Thursday, August 09, 2007

Views of America

Here are a couple interesting points and counterpoints on the state of the American nation today:

In The Guardian, Greg Anrig writes an opinion piece about the arrogance of American conservatism: If it's from Europe, forget it. He mentions the antagonism to any sort of European-style 'socialist' health care system, and says: is the right's refusal to learn lessons from abroad and cooperate with other countries that have bogged down the United States with the most inefficient healthcare system in the industrialised world and ensnared us in a multitude of other quagmires, foreign and domestic.

The range of comments on this story, many from enraged Americans, is enlightening.
The text was also posted at TPM Cafe, where there are many more reactions.

And, in the Washington Post Online, Joel Achenbach notes a column in the Sunday Outlook section, by John McQuaid: The Can't-Do Nation, subtitled Is America Losing Its Knack for Getting Big Things Done?. McQuaid claims our infrastructure, as well as our political will, is failing:
...the United States can no longer be relied upon to succeed or even muddle through. We can't remake the Middle East. We can't protect one of our own cities from a natural disaster or, it seems, rebuild after one. We can't rescue our citizens when they're on TV begging for help. We can't even give our wounded veterans decent medical care.

Achenbach disputes McQuaid's conclusions, titling the blog entry Outlook Rebuttal: America Still Can Do. Achenbach says America can still do the job, but admits there's a problem:
The real problem (and perhaps this is really what McQuaid is saying) is that we have become, in many instances, a Won't Do Nation. We want the benefits of a modern transportation infrastructure, for example, but we won't pay for it. Our leaders would rather cut taxes than make sure we've got enough money to repair bridges.
And the biggest problem of all is that in recent years, thanks to the hubris of some of our leaders, we became the Shouldn't Have Done Nation. There's a huge difference between being the Can't Do Nation and the Shouldna Done Nation.

To wit, today's CNN poll asking Americans if they'd pay 5 cents more on gas to pay for making all our bridges safe. The answer? No, 74 percent so far.

I live near several TVA dams, built in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Could -- or would -- America build anything like these marvels again? I often wonder...


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