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Old 12-10-2013, 09:29 AM
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Is the US becoming a banana republic?


I came across this article.
I generally agree with the points made, and have raised some of them myself.

Anyone care to expand on this, or take the other side?
  #2  
Old 12-10-2013, 09:35 AM
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Care to outline your thesis here? It's generally not considered good form in GD to tell people to go read something and then ask if they agree.
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:42 AM
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First of all, using the term banana republic is stupid. The United States remains the strongest economy and the most influential political system in the world, which are two features share by no banana republic ever.

Secondly, it is undeniably true that the US has its share of problems, and the article hits on a few of them that I think are quite concerning: infrastructure, income inequality, health care problems, and several others.

However, the prescription for fixing these things is by no means clear. Raising the minimum wage so that every American working full time makes $40,000 a year probably isn't good economic policy, for example. As beneficial as unions have been, I think the idea of returning to 1950s levels of union membership just isn't realistic at all, because a lot of people just don't want to join a union regardless of the benefits.

So, my conclusion is that the article is mostly inflammatory crap with a core of nougaty goodness that's actually true.
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:49 AM
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Well, as John says, I'm not going to read through a drive by link and figure out what the OP is wanting to discuss. However, to answer the question in the OP title:

Quote:
Is the US becoming a banana republic?
No. A banana republic is basically a small nation, usually despotically run, that relies on one crop (such as bananas)...and, according to some dictionaries, is in the tropics. So, the US isn't a small nation, we don't rely on one crop, and we aren't despotically run, and I don't think even with continental plate tectonics that the mainland US is headed towards the tropics any time soon. Q.E.D. we aren't a banana republic, nor are we headed towards any of those conditions at this time.

Last edited by XT; 12-10-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:58 AM
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No, the U.S. does not resemble a banana republic.

The U.S. resembles a banana.

[rimshot]
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Care to outline your thesis here? It's generally not considered good form in GD to tell people to go read something and then ask if they agree.
Fair enough.

Although the title of the article, and this post is intentionally hyperbolic, the serious question underneath is: Other than militarily, in what sense is the US still a World Leader?

My contention is that this notion has entered the realm of propaganda. By what metric can the US still be seriously considered a world leader?
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
Fair enough.

Although the title of the article, and this post is intentionally hyperbolic, the serious question underneath is: Other than militarily, in what sense is the US still a World Leader?

My contention is that this notion has entered the realm of propaganda. By what metric can the US still be seriously considered a world leader?
Well, what makes a nation a world leader?
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:17 AM
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Other than militarily? What else do you need?
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
My contention is that this notion has entered the realm of propaganda. By what metric can the US still be seriously considered a world leader?
Well, aside from militarily there is economically and culturally...and, of course, the de facto aspect that we still ARE a world leading hyperpower.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:19 AM
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It's still a leader in e.g. computer stuff like Apple, Microsoft, entertainment, and science e.g. NASA, NIF
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:21 AM
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Economic power. We may not be the largest nation economically anymore, but we are among the largest. We could also beat the shit out of just about any other nation on the planet with our army. So there's two.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
Fair enough.

Although the title of the article, and this post is intentionally hyperbolic, the serious question underneath is: Other than militarily, in what sense is the US still a World Leader?

My contention is that this notion has entered the realm of propaganda. By what metric can the US still be seriously considered a world leader?
Which countries, if not the US, are "world leaders"? Is every country a banana republic?

You've got some serious logical fallacies going on here, even if we accept that the US is not a world leader. Banana Republic is the bottom of the heap. World leader is the top. Not being on the top is NOT the same as being on the bottom. (And get your mind out of the gutter! )
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:27 AM
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I find a lot of claims in that article highly suspect. In particular this passage:

Quote:
As the four Walmart heirs enjoy a higher net worth than the bottom 40 percent, our nation’s sense of food insecurity is more on par with developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania than with OECD nations like Australia and Canada. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed to feed their families at some point in the last year is three times that of Germany, more than twice than Italy and Canada.
Everything other than the Walmart part. And it's not sourced.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:29 AM
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As far as the US being a World Leader I think it is paramount to remember that our cultural dominance far exceeds our military dominance.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:33 AM
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Or this:

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The destruction of labor has been so comprehensive that first-world nations now offshore their jobs to the U.S. In other words, we’ve become the new India. Foreign companies now see us as the world’s cheap labor force, and we have the non-unionized South to thank for that.

