The question arose as I wondered if America could do its part to win another war like WWII. Well, no. Then, we were lean and Depression hardened. Now, we’re waddling diabetics with telephone earrings. Then, we were physical laborers. Now, we’re clerks and service representatives. Then, we could convert heavy industry to making the weapons of war. Now, we have little heavy industry to convert. As the realization of our inadequacies came to me, the question changed from whether we could survive another such war to whether we would deserve to survive.
Americans commonly describe their nation as “number one,” “favored by God,” “leader of the free world,” and “greatest nation on earth.” All this is, of course, true. No nation comes close to us in conspicuous consumption, and no nation can match us in waste (many a Third World family would be the envy of their neighbors if they were allowed to clean out just one of our dormitory dumpsters at the end of the school year). We’re also the fattest nation on the face of the whole entire worldwide world—yay! What’s more, American ingenuity enables us to lead every other developed nation in poor health while also leading them in the cost of health care! Beat that, you smart alecky foreigners.
Then, of course, there is the matter of our moral authority. YES, we lead the world in that too. That’s why our secretary of state is constantly having to travel around the globe to chide other countries for their ethical shortcomings. Oh, I almost forgot bankruptcies caused by medical bills—yet again, we’re number one. Gratuitously violent films? “USA! USA!” Church attendance? But, of course, we’re the leaders, at least of the developed world. That’s where we get our moral authority, and that’s why we’re “favored by God,” and you’re not.
“Ah, ha,” you say. “How about torturing prisoners or at least locking them up without a trial and throwing away the key? You don’t lead the world in that.” Well, no, not if you compare us to the whole world, but our last president was making great strides in that direction until another guy took his job. However, we do lead the world in the percentage of our population that is behind bars—prison maintenance and construction stocks are major traders on Wall Street. And don’t forget that we’ve started two completely unnecessary wars in just eight years, and that George Bush even intimidated a few other countries into joining us with his post 9/11 threat: “…it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You’re either with us or against us.”
Talk about leadership—what other world leader can compete with that? And if our presidents weren’t effective enough all on their own, our Congresscritters would fill the gap. Even though they are unwilling to provide government healthcare benefits to any but the poorest of their fellow Americans, they themselves enjoy premium benefits for life after serving a single two-year term.
We might very well lead the world in other ways too, but we don’t brag about them because we also lead the world in modesty. For instance, we spend tons of money on scientific research, and then tell everyone what we found out for free. And despite the fact that our educational standards drop lower every year, we still lead the world in the number of foreign students who attend our universities. And even if we don’t have the world’s highest standard of living for our average citizen, we still do pretty good; after all, thanks to government subsidized Big Macs, the poorest Americans are the fattest Americans. In fact, if every poor American were able to donate 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of his body fat to starving foreigners, there would be no starving foreigners, and most poor Americans could easily donate more than that, many of them 250 pounds (113 kilograms) more than that.
We also give a lot of money to you foreigners (although it’s rather oddly distributed, some might say), and it’s not money we actually have either; it’s money we borrow from China. We now owe so much to China, and they now own so much of us, that they don’t dare nuke us, so at least we don’t have to worry about that anymore. If we didn’t give so much to you guys, and if you didn’t force us into all these stupid wars, and if our government wasn’t bought and paid for by the super rich, we might be able to pay our medical bills, or at least fill our potholes.
So, would we deserve to triumph in another WWII? What do you think?
Footnote: When I wrote that Big Macs are government subsidized, I meant indirectly. Because my country’s minimum wage is not enough to live on, and because McDonalds—and many other companies—doesn’t provide health insurance to its rank and file workers, the government has to support these people. This enables such companies to sell their products far below the actual cost of producing them.
Saturday in the city - Saturday we headed off into the city. The usual gang minus one. Still off we went to see Agatha Christie’s The mouse trap. Not usually what I like but a...