Why the USA is what it is...

Discussion in 'History' started by Fraggle Rocker, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The USA is the world’s largest consumer market because of our rivers. Transporting goods by land is 12 times as expensive as doing it by water, which is why civilizations have always flourished around rivers. The USA has 17,600 miles of navigable waterways, more than the rest of the world combined. For example, China and Germany each have about 2,000 miles, and the entire Arab region has only 120 miles. Puget Sound (around Seattle), San Francisco Bay, and Chesapeake Bay (which runs from Baltimore, through Washington DC into the Atlantic) are the world’s three largest natural harbors. Chesapeake Bay has longer stretches of prime port property than the entire continental coast of Asia--from Vladivostok to Lahore. Imports make up only 17% of the U.S. economy, compared to 25% in China and 46% in Germany. (An increasing percentage of the "foreign" cars on our highways are assembled in Alabama.) The strategy of the USA was always to prosper far from the ills of the world. It wasn't until World War II that this became impractical. (Peter Zeihan, The Accidental Superpower, reviewed in the Washington Post, Nov. 21 2014 -- edited by me for clarity for our non-American members)

    In other words, our greatness is largely the accidental result of where the country happened to be founded. In addition to the points explained above, another astounding advantage that the first European colonists had was that North America, north of the Rio Grande, had never supported a civilization. It was a paradise of clean water, virgin topsoil, uncleared forests and untapped coal and other minerals.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, and US's rivers, flow the correct way - Generally speaking from N to S, unlike those of Russia, where often the spring melts flow north and re-freeze as the mouths of the rivers are still frozen.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Well, to a great extent that's a matter of luck too. A major portion of our northern border is the Great Lakes, and it's unusual for them to freeze. So our rivers that flow into them have free flow. (Although, come to think of it, I'm not sure that any of our rivers actually flow in that direction!)

    Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and San Francisco Bay never freeze.

    We have other major ports at Boston, New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and many other places, and none of them freeze either.

    The Gulf Stream, which, because of the Coriolis force, rotates clockwise, carries warm water north, keeping our Atlantic ports open. And while the same clockwise force causes cold water to flow south along our Pacific coast, our Pacific ports never seem to freeze.
     
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Also it helps US economy, that war's most recent destruction of US productivity was the Civil War. More recent wars, especially WWII, greatly expands the US labor force (Many a "Rosie the Riveter" decided, when it ended, that she liked getting a paycheck.) and its industrial might. At its peak, former US auto plants were producing more than one landing craft per day and a few tanks each week, etc. That productivity (and expanded farm production) was maintained via the "Marshal plan" which in some ways thus aided the US more than Europe!

    It is almost as if "God is an American" but now his eyes are beginning to get a "oriented slant."
     
  8. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

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    That sounds terribly racist 0o' Please tell me I'm simply missing something here...
     
  9. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I'll bet that's news to the Mississippian culture and the mound-builders. Not to mention the half-million or so "savages" that were killed with disease and musket balls between our "discovery" and its fruition as the "Greatest Country".

    Bah!
     
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing racist intended - just did not want to limit it to Chinese. After others failed in the two prior summers, I lead the successful effort to desegregate restaurants in Baltimore - took summer off from my graduate studies to do so. Switch effort from a moral to economic one. With help of at least two dozen cars, owned by well off girls at Gaucher College, on a good weather Sunday, we could cost the restaurants ~$25,000 in lost business. Soon the Restaurant Association did a 180 degree turn and joined us requesting that the MD legislature make racial discrimination illegal, which they quickly did and I could return to my Ph. D. experiment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2015
  11. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

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    Ah, alrighty - like I said, I figured I was missing something

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  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Those were, at best "small Neolithic cities." With Stone Age agriculture and animal husbandry, it is difficult, if not impossible, to ravage the environment the way our more recent ancestors did. It wasn't really until the Iron Age that resource management became a problem that few civilizations were able to do well.

