# The United States: your positive and negative

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Loren Booda
The U.S. seems caught in a love-hate relationship with the rest of the world. What would you say is our most admirable quality, and what the most detestable?

physics4ever
I think the most admirable quality is your professionaism and work ethics. Thats why everyone from India wants to pursue atleast a post graduate degree in the U.S...to inculcate some of this into our own work.
As for the most detestable...well...maybe that America is thought of as the beginning and the end of the world(atleast it appears like that)
-Sunayana

Gold Member
The easy one first , negative : arrogance towards the rest of the world - "us & US against the rest attitude" (lack of honest global "solidarity", inability to truly tolerate & handle dissimilarity etc.)

Positive : the American dream and its spirit - reflects on entrepreneurship, innovation, frame of mind of people, productivity etc.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Not sure that America has an arrogant attitude towards the rest of the world, but perhaps more of an ignorant and inconsiderate one because our culture has spoiled many of us. Of course, not every American has this quality either.

America is great because our immigration laws welcome so many, unlike other countries. Our quality of life is a top concern, and when real disasters happen (such as the Tsunami), we give a lot of aid. I think our generousity is forgotten, but our negative actions are not.

America can do better with taking care of it's own people I think. Not in the sense of welfare, but our structure of how our healthcare programs are run. I just read in the news that a study showed that those paying health insurance premiums will bear the brunt of the bills not paid by the uninsured. I don't think this is fair to those who are working hard to pay these premiums, as it only makes costs rise, and more become uninsured. A cycle that is sure to go nowhere but financial disaster for our nation's healthcare system.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Loren Booda said:
The U.S. seems caught in a love-hate relationship with the rest of the world. What would you say is our most admirable quality, and what the most detestable?

Most admirable: the reality of the American Dream, in its action (optimism, work force, sense of responsability, respect for competence, social mobility...)

Most detestable: the dogma of the American Dream (its lack of respect for other views, and its inability to listen to others, the idea of own superiority).

El Hombre Invisible
Negative: American foreign policy.
Positive: American art.

Positive: the fantasy - if America behaved in line with the principles of the Federation in Star Trek. (This is how I believe America sees herself)
Negative: the reality - America behaves more in keeping with the principles of the Borg and the Ferengi (This is how the rest of the world sees America)

Rev Prez
Negative: The American Left

Rev Prez

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Positives: Protestant work ethic, the natural meritocracy of entrepeneurial capitalism, perseverance, strength. Geography is a huge plus as well. The cultural diversity you find in the big cities is another plus.

Negatives: Being extremely powerful naturally magnifies all of our mistakes and intensifies the criticism directed at us. As should be obvious, nations get as defensive as individuals do when criticized. This leads to stubborness and a sense of self-righteous justification in the face of accusations. That and the lack of notable artistic achievements. I love jazz and bluegrass music, but aside from these, the only thing I can think of is the Hollywood film.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
another great thing about america is the geographic diversity, as loseyourname hinted at. we have so many different climates and weather zones here. if we were to split america up in countries according to these geographic differences, we would have many different nations!

Smurf
Positive: They're Rock and Roll

Negative: They're Politics and Media

SamuelGreen800
Positive: The post secondary education system, stability, and having all of the freedoms needed to live a normal, happy life.

Negatives: Our media and its constant sensationalism, the polarization of the country on political issues, and the shift toward hardcore nationalism among more and more citizens after 9/11. Being proud of your contry is one thing, but if you feel you can't criticize a democracy's political choices because of a party affiliation or something else, then something is wrong, and it isn't healthy for the country.

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Azimuth
Pro: toleration, independence, an incredible "can-do" attitude, the will power to first teach ppl to dream and then purue them.

Con: ignorance! propaganda, unintelligent opinions...lots of little 'punks' running around bashing the government and Bush just because their local Hot Topic told them to...the worst thing i see in our country is that the citezens (*some citezens* please dont think i'm grouping everyone into this category) have become so spoiled and created such false 'havens' for themselves that they forget about the world, and dont feel a need to know what is REALLY going on...

TheStatutoryApe
Pro: The ideals of freedom and justice. Even though the reality is not perfect I believe plenty of people have worked very hard for these ideals to be realized as much as they have been.

Con: The current culture that is more commerial than... "natural" maybe.. I'm not sure what word I'm looking for here so I hope you understand what I mean.
Devisivness and seperatism based on ignorance and arrogance. And I mean from all sides not just the rightwing groups that are mostly highlighted for these things.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
This thread is beginning to remind me of Christopher Reeve in the first Superman movie saying with a perfectly straight face and sincere tone that he fights for "truth, justice, and the American way." A beautiful moment in film history.

