Thursday, May 3, 2007

A thought on Anti-Americanism

News today from Iraq. Lawmakers in the fledgling government's parlement are considering taking two full months off this summer. Yes, at the very momment when the future of their country hangs in the balance, a summer off. Wow. This news got me thinking about the protestant work ethic which combined with capitalist incentive made America the greatest country in the world. Even in its fattened and more lazy maturity, America works hard. Most of us who choose to have a job or build a company or become a professional think nothing of a 60 hour work week. Lots and lots of American work their tails off. Lots of Americans become affluent by applying themselves. Yes, there is old money and there are plenty of lay-abouts, but upward mobility in America is tangable and enticing.

This capitalist work ethic is hard to find in much of the world until you get to the far East. In most of the worlds countries your wealth and station in society is much less connected to one's personal productivity; it is much more likely connected to family, graft, corruption, theft and thuggery. When America is viewed from these countries, I imagine that its wealth is very visible but our exhausting 60 hour work weeks are not.

Thus, an Egyptian looks at American wealth and thinks that America must be like those of his own ruling class. A Palistinean thinks Americans have gotten rich not necessarily by their own hard work. These folks are forbidden to oppose their local authority so they blame the America whom, in their minds, is rich through corrupt dealings with their own corrupt governments. An ambitious herculean project like the Panama Canal could not have been undertaken by the Panamanians, probably not even envisioned. Despite enormous economic rewards to Panama, the canal is viewed as thuggishly stolen from a Panama which would never have built its own. "People get rich by cruelly usurping power," they cannot imagine otherwise.

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