...

In Sweden, the minimum wage is $19 per hour and workers enjoy a minimum of five weeks paid vacation every year. In the U.S. the minimum wage is a tick above $7 per hour and workers can expect no more than 12 days of annual vacation. So guess what? IKEA has set up a factory in Virginia. Volkswagen has set up in Tennessee, and the likes of Hyundai, KIA, BMW, Honda, and Toyota have all set up in the South to take advantage of the world’s latest cheap labor source. Moreover, the profits of these foreign companies goes toward stimulating their economies instead of ours.
Those companies set up in the U.S. to make furniture and vehicles to sell to the North American market. The Toyota Camry, for instance, is built in plants in Australia, Japan, China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and about twenty miles away from me in Georgetown, Kentucky. Having a factory in the market reduces the cost of distribution, and avoids taxes on imports.

It's not at all like Indian or Chinese factories making goods for export to wealthier nations.

Last edited by Human Action; 12-10-2013 at 10:34 AM.
  #16  
Old 12-10-2013, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Death of Rats View Post
As far as the US being a World Leader I think it is paramount to remember that our cultural dominance far exceeds our military dominance.
We were going to bomb you into submission, but we decided to send Kim Kardashian to your country instead.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:36 AM
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No. A banana republic is basically a small nation, usually despotically run, that relies on one crop (such as bananas)...and, according to some dictionaries, is in the tropics. So, the US isn't a small nation, we don't rely on one crop, and we aren't despotically run, and I don't think even with continental plate tectonics that the mainland US is headed towards the tropics any time soon. Q.E.D. we aren't a banana republic, nor are we headed towards any of those conditions at this time.
Not only that, the first line says "The only things America is #1 in these days are the number of incarcerated citizens per capita and adult onset diabetes.". Maybe the author doesn't realize that incarcerated citizens and adult onset diabetes aren't exports.
FTR, I didn't read the article beyond that line.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:37 AM
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Speaking of culture, here's the top-grossing films, worldwide, for 2012. It heavily skews American.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Death of Rats View Post
As far as the US being a World Leader I think it is paramount to remember that our cultural dominance far exceeds our military dominance.
This. When I'm at my girlfriend's house, I often get to hear her, her mother, and her brother, who are very typically Bavarian, complain about how much of what's on TV is localized from the USA, and how so much of culture is driven by the USA. And I think this is one valuable point worth pointing out. Regardless of how bad things are at home, what matters most when looking from the outside culturally is, well, what other people think of us. It doesn't matter from an outsider's perspective if we have horrible inequality, if the American Dream is dead on arrival, if class mobility just means "you go to room 102 for afternoon lessons and 101 for morning lessons". As long as we're perceived as such a major force, nobody will ever call us a "Banana Republic". And at this point, it's more a label than anything else.
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
I came across this article.
I generally agree with the points made, and have raised some of them myself.

Anyone care to expand on this, or take the other side?
Well, there are statements of fact which are completely untrue. I'll just take one of them:

"while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth"

Total net worth of Forbes 400: $2 trillion
Total net worth of US: $118 trillion
  #21  
Old 12-10-2013, 11:59 AM
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Is the US becoming a banana republic?


Apparently not.

Quote:
US Banana Production

US banana production is very limited; in 2009, US total banana production reached almost 7,000 mmt, or 0.01% of the total world production, on an estimated 16,000 acres. Hawaii is by far the largest banana producer in the United States, followed by Florida. Banana production in Hawaii has followed a downward trend, from 13,181 mmt in 2000 to 8,090 mmt in 2010.
My bolding.
  #22  
Old 12-10-2013, 12:12 PM
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Wellnow....

yes, this article is pretty crap. It's alarmist, deliberately misleading, and I have no real idea what its goal is. That said, sometimes Chicken Little is on to something. ISTM the real question this (and other polemics like it) is trying to ask is:

"Is the US in decline on the world stage, educationally, economically, and/or militarily?"

(Actually, this article begs the question, but whatever.)

