If You Hate America, You Might Want to Reconsider
Written by Bebe Nicholson and published in Medium.com 6/09/2022
The United States has problems, but that’s not the whole picture
The United States is in trouble. Like other countries, we have problems. A big one these days is the political divide that prevents us from addressing issues like crime, abortion, and gun violence.
I’ve read a lot of articles lately by people who are ashamed to be an American and want to leave the United States. Other writers blast our capitalist economic system, or believe we are a country that subscribes to white supremacy and racism.
People from other countries say we’re arrogant and rude. Going all the way back to 1958, The Ugly American described the bungling of the U.S. diplomatic corps because of arrogance and failure to understand local culture.
Newsweek even published an article saying the United States was ranked among the world’s worst places to move to.
But are we more arrogant, racist and rude than people from anywhere else?
In my travels to Western Europe, the Nordic countries, Africa, Canada, Russia, and Mexico, people seemed much the same everywhere. Some were kind. Some were rude. Some were racist and some weren’t.
I found this to be true when I worked at a charity, too. We helped people re-locate to the United States from Haiti, Nigeria, Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, and many other countries. Some were warm, generous-hearted and kind. Others were dishonest, arrogant and prejudiced. It didn’t matter what country they came from.
When I kept hearing negative opinions about the United States, yet saw so many people leaving everything behind to move here, I thought, “If we’re so bad, why do so many people want to live here?”
“A simple way to take the measure of a country is to look at how many want in… And how many want out.” Tony Blair
I’m realistic about our country’s problems and hope we can do something to solve gun violence, racial unrest, divisiveness and incivility. But there are many positives that people either don’t know about or choose to ignore.
If you tend to view the United States and Americans negatively, maybe this additional information will broaden your perspective and brighten your outlook. Discovering these facts confirmed my feeling that there is still a lot to like about America.
We welcome Immigrants
Did you know that more people immigrate to America than to any other country? According to a report put together by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United States “far and away” leads the world in total immigrant population, with more than 46 million total immigrants. The country with the second largest number is Germany, with 7 million.
According to the American Immigration Council, “Migrants make up significant shares of the U.S. workforce in a range of industries, accounting for over two-fifths of all farming, fishing, and forestry workers — as well as one quarter of those working in computer and math sciences.”
We Are Diverse
The U.S. Census released its race-ethnic population estimates, with data indicating a more diverse nation than was previously expected. According to new estimates, nearly 4 of 10 Americans identify with a race or ethnic group other than White.
This is especially true of the younger population. In 2019, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Latino and Black residents together made up nearly 40% of this population. Diversity enriches us, or as Angelina Jolie said, “Our diversity is our strength. What a dull and pointless life it would be if everyone was the same.”
We Are Still a Land of Opportunity
Minorities are still way under-represented when it comes to extreme wealth. But even so, there are about 1.79 million African American millionaires in the country and about 1.57 million Hispanic millionaires.
According to Forbes, There are only 15 Black billionaires in a world of 2,668 billionaires around the globe, but 9 of those 15 are Americans. Since the initial article, Forbes has added one more Black American billionaire, Lebron James, to the list.
There is opportunity here for immigrants. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants, including 314,000 refugees, were employed as health-care workers, with 1.5 million of them working as doctors, registered nurses, and pharmacists.
Food, Foreign Assistance, and Generosity
Did you know the United States exports more food than any other country in the world? And not only do we export a lot of food. Taxpayers in the United States have been generous to foreign countries. According to Forbes, between 2013 and 2018, nearly $300 billion in U.S. taxpayer money flowed as aid to countries outside the United States.
Each year, the U.S. spends about $47 billion in aid, with half of it going to Africa and the Middle East.
Americans give around 3 percent of our collective income to charity — more than the citizens of any other country, according to Giving USA. And its individual Americans, not the government, who are generating the biggest share of contributions.
According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the vast majority of U.S. citizens donate to charity.
Health Care for Low Income Households
There are 8 million Americans without health care, and this isn’t good news. But did you know that Medicaid is a government health care program for our low-income citizens?
When my daughter was pregnant with her first child and didn’t have a job or health insurance, Medicaid covered all her pregnancy and delivery expenses.
I’ve been fortunate to have good health care because of my husband’s job as a schoolteacher. One of my friends, a single mother, likes her job in the school cafeteria because of the health care benefits.
Now that I’m over 65, I have Medicare. Another friend, not old enough for Medicare, says Obamacare finally enabled her to get health insurance. My sister-in-law has been satisfied with Med-Share, a health care sharing ministry.
Progressive Tax Rates
This may or may not be considered a plus, depending on your outlook, but according to the Tax Policy Center, the share of Americans who pay no federal income taxes has been hovering around 44% for most of the last decade.
The top 20% of taxpayers paid 78% of federal income taxes in 2020, up from 68% in 2019. The top 1% of taxpayers paid 28% of taxes in 2020, up from 25% in 2019.
Taxes vary some by state. In South Carolina, where I reside, federal and state taxes shrink a $100,000 a year salary to $69,806. According to an article in USA Today, “Americans will shell out an average of $525,037 each in taxes throughout the course of their lives.”
For 2021, Congress increased the size of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and the child and the dependent care tax credit — all of which erased the federal taxes owed for millions of American families, reported CNBC.
Why am I including tax rates as a positive? Because I’ve seen so many articles about Americans avoiding taxes, and I wanted to correct the assumption that our poorest citizens bear the brunt of our tax burden.
Do we need to improve in all the areas I’ve mentioned? Of course! Is the situation as dire as some people paint it to be? I don’t think so.
Other Things You Might Not Know
Here are some other interesting facts about The United States.
The National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. Over 650 million acres, nearly one-third of all land, is federally owned.
We are home to less than 5% of the world’s population but produce 25% of the global economic output.
We are the only country with all of earth’s five climate zones.
The U.S. has the world’s strongest higher education system and draws over a million international students a year, the most of any country.
Much of the music the world listens to comes out of the United States, and the U.S. film industry is the largest and most profitable film industry in the world.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 quickly made an impact on the quality of the air Americans breathed. Today, on average, the pollution that Americans are exposed to is only about one-third what it was in 1970.
One of our greatest exports might not be what you think it is. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to create more access for people with disabilities. Since then, 181 countries have passed disability civil rights laws inspired by the ADA, according to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.
Mentioning a few positive aspects of life in the United States doesn’t mean I’m naive about our challenges. I agree with some of the criticisms, and I cry tears of anguish over crime, corruption, and the politicization of every issue. But I love my country and cling to the hope that we can do better.
I believe our young people are hearing so much negative news that they are becoming pessimistic and despondent about the direction of their lives. But they need to know they have the hope and opportunity for a good life.
As Barack Obama said, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”