Uncle Sam has some skeletons in his closet. (pixabay)
Uncle Sam has some skeletons in his closet.

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OPINION: America: “Greatest Country in the World”

February 14, 2021

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

America is considered “the greatest country in the world” because of the concept of the American Dream and the freedom that the nation offers. America created the concept of being the greatest, but has it ever really earned that title?

In the 20 years, I’ve been on this earth, I only began to truly see America over the past few years. The more I learned about the world, the more I learned that while America may not be the worst, it’s certainly not the best.

The rest of the world doesn’t even think we’re the greatest. A 2020 Pew survey of 13 countries concluded that America’s reputation was at a record low. In the 20 years, the survey has been conducted, the respondent countries had never reported lower numbers, with Japan’s being the highest at 41% approval. How can we begin to respect ourselves if the rest of the world, including our allies, don’t approve of us.

To be fair to foreign citizens who disapprove of the US, we don’t approve either. From 2017-2020, Americans’ faith in believing they reside in “the greatest country in the world” fell to 54%, the lowest recorded in this century. Furthermore, what Americans perceived as top threats were dominantly domestic, with the top three being COVID-19, domestic violence extremism, and political polarization. To amend what I commented before, we shouldn’t respect ourselves when nearly half of our country doesn’t.

For those who think America is a free, equal and outstanding country, look again. The US is ranked 7th globally and scored an 86/100 for global freedom, with a 33 in political rights, and 53 in civil liberties. For “the greatest and freest country” we have a pretty low freedom score.

Not only did the US not rank in the top 20 for Best Education Systems, but only 50% of Americans were totally satisfied with K-12 education. We can’t say we have the greatest education systems. Children that are learning how to spell their name are also learning how to face and react to life-threatening situations in their own classrooms. Before they apply to college, they’re already desensitized to some of the more horrible aspects of life. 

The US ranks 37th overall for the best healthcare, 33rd in infant mortality, 28th in life expectancy, 15th in quality of life, and still spent three times the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) average in Health Spending in 2020. 

However, being #1 in every category is not great. It’s not great that we lead the world in firearm-related deaths. It’s not great that we’re the #1 exporter of weapons. It’s not great that 1 in 5 Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s not great that we rank #1 in prisoners and incarceration. It’s not great that the US has the highest levels of drug use in the world. And it’s not great that we rank #2 in ignorance.

The reason people believe America is the greatest is because it’s spoon-fed to them from the moment they start school. The education system conveniently leaves out the aspects of history that make the US look anything less than the hero and teach that the only success is through American progress.

We slaughtered the 100 million people who called America home before we colonized it when they fought back. The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery. We continued involving ourselves in two wars we knew we weren’t winning. We did not single-handedly stop communism. The My Lai Massacre, MK-ULTRA and CIA enhanced interrogation are never discussed. Even today we ignore the disproportionate rates of minorities being affected by disease, the environment and other societal factors.

American citizens trade seeing things truthfully for their freedom of not knowing. So, because America tells its citizens it’s the best and to not question it, most people don’t. We don’t see how we slip every year in domestic confidence and democratic satisfaction. Not knowing the truth makes us believe that America is the freest, greatest nation in the world.

America’s freedom comes at a price of ignorance, and too many citizens are willing to pay it.

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  • M

    Med AmineOct 8, 2021 at 6:43 AM

    In the third world we view America as the greatest country in the world for being the undisputed leader in:
    -International films, media production and music.
    -Computer Science and Internet: Internet appeared in America and all major computer programs were American, and all international websites as well.
    -Interfering in the politics of countries because they are the largest funders of third world countries.
    Immigration from different countries of the world contributed to the United States in making it the most famous country in the world, where the proportion of immigrants in the last 100 years is close to 50% of the total population, this is only in America.

    Reply
  • D

    DonnaSep 19, 2021 at 6:57 AM

    Good for you!!! I am 60 years old and only recently have I realized that we have been spoon fed this country’s greatness like we have a host of other lies, like equality, democracy, freedom of speech and due process. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

    Reply
  • T

    TubenzeneJul 13, 2021 at 3:57 AM

    Good job, Arnold. This was beautifully written.

