The Slant


Is America really the greatest?

By: Roderick Reed
By: Roderick Reed

Independence Day is coming soon. This had me thinking about the subject, Is America really the greatest? Presently at least half of us are wondering what’s happened to the United States. Has the United States lost its greatness recently or long ago? Generally one might wonder if we really have it right. For Instance, why do we work so hard? Many countries see it different than us. They work to live; we live to work. Among first world countries, the U.S. puts in the most work hours and least vacation on the planet. So the question remains. Why do we work so hard? For what? For stuff?

Last year my son went to college in Europe. Americans get a lot grief from those guys. It disappoints me and it’s not fair. I must say though, It might be nice to live like a European. They stop on the way to work and sip coffee street side and arrive at work whenever. Put in a couple hours then take siesta or some version of it. Later, they stroll home from work and stop by the side walk café. They work less than 10 hours a day than have the gall to take August off. Off! Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that?

I’ll tell you why. We Americans are crazy hard-working believers, that’s why. Other country’s think we are nuts. Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates, Les Paul, Ali? We have a long list of achievers in this country. By contrast take a country like Wales, which sits beside England. They have produced Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Jones and probably some other important people. But to be fair we have produced some “total losers” too recently. But I digress.

Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon, and then went there? We have a car up there and left the keys in it. Know why? It’s because we are the only ones going back. That’s why!

Were we nuts when the world benefited from the fruits produced by companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft? We built the Panama Canal, made the Model T and saved the world from the Nazis. We came up with GPS, transistors, the Swivel chair and Snoopy.

I’m not done. Don’t forget more of what makes us great. For instance anyone can come here and completely reinvent themselves. This is still the land of opportunity: there are few restrictions and almost unlimited possibilities. The individual is free to pursue any dream or ambition, and all this is because we have economic freedom supported by a governing structure that exists according to the consent of the governed. The government works for us if we are diligent enough to hold it accountable. Ours is the most diverse and inclusive culture on earth. We are proud of that. Through discipline and hard work, an individual can prosper and enjoy freedom unknown to 99.9% of humans who’ve ever lived.

It’s simple. You work hard, you create your own luck. Americans believe anything is possible and then we do it. Don’t doubt it for a moment. America is the greatest.

As for all the stuff, that’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August.

Happy Birthday, America.

Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach.

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  1. Oh dear. You really are whistling in the dark on this one. YOU, didn’t go to the moon, my friend. Not all Americans believe anything is possible, and of those that do, 6% do anything about it. Your American exceptionalism sounds echoey and thin. You should worry less about American greatness and more about whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing right now. Do you know how boring you sound? I just fell asleep at my keyboard. Let’s start a new thing: American Shutuppyness. I just thought of it. By the way, American is great. Great like, “hey, that’s great.” I just had a great breakfast at The Penguin. That new Adam Sandler Movie is great. Great like that. The amount we work, however, and the lack of vacation, healthcare and public funding for the arts sucks. Really sucks bad – we could learn a lot from Europe and other areas of our “great” planet. Places full of people who are not obsessed with being great. People who don’t sound like idiots.

  2. Geez. Mr Feddy is such a “hater”. America is not perfect, but if one has spent any solid time elsewhere in the world it’s not hard to see The United States is closer to human ideals than anywhere. I agree with you Roderick. God Bless.

  3. I do agree that “I” did not go to the moon. I believe that most Americans shared in that achievement with excitement and pride.

  4. I have been to 30+ countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and enjoyed most of my travel experiences. Although America today is far from perfect, overall for me it is better than the places I have visited (our average quality of life far exceeds a number of countries I have visited). Mr. Reed’s patriotic article did correctly identify American achievement and our nation’s unique ability to invent things that help improve our lives. Although our nation has made mistakes during our history America has endeavored to be a force for good in the world.

    I also agree with Mr. Feddy’s position that not all Americans believe anything is possible. This view of one’s world is unfortunate and surrenders personal initiative to others and blind luck. He correctly laments low public funding of art. However, in this country the public votes on priorities and a number of things are ahead of art.

    This 4th of July I am looking forward to hearing “America The Beautiful”, “God Bless America”, the “Star Spangled Banner”, “They’re Coming To America” and other great songs celebrating our nation. The words/melodies and the fireworks will remind me of how good this country has been to my family for 266 years, America’s many achievements, my family and friends and the love I have for this country.


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