    When the Christian invaders arrived, North America north of the Rio Grande was still firmly in the Stone Age. Several tribes in the east had indeed developed agriculture and animal husbandry (although, sadly, the largest domesticated food animal was the turkey and there were no domestic draft animals on the entire continent despite the herds of reindeer in the north, which we call "caribou") and practiced peaceful commerce among themselves, but the rest of the region was still Neolithic. There is evidence of mining of copper in Michigan several thousand years ago, but apparently the community did not prosper and the technology was lost.
    Hey, I hope nothing I wrote implied that I'm proud of the Christian invaders. It's just luck that I was born here, but as long as I'm here I try to make it a decent place.
     
  13. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    You are so wrong, it is not even funny. maybe you were right 150 years ago, but then automobiles and trucks and trains happened:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_the_United_States#Cargo

    Truck 40%
    Train: 26%
    Water 7.5%
    Pipe :17.5%

    Water is not even in the top 3 as cargo transportation goes, so ask for your education money back...
     
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    There were towns with public buildings, large pyramids, burial grounds, irrigation setups (including rerouting of rivers), extensive agricultural fields, and so forth, up and down the Mississippi and Ohio drainage. Thousands of people lived in them.

    There were also towns - with buildings and irrigation and roads and storehouses of food and pottery workshops and the like - in the southwest (Arizona and New Mexico and so forth), up until the climate change just before Columbus.

    And there were towns, with permanent buildings and storehouses and boatbuilding facilities and the like, in the Pacific NW on the coast.

    The copper deposits on Isle Royale were being worked until just before the Europeans showed up in the area - after the white colonization of the Atlantic seaboard had begun.

    Whether one wishes to regard it as "ravaging" is a matter of judgment, but the landscape of NA was significantly modified by human fire over large areas in the central latitudes, as well as deforestation and terracing and roads etc in the south, long before Columbus. There are also extensive areas of anthropogenic soil building and forestry modifications in the Amazon.
     
  15. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    And the forests were far from untouched. Natives regularly managed these forests by planting trees more suitable for food and burning to create areas where deer thrive. They did still have the big trees that we needed for construction and fuel.
     
  16. Light Travelling It's a girl O lord in a flatbed Ford Registered Senior Member

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    Doesn't sound like you feel much regret for what happened to the original inhabitants either...
    So does making it a decent place include trying to right some of those wrongs and give redress to the American Indians still living in poor conditions Many still in reservations where their land is held 'in trust' for them by the government, as if they were children.
    So does making it a decent place include any wealth or land re-destributon back to the original inhabitants.?
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Most writers use "North America" to include only the land north of the Mexico-Guatemala border. The rest of the continent is "Central America." Many (perhaps most) Mexicans also include their country in Central America. The Spanish word norteamericano is used exclusively for citizens of the United States, as well as the occasional Canadian they might run into.

    In any case, I should have mentioned that the Maya civilization cut down so many trees (to build temples and public buildings) that they ruined their ecosystem. When the Aztecs conquered them and became the rulers of northern Mexico, they continued the practice in their own way, and ended up turning the bread basket in Sonora and the nearby states into what we now know as the Sonora Desert.

    As for the ecological impact of the Inca empire, two things need to be brought into focus. One is that, unlike the Olmecs who discovered bronze technology and began building cities about 4,000 years ago, the Incas only reached this paradigm-shifting juncture around 800CE. Bearing in mind that they were conquered by the Christian European about 800 years later and their empire was destroyed, they didn't have a lot of time to screw up the ecosystem, using only bronze tools.
    Sorry, I assumed that my snide remark about the Christian invaders would have kept me from being considered one of them. I spent much of my childhood in southern Arizona, and saw first-hand the dreadful conditions under which the Papago (now called "Tohono O'odham"), the Yaqui, and other peoples of the region lived. I've also been to the Hopi reservation, which is completely surrounded by the Navajo reservation, the largest in the USA, and was shocked to see their plight. Under my real name I have spoken out provocatively about the fact that we still have an obligation to these people which we are not fulfilling. Sure, it's great that the Washington Redskins football team will eventually be shamed into changing their name, but if Americans think that this is the native people's biggest problem, they've all got their heads up their asses. (And it bears noting that a great many Native Americans do not regard that as a grave insult, any more than the rest of us hate being called "white" or "black.")
    Yes, obviously. I apologize abjectly for not addressing those questions in my post.