Among the corollary questions would then be:

"Can we stop it?"

"Should we stop it?"

"Is it a bad thing?"


The answer to the first question is arguably "Yes." We had a period of being the biggest kid on the block, but as other kids get bigger the size difference decreases. The US is (again, arguably) less relatively dominant worldwide than in years past.

The answers to the latter questions are far less clear. Other people being as wealthy as I am, or wealthier, doesn't make me less wealthy, though it does remove some of my ability to impose my will. I cannot really see that as a bad thing, individually or as a nation.

Inasmuch as the "decline" of the US involves food insecurity, wealth inequality, poor health, and declining educational outcomes, then yes, it's a really awful thing, and needs to be addressed post-fucking-haste.

But it needs to be addressed with the goal of being better as a society and taking care of our people, and not with the goal of being the biggest baddest nation on earth.
.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andros
The answer to the first question is arguably "Yes." We had a period of being the biggest kid on the block, but as other kids get bigger the size difference decreases. The US is (again, arguably) less relatively dominant worldwide than in years past.
Can you give some examples of the US being in decline on the worlds stage? We are still the biggest kid on the block and will be for the foreseeable future. Countries like China are expending vast effort to even get in the same league, and they don't wield nearly the same power that the US does on the world stage. The entire EU comes close in some aspects, but in others is not even close to our league.

Quote:
The answers to the latter questions are far less clear. Other people being as wealthy as I am, or wealthier, doesn't make me less wealthy, though it does remove some of my ability to impose my will. I cannot really see that as a bad thing, individually or as a nation.
It's a total package. Other countries might be as wealthy as us (on a per capita basis), but that doesn't equate to wielding the same amount of power and influence on the world stage. No one even comes close.

Quote:
Inasmuch as the "decline" of the US involves food insecurity, wealth inequality, poor health, and declining educational outcomes, then yes, it's a really awful thing, and needs to be addressed post-fucking-haste.
Some of these are your personal opinions on what is or isn't important, some I'd need some cites for (we are in decline wrt 'food insecurity'?? We are in decline wrt 'educational outcomes'??). I'm not seeing most of them as being an 'awful thing' that needs to be addressed 'post-fucking-haste' as I think most are chicken little bullshit or a feature not a problem, but I don't see any of them as equating to the US being a banana republic in any way, shape or form...nor indications that we are in decline.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:38 PM
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I read the article. Its author is arguing that income inequality is ruining the overall economy and turning the United States into a third world country.

As others here have noted, income inequality does not a banana republic make. A banana republic is a weak country where outside corporations dictate to the local government. Regardless of how you feel about economic policy in America, I can't see how you can argue it was decided outside of this country.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by El_Kabong View Post
Apparently not.



My bolding.
Where are all the bananas coming from? That's seems to me to be a remarkable low percentage.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:50 PM
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Where are all the bananas coming from? That's seems to me to be a remarkable low percentage.
From wiki:

Quote:
Statistics on the production and export of bananas and plantains are available from the Food and Agriculture Organization. Some countries produce statistics which distinguish between bananas and plantains, but three of the top four producers (India, China and the Philippines) do not, so comparisons can only be made using the total for bananas and plantains combined. The 2011 statistics (see Table 1) show that India led the world in banana production, producing around 20% of the worldwide crop of 145 million metric tonnes. Uganda was the next largest producer with around 8% of the worldwide crop. Its national data does distinguish between bananas and plantains, and shows that the latter made up over 95% of production. Ten countries produced around two thirds of the total world production.[Note 1]
Those ten are:

India
Uganda
China
Philippines
Ecuador
Brazil
Indonesia
Colombia
Cameroon
Tanzania

Last edited by Human Action; 12-10-2013 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:03 PM
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From wiki:



Those ten are:

India
Uganda
China
Philippines
Ecuador
Brazil
Indonesia
Colombia
Cameroon
Tanzania
Figures the Chinese would be passing off crappy plantains as bananas.

Actually, this is eye-opening for me, simply becuase I had been operating on an obviously incorrect assumption that bananas only came from the New World. And that's not even close to being true.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
From wiki:



Those ten are:

India
Uganda
China
Philippines
Ecuador
Brazil
Indonesia
Colombia
Cameroon
Tanzania
Do any of those qualify for Banana Republic status?
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:17 PM
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Do any of those qualify for Banana Republic status?
Aren't they all republics?
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
yerownself.

