We have all heard, I am sure, some enthusiastic mantras of praise for the United States of America; expressions of affection that are normally reserved for lovers or little children are extended with unwavering confidence to a nation of 300 million and no time of year is more prone to these tributes than the 4th of July, the day set aside to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, an act that took place a couple centuries and one day earlier.
Do you realize that was all one sentence? Yay for me.
Anyway, FCN hates to be left out of the fun, but we feel that single-minded praise of the USA is nation centric, selfish and egotistical and we therefore craft our 4th of July Tribute with a focus on other countries. America might be the greatest nation on earth, but that doesn't mean we do everything the best. In fact, if you take apart many of the things that make America “great” we find that other nations may have a better claim to “best.” Take a look at the following examples...
America's founding documents say that the dark beauty of the mind of every man, woman and monkey should be pasted for all to see on every newspaper, wall and museum. The result is personal ads, graffiti and the taxpayer funded “artwork” like the unclothed mannequin squatting on the raw chicken. How much more American can you get?
Perhaps the biggest flaw in our speech laws is that websites like Funny Class Notes are allowed to continue sans sanction or punishment. Regular citizens who make fun of elected leaders and deride the policies of our government are not shut down or even punished. Complete fabrications are allowed unaltered and dry comedy that isn't funny or even inspiring is published anyway. In fact, the White House has been known to give press passes to bloggers and encourage independent journalism by issuing press releases to the pajama media.
A better approach to speech regulation is embodied in China's “One-Word” policy. If one word is out of line, there is no limit to the excruciating pain the government has license to level against you. The flag of China is as red as the blood that runs in the citizens' veins and an acknowledgment of that and subsequent regulation to preserve the serenity and tranquility of Chinese life justifies speech controls.
Quite frankly, we need to be protected from ourselves. When we talk, we use the weapon of James, a terrible tool that can cut down friends, families, and even governments, the most sacred institution of all. A standard that no law can restrict speech is wholly at odds with the realities of today.
Wake up, America; China's got it figured out!
For some biological reason, America has it in its thick scull that the only people who can marry are men and women and they can only marry people of opposite genders in units of one. While this policy isn't codified nationally, almost every state has a marriage standard that destroys any chance of turning the love of man and monkey into a legally recognized spousal relationship. Tragic.
In the Netherlands, anyone can get a “Geregistreerd Partnerschap.” Well, more specifically, any quantity of anything and/or anyone can go before the altar (or bookshelf for all the law cares) and lynch the knot. These Partnerschaps can include two or even three partners of any gender background or identity. (Due to a lobbying effort on the part of the canine community, the law currently prohibits unions of four, but the Dutch parliament is working to resolve that and full freedom of spousal interaction is on the horizon).
For a nation that promotes freedom at every turn and prides itself in being the land of opportunity, America sure does limit its citizens' ability to hook up creatively. We allow free speech to run rampant but restrict marriage to the most narrow minded definition. Maybe we can learn something from our Dutch brothers and sisters (and barnyard animals).
The Netherlands are, indeed, the land of the three, home of the brave. America needs to leave behind the antiquated views of marriage and adopt a more progressive view that includes, well, everything.
Wake up, America; the Dutch have it figured out!
Turning our attention briefly to the somewhat dry – but always crispy – topic of finances, our monetary policy is hoisted (that means it's bad). Our inflation rate is so low and uninteresting, most of you probably couldn't even cite it. In fact, the last time anyone in your family worried about inflation was when your daddy was in diapers. The dollar is just too stable.
In Zimbabwe, a country that wins the award for the best name, inflation hovers around 5,000%. That means that in Zimbabwe money is like a car: It loses most of its value the moment it leaves the mint. But there are some awesome things about having an super high inflation rate. For instance, the currency is printed with an expiration date like milk or yogurt and businesses are not legally obligated to accept old bills as legal tender. This means that immediately before money is about to expire, the economy is boosted with a huge injection of activity, helping keep one of the poorest nations in the world afloat.
If America printed bills with an expiration date, greenbacks would find their way out of mattresses and into the hands of Wal-Mart cash registers, thus helping both the American and Chinese economies. An expiration date is a brilliant way to stimulate economic growth, throw the American consumer for a loop and give Ben Bernanke something to talk about.
Wake up, America; Zimbabwe has got it figured out!
Somewhere along history's timeline, America picked up a perspective on gender relations that promises equal treatment and the same rights for men and women. That's all fine and dandy in a political sense, but in the real world, where only the strong survive and the weak must wear headscarves for protection, a different perspective is appropriate.
Iran, the land of the great Imams, which gave the world camels and burritos, takes a more Darwinian approach to gender equity. Women are given all their rights by men. As three teenage guys living in America, we think that's pretty cool. Not everything about Iran is that awesome. We can do without the noontime wailing and the bed spreads that pass as casual wear, but the idea of subservient women is attractive. Guys, imagine being able to silence any female with a snap of the fingers. Heck yeah.
Instead of enslaving our female population, America has granted the fairer sex suffrage, land ownership rights and drivers licenses. Women are put as equals to men in government and business and are given the choice to work wherever they want, as corporate executives, small business owners or even mothers.
The day of the liberated woman is over. Iran has recognized this and recaptured the women that were never set free. What a picture!
Wake up America; Iran has got it figured out!
That's our tribute. Hopefully we've provided more evidence in favor of free speech restrictions. We've looked at four countries from five continents to find just a few examples of where the greatest nation on ever is behind the curve. Sorry to rain on the “America is awesome" party. Maybe next year we can celebrate reforms that bring us closer to having an unbeatably great country. Until then, we can continue to suffer - as is FCN's habit - under mediocrity.