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Globalism and the Culture of American Consumption
The United States has long been a world leader on many fronts. The presidential administration of Theodore Roosevelt may have been the first to declare openly that Americans wanted to show that they were a global power, but the U.S. had long had interest in global politics. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, America fought land and sea battles in the Mediterranean against the Barbary pirates (Sassen 216). The Marine Hymn which talks of "the shores of Tripoli" is dedicated to that conflict in which U.S. Marines first fought on foreign soil. An intrepid spirit has caused the free men and women of America to create innovations in business, finance, war, agriculture, and other industries that have been the envy of the rest of the world. This has produced a certain amount of arrogance among the people and leaders of the nation that has led America to also be the largest consuming nation in the world (Friedman 37). While this may not seem like an issue, it has contributed to a view from many people around the world that the people of the United States are indeed both unnaturally arrogant and take too much of the world's goods. For a country which only contains approximately 4.5% of the world's population, Americans consume more than any other nation by far. It is the conjecture of this essay that America's culture of consumption is the driving force behind the degradation of democracy and anti-American sentiment overseas.
The United States may not have founded the idea of democracy, but the founding fathers were instrumental in taking the ideas of Locke and Hume and pressing them into a workable frame. The founders took what others had thought for millennia, and they formed a government that was true to the principles of a government for the people. They showed, through the Constitution, what a country could be and they used their representative republic to allow freedom for any who wanted to take it.
Unfortunately, the current citizens of the United States have lost much of what the founders intended (Friedman 121). And this is not the fault of one particular ideology or political party. The people in America have always been a diverse lot; allowing people who were born in other lands to share this one. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated with the principle of a nation that gives refuge to those who could find none where they came from. The idea of freedom is an infectious one which many tired and poor want to partake in.
This country was founded on a new type of democracy which allowed every citizen to have a say in the business of the nation. Of course, this was not a true statement until almost two hundred years had passed and several wars, both aggressive and passive, had been conducted to give every person, over the age of 18, a right to vote in the country's elections. The citizens of the United States were a beacon to the rest of the world, and though sometimes envied, they were respected because of the political system and America's true desire to succor those who could not otherwise help themselves. Unfortunately, the democracy that was envisioned by the founding fathers has been corrupted because the people of the U.S. have lost their sense of proportion (Friedman 87).
The United States has long been the nation which provides more food and services for the entire world than any other nation (Norberg 12). It is difficult to name a product that was not in some way influenced by American innovation. But, a country that once led the world in manufacturing now has shipped most of its manufacturing jobs overseas. A country which was once frugal in their investments and learned the difficult lessons of greed has again become greedy.
Consumption is the right of the American people some would argue because the United States also enjoys the world's largest gross domestic product (GDP). People in the U.S. work a longer week than any other industrialized nation and they have produced more also. Production is still high among the companies in the U.S. which produce goods, but many of those goods are being made in foreign lands (Fotopolous). The money that Americans make is often on the backs of smaller countries which produce the goods at a much cheaper price.
Consumption is all about commercialism. Advertisements…[continue]
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