Quote:
Can you give some examples of the US being in decline on the worlds stage? We are still the biggest kid on the block and will be for the foreseeable future. Countries like China are expending vast effort to even get in the same league, and they don't wield nearly the same power that the US does on the world stage. The entire EU comes close in some aspects, but in others is not even close to our league.
I said "arguably," not "I'm arguing it." Sorry I didn't make that more clear.

But sure, of course the US is still the biggest kid on the block. It is, however, slightly less relatively big. The US is--arguably--not as much bigger as it has been.

:shrug: IMO.

Quote:
It's a total package. Other countries might be as wealthy as us (on a per capita basis), but that doesn't equate to wielding the same amount of power and influence on the world stage. No one even comes close.
Of course not, and again, I sure as hell didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

Quote:
Some of these are your personal opinions on what is or isn't important
Oh my yes. All of them, actually.

Quote:
some I'd need some cites for (we are in decline wrt 'food insecurity'?? We are in decline wrt 'educational outcomes'??). I'm not seeing most of them as being an 'awful thing' that needs to be addressed 'post-fucking-haste' as I think most are chicken little bullshit or a feature not a problem,
I was attempting merely to work within the context of the OP's article. These are the sorts of things the article makes reference to, and they are coincidentally the sorts of things that I a) would like to see improved in my country and b) I believe would make us stronger as a nation in the long run.

I do not, however, argue that these constitute a "decline," which is why I put the word in quotation marks in my previous post. Again, my apologies for being unclear.

Quote:
but I don't see any of them as equating to the US being a banana republic in any way, shape or form...nor indications that we are in decline.
Nope, I never meant in any way to suggest that the US is, or can ever possibly become, a "banana republic." As I said, the article in question is pretty shite on a number of levels.

Last edited by andros; 12-10-2013 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post


Can you give some examples of the US being in decline on the worlds stage? We are still the biggest kid on the block and will be for the foreseeable future. Countries like China are expending vast effort to even get in the same league, and they don't wield nearly the same power that the US does on the world stage. The entire EU comes close in some aspects, but in others is not even close to our league.
What's also interesting is that in some measurements, the US was never ahead, though our rankings in these measurements are supposed to support the idea of "decline". For example, the US was never a top-tier educational society and in the history of international testing has always scored, at best, in the middle.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:51 PM
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First, about the term "banana republic". Here's the Wikipedia definition.

"Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product (ex. Bananas.) It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business, politics, and the military.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions and thereby exploits the country's economy."

Other than the part about being dependent on the export of a single product, I think the rest fairly describes where the US is headed.

World Leadership
As I mentioned upthread, the underlying question I'm interested in exploring, is by what metrics can the US still be considered a world leader.

I find it interesting that many posters equate World Leader with World Power. As I mentioned, there is no argument that the US is the dominant military power today. In my mind, the concept of leadership extends beyond physical coercion.

For example, you can consider quality of life, which has been studied using metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality, job security, gender equality, and others. By these metrics the US does not rank in the top 10.

You could also consider a related metric of
livability.

This measures things like safety, education, health care, public transportation, and others. There are several methods that rank the livability of cities around the world. There is no US city in the Top 10 on any of the rankings. In one ranking, the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, the highest ranking US city is Honolulu at number 28.

You could consider technological leadership, where we once reigned supreme. Now, the fastest supercomputer is produced in
China
.

As an American, I think that the US still has a lot of genuine accomplishments to be proud of. However, I think the majority of these are in the past. I think that it is good to be proud of your country and its accomplishments. What bothers me is thoughtlessly exclaiming "We're Number One" at every turn, with no attempt to base that claim in fact.

So once again, by what metrics can the US claim world leadership? I'm not saying there are none, but which ones can be factually supported?
  #33  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:05 PM
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To the moderator. Can you change the title of this thread to "Is the US still a world leader?"
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
First, about the term "banana republic". Here's the Wikipedia definition.

"Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product (ex. Bananas.) It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business, politics, and the military.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions and thereby exploits the country's economy."