    Reply
  • S

    SteveJun 22, 2021 at 4:09 AM

    @arnold My friend, that is one of the best responses I think I’ve ever read and basically what I have wanted to tell people for a while. There was a saying that the true character of a man is determined not by his position in life but what he had to overcome to get to where he is, and my god man has America overcome. Frankly for the majority of categories that are ranked United States is in the top 20 for a good many of them, like most first world countries, (and I will admit not all first world countries are outstanding like how New Zealand not long ago was 41st for health care, it’s more common than you think, it has improved though) but if you look at the countries that are above the US and immediately after you’ll realize that many of these countries have not gone through what the US has gone through and had its government and constitution stay intact as well as not only retained but expanded upon its territory by creating more states (colonies were never intended to be permanent). If you look at the United States, when we broke apart from the old world like the rest of the new world countries did in revolutionary or violent means, (Canada is technically still part of UK commonwealth) in a state of chaos with pilfered land, unequal systems (colonies were always more abused than homeland), slavery (it was inherited and ingrained in countries economy) and 13 states that were founded to be their own countries with their own laws and culture that didn’t really agree with or like each other and various immigrants with their own cultures (basically the first modern attempt at a pluralistic society), etc. Basically, I don’t know many top ranking countries that are so stubborn and resilient to go through all this and come out in good standing. People I don’t think get that when we say we are proud of our country no other country comes close to living in, they think it’s arrogance when in reality it’s confidence that America can overcome anything you throw at it. This my friend is why I am also proud to be an American.

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  • L

    LukasJun 19, 2021 at 6:52 PM

    @Arnold i actually read all of it. To start, it is total legit to say america is the best country. No one shouls doubt that. But to critisise your country can also be a patroatic act. If you want to emprove your country.

    I totally agree america has an intresting and rich history. A lot was ahead of his time, but since then 200 years past and the world had changed. The elections system as an example. It is outdated. Even the british system with his long parlamental tradition is now much moderner then the american. Nowhere in Europe you have something insane like gerrymandering. Dammed that should be illegal.

    „ The USA has the world in medical research“. Sorry but i strongly disagree, alone in Europa there are mulitple countrys with a strong health research capacity. Look on the covid 19 vaccine, one american/german co vacine to three vacines in europe developed (not including sputnik). Medicine is developed around the globe and is in the intresting market normaly similar quick available. A lot of time the national pharma industrie just trade production rights. So can be an medicine developed in america be labeled in France with an local companie and the other way around.

    Healthcare system and education can be outstanding in the USA, if you have the rigth whealthy family. With money you can have a really good live but thats shouldnt be an argument. The rich russians/chinese have the same good education and medicine tratment. A society should be meassured how it treats his weakes. And compare to russia america looks better, but not compare to a single western european state.

    Homeless is a problem in every country, till now, no one has an solution. Also the points you mentioned i heard from european socialworkers as well. But if you are intrestet there is an promising new try by the finish goverment, worth googlen.

    In my studies my statistic prof said two intresting sentences „untruth, lie, statistic“ and „dont trust any statistic you havent faked yourself“. In Statistic you decide which parameters are intresting, which you want to show and which you letting fall off the chart. You can make look everthink good or bad, either ways. But to be honest both side use the tool. Balance of terror, i suppose.

    An intresting point is that youself using the same technick. You compare america to a lot of places around the world. You decided to ignore countrys which are in the same wealthy range and picked out worser examples.
    Norwegian(in my opinion the best system in the world, or to be more specifig the best petrol staate ), denmark, sweden, finnland, GB, ireland, germany, france, netherland, belgium, austria, switzerland, luxemburg, lichtenstein, italy, spain, canada, new zealand, australia, south korea and Japan.

    These are country you can fairly compare you to. If you pick somalia of course you win and ecept for N- Korea every county on your list(of worser Places) can do the same trick.

    „American is the best in more categories than any other country; it’s average in a lot, and even below average in some, but all in all, the overall grade is higher than all.“

    May i ask which categories you have in mind?

    I only can imagine military(the actually militar as well the fabrication of weaposn)? Movies (but to be honest the last years it was more average quality). Silicon valley, of course and space technology. (but there are only four player in the buisnis, the chinese, the russians and esa maybe in the future india)

    In my selection there where a few areas where america would lead and many where america would be at best average.

    I hope i didnt offend you in any way. I am totally open for an discussion. Greetings from Europe.

    Reply
  • A

    AJun 16, 2021 at 9:03 AM

    @arnold nobody’s reading all that.

