masked as entertainment, Daniels’ character argues we’re no better than any other free country. “Freedom? So what? Lots of folks got that!” he essentially argues.

Well, that’s certainly a dim view of America – and a total ignorance of what goes into American exceptionalism. But even so, Daniels’ character vastly overstates the number of free countries in the world, as well as their freedoms. He doesn’t mention, for instance, that even in the enlightened nations of Western Europe, one can be charged criminally for stating a legitimate, albeit politically incorrect, opinion. We give you Brigitte Bardot and Geert Wilders, both of whom were put on trial there for expressing their opinions.

There. There’s some evidence for Mr. Sorkin that we’re the greatest country in the world. No one else has the First Amendment – the one and the same that allows Mr. Sorkin’s own commentary.

We think America is still the greatest nation on Earth.

That isn’t to say America doesn’t have its share of shortcomings. It does.

On July 4, 2007, we published our “Top 10 for America” – the top 10 things we think are necessary for the country to remain great (see box). The editorial was met with a tsunami of responses – as many as we’ve ever received.

But five years later, where do we stand? Have we made progress, stayed the same or slipped in each of the Top 10 categories?

Let’s take a look:

10. Lose weight: A June 2010 report of the Centers for Disease Control says, not surprisingly, that we’re getting fatter.

9. Stop blaming America for everything: In some circles, the blame-America train has only picked up speed. The current administration has apologized for America all over the world, and domestically blames rich people for just about every social ill.

8. Stop taking illicit drugs: There’s no sign of a letup – and, indeed, prescription drug abuse is skyrocketing. Congress last week even had to pass a law cracking down on the abuse of synthetic drugs marketed as “bath salts” that have been implicated in some horrific crimes.

7. Rein in the hedonism: The crash of 2008 has forced cutbacks on excess consumption, to be sure. But the culture is still largely devoid of virtue and values.

6. Bring back discretion: Maybe the category where we’ve lost the most ground. Fact is, indiscretion has gained speed thanks to social media: Now you can get unfiltered pablum instantly!

5. Make things again: It’s beyond us why a then-popular president, popular most fervently among unions, wouldn’t have led the country to a renaissance in manufacturing, but there it is. We can’t remain a great nation by pressing each other’s pants. The Obama campaign’s newest trial balloon is to assail challenger Mitt Romney as a guy who has outsourced jobs to other countries. What has this president done to bring them back? Count this category as another loss.

4. Innovation in education: Actually, here’s one place where we’ve gained ground – mostly in non-union states where charter and school choice initiatives have been nurtured.

3. Rein in government spending: Fail. Fail, fail, fail, fail.

Without a doubt, the category where we’ve lost the most ground. Debt has been added in Washington since 2007 at a faster pace than probably anytime anyplace in history. Washington is spending more than $1 trillion more a year than it takes in, and borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends – leaving that debt for future generations.

2. Increase individual responsibility: Another big fail. Instead of encouraging the kind of can-do self reliance this country was
built upon, the class warfare, blame-the-rich, Occupy Wall Street movements, stoked by this president, have taken personal responsibility completely off the table. What a shame and a tragedy, as that brand of victimization will discourage many from pursuing their dreams and becoming their best selves.

Meanwhile, the federal government has recently advertised to encourage more people to get on food stamps.

You can’t make this stuff up.

1. Get back to God: The jury is still out. Some folks still believe the Constitution outlaws all public acknowledgement of God, and students still risk repercussions for mentioning the Almighty in graduation speeches (though the First Amendment protects the
free exercise of religion). And recently Americans United for Separation of Church and State formed a new chapter in the Augusta area.

The evidence is unambiguous and incontrovertible: The people who founded this nation made no bones about honoring God, even in their public roles. It’s not making a law “respecting an establishment of religion.” It’s acknowledging the same higher power our Founders did.

And they knew a little something about the Constitution.

There are many things we
need to do to shore up this country and return it to its former greatness.

It wouldn’t hurt to start at No. 1.

Comments (21) Add comment
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specsta
7137
Points
specsta 07/01/12 - 01:47 am
5
9
Oh, brother...

