Americas, USA

7 Facts About American Exceptionalism

The United States has often been seen (mostly by the people who live there) as the greatest country on Earth. While there are certainly many advantages to living in the US, there are ugly sides as well that people don’t like to talk about as much. We have our fair share of problems; you may think by the end that we have more than our fair share.

1. Prison Population
Oh yeah, this is a big one. The United States has 5% of the world’s entire population. But we have 20% of all of the prisoners in the entire world. We put more people in jail than some people have in their entire countries. In the US, 1 in 110 adults will go to jail, *cough* almost 40% of them African-Americans *cough*, and 1 in 35 adults is under some type of correctional control (prison, parole, prohibition, etc). This is both costly, and it shows that jail is our first resort to dealing with crime all too often.

2. Police Brutality
If you watch the news, get on Twitter, or crawl out from under a rock occasionally, you may have noticed the riots that happen seemingly every day now. Instead of dismissing the riot as just another bother, notice the reason behind them. If you are black, you are more likely to get killed by the police than if you are white. That is wrong, that is plain racism, and the United States is doing better than almost anyone else right now about killing with discrimination. Demonstrations are sometimes the only way to get people to listen.

3. Healthcare
No matter what side of politics you fall on, you must see that having healthcare insurance is a good thing. If you don’t think that it is at all beneficial, do the following experiment:

1. Get badly hurt or really sick
2. Go to the hospital
3. Try to pay the bill out of pocket
4. Cry in despair

The cost of healthcare in the US is astronomical; simple lab tests and procedures can run $6000 or more if paid without insurance. And they haven’t even treated you yet. The test doesn’t cost the hospital that much; the hospital is simply trying to get enough money to deal with potential lawsuits and pay its employees and still make enough to support itself. However the upward spiral of cost continues to send the cost of getting healthcare further and further away from lower-income people.

4. Military/National Debt Expenses
The National Debt is at a number that most people cannot even fathom. It simply will never be paid back. The US will never honestly follow through with it’s promise to pay back the money it owes. It currently stands at $18,610,631,000,820.25, and continues to rise around 2.23 billion dollars per day. Much of the spending for the US is military related, which is one reason why the number is so high right now. We spend 20% of our money on military-related expenses. However, it seems like being $18,610,631,000,820.25 in debt is a far bigger security concern than the risk that maybe some nation *might* decide to attack us.

5. Student Debt
Most college students go into debt to pay for their degree, and most students graduate college with a negative start in life. The average student graduates with $26,000 in debt, with no way to pay that money back. No one wins in a situation where someone owes money and has no way to pay it back; endless lending and debt will tank any economy in the long run.

6. Mother’s Paid Leave
The United States is the only high-income nations in the entire world to not require paid leave to new mothers. Only half of the women in the US are able to take some kind of paid leave, and only a fifth of those women who are able to take leave will get full pay. It’s time for the US of A to realize that children do need parental involvement, but EVERYONE needs money to make that work.

7. Worker’s Vacation/Sick Days
In a similar vein to the above, vacation and sick days are not mandatory. The government requires 12 days of leave be given, but that leave is unpaid. The US does not offer its workers guaranteed paid sick or vacation leave, while most similar income countries do. While the United States is a great and wonderful place to live, it does have faults. These faults are able to be fixed, but this will take time. The US is exceptional; but not always in the ways that it should be.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb is a freelance writer and music student from the United States, with a passion for comic books, reading, and punk rock. He loves writing about often overlooked and under-reported stories to help raise awareness.

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