Other than the part about being dependent on the export of a single product, I think the rest fairly describes where the US is headed.
To call the working classes in the United States "impoverished" is not correct. Yes, the working classes clearly are not joining in the prosperity, but "impoverished" has synonyms such as poor, destitute, indigent, etc. You will have to explain why you think the American working class is headed for homelessness, basically.

Quote:
As I mentioned upthread, the underlying question I'm interested in exploring, is by what metrics can the US still be considered a world leader.
The term "world leader" generally means a country that exercises considerable influence on other countries and regions. It is much less common to say that a "world leader" is one which appears on the short list of leading the globe in a lot of different statistical categories. Are you really that concerned that the US isn't in the top 10 of every economic category you care to cherrypick?


Quote:
What bothers me is thoughtlessly exclaiming "We're Number One" at every turn, with no attempt to base that claim in fact.

So once again, by what metrics can the US claim world leadership? I'm not saying there are none, but which ones can be factually supported?
You are chagrined at people who want to chant "we're number one," but you'd like to know why we're not number one in more things? Am I getting this straight?
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:22 PM
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dataguy, the juxtaposition of your post and JohnT's post is ironic. Your argument fails because you fail to prove your point that the U.S. was ever number one in the world in any of these measures. Nor do you ever give any time period for this supposed decline so that we can go back and test the theory.

What's left is your cherrypicking of data. Supercomputers is your claim for our failing technology? Your own link shows that we had the fastest three of the last six years in a category of dubious importance that will change in 2014. You don't bother to mention that software expertise is far more important and that the U.S. is dominant in that or that China has shown severe and damaging inability to innovate sufficiently to dominate in modern technologies.

You want facts? The U.S. is the world's largest economy and the U.S. dollar is the default currency worldwide. The U.S. has the world's largest military and is considered the arbiter of disputes whenever it wishes to involve itself. The U.S. is such a cultural powerhouse that other countries have to pass laws to keep U.S. media from dominating. That is what virtually anyone has to consider the components of a world leader.

Your cherrypicked life quality metrics are internal flaws that have little to nothing to do with world leadership. And they also fail the test of history. The U.S. has always been a diverse society without a total governmental social welfare system in which large pockets of poverty existed. Always. There is nothing new or different about this. It was true throughout any era in which anyone could claim that the U.S. was somehow superior to today.

You don't have a case. You don't have a logical argument. You show no understanding of history. You have no facts to back up your assertions. Your metrics are nonsensical. I'm not impressed.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 12-10-2013 at 02:23 PM.
  #36  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
First, about the term "banana republic". Here's the Wikipedia definition.

"Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product (ex. Bananas.) It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business, politics, and the military.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions and thereby exploits the country's economy."

Other than the part about being dependent on the export of a single product, I think the rest fairly describes where the US is headed.
I know you qualified it with "is headed", but I'm not seeing a large impoverished working class, political instability, or an oligarchy that controls economic production at work in the U.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
World Leadership
As I mentioned upthread, the underlying question I'm interested in exploring, is by what metrics can the US still be considered a world leader.

I find it interesting that many posters equate World Leader with World Power. As I mentioned, there is no argument that the US is the dominant military power today. In my mind, the concept of leadership extends beyond physical coercion.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
For example, you can consider quality of life, which has been studied using metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality, job security, gender equality, and others. By these metrics the [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_Index"]US does not rank in the top 10.
By their nature, these sort of composite ranking are pretty subjective. The people creating the formula have to decide the weight, and thus subjective value, to give to each metric. Is high infant mortality better than low life expectancy? To what degree? Is it better to have job security or gender equality? and so on. Adjust the weights, and you can greatly alter the rankings.

There's also the question of how meaningful being #13 on a list like that is. Does that make life in the U.S. two-thirds as good as life in Ireland? 90% as good? 99%? I mean, Canada clocked it below the U.S., and it's almost universally considered a pretty great place to live.

This same issues crop up when discussing test scores...the U.S. comes in middle-of-the-pack amongst first-world nations, and there's always great gnashing of teeth about it. But coming in 30th in math doesn't mean your students are bad at math, just like finishing 8th in an Olympic sprint doesn't make you slow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
You could also consider a related metric of
livability.

