Americans and the rest of the world

A regular reader of Quinnscommentary reminded me of something that seems important in the year of elections and bashing America. Americans have it pretty good.

Fortunately most Americans still believe that hard work will get you somewhere despite the rhetoric about stacked decks and a rigged economy.

But how bad off are Americans, even poor Americans when compared with the rest of the world? I suspect most people haven’t a clue. The fact is that by world standards most Americans are high income.

What has allowed that to happen? In a word, capitalism. As a result more people are better off than under other systems. The real question is for the future. Do we leverage our system and accelerate growth for all Americans or do we fall into a trap of wealth transfer and a growing segment of society, not advancing by its own effort, skills and determination but rather relying more on taxpayer largess to stay in place?

imageThink of it as a growing child. A child goes through stages from total dependency to total independence. How fast and how far they advance depends on the child and on the amount and type of assistance they receive from parents. Does any responsible parent want to raise a child who never leaves the dependent stage even if they are comfortable in it?  We provide help when it’s needed, we encourage responsibility and yes, when things go wrong we are always there to provide a helping hand, but not to encourage ongoing dependence, nor would the responsible child want it.

Why should government act differently with its citizens? If government and society (and personal responsibility) worked,  no individual should be poor from birth to death.

All the helping hands would allow progress, not foster dependence. I think that is the essence of the difference between true conservatism and liberalism. Help those in need, but every program to accomplish that should be designed to encourage growth of the individual out of dependency, not make them comfortable in it.

And, it seems to me that the great middle-class, the average American, is where they are because they have made choices and set personal priorities throughout life that determine their place in society. There is no sinister plot to keep opportunity away. There is nothing wrong with their decisions and their priorities, but that does not change the outcome reality. However, that reality does not justify envy or scapegoating of others who made different choices.



2 replies »

  1. Knowing where you stand globally is a nice data point but totally irrelevant. People compare themselves economically by their local area. Even within our country, different standards of living in different areas are what people focus on.

    I think you are probably right about most Americans believing that you can get ahead by hard work and correct decision making but looking at how surprisingly successful Bernie Sanders campaign has been it appears that this majority is becoming less and less especially among young people.


    • I think the global comparison is relevant because it illustrates the strength of our economic and political system which I don’t think many people understand. Young people are being influenced by the constant barrage of “inequality, unfair, rigged” messages from Sanders, Warren, etc. They simply do not think things through, but accept what appears easy and they have no or ignore any in historical perspective.


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