B1 Intermediate 12 Folder Collection
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America, the greatest country on earth
a narrative packed and sold to tiny patriots
reinforced by every cartoon, movie, cheeseburger
and mattress sale. Guaranteed.
A mythology is so entrenched,
our most beloved personalities urge us never to question it.
Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great.
This, right now,
is the greatest country on earth.
Greatest country God ever gave man.
We’re the greatest country in the world.
America is the greatest country in the world.
But, what if we did question it?
Now, hold on patriots,
I know what you’re thinking.
America’s done some pretty great stuff. And you’re right.
We built a kickass democracy, walked on the moon,
and we built universities
so prestigious that even Taliban warlords
send their kids.
And we are still very patient.
By the time the Cold War was waning
and baby boomers were booming out their own babies,
it truly felt like we were the greatest country on earth.
Now, listen.
Of course, there’s no single way to measure greatness.
But one good test is how we rank
in the O.E.C.D., which is basically
a golf club of 36 countries, predominantly wealthy,
Western and democratic.
And unlike most golf clubs, this one’s
got some diversity too.
America is the richest country in this club.
But we’re also the poorest with a whopping 18 percent
poverty rate, closer to Mexico than Western Europe.
And speaking of kids,
turns out at the level of high school science
were 19th of 36. Reading, 20th, and math a dismal 30th.
Now, I’m not that good at math —
not America’s fault — but that does not add up well.
And neither does this:
We spend more on health care than any other country
in the golf club, especially out
of our own private little pockets.
But we live sicker and shorter lives.
We’re fatter. And globally,
we’re more likely to see newborns die. We are even
behind Bosnia.
But we have freedom in America.
And everyone’s jealous or something.
The enemies of freedom.
Pursuing the enemies of freedom.
The enemies of freedom.
And other enemies of freedom.
Turns out, a lot of countries have freedoms.
And while we boast about them, using our rights
is a different story.
Only 56 percent of Americans turn out to vote.
While it’s closer to 80 percent in countries
like Denmark and Australia.
And it’s getting worse. This year
America slid on global rankings of corruption
and freedom, and dropped from a functional
to a flawed democracy.
So what besides our economy and military
are we actually No. 1 in? It turns out,
a lot of things! Civilian gun ownership, mass
shootings, TV watching, prescription drug abuse,
prison population.
Oh, and almost No. 1 on environmental damage,
edged out by China.
It’s gotten to a point where I think
there are specific times and places where you can confuse
America for a developing country
as elections are tampered with, water
can’t be drunk from taps.
Citizens don’t trust uniformed officers.
Infrastructure is crumbling and where
a dual system is emerging when public services are for sale
for the highest bidder.
You see this in countries like Pakistan or Nigeria,
where the rich don’t worry about the sad state
of electricity or police because, well, they have
generators and private security.
Or in America, where the Kardashians
rent their own firefighting force.
We were fortunate enough and blessed enough,
and I know that not everyone has this luxury
available to them.
But we were able to get private firefighters. When
health education and safety are increasingly privatized
or driven by privilege,
the truth is how great America is really
depends on how rich you are.
Now, I’m not saying we’re Pakistan or Nigeria
or any number of what we like to call developing countries.
But we’re not perched as high above them
as we’d like to think. We got so
caught up in the rhetoric about America
being the greatest country on earth
that we’ve long ignored the cracks in our system.
And while a bit of patriotism is great, jingoism
is dangerous, especially when it’s
built on old or fake news.
So as we gear up for another election season
where politicians tell us America is great —
or that it isn’t, and then proceed to make it worse —
let’s try a more truthful approach.
America may once have been the greatest, but today America,
we’re just O.K.
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Why America Is Just Okay | NYT Opinion

12 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on March 25, 2020
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