American Exceptionalism

Is Now Only History

Dwight Eisenhower was elected seven months after I was born, and there was no country in the world anywhere near as great and good as the United States of America, a shining beacon on the hill, to use a worn-out cliche.
World War Two had ended just seven years earlier, leaving all of Europe and much of Asia in shambles.
We were the best, the best in every metric. Longest life span, best medicine, best infrastructure, lowest taxes for the upper class and no taxes at all for the middle class and poor. The minimum wage was such that a person could afford to actually live on it.
We were the best. We were still racist and still had segregation, but South Africa was worse, and we were still improving; it had been less than a century since we had abolished slavery.
Segregation ended in the US in the 1960s, at least legal segregation, and we were on our way to sending men to the moon, but we were drafting young men to go fight and die in a jungle halfway around the world, in a war we could not win and should never have fought.
We went into what President Carter called a "malaise", with very high inflation and no minimum wage increases. You have to pay for wars somehow, and the inflation, which had come from the oil embargo of 1974, gave government a way. The poor and the middle class paid for it with taxes, disabling injuries, and violent death while the rich reaped its benefits.
Then came Ronald Reagan, making it worse for working people by trickling down on us with the promise of lower taxes. "A rising tide lifts all boats," he said, but his tax cuts weren't a rising tide, a minimum wage increase is. Lower taxes came only for the rich; not only did my taxes stay the same, but my paycheck shrank. When the capital gains tax was slashed it unleashed an orgy of hostile takeovers. My employer at the time, Disney, slashed workers' hours (and thereby paychecks) by 25% to pay for the costs of heading off a hostile takeover that had the aim of carving Disney up and selling the pieces. Evil oozed all around.
Since then, rich people's taxes continued to plummet while inflation indexed workers into higher tax brackets. CEO pay rose over 500% since 1970, while worker's pay increased 11%.
Meanwhile, since the rich and corporations are now paying so little tax compared to under Eisenhower, the country is falling apart.
Canada is #1 in education, not us. I'm not sure if we were ever the best in this, because public education was terrible as far back as the 1950s when I started school. We're ranked fortieth as I write this.
We're forty forth in health care efficiency and the only nation where you can go bankrupt just by getting sick.
We're not the most ignorant. We're ranked second. I know that's a blow to those of you who prize ignorance.
We're third in global competitiveness. A far, far cry from when I was a child and nobody else could hold a candle to us.
Twenty third in gender equality. Thirty third in download speeds. Twenty fourth in literacy. Nineteenth in honesty (maybe that one has gone up since Trump left office, these numbers change all the time).
Twenty seventh in leisure. We ain't no fun, folks! Eighth in longevity, so you won't be miserable long.
As of 2015, the Maternal Mortality Ratio was forty sixth out of the countries ranked.
Among wealthy nations, a study on 2016 data found the United States ranked first for child deaths by automobile accidents and firearms, with overall child mortality fifty seven percent higher in the U.S. than other high-income countries. As of 2015, the Maternal Mortality Ratio is forty sixth out of the countries ranked.
Reporters Without Borders 2020 Press Freedom Index ranked us 45 out of 180 countries.
In the Human Development Index we're ranked 13 out of 189 countries for 2018.
We're still #1 in the number of prisoners, murders (and mass murders), and super-rich people.
You want to make America great again? Only the rich can afford to pay for it. They need to pay workers a living wage and pay their share of taxes.
History repeats itself. The only way to stave off another great depression is to eliminate wealth disparity. Depressions do that by themselves.

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