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America: Still the best country in the world [Most commented]

August 11, 2011 |  4:17 pm

Statue of Liberty
In the midst of the deficit crisis and fears of a double-dip recession, it’s easily forgotten that the United States is still the best country in the world, Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and director of research for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote in an op-ed Thursday. That’s not to say we don’t have serious problems that need fixing, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what we have going for us, he said.

People all over the world still dream of moving to America, and our population growth is steady and stable, unlike other advanced nations, O’Hanlon wrote. The U.S. has 70 alliances around the world and more than 70% of the global economic alliance is organized under the “U.S. global alliance system.” Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

In addition to having perhaps the healthiest demographic profile of any middle or major power, and by far the strongest alliances over a sustained period of any major power in history, the United States also has the best advanced educational system in the world. We hear lots about the troubled state of our public education system, and to be sure, it needs improvement. But at the more advanced level, we remain at the front. Recent studies estimate that the United States has more than half of the world's best 100 universities.

[…]

China's prowess and progress in economic growth and in manufacturing are remarkable and commendable, but at least for another year or two, the United States remains the top manufacturer as measured by value added to its products. Our setbacks in recent decades in many areas like steel, concrete, textiles and cars are partially compensated for by continued excellence in aircraft, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and many computer-related technologies (especially software and related products). Although foreigners just overtook Americans in the number of U.S. patents received each year, we still generate about 48% of the country's patents; not bad for 5% of the world's population.

A few readers on the discussion board were refreshed by O’Hanlon’s perspective, but most weren’t so optimistic.

It didn’t take long for this discussion to get partisan

It didn't take long for all of the pointless partisan rhetoric to start. Not a cogent point is made by anyone. No matter your politics this is still the greatest country on Earth and we do have the tools for a great future. What we are missing is any type of intelligent discussion of how to use them.

 --serteq

I  bet you won’t see an article like this when there’s a Republican in the White House

If you enjoyed reading this article about how terrific things are in the U.S.A., please save it.  It is unlikely the Times will print anything similar for at least another 16 years, since the Editorial Staff only deigns express such sentiments when there's a Democrat in the White House.

Oh, I'm sorry.  Am I being to cynical?...okay...one more thing...

"The countries ahead of the U.S. were Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore, with combined populations far less than that of California...

Yes, but California's unemployment rate is 12% and growing.  Interestingly enough, the combined populations of those countries are ALSO less than one other state the author of this editorial fastidiously avoids mentioning: Texas, where 37% of the nation's new, post-recession jobs have been created.

--GregMaragos

We might be in better shape than other nations, but things aren’t going to get better

The writer is basically saying that we are not in as much trouble as other nations.

I do agree with Mark1's comments.

On the other hand, we probably have more lawyers per capita than anywhere else so we have to factor that into the analysis. 

I don't see things getting better for the majority of Americans for decades (if they ever do).  Our trajectory is far more downward than any other nation - except maybe the Europeans.

--GrauAdler

We’re experiencing a shift that we caused

Despite the sunny outlook of the writer, water still flows downhill.  Meaning corporations will still open and shift manufacturing facilities where it makes the most economic sense.  The steady jobs disappearance in the US has been happening for decades since China and Mexico have upped their capacity and shipping costs have decreased.  What we are experiencing are the effects of this steady shift.

Blame the corporations?  Blame ourselves first.  We bought the Chinese-made electronics based on price when there was a choice.  Now there is no choice.

Investing is "infrastructure"?  That's the answer this administration give us?  That is imbecilic.  So those without work are going to line up in front of a construction office, fill out applications, and be trained on jackhammers, safety while laying concrete Interstate pavements, or how to properly don a harness in order to sandblast a bridge at great heights.  Get real,

The answer is to make the US at least level with China and Mexico so it makes financial sense to have manufacturing facilities here once again.  Call it what you will... bribes, incentives, whatever.  Get rid of the unions that create artificially high wages.  Allow competition once again.

Otherwise... this steady downhill trend will continue regardless of "stimulus de jour".  The money makers won't be able to support the unemployed forever.

--sgayres

It’s time to rediscover the process that made our country great to begin with

Yes!  And we have to get over this childish squabbling at the higher levels of our government and get busy sorting this mess out.  It took years to get here. It's gonna take some time and a whole lot of consistent, smart, innovative behavior to move through it and into the fresher air.  If we start quitting now ... well, let just don't even go there.  We've gotta rediscover the process genius that made us great in the first place and focus that energy into the 21st century.  

--SRSwain

I’d rather be facing U.S. problems than Chinese problems

I'd rather be the leader facing our nation's problems than the leaders of China facing theirs.  China is in for rough times in the very near future that will make ours look mild, and they have no outlet for discontent as we do here.  They can't throw the bums out without a bloody revolution.  China has a real estate bubble and massive levels of bad loans to state owned industries, plus a huge debt burden for public works.  All of this is coming to a head and soon. 

--Cheese_Wonton

*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.

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-- Samantha Schaefer

Photo: The Statue of Liberty. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images

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