Someone recently posed these questions to me: “Jack, isn’t there some way you could say America is the greatest nation on earth? I mean, look at all we’ve done! Isn’t that greatness, after all?” Now, these are valid questions. America has accomplished some rather remarkable things, but they’re not quite the same things the government-approved school history textbooks tell us. Therefore, allow me to explain.
1.) Up The Revolution: The American Revolution, as we all know, made America safe from British puddings and Earl Grey tea. It also confirmed apple pie, mom, and not-yet-invented Chevrolets as the ne plus ultra of Americana. Quite a number of people who fought for this newer, allegedly king-free nation, thought “No taxation without representation” meant “no taxation”. Hence, after the Revolution was won with the help of the French, the fledgling U.S. Army had to step in and put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Therefore, yes Virginia, there is a pay taxes clause.
2.) Manifest Destiny: America is rather uncomfortable with this one since it is the Pops Warner version of genocide. The deal with this is the people already living on land the government needed other people to settle upon and pay taxes were then shot or starved into submission. Or, as my mother’s people, put on a death march to Oklahoma which didn’t have any truck stops along the way back then. Once the government had garnered the land and established open air concentration camps called “Indian Reservations”, they could move on to bigger projects as will be described next.
3.) Transcontinental Railroad: This was not two railroads in a race to complete a railroad so America could gloat over it to Europe. This was two railroads in a race to garner government subsidies for laying track. Therefore, the railroads had to import labor they could afford to be sacrificed such as the Irish and Chinese. Railroad passes could be chiseled out by hand using Chinese laborers hung in wicker baskets over the cliff face. If the rope broke and they fell to their deaths, oh well, we’ve got that government subsidy to worry about right now. Once completed, the government could then work on populating the space in between the East and California which it had won in an illegal war of aggression against Mexico. That way, tax revenue could increase for everyone, including corrupt local and territorial governments the federal government appointed.
4.) Panama Canal: America likes to think Teddy Roosevelt dug this ditch by himself with his Big Stick. America likes to think in this way, which was another aspect of the Space Race later. Now, the French had tried this beforehand and given up, having lost several thousands of men to malaria and yellow fever. America likes to think we were made of sterner stuff than the French since we were not big on soft cheeses at the time. The truth was, the government had one of their public health agencies go in and discover that these diseases were caused by mosquitoes which could be controlled by draining standing water and using mosquito netting. This is how the canal was dug and completed by the government. Unfortunately, the government was reluctant in sharing what it learned about these diseases with others and many more died in years to come.
5.) World War Two: America likes to think it won this war with the British and French armies tied behind its back. In truth, if the Soviets had not been in the war, the United States would have had to use a much-favored modern solution to gaining a victory that we call a cease-fire. The United States government foresaw the value in helping the Soviet Union become a military and industrial superpower not just to help defeat the Germans, but to become the new enemy after the war. Thus, gargantuan military spending could continue into the future after the Germans were defeated, which they knew could be accomplished thanks to Soviet human wave assaults on a weakened German army. Another blessing was the development of nuclear weapons with the Japanese unintentionally providing two wonderful proving grounds to learn the effects of these weapons on inhabited cities. The government had discovered at last the most cost-effective solution to wiping out a population, which was a vast improvement over bogus treaties, starvation, death marches, and reservations.
6.) The Cold War: We were not defending the world’s freedom. We were protecting the United States government. Which is why they thoughtfully installed underground bunkers they could all hide in should a nuclear war actually be started by them. This cost billions of dollars, but this was a drop in the bucket compared to other concrete-lined gopher holes built for Atlases, Titans, Minutemen, and MXs. These are not the names of Greek gods, American patriots, and two random capital initials. These were intercontinental ballistic missiles. No one knows how much money the government actually spent on all the nifty weapons they bought during the Cold War. Instead, they worried about the funding to mint the Bicentennial quarter. The government figured the new Minuteman 3 ICBM was already obsolete a few days after being installed in our grain belt. Therefore, they spent tens of billions of dollars on the MX. Later, the government in its infinite wisdom, scrapped the MX as obsolete and kept the Minuteman 3. It was this new thinking that defeated the Soviets in the Cold War since they could not compete with the United States government in the Incompetence Race and never could close the Idiot Gap with our presidents. There are still Bicentennial quarters in circulation, too.
7.) The Space Race: This was not boldly going where no man has gone before, though the government can also say it has done that. No man has boldly spent what the United States government did to have a couple guys ride an intercontinental ballistic missile into outer space. In most places, this would be called thrill-seeking or a death wish. People looked on with awe when Evel Knievel jumped Snake River Canyon in a modified rocket. But this was after United States astronauts had already done this several times jumping Cape Canaveral into outer space. This was done to demonstrate to the Soviets our missiles were bigger and could go further for a lot longer than their limp, well, you know what I mean. This cost billions of dollars and the benefit to the American people is a ball point pen that can write in zero gravity and, according to legend, Tang orange breakfast drink. I did happen to see an actual moon rock at a museum and am happy to report it looks like Styrofoam.
8.) The Space Shuttle: This behemoth cost untold billions of dollars and the ones that did not explode leaving the Earth or break apart upon re-entry are now housed in museums with other obsolete military aircraft that the taxpayers were convinced were vital to the nation to acquire. What the Space Shuttle accomplished besides proving tomatoes could be grown in outer space and spiders don’t spin good webs in zero gravity remains a mystery. More than likely, it was a nifty cover to install classified military satellites and make it look like golly-gosh science to discover a cure for Restless Leg Syndrome, Frequent Urination Syndrome, and cellophane wrap that doesn’t stick to the roll. It also provided President Ronald Reagan with a speech that is quoted often on the internet by people that were in diapers when he was president.
There, that takes us into the modern era with such American philosophies as pizza delivery in thirty minutes or less or it’s free. Which, by the way, was the motto behind the delivery of a nuclear weapon to the former USSR.