That is a pretty lousy list.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 07/02/12 - 02:44 pm
11
12
Here's A Better List

1. Stop worshiping the wealthy and hating the poor.

2. Get prisons out of the "for-profit" business.

3. Mandate that every neighborhood has equal access to fresh and healthy foods, not just the wealthy ones.

4. Provide a free 4-year college education for every student in the US.

5. Pay every elected official minimum wage.

6. Eliminate corporate welfare.

7. Respect every citizens' privacy and property and abolish forfeiture laws.

8. Increase the number of food banks and homeless shelters. No one should be sleeping on the street in this country.

9. Free healthcare for all.

10. Cut military spending to the bone. No more dollars to build new devices that rip human beings apart.

Riverman1
93829
Points
Riverman1 07/01/12 - 04:40 am
7
8
About Specsta's list. Cut the

About Specsta's list. Cut the military to the bone and how long do you think it will be before we have another 9-11?

Free health care for all is misnamed. Nothing is free. Someone is paying. Who might that be?

Ditto about giving free 4 year educations to everyone. But the truth is deeper there. Only about 10% of the population should even go to college. The rest should enter "helper" apprenticeships to learn a trade.

There is no such thing as corporate welfare. They are not given anything. Under existing laws some get tax breaks, but that's money they earned to start with.

There are plenty of foodbanks and shelters. Mental illness and drug-alcohol abuse is what keeps people on the street.

About grocery stores not being in poor neighborhoods, how can you mandate private enterprise operate in areas where they lose money? Do you want to be the one who owns that store? You want the government to get into food distribution? Remember how that was in the Soviet Union where people lined up for blocks to get in stores where the only thing left was stale bread on the shelves?

About who hates who, it's obvious where the envy is. The less talented want what the more talented have. I don't see wealthy people in the streets complaining about the poor and voiding excrement on police cars.

KSL
143997
Points
KSL 07/01/12 - 06:49 am
4
7
I used to feed the birds in

I used to feed the birds with bird feeders so I could watch them. I believe it was just after my second son had graduated from college. Hiring was down and I remember him saying, "go where the food is." I stopped feeding the birds because I didn't want them dependent on me. I still have plenty of birds. I am proud to say they are self sufficient.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/01/12 - 07:45 am
7
2
American exceptionalism?

Get back to God?

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

"No one else has the First Amendment – the one and the same that allows Mr. Sorkin’s own commentary."
they may not be codified the exact same way as the U.S. of A. but there are a great deal of countries that guarantee freedom of speech.

burninater
9941
Points
burninater 07/01/12 - 08:15 am
10
3
About Specsta's list. Cut the

About Specsta's list. Cut the military to the bone and how long do you think it will be before we have another 9-11?
---------
Riverman, we DID have a 9-11, despite all of our spending.

jrbfromga
448
Points
jrbfromga 07/01/12 - 09:25 am
0
0
Specsta's list
Unpublished

Free 4 year education? I think we already provide 12 years of free education. How about requiring 4 years of public service: military, Forest Service, etc., not Peace Corps which serves other countries.

Riverman1
93829
Points
Riverman1 07/01/12 - 09:42 am
4
4
Burn, with that kind of logic

Burn, with that kind of logic, right after Pearl Harbor we should have done away with the draft, closed down aircraft factories and mothballed our remaining fleet.

TParty
6004
Points
TParty 07/01/12 - 09:43 am
7
1
Wait- so this editorial is

Wait- so this editorial is about how wrong some HBO show is for saying America is not the greatest country on earth, then lists how worse America is getting by their own standards? But we have free speech, so it's cool.

You should have put up the statement and numbers that the Daniels character stated. It's a pretty good rant.

"And [to the conservative panelist] with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America's so starspangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. 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, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what you're talking about?! Yosemite?!!!"

freeradical
1176
Points
freeradical 07/01/12 - 09:59 am
1
6
Mankind's little day in the

Mankind's little day in the sun is over.

Do you really think the man shot and killed invading the man's

home , gun in hand , on Battle Row the other day would have any

problem at all in having a hand , or more importantly a vote , in having

that man relinquish all his worldly possessions & his life by government

order ?

Yes? No?

It would have certainly been safer for him if armed government goons

were on hand to help take what this man was so unfairly in possession

of as he stood outside waiting.

Home invasions , school lockdowns , etc,etc,etc,

Think about the terms that have been coined in accordance with the

law of the jungle becoming the preeminant law of the land in just in

the last 20 years.

Do you really think these horrific terms are going away or are only

going to be added to as technology becomes a key component of the

bloody tooth and claw ?

Think about that the next time you read the latest government report

which states that the cities of this country are getting safer and less

crime ridden than ever before.

All that remains to be done is get more of the right people in charge

and start building the " showers " where all the non-compliant can be

washed sqeaky clean , and have the last bit of " unfair " wealth , the

gold in their mouths , plucked out and redistributed.

