How did America became such a rich and powerful country …

Mudassir Ali
Apr 15, 2020 08:15 AM 0 Answers
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How did America became such a rich and powerful country in the first place? What really made America what it is today?

Mudassir Ali
- Apr 15, 2020 08:16 AM

Originally Answered: How did America became such a rich and powerful country in the first place?
Natural resources? Taking land from natives? No, no, no. The sole reason for success was and is the culture of the people who settled here.

America was settled in the 1600s by English colonists. There were several things that made them successful, which we have inherited.

First, the rule of law. This is more important than democracy or representative government. This means that people are subject to the law, not to kings or rulers. You have to have a law abiding culture, where people make and keep the rules that they make for themselves in order to have order. This is the basis of civilization.

Consider the legend of King Arthur. His main achievement, according to the novel The Once and Future King by TH White, is to establish a society where law and order reign above force. He abolished the system where “Might is Right”. Societies ruled by force lack cohesiveness and purpose.

Second, property rights. A society ruled by law protects property. According to renowned economist Hernando de Soto, property rights were the secret to America’s success, and is also the reason that poor countries remain poor today. When people own things, they take care of them. When they have the protection of the government if someone tries to take their property, then they work very hard to earn because they know they can get ahead.

In most societies throughout the history of the world, military men and rulers took things from poor people all the time. Why would you work hard, invest, and give your all if it could be taken from you?

On a similar note, not long after the American government was founded, the patent office was created. Intellectual property like patents, copyrights, and royalties make it so that people can profit from their creations. Our professional class of actors, artists, writers and musicians wouldn’t exist without intellectual property. There’s a reason that America is home to Hollywood and the Silicon Valley. Our tradition of legal protection for creative activity and invention incentivizes people to unleash their energies and talents.

Furthermore if you can own something, you can sell it. So the basis of all business activity is rooted in the concept of ownership. If you can’t own a piece of land, then why farm it? Why come up with new and innovative cultivation technique? If you can’t own a house, why take care of it?

Third, Protestantism. Others have mentioned “the Protestant work ethic.” It has been said best in the words of theologian John Wesley, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Work, or productive labor, was looked upon as a righteous endeavor and a holy calling. The Bible says that man shall live by the sweat of his brow.

Also Protestantism encouraged reading the Bible and other books. English Protestants have always been a bookish people, and so intellectual inquiry and innovation have always flourished. This is not a culture that demeans wealth and it’s pursuit. Rather, that wealth should not be used for excess or luxury, but for righteous endeavors, such as helping the poor, building God’s kingdom, intellectual and creative pursuits, and other righteous practices.

Other religions, like Catholicism and Islam, didn’t have these attitudes towards work. In fact farming and business were looked down on in Spain and France until the 1800s. But in the English colonies, they were considered with respect. And the Catholicism and Islam of that time period also suppressed intellectual inquiry and innovative thinking.

Fourth, as has been mentioned here already, unity. The 13 original colonies were split among various cultural group. These various cultural groups include the Yankees from New England, the Quakers and other “Midlanders” from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, Southerner tidewater planters in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, and the Deep South slave lords of South Carolina and Georgia. (New York City has always been a city-state with it’s own culture too.)

Each of these different regions were settled by people from different parts of England. They had their own accents, diets, marital and dating customs, churches, and ways of dressing. They were different English cultures. Nevertheless they came together to form a national government, and became a united people. Hence our motto, “e pluribus unum.” It’s Latin for, “From many, one.”

By contrast, Mexico was a huge country stretching from Northern Mexico to Panama when it was first created. But then after constant strife and conflict the various Central American countries split off from it. For much of Mexico’s history it has been rocked by civil wars. Argentina and Colombia also were initially large countries that split off into smaller ones because of division and strife.

China has been such a mighty country for so long because it was able to overcome the civil wars and internal strife that plague most other civilizations. Unity is indeed power.

Fifth, Equality. I don’t mean income equality, but rather equality before the law and equality of opportunity. We never had a king or a nobility. Every man could always own property, rise up in society, and be master of his own destiny.

Sixth, A stable currency. Again, if you look at the Latin American countries, you see that money problems destabilized their governments and eroded the wealth of the people. We owe much to the genius of Alexander Hamilton in establishing the credit of the United States, a thing which many post colonial governments were not successful in doing. Since the Constitution was ratified, we’ve never had hyper inflation.

Our country is not perfect, but this foundation helped us create a large and wealthy country.

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