This measures things like safety, education, health care, public transportation, and others. There are several methods that rank the livability of cities around the world. There is no US city in the Top 10 on any of the rankings. In one ranking, the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, the highest ranking US city is Honolulu at number 28.
The same issues apply here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
You could consider technological leadership, where we once reigned supreme. Now, the fastest supercomputer is produced in
China
.
Did we ever "reign supreme", in the sense that the finest innovations invariably came from the U.S. and only the U.S.? How would you measure that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
As an American, I think that the US still has a lot of genuine accomplishments to be proud of. However, I think the majority of these are in the past. I think that it is good to be proud of your country and its accomplishments. What bothers me is thoughtlessly exclaiming "We're Number One" at every turn, with no attempt to base that claim in fact.

So once again, by what metrics can the US claim world leadership? I'm not saying there are none, but which ones can be factually supported?
So, you'd like objective measurements that have the U.S. in the top spot? Two have been pointed out: military strength, and box office receipts.

A third: gross domestic product.

Last edited by Human Action; 12-10-2013 at 02:25 PM.
  #37  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:32 PM
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Too late to edit.

There might have been a few years after WWII when the rest of the world was in shambles when the U.S. ranked high on quality of life. But if that's your baseline then your argument is totally suspect in the first place.
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:37 PM
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Is the US becoming a banana republic?


In addition to the other comments, one of the hallmarks of the "banana republics" was a large nation to the north which regularly interfered in the government of those countries, often with military threats, to protect that large country's economic interests in said countries.

Canada is lagging on that interventionist role vis-à-vis the United States.
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Last edited by Northern Piper; 12-10-2013 at 02:37 PM.
  #39  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
dataguy, the juxtaposition of your post and JohnT's post is ironic. Your argument fails because you fail to prove your point that the U.S. was ever number one in the world in any of these measures. ...
My point is not whether the US has ever been formally ranked number one in any particular category. My query is in what category, today, other than military, which has been conceded in the original post, can the US be considered a leader in objective terms? Box office receipts counts, although if that's all, that's not much.

If you read my previous post, I'm looking for legitimate areas where the US excels TODAY, not years ago.
  #40  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
You are chagrined at people who want to chant "we're number one," but you'd like to know why we're not number one in more things? Am I getting this straight?
No, you're not getting this straight at all.
  #41  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
dataguy, the juxtaposition of your post and JohnT's post is ironic. Your argument fails because you fail to prove your point that the U.S. was ever number one in the world in any of these measures. Nor do you ever give any time period for this supposed decline so that we can go back and test the theory.
And even when I link to metrics that show that the US is clearly #1, I get ignored.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
My point is not whether the US has ever been formally ranked number one in any particular category. My query is in what category, today, other than military, which has been conceded in the original post, can the US be considered a leader in objective terms? Box office receipts counts, although if that's all, that's not much.

If you read my previous post, I'm looking for legitimate areas where the US excels TODAY, not years ago.
But since you asked again...

From quick research, the net worth of the country as defined by the UN shows the US has $118 trillion in human, physical, and natural capital, more than double that of the # 2 country, Japan, with $55 trillion (per capita figures are $385k and $436k, respectively.) China comes in with $20 trillion, or $14k per person.

Therefore, per capita, Chinese assets are about 3.6% of the US's. Were the Chinese to come to US per-capita levels of national net worth, the total net worth of China would be around $525 trillion, and at Japan per-capita levels, close to $600 trillion.

Looking at the report, China increase its national net worth from $12 trillion to $20 trillion from 1990 to 2008, an $8 trillion gain. Impressive, of course. But US national wealth increased from $86 trillion to $118 trillion, a $32 trillion gain in the same period.

In other words, between 1990 and 2008, the US added the equivalent of one-and-a-half 2008-era China's to its balance sheet.

And, since you asked, here are some other comparisons...

The increase in US net worth ($32 trillion) between 1990 and 2008 equals the total 2008 net worth of:

... 5 Australia's
... 4 Brazil's
... 3 Canada's
... 2.5 France's
... 1.5 Germany's
... 5 India's
... .6 Japan's
... 21 Norway's
... 3 Russia's (the only country (that I've noticed) that has lost wealth since 1990)
... 2.5 United Kingdom's

You can download the UN report here.

