Two hundred thirty years ago, the world was irrevocably changed. I thought about writing some maudlin piece about what we owe our veterans, but really – if you get that, you don’t really need a reminder, and if you don’t, you’re well past hopeless. Fortunately, that second group does not tend to read my work, so I will make the assumption that everyone here is a grateful American, or at least familiar with the contributions to the world made by Americans.
The obvious has been presented all over the place – no USA, a lot of places which now are free would instead be run either by monarchies or dictatorships. The Germans would have won World War 1, who knows who would have stopped Communism, and as for such things as women voting, and the concept of universal civil rights – without America we’d be wishing for them, but that’s it.
But the United States is important for a lot of other reasons. Sure, some parts of our culture are shallow and vain – not unlike many other places I could mention – but we invented free enterprise for all intents and purposes, we created the businesses that move people and material everywhere. No US, no FedEx, no UPS, and while other shipping companies would have done their best, it’s just not the same and everyone knows it.
And let’s not forget innovation. The overwhelming majority of practical patents are produced by American inventors, including almost every major pharmaceutical drug commonly in use today. Sure, someone else might have found the vaccine for Polio, or perfected the heart transplant, or developed life-saving trauma procedures at hospitals, but it would have been later, and in any case have you noticed how many charities set up hospitals in the United States? Without a USA, these hospitals would simply never have happened, since they required a government tolerant of the free disposition of personal wealth.
And then there’s the little matter of American politics. Oh sure, it’s weird some times, seeing what Al Gore and John Kerry have become, but it’s a good thing, that even the wildest and most bizarre guy out there is free to run on whatever platform he likes – judicial restraint or activism, a War on Terror or a War on Taxpayers, equal rights or special “fairness” agendas, it all gets to be considered and the people vote. And more than a hundred countries found our system so workable, that they took it and made it work in their nation. That started here.
.. and it just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July, without reminding everyone about American cuisine. Sure, fast food is heavy on carbs and calories, and a lot of people remark about the gaucheness of McDonald’s and KFC restaurants everywhere, but if you pay attention, you will notice that those restaurants do great business. A LOT of business, to natives as well as tourists. Call it what you want to, but American food sells.
So Mister Ahmadinejad and Kim Il Stooopid may hold visions of eradicating America and its influence, but frankly they are too late. Over two centuries too late.