David von Brehle in his essay “Don’t bet against the United States”, written in March 2011, hypothesizes that America remains the world’s leading nation, because Americans are always worried about falling behind. David’s purpose is to convey the idea that though America faces challenges, both natural and man-made, Americans always go through such challenges and come forth stronger and determined. His essay, written for a generally educated readership, seeks to convince the readers that though the rate of America’s progress is reducing, flawed statistics and scanty information should not be used to label America as a declining country.
David recounts how his home country had revealed to the world that Americans are pretty dumb. He puts across a statement that describes Americans as “dumb as rocks” to emphasize his observation. He further argues that while America is on the move with the brightest days lying ahead, it leaves behind the vital society’s slogan. He recalls Richard Nixon’s declaration that America is worse of than it was years ago, during the reign of President Eisenhower. David argues that while Americans found it trivial to believe that they could sink further, America faced a nightmare of the Vietnam War that was exacerbated by that of Watergate and Japan’s exposure of American insufficient enterprise. Further, David recalls President Carter’s warning about “a crisis of confidence” as family values were ignored.
In spite of the challenges that America has gone through, David examines that it has outgrown other countries in the world and has become stronger than it was 50 years ago. He contends that America has “weathered Boston theaters and Soviet science prodigies, violent lyrics and sex out of wedlock.” He also examines that Americans have gone through and survived civil wars, freemasons, influx of immigrants, and two World Wars as well as a Great Depression. He further argues that Americans have successfully dodged the acid rain and the domino effect, the ice age as well as the population bomb. He likens America to Roberto Clemente, a pirate who agonized endlessly about his poor health while he pursued the fielders with unparalleled vigor.
He asserts that though the country is currently facing hardships (dysfunctional politics, a demoralized workforce, poor education, high level of debt, the scale of investment the fractures in the infrastructures) it is not failed yet. He observes that the signs and symptoms that America presents is an indication of the devastating disease that is consuming America. However, he quickly asserts “the fallen trees do not prove the forest is dying” statement to dismiss the situation as a passing cloud. He further trivializes the frequently cited symptoms and dismisses them as “overblown”. For example, the unfair sharing of the national cake is no big deal to David. A small number of super wealthy Americans are placed at a vantage point where they pocket almost all the national income. While this seems to be dire, especially for a nation that was founded on strong principle of equality, David claims that it is not.
David maintains that the ever increasing gap between the super rich and the poor is not caused by the tax reforms. He claims that a change to the tax code created an incentive for the business owners to report earnings from the business as personal. David argues that this did not change the amount of money or the ownership, because the ultimate pocket is the same. In light of this, David observes that a change in the tax code could only serve to discourage investors. According to him, the major disease that is ailing America is beyond a mere tax code is globalization. He argues that globalization provides a source of cheap labor that is enabling the investors to get multi-million dollar profits. The world is changing and so is America. David disputes the use of scanty and flawed information to tag America as a declining nation. He exemplifies that the schools are not failing “across the board”. Additional to this, even worse than misleading statistics, according to David, is the use of other country’s gains as a loss for America.
While I agree with David on a number of points on his essay, I hold a different opinion on other points. For example, while he does an exceptional job in eliciting emotional responses in the readership, David fails to convince me that the gap between the poor and the super rich is brought about by globalization and that it is beyond control locally. If the government developed a policy that sets a minimum wage for each level of education both for native Americans and immigrants, it would have solved, albeit partially, the issue of inequality. Above and beyond this, a higher tax cut can be implemented on the high income earners to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. He further maintains that a gain by another country should not be considered as a loss for America. While the invention and innovation rates in America are decreasing by day, other countries like China and Germany are working hard to maintain an exponential growth in inventions. Other countries may overtake America in the future. Though America may not be declining, the competition for the world’s most powerful label may push America to the receiving end (Brehle, 2011).
In conclusion, David attempts to explain and clear the misunderstanding that exists when labeling America as a failed state. While his argument is valid, he fails to convince the readership that America will always remain the most powerful country. His essay, which elicits mixed reactions, explores the strengths of America as much as it ignores its weaknesses. America may not be declining, but the pace with which it is progressing is considerably slow. In light of this, the government should consider developing a policy that encourages the development. Such policy should outline ways of reducing the ever increasing and worrying gap between the rich and the poor.
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