The Greatest Nation?

How top-level economic statistics present a misleading picture of the USA’s wealth and power

Allan Milne Lees

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Image credit: NY Daily News

To begin with the positives, the USA was the first nation in history to be founded on rational concepts. Its Constitution represented a significant advance in the ordering of human affairs. For all its many flaws, omissions, and false assumptions, it nevertheless attempted to provide a coherent framework for the organization of political and civic life. Whereas other nations evolved their constitutional arrangements in a largely haphazard, short-termist, and piecemeal fashion, the founders of the USA did their best to learn from the experiences of others and craft a more adequate basis for peace and prosperity (at least for white men).

The USA had a great many advantages. Being isolated from potential competitors by two enormous oceans, the USA never had to deal with the geopolitical challenges European and Asian nations faced throughout their histories. As the new inhabitants, thanks to European technologies, were able to ruthlessly expel the previous occupants from vast tracts of valuable land, the USA could grow via immigration in a way few other nations could emulate. Inheriting the technological capabilities of Western Europe and producing them at scale also ensured that the USA quickly out-matched its immediate neighbors…

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Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.