Last edited by JohnT; 12-10-2013 at 03:00 PM.
  #42  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
For example, you can consider quality of life, which has been studied using metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality, job security, gender equality, and others. By these metrics the US does not rank in the top 10.
Ireland is #1? Well, that's a joke metric then. And note that Canada, France and Germany all rank lower than the US in that metric.

I'll tell you the metric you should look at: Which country has the most people trying to immigrate there. I don't have the data, but I' be shocked if it wasn't the US, or if we weren't at least in the top 5.

Last edited by John Mace; 12-10-2013 at 02:57 PM.
  #43  
Old 12-10-2013, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
My point is not whether the US has ever been formally ranked number one in any particular category. My query is in what category, today, other than military, which has been conceded in the original post, can the US be considered a leader in objective terms? Box office receipts counts, although if that's all, that's not much.
It's a lot if you use it as a proxy for cultural influence.

On to other metrics.

According to this:

Quote:
The United States is the world’s largest market for pharmaceuticals and the world leader in biopharmaceutical research. U.S. firms conduct 80 percent of the world’s research and development in biotechnology and hold the intellectual property rights to most new medicines.
Looking at the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013, I see that American universities have the #1, #2 (tied with a British one), #4, #5, #6, #9, and #10 spots.
  #44  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Ireland is #1? Well, that's a joke metric then. And note that Canada, France and Germany all rank lower than the US in that metric.

I'll tell you the metric you should look at: Which country has the most people trying to immigrate there. I don't have the data, but I' be shocked if it wasn't the US, or if we weren't at least in the top 5.
You are correct, sir. Using OECD data (which has the happy effect of comparing peers, and nations with a lot of immigrants who are war refugees), the U.S. was indeed #1 in average national inflow of immigrants for the period 2001-2010, at 1.05 million per year. Germany was second with 604,000.

This, of course, doesn't include illegal immigrants, who also flock to the U.S.
  #45  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
First, about the term "banana republic". Here's the Wikipedia definition.

"Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product (ex. Bananas.) It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business, politics, and the military.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions and thereby exploits the country's economy."
So...no. We aren't. And we aren't becoming one. Glad we cleared that up. Moving on...

Quote:
World Leadership
As I mentioned upthread, the underlying question I'm interested in exploring, is by what metrics can the US still be considered a world leader.
By just about every metric there is that is used to judge world leadership. Since you seem to concede the military aspect, I guess the other aspects would be cultural and economic. Let me turn it around...what countries do you consider to outstrip the US for world leadership in those categories, and what do you base your assertion on?

Quote:
I find it interesting that many posters equate World Leader with World Power. As I mentioned, there is no argument that the US is the dominant military power today. In my mind, the concept of leadership extends beyond physical coercion.
I find it interesting that instead of addressing those posts you are trying to hand wave it away as Rah Rah! American Number One!!!!!11!1one!!1 type thinking. Perhaps you could actually address what people are saying instead of trying this sort of silly end around.

Quote:
For example, you can consider quality of life, which has been studied using metrics such as life expectancy, infant mortality, job security, gender equality, and others. By these metrics the US does not rank in the top 10.
So what? What has any of this to do with world leadership? When was America EVER number one in those categories? Being a world leader isn't about being number one in certain vertical (and as noted by others cherry picked) categories, it's about dominating in the big 3...economic, cultural and military. It's hard to argue that the US isn't dominate in those since we have the largest economy, our culture permeates throughout the world and our military is the most powerful. This isn't Rah Rah! America! it's reality.

Quote:
This measures things like safety, education, health care, public transportation, and others. There are several methods that rank the livability of cities around the world. There is no US city in the Top 10 on any of the rankings. In one ranking, the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, the highest ranking US city is Honolulu at number 28.
Again, so what? Again, lets turn it around...how are the countries that do rank in your cherry picked top 10 world leaders? Show me why they are, outside of your vertical cherry picked fields. And you might want to consider that the US probably NEVER ranked in the top in those fields in our history...and most likely neither did the old Soviet Union either. Does that mean we never were a dominant world power? Never a world leader?

