World’s Greatest Nation? Really?

Although many Americans are fond of calling the US the greatest nation on Earth, that hasn’t been true for many years. Certainly we have the world’s most powerful military, but that’s no criteria for greatness. Neither is the fact that we are still the world’s richest nation, despite the downgrade in our credit rating by Standard & Poors.

But greatest?

Does a great nation tolerate an ever-widening gap between billionaires and the working poor? Does a great nation leave tens of millions of its citizens without access to health care? Does a great nation allow millions of its children to be homeless? Does a great nation allow its education system to become third-rate? Does a great nation allow its infrastructure to decay and collapse merely to give another tax cut to large corporations and the wealthy?

Does a great nation use its financial and military power to prop up brutal dictatorships around the world? Does a great nation bankrupt the small farmers of neighboring countries by subsidizing corporate farms then demonize those farmers when they cross the border looking for jobs? Does a great nation demean those who labor to build things with their hands, to put out fires, or to teach its youth? Does a great nation begrudge a comfortable retirement to its elderly? Does a great nation allow large corporations and the wealthy to elect its politicians?

How can a nation be called great when it rewards greed and corruption? When its judicial system rules that corporations have rights superior to those of its citizens? When its financial institutions are allowed to grow so large they are immune to failure from their own mistakes? When its corporate lawyers are tasked with seeking out financial and legal loopholes that allow their clients to game the system? When its politicians are more concerned with scoring political points than the welfare of its voters? When its citizens are more interested in the antics of its celebrities than those of its government? When it allows its previous leader to run up a huge debt, and then blames the leader who inherited it?

We didn’t need Standard & Poors to tell us that our nation is on the verge of bankruptcy. When it comes to fairness, ideas and ethics, the US has been on the verge of bankruptcy for many years.