Hi Ambassador Pony. There have not, in my view, been many systems of government in history, that have allowed the "little guy" to find his own happiness in what ever pursuit would come to his mind. A person may have no royal blood, but being diligent, saving his money, and amassing some wealth, he might find some measure of contentment in his life. Through recorded history, not many of the peasant class could do that. They could own nothing for themselves. The rich land owners, or the Supreme Leader (dictator oligarch), by what ever name they went under, lorded it over the serfs. If you were not of the privileged class, your life could be changed in a drastic manner with out any input from you.
Not really. I'll leave it to someone else to discuss the history of serfdom in Europe.
But as far as things went in the Americas, you need to keep in mind a few things, the first being that when this country was founded, we had this institution called slavery. These little guys and gals didn't get to find their own happiness or whatever. They got to give their labor to their respective masters. Their lives were not their own. And once this institution was formally ended, it was soon followed up with over a century of all manner of violent oppression against them. With this in mind, I found this bit from you to be kind of funny:
Where else in the world are people risking their very lives to get to? Not from here to Cuba or North Korea.
For a good part of this country's history, there were folks risking their lives to get out of this country. The last stop on the underground railroad for a lot of folks was, after all, Canada.
The other thing you should keep in mind is that this up from your bootstraps immigrant story has always been a fiction in a lot of ways:
In America an alien could jump through the proper hoops and over the hurdles the Immigration office puts in his way, begin to work, live way below his means, save as much as possible, and become financially well off after some years. He came here to do that because he could not do it where he came from. If you ask these kind of immigrants about America, they would drop and kiss the ground, before they gush about how great it is here.
that you can come roaring onto our shores and come up from nothing and become an enormous success or at least solidly middle class. It's also possible that you might find yourself in an economically depressed community with few opportunities. You may find that the schools you send your children to are inadequate or even dangerous. You might find that your neighborhood itself can be dangerous, and that law enforcement can be hostile towards you and your new community. You might even be shot 41 times because the police thought your wallet was a gun. And your family could be comforted by the fact that your mayor didn't feel the need to attend your funeral because the police had done nothing wrong.
I mean it's great to think everyone that gets off the boat is going to live out a Horatio Alger story or whatever but it's not as if things were just peachy keen for everyone who came here. I mean, if we harken back to the years in which a lot of people's families actually came to this country, it's not as if things were so amazing here. I mean, if your wife or daughter died in a fire because her employer locked everyone in on the floor of the sweat shop, I don't think you would be kissing the ground thanking your god that you made it here. If you were a miner being payed in company scrip, I doubt you'd be saying "only in America." And if you found yourself beaten back by police or hired goons while you were organizing to improve your working conditions, you might be a bit less inclined to talk about the unique greatness of America.
Don't get me wrong, there were definitely success stories here. And there are indeed people that will absolutely gush about how great this country is. I know some of them. And our standard of living has been, more or less, improving as we've gone along. (Along with a lot of other places.) But I just can't stand this "America, ain't she grand" narrative that conventiently sweeps under the rug our racial and ethnic problems, our labor problems, our gender inequities, etc. And I have an especially hard time with this kind of talk when it's used to highlight the unique greatness of a country that's committed terrible atrocities at home and abroad. I mean, a lot of people that came to this country as refugees, became refugees as a result of our actions. Nah, son.
Another reason I find this to be a bad way of looking at things is that we're not the only country people go to when they're seeking better opportunities:
People from Africa risk theirs daily trying to cross the Mediterranean sea in makeshift rafts. People from impoverished 3rd world countries will always risk everything to get into the nearest 1st world country wherever that might be. It's a global problem not just America's.
Exactly. And this is also why I tend to roll my eyes at this "jump through the proper hoops" business. As much as I'd like people to respect our laws or whatever, I have a hard time coming down on people for jumping the line so to speak. We have poverty here. But that's first world poverty. Third world poverty is another beast entirely. And as violent as some of our neighborhoods can be, they're not warzones. I really have a hard time faulting people for doing whatever they can to escape that, legal or illegal. And it's really easy to talk about how we need to enforce the law and send the illegals packing until you actually deal with undocumented families on a human level. I've seen children just shut down emotionally when one of their parents were deported. It's tragic. I'm not sure what the solution is. But it can't be that.
Also, on the subject of blackness:
may suprize you, but it is not because he is black. He is less black than many a mixed parentage person is. He was raised by white folks in affluent places and went to some of the best schools money or influence could buy.
This type of thinking INFURIATES me. Obama is no less black than any other black person. There is no perfect paradigm of blackness. And nah, being mixed race doesn't really make you less black. Race is largely a social construct--one that you don't always get to opt out of because one of your parents is white. And nah, being raised by white people doesn't make you less black. Being raised in a wealthy area doesn't make you less black. Going to a good school doesn't make you less black. Blackness is what black people do. And some black people live in nice areas and go to good schools. Some black people even work at the highest levels of government. Some black people don't. I'm sure there are some that conform to whatever essentialized version of blackness you have in your mind.
I don't think that you're a racist for writing things like this, but please know that you are tip toeing up to the line.
Finally, on the subject of conservatives of color:
Bobbie Jindal is not white and I like him. Col. West is black and I would support him. Niccki Halley is a "person of color" as well. Marco Rubio is Cuban. There you go, I support people of backgrounds that take us all over the globe.
Allen West? Really? Why? That dude's a nutjob.
Actually one more little jab:
FDR needed a world war to extract him from the depression, it was not the goofy spending programs he instituted.
Right. WW2 was a massive stimulus program. The government ran up huge deficits to carry out a war, and in doing so employed people that would have otherwise been unemployed.