America is a great human idea locked in a boss battle with the worst human instincts. A truly free society where everyone has an equal shot at happiness vs a culture of greed. That’s the battleground.
We’ve always been a lab experiment of a country. On the one hand, we’re a great idea. On the other, we’re the great idea botched in its execution.
Cutting A Deal With Slavery
Our founders embraced the soaring ideals of the French Enlightenment. But they couldn’t escape thinking that thinking such thoughts made them better than everyone who wasn’t them. So, enlightened as they were, they cut a deal with slavery and excluded women from stakeholdership. They made the country they founded dynamic. New generations of Americans could change our Constitution. But, they made change hard – not so as to defend their great idea, but as an accommodation to greed.
Slavery at its core is stolen labor. That’s the whole point of having a slave. They work for free. The slaveholder will have to pay for the slave’s clothing, food and shelter – the costs of doing business – but, so long as the value of the slave’s work product exceeds the maintenance costs, slavery is profitable.
The American South had three main agricultural products: tobacco, sugar cane and cotton. All three require massive amounts of labor to produce and get to the marketplace. Slavery eliminates most of labor’s cost. Its profitability is now an efficiency!
Human beings don’t think like this but greedy people do.
Here Come The Europeans!
In our founders’ defense, America was always a commercial venture first. The Vikings were the first Europeans to explore North America but they saw no long term future here. Columbus – like all the European explorers – were salesmen above all. They weren’t going anywhere without money. The only way to get money was to promise the money there’d be more money.
Gold in them thar hills.
The Europeans – the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Flemish (eventually Belgians), the French and the English – packed a culture of greed along with all their other supplies before setting sail.
But, a great idea wins out in the end. And America is a great idea. It’s an exceptional idea in fact.
A Nation Of Nations
Europeans weren’t the only ones who saw opportunity on this continent. Once European pathogens had wiped out most of the Americas’ native populations, the rest of the world really did step onto a (more or less) “blank canvas”.
America is the first ever nation of nations. That is what makes America exceptional. That’s why America can and will solve its problems eventually. We’ve got the brainpower no other country has. Literally. It’s our secret sauce.
The only thing standing between us and the true greatness of our founding idea? That culture of greed.
Photo 2752845 / Greed © Catzovescu | Dreamstime.com
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