America: not as flawed as she seems.

Small government is better.
American government was built on the basis that the government should interfere with its citizens' lives minimally, allowing for a broader range of freedoms. This has led America to decades of brilliant innovation and economic success. During these times of recession, we cannot solely rely on the government to make things better. Likewise, in the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration did not magically wipe out all the hardships; they only contributed to fixing them. Economies will always have cycles, but ultimately, the government can only do so much. Instead, making our government bigger will only mean a loss of freedom and a worse long-term country. 

So why is America not as flawed as she seems? Because economies naturally have their cycles, and competition from other countries only leads to a better world for everyone. Because incentive, a fundmental American ideal, drives people to work hard, allowing more people to achieve the American Dream. Because the American education system actually works, really. Here we go.

Home of the free, and the reason why America has been successful for decades on end.
Competition leads to better nations, and a better world.
The Chinese are great people. Heck, I'm Chinese. However, I still think China's growth is overhyped, overstated and unsustainable. In fact, I think it is artificial. It isn't because of the people, but because of its government. As long as America continues to focus on fixing herself, and not slowing the competition, the future still belongs to her. The only thing the American government needs to do is ensure that America is the number one place to start a business - that starts with having the most economic and personal freedoms. Remember what happened during the Cold War? America continued to be free, focused on extending democratic ideals around the world and launching its own innovative programs, like the space program. In the end, she prevailed while the Soviet Union, which lacked the diverse marketplace America had, collapsed.

Like business, competition can only make things better. If not for the Cold War (competition with the Soviet Union), humans might not even be in space today. We might not have developed so many crazy inventions. And I think the same thing will happen with this tension with China when looking back in hindsight. America will only become greater in the end, that is, if we focus on growing ourselves, and not trying to stop other countries from advancing. America may be in a recession right now. But we have gone through tons of recessions and a Great Depression. We've only gotten stronger.

Incentive drives people to work hard.
We need to stop bagging on the "1%" or promoting the "99%." When did that even become a thing? Focus on the individual. It doesn't matter if it's 1%, 99% or even 50%. America has always been about the American Dream. Those people who have worked hard, figured out a way to move around the obstacles, and achieved success shouldn't be "shunned." Neither should they be scolded when they don't "help out" the poor or don't pay "more" taxes than that set by the government. Certainly, those that do contribute to charity should be thanked and recognized! But imagine a person going to a grocery store, picking up a $5 product, and paying the store $100, just because. If people aren't required to pay that much, don't expect them to or go complaining that they don't pay extra. And, having the rich be obligated to help the poor will only make the poor, poorer. Making it an obligation takes away all incentive for people who aren't in the upper class to work hard to achieve success. Again, this does not mean society should not help out one another - we should educate people to do that, but we cannot reprimand those that do not wish to. It is equally important that we do reprimand those when they breach ethical guidelines (scams), but that is the only reason. Never has America taken the stance that one person is doing bad because the other is doing well. Strive for success, independent of another person's success, or lack thereof.

Maybe American education works.
Education is very important - that's the source of human progress. However, there's also a lot of talk about American education being ranked very low compared to other systems in the world, and that maybe our system is not competent. But maybe, that is what has made Americans so great. Maybe that is what has made Americans succeed in the world. Because it's not all about what we learn in books, but what we experience first-hand in the world, that teaches us even more than pages and words. In other words, American education has never been confined to classrooms, textbooks, pencils and desks. American education has allowed children to explore and discover. Making it more "rigorous" and strictly tied to what we learn in textbooks will remove the ability and time for students to freely look into the things that interest them the most. 

Maybe a kid does get a C in English, but at the same time, he may exceed in Chemistry, and so, focuses on that, doing personal research at home, on the Internet, so vast with information. Why should we force them to also succeed in English as well? What makes that A in English so important? That time studying for English may have been time that could have led him to a scientific breakthrough that could have changed the world forever. As long as our curriculums expose students to what's out there in this world, those with an interest in that subject will go out and educate themselves. Our teachers should focus on encouraging that, helping students to develop their passion, and teaching life morals. 

For me, I haven't even been able to learn about technology in school, but because I have had personal time, I've been able to do my own research at home. If I had to focus solely on the subjects of school, I'd never have the time to do this. This is the same for so many other areas. Many of our world's greatest innovators have been focused on one area, and many have not been produced because of schooling, but because they've been able to explore their passions.

Consider the following example to China vs. US.
Imagine two children on a playground. One has parents who are constantly hovering, making sure she doesn’t fall and scrape herself. By contrast, the other child’s parents give her more distance, letting her fend for herself. She stumbles and cries more often, but when she becomes an adult, she’s more resilient... In Guo’s view, the helicopter parents are the Chinese government, while the other parents represent Washington. In the end, he said, the U.S. economy will be stronger.
What this whole post ultimately comes down to is individuality. Stop trying to make everything equal. Life is not fair, nothing is equal. Not countries, not people, not education. Some countries will be better than others. Some people will be better than others. Some people will be smarter than others. That's life.  The rest is up to the individual. 

America is a nation where freedom flourishes, and will continue to in the future, as long as citizens simultaneously stand up to prevent the government from growing in size and participate in the democratic system by voicing their opinions. I still believe in America, do you?

The American panoramic picture is courtesy of David Kozlowski (+David Kozlowski)