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  • A

    ArnoldMay 29, 2021 at 3:52 PM

    The article has OPINION in the title. @Jordan says these are facts with sources, yet no sources were listed. You’re just pointing out the flaws in America, and saying that this is why America isn’t the “best”. I’m so sick of these people shitting on their on country because a certain category isn’t up to par with another country.
    “We slaughtered 100 million people who called this place home” there were 60 million natives here before 1492 and 90% died from diseases (https://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/variables/smallpox.html); there was an instance of Natives that received small pox from blankets, but that accounted for not even 1% of those deaths. When you say Native Americans you’re referring to multiple tribes, but these tribes were there own countries and territories, who were at war (remember these are still humans); they weren’t at peace and were trying to conquer each other. They weren’t advanced enough to form a proper government and official territories. Either way saying that the the current USA is flawed because of its past horrendous past is hilarious, because most countries has just as dark of a past if not darker. Though the past can absolutely leave a negative impact on the present and future.
    I don’t think saying because this is flawed and this country does it better, means they’re better. All around America has to be the best country in the world. They lead in way to many things for them not to be. Even the USA’s flaws are still ranked in the top 30 in the world; just because the USA doesn’t lead the world in every category doesn’t mean it isn’t the best country in the world. The USA’s founding fathers have completely changed the world with their Christian values and political inventions (religion has little influence now, but was completely needed in those days). The USA has the world in medical research, has the highest quality healthcare (yes it has a price problem, but it’s the best healthcare treatment by far!) @Jordan; it also leads in technology (by far), education (even though the US does not have the highest average IQ), Artificial intelligence, entertainment, robotics, billionaires (because are system is very efficient for most), aerospace and aviation, they donate more to charities, they have the worlds best college education (by far), the highest GDP, their political system is the best (they’re just brainwashed into believing a 2 party system), its the best country for entrepreneurship, it has the most diverse geography (it’s a very big country), it has the most cultural influence on the world, it also created the modern day government and political systems (though they were influenced by the Romans and others).
    Yes, the USA has flaws. It has a high population so, it has a lot more problems. Per capita, most of its flaws are not nearly as bad as you think. The incarceration rate is high because of the high crime rates in urban areas; The USA is extremely safe in most areas compared to most countries; the crime per 1,000 people is even close to being terrible (it’s actually below the average rate); the US media is the biggest in the world and has a microscope on all of their problems; they get a lot of criticism because for the most part more people in the world know what’s happening in the USA more than any other. country but their own, and a lot of people in the USA are oblivious to the whole world because of the media influence, so they think the USA is so terrible even though they’re spoiled and don’t know what real inequality, starvation, and even poverty looks like.
    I live in the USA and have a diverse racial and cultural background, and I can honestly say that I absolutely love it here. Other countries have better things that I would like for the USA to adapt like better food quality, free college education for American citizens, and better public transportation (our country is too big).
    The media is exaggerating everything. Most people get along no matter what they are and that’s the absolute truth. There is a small percentage of people who are terrible but the media focuses on them. When was the last time a positive story blew up? If you think logically about it you’ll realize that their small percentage of people don’t represent 100% of the population.
    As for the homelessness, I work with homeless people, and they’re completely spoiled as hell, Though I always treat them fairly and with respect. Half of them are obese, picky eaters that won’t eat if they don’t like what you’ve cooked (completely mind boggling when I first started here). In the program I work for they get their own rooms and bathrooms, all three meals, plus snack. The program gives them 30 days to get a job and housing for themselves and they get extensions if needed (only if they they’ve made progress, or are actually trying), and we take care of a majority of their problems; we give them many resources for anything you can think of. Only 20% of our intakes actually attempt to change their lives and take things seriously, while the rest use the program for three meals and a bed, (keep in mind we also help them with getting proper meds and therapy). Most of them are here because they’re are very difficult to be around and their families got fed up with them. We get called racial slurs, all kinds of other insults, sometimes attacked, and sometimes harassed mentally and physically. The USA just has lots of ways to survive (survive as in living without contributing to society by having no job and no home) by exploiting, using, and abusing the system. What I mean is our homeless people are some of the most wealthy homeless in the world; they’re made up of people who can’t follow rules, people who are lazy, people with drug/alcohol addictions, and people with mental disorders; Once in a while there will be a normal person who fell on hard times because of the system here. If our homeless people think they’re entitled to everything and are picky eaters, than I don’t think the government can do much but give them money, which they do; along with many other things; they still fail to succeed because of their own doing, or their parent’s doing a majority of the time (which is sad). People get kicked out a lot for breaking dozens of simple rules and they blame us for it; this happens about twice a week. Even when we give them so many chances and when we have had enough, we write up a contract that they sign that states, if they break this specific rule one more time they’re discharged. 9/10 times they break the rule again, I’ve only known of one person who didn’t and she technically did break the rule, I just didn’t say anything because it was her last day until she discharged in the morning and she actually utilized her resources and found a job and housing. People need to start investigating why things are the way they are instead of jumping to conclusions and spreading their opinion because they interpret a statistic a certain way.
    Also, another thing is the fact that the USA is a republic; it is made up by 50 states and each state controls its own laws and has its own economy; remember the US is as big as all of Europe and almost has just as much people. So when you look at each state, you realize that it’s pretty by narrow minded to lump states with high crime/homeless rates with states with other states. California is the perfect example; they have the highest crime rates, homeless rates, gun violence, poverty; they have one of the highest wage gaps as well. What’s interesting about this is that CA is the state that pushes all of these laws that only affect them, and blame the whole system. Their gun control grade on every website is an A+, yet they have more homicides than anyone. So they push these laws on to everyone, when it only affects them. How the world thinks of Americans is how the rest of the country feels about highly populated states like CA, NY, IL, TX and MD. But again because these place are populated heavily they have more crime. While their crime per capita rates are high, they aren’t the highest. It’s important to understand statistics when you use them. This is why journalist should try to be as less opinionated as possible, because they blindly throw out statistics and influence people who trust them.
    The USA has bad things and excellent, you just have to focus on the good because it unanimously outweighs the bad. American is the best in more categories than any other country; it’s average in a lot, and even below average in some, but all in all, the overall grade is higher than all.
    I’m an American patriot and I’m proud of my country despite its flaws that I am willing to admit exist…