Gold Member
Pro: Where to begin...in only a little more than 200 years this country has been built from shore to shore, beginning with a governmental system to ensure democracy and freedom, invention and advancement including accomplishments such as going to the moon, an incredible military, high standard of living, diversity, and, well I'll stop here.

Cons: We need more respect for the resources we've already used and often squandered, continue to invest in the people who built this country (the American workers), to protect the checks and balances that ensure democracy and freedom, continue to invest in invention and advancement, not abuse our military strength, and maintain tolerance of diversity. Add to that the need for more understanding of the world outside our borders--to have mutual respect for other countries, and form policies that will help the world to be a truly better place.

chound
physics4ever said:
I think the most admirable quality is your professionaism and work ethics. Thats why everyone from India wants to pursue atleast a post graduate degree in the U.S...to inculcate some of this into our own work.
As for the most detestable...well...maybe that America is thought of as the beginning and the end of the world(atleast it appears like that)
-Sunayana
Are u for real we go there to get big bucks. An engineering job here will fetch u Rs20000(per month $500) but in US it would give you$5000.
But I guess you will get a lot of funding and freedom for your research(and you could escape from the overpop in India).

Pro:I donno
Con: I donno
Since I never lived there

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1123581321
Pro: diversity, opprotunity, high standard of living, "american dream",
Con: division, american self-hate, the willingness of some to do anything for money/power/publicity, but mostly division between left/right

fibonacci

Gold Member
Its hard for me to figure a pro/can list because the US is so friggen big and diverse. One person in Oklahoma can say he loves the freedom of gun ownership but being here in California, i dont have a clue about what hes talking about. They could also say they love the few government regulations in Montana but again, in California i have no idea what they are talking about. They could also claim in Utah that its time consuming nad hard to vote but in California, i can throw a dart at a map and land on a voting station when it comes time to vote.

As for the view of the US, its crap again because of the huge diversity of the US. Everyone seems to think theres some ignorance in Americans (even though it applies similarly to their own nation but they wont admit it) but theres probably an incredible amount of reasons as to why that happens. Many of hte most vocal people in the US have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. A large amount of people get their information from that daily show which is on a station devoted entirely to comedy (as is the show) and these people for some reason have a huge voice.

Another problem is that ironically enough, the reasons people hate America are reasons brought about by the people who complain about people hating America. If you filter everyone through the left-right concept, most of the problems people have with America are caused by people on the left. Unfortunately most people around the world dont understand that if you can simplify the population into about 3 or 4 groups, each group probably wants another group to drop off the face of the earth and do many things and believe in many things in complete contradiction to the other groups.

I think we're just too big to have a reasonable pro-con debate here.

Gold Member
SamuelGreen800 said:
Being proud of your contry is one thing, but if you feel you can't criticize a democracy's political choices because of a party affiliation or something else, then something is wrong, and it isn't healthy for the country.

lol yah. God knows how quickly you get yelled at and criticized if you dare critized a Kerry voter or a democrat. Pretty much not allowed to support the President in this country...

ray b
Rev Prez said:
Negative: The American Left

Rev Prez

negative
NEO-CONS and their christianrightwing allies ie the modern GOP
super rich who control the system and who are supporting
the exporting jobs and industry
and are the crooked CEOs
any one who supports the FCC and sex censors
or the DEA and the drug WAR
or bad laws, lawyers and the courts
uncontroled illegal imigration
uncontroled legal imigration

Positives
people
land
ideals we started with freedom justice fairness oppertunity

neurocomp2003
pros: Basketball, Science(CMU&UPITTS), american dream, video games, movies, the large army and there superior weapons(nucs, the robotic gatling they previewed in iraq etc)
cons: microsoft, ignorance OR arrogance, the perception of canada.

Staff Emeritus
Needs improvement - but then so does every other country. :grumpy:

I reckon the only problems that America has at the moment is that it is a superpower. This one point is the root of nearly all problems in America.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
ray b said:
negative
NEO-CONS and their christianrightwing allies ie the modern GOP
super rich who control the system and who are supporting
the exporting jobs and industry
and are the crooked CEOs
any one who supports the FCC and sex censors
or the DEA and the drug WAR
or bad laws, lawyers and the courts
uncontroled illegal imigration
uncontroled legal imigration

Positives
people
land
ideals we started with freedom justice fairness oppertunity

I can agree with this to some degree...

