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Top 5 things I thank, wish for in the U.S. of A.

America being the victor of the Cold War means she is the undisputed super power right now. The last two decades could have gone worse, but if we look back, there are a lot of positives. In the context of China, America finally accepted her into the WTO and abolished the discriminatory MFN exclusion. We saw inflow of capital into China which helped China’s continued growth lifting hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. We also saw the invasion of Iraq on false pretense of WMD. I am sure there are a lot on peoples mind when thinking about the USA. I wanted to make a list of top five things I think the world should thank this country. I also want to list the top 5 things I wish this country would aspire to. Below are mine. I am really curious what yours are.

Top 5 things the world should thank USA for:

5. Awesome Hollywood movies
4. Showing the world having a very open society is possible
3. A culture of extreme individualism that helps unlock the individual’s abilities (though with really bad side-effects too.)
2. A world-order that roughly works and generally most gets to develop.
1. Technological advances in so many areas (Microprocessor, space exploration, medicine, biotech, etc.)

Top 5 things I wish the USA would aspire to:

5. Do not heighten any sense of “race.” In fact, encourage mingling to achieve the most average as possible. If we are not racists, ain’t our world tending towards one race in the extreme long run?
4. Heed to Confucius thoughts about “中庸” (see “If Confucius is alive today, he would advise the Western media: “中庸”“). The U.S. media is a cesspool of hypocrites and sensationalists. With few exceptions, of course.
3. Politicians can be criminalized for not balancing budgets.
2. Fix separation of church and state so they are truly separate.
1. Create an institutionalized world-order where the next hegemon will not say, “We will act multilaterally when we can and unilaterally when we must.”

How about it, what’s on your list? Not sure where this gets us to. I guess I am really curious what comes to your mind when thinking about this sole super power.

  1. October 14th, 2010 at 08:07 | #1

    Top 5 things the World should thank the US for:
    5. Awesome Hollywood movies!
    4. Representative Democracy
    2.Seriously, NASA
    1.Pop Culture

    Top 5 things I think the US should aspire to:
    5.universally recognizing civil rights I am truly ashamed at how we treat homosexuals in this country.It is something that I think future generations will look back on and see as barbaric and backwards
    4. repudiate torture (currently seen as “enhanced interrogation techniques”) in all it’s manifestations
    3. quit with the ridiculous over emphasis on Christianity. Our government is meant to be secular, it’s better that way.
    2.eliminate “fake outrage” we like to use moralistic outrage as a means of controlling political discourse, it leads to a harmful chilling effect
    1. reform education. our education system seems unreformable at times but this is a myth. I can not express the extent to which our future as a nation is intrinsically tied to our level of education.

  2. October 14th, 2010 at 08:57 | #2

    Top 5 things I thank the US for

    5. World-class higher education institutions to nurture the world leaders of the next generation
    4. Encouraging and safeguarding free expression of opinions
    3. Supplying excellent entertainment subcultures including films, TV shows, music, etc
    2. Promoting great technological advances by attracting worldwide talents and rewarding risk takers.
    1. Overall the most culturally diverse, good-natured, and tolerant place in the world that ensures private and quiet enjoyment of life

    Top 5 things I wish the US would aspire to

    5. Improve lower education systems to produce more intelligent, responsible, and mature elementary, middle, and high school students
    4. Separate State and Money so that government policies are made to serve the best interests of the general public, not those of interest groups, Wall Street, and other deep pockets
    3. Be economically more conservative and frugal and practice financial savings from the aspect of individuals, local, state and federal governments
    2. Genuinely understand and respect other cultures and learn how to treat them as equals
    1. Use its political and economic prowess not to explore US interests around the world but to promote a true harmony among nations

    Order doesn’t necessarily indicate importance or preference. Thanks yinyang for starting this.


  3. Berlin
    October 14th, 2010 at 10:01 | #3

    Five things I think the US is doing very well:
    5. Easy and often free access to public facilities such as parks and public libraries, especially the public libraries which contribute a lot to the betterment of the intellectual landscape, as it equalizes access to opportunities to learn and get educated.

