How many times I’ve heard that expression? It usually comes in the context of why we must implement some new social reform, or change some existing shortfall some of us Americans think a disgrace. Perhaps it is the cynic in me but I am sorry, we as a Nation are not better than that!
There is a simple truth in any team endeavor; the team is only as good as its weakest link. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the neighborhood tidily-winks team, or the U.S. Congress, if we cannot work together we can achieve nothing.
In our society we started out with a nation founded by a collective group of men with essentially a common background, almost exclusively Protestant, and all with the ambition to success despite the uncertainty of their endeavor. In the following two centuries we have grown to fill our space, we have become diverse, we have recognized that discrimination is wrong, we have created a class of people who know nothing more than Government largess, and how to play the welfare system, we have eliminated most of our skilled labor workforce.
In talking about education, everyone should have access to college because right now not everyone can afford to go and as a Nation we are better than that! If everyone goes to college what kind of jobs will be available after they get out? If everyone goes to college will it mean my car mechanic will have a BA in English Lit, or my Grocer a degree in Political Science? Will college prepare these men and woman to lead useful and necessary roles in our society or will it only create a huge mountain of debt they can never pay off? If everyone has a bachelor’s degree won’t it become worthless and just keep some individuals from finding the right path for their life?
No one should ever have to worry about health care, because we as a Nation are better than that! While universal health care is a wonderfully altruistic goal, the simple question is how do we change the structure to accomplish it? Do we pay for all the cost through some central government run program where since it is “other peoples money” there is no real concern with cost inflation, and the AMA continues to limit the number of doctors we create, or do we find a different way to organize the healthcare system so that it is affordable? I don’t have a good answer, but I am pretty sure we as a Nation are not good enough, in the near term, to make healthcare affordable, so are we really better than that?
As I look at us as a Nation, we have decided we are better than one where everyone strives to learn the language so they can fit in, we are better than one where parents hold the children responsible for behavior, or where individuals hold themselves to a higher standard than they expect of others. We have decided that if we can scam the system we should, if we can cut someone off while driving it’s okay, if we can steal a few cents from the waitress, or cheat on our taxes it’s fine… So at the end of the day I am not sure how anyone can say, “we as a Nation are better than that!”