Maxos
America's foreign policies CANNOT be but those you are describing, haven't you read Machiavelli? You cannot judge Politics with Ethics, American people should be worried but happy with their power, we, in Europe, are rightly frightened by your arrogance, but I understand it is necessary.

USA have to mantain their empire, the sole way is to stretch their "longa manus" over "off-phase-working" countries, and obviously keep their own arm armed.

America has got a huge amount of natural resources, that is why you rule the world (and, of course, because Germany lost WWI... btw Is it true that in american schools is taught that the reason for USA to enter the war was the sinking of Lusitania?).

Moreover you enjoy the benefits of a really united people, unity made possible by democratic ideals, rather than other forms of mass-controlling.

I also like american art, since you are the dominant culture in the world you express modern reality at the deepest level, and the best way you found is film-making, think of Kubrick, Tarantino ecc..

I dislike popular american ideals: Christianity, Ethics, Possibility, Escatology, Tendency to simplifying reality, Engeneering-oriented activities rather than love for pure knowledge, pseudo-pragmatism (the original German-English pragmatism is much deeper), Nationalism...

ron damon
The thing I despise about the US is its mainstream popular culture. How can the land which nurtures most of each year's Nobel prize winners also worship reality tv, MTV, wrestling, huge breasts, jocks, and all kinds of worthless celebrities?

Truly it is the land of extremes...

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Loren Booda
If you call freedom extreme.

Maxos
Don't say "freedom"
Say "perception of freedom"

Freedom means nothing.

ron damon
Loren Booda said:
If you call freedom extreme.

freedom is extreme, and that is what I meant. In America you see the full spectrum of the human condition, from the most wondrous to the vilest. That makes it so beautiful, but also so tragic...

Don't say "freedom"
Say "perception of freedom"

Freedom means nothing.

It means nothing until you've had it taken away from you. Then it's very, very real.

Maxos
Uff...

Let's correct.

"You don't have that perception until you have the contrary one"

Don't simplify reality, it is not simple.

Anyway: give me a definition of freedom (I suggest not to try, it's useless)

quetzalcoatl9
Maxos said:
Anyway: give me a definition of freedom (I suggest not to try, it's useless)

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: free·dom
Pronunciation: 'frE-d&m
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d : EASE, FACILITY <spoke the language with freedom> e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom> f : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>
2 a : a political right b : FRANCHISE, PRIVILEGE
synonyms FREEDOM, LIBERTY, LICENSE mean the power or condition of acting without compulsion. FREEDOM has a broad range of application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated <freedom of the press>. LIBERTY suggests release from former restraint or compulsion <the released prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty>. LICENSE implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom <freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license>.

So the sticky part is:

"FREEDOM has a broad range of application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated."

which makes freedom somewhat subjective as a noun, but can take on a more specific role depending upon the context. It also says nothing about the intersection of two persons' freedoms - for that reason, political freedoms are usually spelled-out, such as in the U.S. Bill of Rights. Therefore, arguments like "well, we're not really free because we can't shout 'Fire' in a movie theater" don't hold water since that would infringe upon the freedoms of the other people.

Mentor
I've never understood why people think words like "freedom" are that hard to define. Sure, you can get into complicated minutae, but the basics are pretty straightforward.

Maxos
How can you be a Phisicist and not understand my need of definitions?

Well, you can be satisfied with an "operative definition" (is this phrase used in English, too?) That is, you are everytime able to state whether one is free or not, and, of course, that's what you're trying to tell me, I suppose.

This would brobably be the method:
I say I am free, then think of Vietnam and say they are not free at all, why? Because I say: my perception of freedom in Vietnam would be worse than here, because of their living conditions.

Then, at least three problems emerge:

1) Where to put the limit between freedom and its contrary (which, notice, has never been turned into a precise word by human languages, "slavery" is something else)

2) Relativity: you might be interested in sharing your statements with other persons, of course, if you stay within a small community, there is no problem of misunderstanding, but if you consider a much larger society?

3) Stability of the standards of measurement: are you sure that your perception of freedom would be entirely aware of the slow changes in your own life-situation, remain the same and reproduce the same measurements, examining unchanged external specimens?

Do you know what "libertates" were to Romans? And to which Romans?
There is nothing universal! Nothing! Everything is culture, fading away with time and social changes.