Quote:
You could consider technological leadership, where we once reigned supreme. Now, the fastest supercomputer is produced in
China.
So, is it your contention that China is the dominant world leader now?

Quote:
So once again, by what metrics can the US claim world leadership? I'm not saying there are none, but which ones can be factually supported?
Politically, we dominate. The alliances we belong to are the most powerful world wide. The UN resides in the US. Economically we have the largest single economy in the world. Every country of any economic status is our trading partner, and many countries are dependent on their trade with the US. Powerful nations and their corporations build factories in the US and use US labor to better serve their primary (or secondary) markets. Militarily we are absolutely dominant, especially coupled to the military alliances we belong to have have large influence with, and no country is in our league. Culturally we are, again, dominant, with our own culture permeating the world. There are very few places you can go to on the planet where they don't know what a Coke is, or McDonald's, or the latest Hollywood film. I've seen kids wearing tee shirts with US products on them in remote villages in central and south America, as well as in some Middle Eastern countries, and in a lot of them they know at least something about the US. They follow our news, they follow our gossip, they watch or at least know about our scandals and our TV and entertainment media, and they follow our elections to a certain extent. Decisions made in the US often have global impacts. THAT'S what it means to be a world leader in realistic, real world terms. At this time no other country comes close.

None of this means that the US is the best place to live, or that our culture is the greatest (except the the extent that it's so pervasive world wide compared to other countries), or that we walk on water and have no problems or issues or always do the right thing. There are probably a lot of countries that have better health care, that have better programs for the poor or aging, that have better social programs or better quality of life or whatever other cherry picked stat you want to hang things on. None of them have anything to do with the US being a world leader though, and none of them have squat to do with the US supposedly being a banana republic or declining.
  #46  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:05 PM
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In re: to the above...

By "physical capital", I mean buildings, roads, houses, etc. By "natural" capital, that means oil fields, forests, etc.
  #47  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Ireland is #1? Well, that's a joke metric then. And note that Canada, France and Germany all rank lower than the US in that metric.

I'll tell you the metric you should look at: Which country has the most people trying to immigrate there. I don't have the data, but I' be shocked if it wasn't the US, or if we weren't at least in the top 5.
Well, that's a metric whose meaning is open to interpretation. But in raw numbers, sure, it may be that the US is the worlds number one immigration target. Again, not sure what that would mean (where are they coming from, what's better here than where they are, etc...)

So far just about everything mentioned as an area of US excellence falls in two categories: Military and GDP, which are surely related.

These seem to be the only two dimensions that matter here: We have the most guns and we have the most money.
  #48  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
Well, that's a metric whose meaning is open to interpretation. But in raw numbers, sure, it may be that the US is the worlds number one immigration target. Again, not sure what that would mean (where are they coming from, what's better here than where they are, etc...)
It means people want to live here, and we let them. Others want to live here, and we don't let them, nor do we try very hard to stop them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
So far just about everything mentioned as an area of US excellence falls in two categories: Military and GDP, which are surely related.
Not as much as you'd think, look at the % of GDP column on this chart. Japan is quite wealthy, for instance, but spends just 1% of GDP on its military. It's a choice, not a natural outcome of being wealthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy
These seem to be the only two dimensions that matter here: We have the most guns and we have the most money.
And technological innovation, particularly in a few select fields, and our culture is incredibly widespread.

What metrics are you thinking of that the U.S. is so bad at?


ETA: And we do literally have the most guns.

Last edited by Human Action; 12-10-2013 at 03:18 PM.
  #49  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:18 PM
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Dataguy,

What do you want out of this discussion? You ask if the US is or will be a banana republic which is at best hyperbole. It isn't.

Now, what do you want? You seem to be trying to find an indirect way to engage in venting/axe grinding about something. but you're trying to find a clever way of doing it indirectly. Unfortunately, you are not succeeding. Why don't you just do it directly and without hyperbole instead of asking if the US is becoming a banana republic?
  #50  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:26 PM
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Here's more:

The U.S. is number one in new books published per year.

The U.S. is number one in vehicles per capita, excluding San Marino and Monaco.

The U.S. is number one in corn, sorghum, soybean, almond, strawberry, and blueberry production.
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