The difference is this time there will be no one to come to the rescue.

burninater
9941
Points
burninater 07/01/12 - 10:28 am
6
1
Riverman, I am 100% certain

Riverman, I am 100% certain you don't need me to explain the military difference between an attack by a sovereign nation with an air force and standing army and an attack by terrorist airplane hijackers.

Surely you can see the military response to those two types of scenarios are completely different, and surely you can see that the world is a different place, with different threats, and with different weapons technologies, than it was in 1941.

Riverman1
93829
Points
Riverman1 07/01/12 - 10:58 am
4
2
Burn, do you think it's only

Burn, do you think it's only a handful of terrorists who want to see us dead? If we had left them alone, there would have been more attacks. We need a strong military to fight them as we see in the home of the Taliban, Afghanistan, today. Seriously, what should we have done after 9-11? Nothing? Said we would have peace in our time?

burninater
9941
Points
burninater 07/01/12 - 11:33 am
5
2
Well Riverman, if I pay

Well Riverman, if I pay attention to the rhetoric, its all of Islam that is poised to storm our borders.

But if I pay attention to the facts of who has attacked us, then yes. I think it is a limited threat.

The successful redistribution of a lot of tax-payer dollars depends on people buying the lie that a marginal terrorist network is the equivalent threat to a sovereign nation declaring full war on the US. It is a shame that many of the limited spending folks have swallowed it hook line and sinker.

Riverman1
93829
Points
Riverman1 07/01/12 - 11:50 am
3
3
If it were THAT easy to throw

If it were THAT easy to throw out the terrorists in their base in Afghanistan which even Obama has as a goal, we wouldn't have been there for years with Americans dying. North Korea, Iran? Remember the orginal statement was "cut the military to the bone."

seenitB4
97735
Points
seenitB4 07/01/12 - 12:04 pm
1
3
9-11 jumpers

This scene is what stands out in my mind......maybe some need to relive it.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flqzqCYLrYs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwrel&v=NGe4bDn85vk&NR=1

allhans
24889
Points
allhans 07/01/12 - 12:51 pm
3
1
Whoa..Comments all over the

Whoa..Comments all over the place.
I do agree with putting an end to corporate welfare, i.e. the pet projects of Obama. Solyndra, etal. STOP funding them , now!

KSL
143997
Points
KSL 07/01/12 - 12:53 pm
2
3
Clinton had a lot to do with

Clinton had a lot to do with 9/11 happening, burn.

TParty
6004
Points
TParty 07/01/12 - 05:43 pm
5
1
"Clinton had a lot to do with

"Clinton had a lot to do with 9/11 happening, burn."

Was it the part where Bush admin ignored all the signs, memos, and even events during the Clinton admin?

skeptic griggsy
39
Points
skeptic griggsy 07/01/12 - 06:28 pm
0
0
God
Unpublished

No to the God-idea!
Other than ours, the most advanced industrialize nations have fewer social problems as they reflect reality by being the least religious ones! However, nations that are amongst the top of the emerging ones still are experiencing the growth of that superstition.As part of the religious belt, Georgia experiences greater social problems than the least religious states.
Why, Yahweh reflects the miserable, mean-minded misanthropes who imagined the Tanakh and the Christian Testament! Google lamberth's naturalist arguments about God and also skeptic griggsy to learn why God is no more than a married bachelor or square circle and carries no more weight than demons and gremlins.

Jon Lester
2480
Points
Jon Lester 07/01/12 - 07:01 pm
4
2
Virtue and values?
Unpublished

Give me a break. You either don't value truth as a virtue, or your own cognition is as benighted as the larger share of your readership. The world has plenty of valid reasons to blame us for very real grievances, and when they see what passes for political discourse in this country, they begin to lose the last remaining bit of faith they ever had in us.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 07/01/12 - 09:00 pm
2
1
If we need no military, then

If we need no military, then we also need no law enforcement and no courts. Sounds great. Too bad there's no reality in any of it.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 07/01/12 - 09:29 pm
1
3
"blames rich people for just

"blames rich people for just about every social ill... But the culture is still largely devoid of virtue and values... Fact is, indiscretion has gained speed thanks to social media:... Now you can get unfiltered pablum instantly!... It’s acknowledging the same higher power our Founders did..." gettin' tired of the constant dribble of what is WRONG !!! Never worked in my family, never worked in my business, never worked period in my relationships... How you on the editorial board think it 'WORKS' is beside me.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 07/01/12 - 09:32 pm
3
1
eh willow

it's not that we don't need a military... it's that we don't need politicians using the 'military'... for their and their buddies 'AGENDA's.

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