    When one is presented with a question about "Why the USA is what it is," one has to narrow one's focus or one will write a response that will take years to complete.
     
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  18. Light Travelling It's a girl O lord in a flatbed Ford Registered Senior Member

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    Good to hear that response (less the sarcasm) . You were giving a different impression from some of your earlier posts.
     
  19. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    What made America great, was it was a melting pot culture stemming from many cultures. This allowed the collective to cherry pick from many cultures, to find the best of the best. Cultures that maintain high levels of cultural purity and identify, are not able to adapt to change, as fast. America had no clear cut identity, because it was a work in progress; freedom, changing with each wave of immigrants. It was organic, and not cast into stone. This allowed easier adaption at a time of fast change; industrial revolution.

    The American dream is a vision of anyone, even from humble beginnings, able to reach a level higher than their parents. In more purified cultures, the culture is already optimized via old families, so other classes of people can't rise beyond a glass ceiling. The restless peasants and middle class, squished against the glass ceiling, with the spirit of adventure and ambition, migrated to America where they could tap into their human potential. They jump into the melting pot, learning to break from old traditions, helping America maintain a spirit of change. Even today America is the land of innovation; spirit of change.

    America worked because of its Judeo-Christian ethics. This was the glue that allowed its controlled chaos of freedom approach. You can give citizens guns if they are of sound moral character. The chaos of freedom and change required the citizens have character; all children of God. Liberalism is not about character so freedom is restricted; projection.

    The Americas were first settled by three Christian superpowers of the day; England, France and Spain. The United States became the most prosperous due to its English connection. The prosperity was also due to its wide range of climate and its natural resources, appealing to all cultures. England was the meat added to the melting pot, with all the other immigrants adding vegetables and spices from foreign lands, to create a unique stew.

    The modern push toward diversity is the opposite of the melting pot. It attempts to maintain cultural identity and avoid the melting pot. This lowers the range of immigrant adaptation, so the Democrat Party Aristocracy can keep people from rising. They become dependents of the royalty. The American dream requires the melting pot and freedom and separation from the royal way of life; self reliance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That's exactly how I used it.

    The landscape of North America was extensively altered over many hundreds or thousands of years by the people who lived on it, in particular by using fire, and by establishing town or cities requiring agricultural modifications such as terracing and irrigation in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys. These people may also have been responsible for the extinction of much - perhaps most -of the North American megafauna, which had to have had great influence on the landscape.
     
  21. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Is it really that great? I'd say it wasn't because it's whose eyes you view it through. Look at it through the Native Americans eyes and you'll see a whole different viewpoint which is that of great hatred for they had genocide committed upon them. Their lands were taken away from them, they were murdered in order to take their lands and they were the first to get biological warfare inflicted upon them when the smallpox infested blankets were given to them.

    Here we are after 200 years and we see that most of everything that was once pristine is now soiled and polluted. We still are creating great problems with the environment with Fracking that destroys the ground water and creating more problems with the land above it. Look at the sky, more polluted than ever. Look at water and see there's no where that hasn't gotten polluted one way or another.

    So I say we haven't such a great country when it comes to those things as well as many others that I could point out but I think you get my message. Of course if you are very rich and own many things you will see it in a different light which you are entitled to but don't forget there's always two sides to every story.
     
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I would also note that if the name change results in less controversy (and thus less public awareness of the plight of native Americans) that would be unfortunate, and in the long run would do more harm than good.
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Indeed.

    In the year 2525, young Sarah asks, “Mommy what are Redskins?”
    Well, they were a race of people who first inhabited our lands long, long ago.
    What happened to them, Mommy?
    Well, the people who came here from Europe took over their lands and treated them unfairly, but eventually they were absorbed into our great melting pot of cultures, along with many other races and peoples.
    Was that a good thing, Mommy?
    Well, I think it was, because we now are all Americans living in a great nation of freedom for all.
    Then, Mommy, why is the football team still called the Redskins?
    It is in honor of and in remembrance of the great race of people whose land this once was.
    “Then I think that’s a good thing too, Mommy.”​

    This conversation never takes place if the name “Redskins” is changed. (John Kosko, Washington Post, 2013)
     

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