25 Jul 2003 Mailbag
A long message from Bryan H in Mankato, excerpted somewhat for brevity:
It is true the United States of America is the greatest country in the world when measured by political, economic and military might, which could be argued to be one in the same under the latter. The question lies not in if we are the greatest country in the world. The question becomes whether we are the best country we could be. I would argue a country of 5% of the world’s population using 25-30% of the world’s resources, controlling as many other nations as it can through fear of its powers listed above and where millions of honest citizens spend nights in cardboard boxes sick and hungry with millions more incarcerated rather than treated while 1% of the nations population own 40% of the wealth is a country that could use some work.
As Americans, who have greater capabilities than citizens of any other nation, it is our responsibility to move ourselves and in turn the planet and our race towards a greater future. MLK Jr. might agree. Pres. Clinton might agree then chicken out. Pres. G.W. Bush might say it will never work.
I get emails with the point about 15-30% of the world’s resources (where does that figure come from, anyway?) pretty often, and I’ll say to it what every free-market environmentalist says, which is you shouldn’t compare resources use to population size, but rather resources use to output. The U.S. economy is increasingly efficient.
I don’t believe as many nations are afraid of us as might be handy for both their people and us. North Korea comes to mind. France certainly hasn’t been. Maybe Iran is a tiny bit afraid these days, but that seems like a good thing.
The “millions” sleeping hungry in cardboard boxes and “millions more incarcerated rather than treated….” seem to be gross exaggerations, but you won’t get any argument here about treating the genuinely mentally ill — though I’d define that rather tightly.
Good line about Clinton, though.