    Reply
  • B

    Beth PratherMay 28, 2021 at 7:08 AM

    I have not lived in another country. I dont want to either although the past 4 years with Jan. 6 the finally was very sad. I do know that we are still considered the strongest country for many reasons..I just read 25 HUGE one’s. We have the military and resources others dont have. As far as China goes, I think many Christians have to have Bible study in basements. Japan has only 1 % that are Christians.. I dont think of either of these countries as free. To be honest, all I know is we try to educate all.. Most countries do not. So the test scores we get to see yearly where we aren’t on top are for the most part invalid for lots of reasons as an educator. Most countries…Japan for sure l, educate the top kids after about 9th grade. I have also read that is America would just give the world test scores from Massachusetts, we would always be number 1. So go for it. If you really feel this way, why live here? I mean honestly move. I for one wouldn’t ea t to live in Canada.. Cold..ot anywhere else. It was rough for awhile.. But we are still number 1.. Military, money, world exchange system, energy, freedom, education for all, and yes the middle class gap is growing closer.. But we can overcome..OR just feel free to move..

    Reply
  • R

    RyanMay 25, 2021 at 9:01 PM

    Great job on the article! The idea that “America is not the greatest country in the world” is a thought that’s been running around in my mind for quite some time now. I feel that this article has given me answers to the some of the questions and speculations that I’ve had on this matter, and I’m glad that you were able to shed light on some of the issues that this country is facing.

    I mostly appreciate that this article isn’t politically biased or written with vindictive intent. You simply had a curiosity that you were interested in researching, and that’s what made this article so enjoyable to read. Also, you’re very well-spoken and articulate. Especially for someone who is only 20-years-old. Again, great article!

    Reply
  • S

    SimonMay 4, 2021 at 4:20 PM

    TheMissisippiGuyDoesntUnderstandThatRussiaNorthkoreaAndIranarentTheOnlyCountriesBesidesTheUsiAmFrimAustriaAndLookedUpSomeStatsAndWebeatTheUsInPrettyMuchEveryWay

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  • J

    JoanieApr 19, 2021 at 2:40 PM

    I think your article is spot on. Sadly the ones commenting on this have never left their backyard. The truth isn’t always pretty.

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  • J

    JordanApr 6, 2021 at 4:12 AM

    I’d like the debate hillbilly ^ Mississippi cousin lover. Nah YOUR statements were garbage. She has facts and sources in her research, you’re just ignorant and close minded. The criminal justice system is a joke and has so many flaws. Americas health care is wayyy too expensive for the quality(or lack of) and hasn’t been “the best” within the last decade (old man it’s 2021, the japs invaded 80 years ago) Education system, a fucking joke. Ur stats are invalid. “We make up our own minds”, bullsht 😂. I bet ur making up ur own stats as well. And Mississippi? The greatest? HAHAHAHA 😂 48th in overall education quality, 48th in adults with bachelors, and dead last in per capita income. So idk what type of drugs they got in Mississippi but sir you sound high as hell or just plain stupid

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  • M

    Men mfMar 16, 2021 at 12:07 AM

    America is the greatest county in the world
    Your statements is garbage
    Slavery is all your small mind thinks about
    China’s border is a prison
    Idiot
    Criminals belong in prison to keep honest law abiding citizens saf
    The right to bear arms are to defend ourselves
    To defend us against our own government
    America had the best health care in the world
    The best education
    Your stats is propaganda
    If your don’t like America
    Your are free to leave it
    Go live in North Korea
    Or China
    Or Russia
    Or Iran
    I am 68 years old
    Pharmacist for 8 years
    Physician for 30 years
    I live in Mississippi
    The greatest state in America
    We don’t put up with shit from anybody
    We make up our own minds

    Reply