Today is the 4th of July, American Independence Day. And there isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t have a strong opinion about The Land of Milk and Money – everything from the last bastion of liberty to the first convulsions of a dying giant. However, today is not the day for that debate, and as much as contemporary passions don’t concern themselves with facts, unfortunately, to quote John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things” – they just won’t go away.
So, yes, there is a lot wrong with the world’s oldest surviving democracy, but here are just a very few “facts” that seldom get a mention these days.
There are more museums, art galleries and live theatres in the United States than in any other nation in the world.
The US has more public libraries (read: free) than the rest of the world combined.
There are 3 times as many teachers in America as there are police officers.
And, unlike most places on this planet, on average, university professors in America earn more than Army generals.
Those professors work at American universities which spend mega-money on research. There is more medical and scientific research conducted in the United States than in any other country.
In fact, in 2018, the top 10 US schools alone spent over 11 billion dollars studying everything from laser surgery to micro agriculture. And here’s the best part. Nearly 90% of that research is available to the world – for free. All you have to do is ask.
Meanwhile, there are nearly 2 million registered volunteer agencies in America (and that doesn’t include all the ad hoc local groups, who run bake sales, sell raffle tickets, plant community gardens, visit seniors, etc., etc., etc.) In all, over 70 million Americans do some kind of recognized volunteer work every year. That’s nearly 20% of the population – far more than in any other country in the world.
In 2015, the top ten charities in America raised and distributed over $26 billion dollars. That’s more than the next three most generous nations (New Zealand, Canada and the UK) combined.
And not to be out done, American corporations, the capitalist bogeyman of sophomores everywhere, contributed more money, material and in- kind work hours to charity than any other country.
In all, it’s estimated that Americans donate 258 billion dollars — that’s $258,000,000,000.00 — to charities (domestic and foreign) every year.
Plus, in 2016, the United States paid 10 billion of the roughly 50 billion dollar United Nations operating budget. That kind of money goes a long way to keeping IFAD, ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF and UN Women going. By contrast, China, the world largest nation, paid $1.3 billion and Vladimir Putin’s Russia paid a measly $562 million.
And every year, the US government gives – GIVES – over $30 billion in non-military foreign aid to countries around the world. FYI, nearly one billion of that goes to free vaccinations for children. That’s free money, folks — courtesy of the American taxpayer. It comes from the woman who drives the truck. The guy with 3 kids in school. The barista working the night shift. The recent college graduate with 2 part-time jobs, a useless boyfriend and a student loan. It comes from the architect, the nurse, the butcher, the baker and even the candlestick maker. It comes from the millions of Americans who never show up on the news.
Over the last 244 years, since John Hancock and the boys signed the Declaration of Independence, US presidents, policies and perceptions have changed many times. However, ordinary Americans have always maintained a remarkable ability to cope, an incredible desire to help — at home and around the world — and an extraordinary willingness to share their good fortune.
Happy Birthday, America!