USA is an amazing country. But it would be way more awesome if:

-it did not spend half of what the whole world together spends in the military.

-it did not have lawyers who leech on business with a “tort tax” adding unnecessary costs to the economy in medicine, patents and tons of other fields.

-it did not spend twice as much as Europe in health care per person leaving many in precarious conditions and ending up with the average American living 3 years less than the average European.

-it regulated guns.

-it educated more and incarcerated less.

-it reduced the environmental footprint and calorie intake per person.

-Americans learn to live within their means (not from the savings of foreigners).

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A Spaniard living in the U.S. on August 22, 2011  · 

I wonder if the U.S. spent less on the military NATO would be as effective as it is at getting rid of tyrants such as Gadaffi. The U.S. military allows the West to stand against an increasingly assertive China, nuclear-armed countries such as NK and Pakistan, and unstable and authoritative middle-east countries. R. Gates has already said that the U.S. would happy to foot a smaller part of NATO’s bill, but Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) needs to show a more real commitment to the alliance. Last but not least, you also have to keep in mind that a large part of the money spent on the military goes back to the economy and yes, it yields large gains in research and technology. Surely the line has to be drawn somewhere, but I don’t think it’s as clear as people often pretend.

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Elliott Block on August 23, 2011  · 

Agree completely with A Spaniard Living in the US. The US military expense is large because European countries have refused for decades to shoulder their fair share of the cost of maintaining peace and democracy in the world. It is military & space exploration technology that has resulted in miniaturization of electronics and, of course, the development of the internet. The US push to smaller electronics goes back to the 1960s space race where the Soviets had more powerful rockets, so the US built lighter payloads. Obama has made a huge strategic mistake in shutting down the US space shuttle program without any public discussion. In the short term it reduced employment drastically in Florida which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the US, but the long term scientific advances that will not be developed & spun off is of greater significance.

Agree with Martin & Shakespeare on lawyers.

The US market for pharmaceuticals is the largest in the world & the $ received from it has funded the R&D [whether in the US or ex-US] that produced the modern medicines that the rest of the world takes advantage of. Wealthy individuals still fly to the US for treatment when they need advanced treatment. US average life span has little to do with cost of drugs that only represent ~6-8% of health care expense. It is more affected by 1) poor health care services to 10% of the population being illegal aliens that are largely out of health care preventive systems but are included in death statistics, and 2) huge [pardon the pun] obese population that results in diabetes and all its medical complications.

Reasonable levels of debt where the debtor can make payments regularly has built home ownership in the US to over 65%. Major corporations as well as start-ups need financing to grow their businesses. You can’t malign a system because of abuses of it.

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