    4. An incremental approach to changes. The country does not throw away its heritage as easily as China sometimes does. Generations build on the strength of earlier generations in revisions and amendments rather than revocations and revolutions.

    3. Freedom of speech in most cases. This is why many social conflicts are resolved before they become bigger problems, as there are channels for people to voice their dissatisfaction and frustration.

    2. The country generally encourages each individual to realize their individual potential to the full, that’s why there are so many talents in this country. Talents are mostly respected and cultivated. Diversity is also encouraged and that result in contentment of people in being what they are, instead of trying to be somebody else.

    1. I actually think the US is doing a pretty good job of not letting the state interfere with people’s faiths. You need only look at what China is doing to house churches to realize the advantages of the US’s mostly hands-off approach.

    Five things I think that the US is not doing so well.

    5. Higher education is too expensive for the good of the nation.

    4. The partisan politics, though great in its democratic design, sometimes has some side effects such as the hate advertisements as you can watch from TV recently. There should be more civil arguments.

    3. Medical system. I don’t know what a better model looks like, but the current system is entangled in a vicious cycle as various stakeholders (doctors, insurance companies) try to maximize their own profits, and reduce their own risks, which result in huge burden on the patient and the country.

    2. Everybody is minding his or her own little turf without actually caring about the bigger picture of things. There is a lack of holistic thinking at the core of American professionalism. As a result, when you try to solve a problem, you were kicked around in the system like a human ball.

    1. America’s k12 educational system, though very strong in many areas, has a lot of room for improvement. There is some level of anti-intellectualism as described by Dr. Edwina Pendarvis. Kids do not spend sufficient quantity of time learning. There are too many frivolous activities going on (or so I think, activities that are not central to the cultivation of skills and knowledge at such stages of students’ lives). Kids are dismissed too early from school, which messed up parents’ schedules as well, making it hard for both parents to work, which can be very necessary in such economy when families are struggling to pay bills.

  4. October 14th, 2010 at 15:02 | #4

    @Rosa, Lynn, Berlin,

    Thanks for chiming in.

    Anyways, I’ll try hard to not weigh in too much for now. Your lists stand on their own. A neat glimpse of perspectives, and I’ll share some observations after more people have had chance to post theirs.

  5. raffiaflower
    October 15th, 2010 at 05:42 | #5

    LOL. yinyang, four things out of the five listed as aspirations for US of A apply exactly to the country I have just returned to!
    An outsider might perhaps hope for an America that can, as Paul Krugman says, re-claim itself from the right, and stop trying to impose its national interests – framed as universal values – on the rest of the world.
    Freedom of speech, expression and thought is something that every person longs for, after the basic physical needs. But every country might have variations.
    Coca Cola, for example, is a global brand – but its formula is sweeter or lighter according to local taste.

  6. October 16th, 2010 at 09:18 | #6

    Top 5 things I am thankful for the U.S.:

    5. birthplace of a great system of national parks that has since helped to create so many others around the world

    4. relative high standard of living for all its citizens

    3. a place where everyone can believe in rag to riches stories

    2. a culture that encourages independence, that is future looking, that prizes innovation and entrepreneurship

    1. leading edge science and technology, top institutions of higher learning, top research institutes

    Top 5 things I wish for the U.S.:

    5. on the domestic front, engage in less divisive politics – that is, less partisan politics, less ideology, less identity-based politics

    4. Be more cosmopolitan about the world, about other histories, other traditions, the different conditions and needs of different people around the world.

    3. on the global stage, be a leader, not a bully – that is, engage in less double speak, be as diligent in spreading wealth and technological know-how as ideologies it purport to genuinely believe such as “democracy”, understand that justice is a powerful force in the long run and in that vein scale back its military, listen to others, and learn to practice democracy on a global level

    2. Be more tolerant and supportive of immigrant minorities at home; understand that this country was founded by immigrants and belong to immigrants

    1. As a nation, start living within its means; learn to live with the world; stop the reflex to scapegoat others when things don’t go well

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