Whiting column: Where are the thank-yous?
Where are the thank-yous?
It has become “fashionable” to criticize our country. Criticisms come from foreign nations, press, politicians, immigrants, domestic organizations and our own citizens. A thank-you would be more appropriate. Our country’s economic and political principles produced a country that is envied, desired and copied.
Both Russia and China have integrated elements of our system. No other country has the degree of personal choice, freedom and opportunity we provide, as evidenced by the numbers coming to our shores. From 2018 to 2020, immigrants from 76 different countries entered the U.S., according to the Department of State. We can’t allow ourselves to take for granted that which we experience each day and others emulate.
A thank-you should come from every country:
• Possessing peace and freedom. Our 2020 military budget was $778 billion, the United Kingdom $59 billion, Australia $27 billion, Canada $22 billion, Sweden $6 billion. Why are other countries’ budgets so small? Because they overtly count on the U.S. to protect them if threatened. We pay 72% of NATO expenditures. The other 27 countries split 28%.
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• Desiring a highly educated populace. 1.1 million international students attend school here, 342,000 in the United Kingdom, 210,000 in Canada; 342,000 Chinese students attend college here; 147,000 U.S. students study abroad.
• Desiring the highest level of medical care. Last year over 800,000 international medical patients came here, while 422,000 U.S. citizens went elsewhere. Over 6,000 Canadian doctors have moved to the U.S. Over 1,000 international students are here to study medicine, more than the total studying at other countries.
• Taking advantage of our scientific research. The U.S. spent $606 billion on R&D in 2020. More than the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the entire European Union combined. China spent $378 billion, Japan $255 billion, Russia $37 billion.
• Expecting us to help in time of disaster and protect from inhumane treatment by dictatorial entities. The U.S. sent $47 billion to other countries in response to international humanitarian and disaster relief; the total from all other countries $1.3 billion.
• Expecting to feed their population. Literally every country utilizes food produced in the U.S. Canada bought $13 billion in 2019. Even Russia ($2.1 billion) and China ($2.4 billion), with their expansive geographic area, don’t produce enough food to feed their people. We are the source of the significant agricultural advances utilized worldwide.
Foreign business thank-you is appropriate since their limited economy benefits from our system, which provided the economic means enabling us to buy their products and travel to their country.
Our institutions are not exempt. Every business, large or small, should say thank-you for an economic system that provides a framework within which they can thrive.
Nonprofits and arts should be thankful. Our ability to support them is a direct function of our system’s ability to generate money beyond costs and that required for our basic needs.
We as individuals are not exempt. Every person working in their chosen career as opposed to a career dictated by political system. Every employee with the opportunity for merit pay increases as opposed to governmentally dictated compensation. Gratitude should come from every corporate executive making seven figures without entrepreneurial risk; every person receiving the benefits of unemployment compensation or welfare when available jobs are numerous.
A thank-you should come from every immigrant who has come here for a better life; every athlete/actor for the opportunity to make millions playing a game and entertaining; the numerous Olympic athletes competing for another country that attended college and trained here.
The unvaccinated should thank the majority that have because their vaccination has provided them the opportunity to express their opinion and selfishness in relative safety.
Our country achieves and prospers because it facilitates the unleashing of an individual’s genius and energy better than any country. The price has been high, but we have paid it. Those who have yet to pay should not only offer to do so but be empathetic to those who have. Those who haven’t sacrificed may have the freedom to protest some aspect of our country, but that doesn’t make it either the appropriate or right thing to do. Not only our citizens, but most other countries and their population, count on us to continue do so. We have the responsibility.
With rights come responsibilities that must be fulfilled, taking many forms of sacrifice. We have the responsibility not to become dependent on the generosity of our system. We have the responsibility not only to take advantage of inherent educational, economic and career opportunities but do so to the best of our ability. We must push through and work as if the success of our country depends on each of us, which it does.
Our country isn’t perfect, and we have the responsibility to continually seek improvement. But problem finders are dime a dozen. It takes talent to find tangible and implementable solutions. Those who do are doing something of value.
Two lines from the song “God Bless America” illustrate the point. “God Bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her.” Notice that “stand beside her” comes before “guide her.” We have the personal responsibility to “guide her,” seek to make our country better, but we only earn that privilege when we “stand beside her.”
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of nonpartisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: email@example.com.
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