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5 Things Americans Shouldn't Take for Granted

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
"Those among us who are constantly rhapsodizing about 'change' in vague and general terms seem to have no fear that a blank check for change can be a huge risk in a world where so many other countries that are different are also far worse off." -- Thomas Sowell

The reason people who are knowledgeable about our nation’s history are so concerned with following the Constitution, sticking to traditions, and safeguarding our rights is that our country's success is not the rule. For all the bitter railing you hear against "1%ers," if you're living in modern day America, you are one of the 1%ers. That’s because 99% of the people in human history haven't had it as good as you do. To the contrary, the lives of most humans who've lived on this planet could be fairly summed up with Thomas Hobbes’ famous phrase, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Maybe we should consider that and stop taking all the good things we've achieved as a result of our Constitution, our culture, our religion, and traditions for granted.

1) We shouldn't take access to cheap oil for granted: "There are relatively few large sources of oil. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates combined account for 60% of the world’s oil reserves. Imagine a couple of very plausible scenarios occurring at the same time — perhaps a war between Israel and Iran along with a civil war in Saudi Arabia. If that were to happen, you could easily see the price of oil double or even triple overnight with no easy fix." This would be of minimal consequence if we were actually harnessing our own resources. We have enough oil offshore and in shale to "fuel every passenger car in the nation for 430 years." Unfortunately, because the government is working overtime to prevent these resources from being taken out of the ground, if we had a real crisis and gas reached the $10-$15 range, we'd have to suffer through those kind of prices for up to a decade while the oil industry caught up to where it should already be. That’s something we wouldn’t have to worry about if we had our priorities in order instead of catering to environmental extremists who won't be happy until we all live like the Flintstones.


2) We shouldn't take our republic for granted: At a venerable 237 years old age, the United States is the world's oldest surviving republic. That's not very long in the scheme of things, especially when you consider that the Roman Empire's republic endured about 450 years before Julius Caesar took the reins. To us, a democratic form of government may seem like the natural order of things, but only 45% of the world's population currently lives in a free nation. Dictatorships, totalitarianism, and kings are the rule in the world while our style of government is the exception. Once long ago, Ben Franklin was asked if we had "a republic or a monarchy." Franklin said, "A republic....if you can keep it." That’s just as true now as it was when Franklin spoke those words.

3) We shouldn't take our long lives for granted: In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States for men was 46.3 and for women, it was 48.3. In 1930, it was 58 for men and 62 for women. In 2009, men were living to 75.7 years, while women were living to 80.6. There are a number of countries that are ahead of us on that scale, but there are also quite a few that are behind us. The average lifespan in South Africa today is 49.11. Afghanistan? 49.72. Nigeria? 52.05. The only reason our numbers are as good as they are given how much Americans overeat and the number of deaths caused by violent crime and automobile accidents is that we have the best healthcare system in the world. When Obamacare causes the system to become swamped, the incentives for innovation go away and the quality of care drops, your life expectancy may drop right along with it.


4) We shouldn't take the fact that we can keep borrowing money for granted: Because of our nation's massive debt, our entire economy hinges on our capacity to continue to borrow almost unimaginable amounts of money to finance our deficit spending. The problem is there may simply not be enough money in the world to keep it up much longer. According to the CBO, we'll be spending 36% of our budget on interest payments on the debt by 2030. That number is on track to hit 85% by 2050. Before we even get that far, in 2019, we'll need 19% of the rest of the world's GDP invested in U.S. Treasury securities to keep funding out debt. Of course, that number is going nowhere but up for the foreseeable future. If it doesn't happen and our flow of cheap credit runs out, we're going to face a fiscal Armageddon that will make the Great Depression look like a pizza party.

5) We shouldn't take our wealth for granted: Per capita income for all races in America has nearly doubled in real dollars since 1967. That year, per capita income was $14,507 in 2011 dollars. Today, that number is at $27,554. What has gone up, can go down again -- especially when roughly 40% of Earth’s population lives on less than $2 a day and about the same number doesn't even have basic sanitation. In a world where there are people with MBAs who'll work for less than a third of our minimum wage, we'd have to be fools to believe that our iPhone and 52" LCD TV lifestyles will continue forever no matter how hostile our government becomes to the business owners who aren’t giving large donations to the campaign coffers of our politicians.


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