The American Revolution was a flop

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The American Revolution was a flop

Postby vincentpa » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:24 am

This was an editorial in the Washington Post yesterday. It was written by a Canadian. I'll let y'all comment on it it for a bit and then I'll add my 2 cents.

Paul Pirie, a former historian, is a freelance writer in Ontario. wrote:

The American Revolution Was a Flop

The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The new republic started advancing life and liberty by keeping a substantial part of its population enslaved. (This, at least, proves the frequent British put-down that Americans don’t have a sense of irony.) By contrast, in British-controlled Canada, the abolition of slavery began almost 20 years before the War of 1812, sometimes called America’s “Second Revolution.” A good number of free blacks fought with the British against the United States in that conflict, even participating in the burning of Washington. And if, as some scholars argue, the Civil War was the unfinished business of the American Revolution, then Americans — like the Russians — paid a very high human cost for their revolutions.

.On to liberty. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that more than 2 million people were incarcerated in 2011; that includes federal, state and local prisoners, as well as those awaiting trial. To put that total into perspective, the International Centre for Prison Studies ranks the United States ranks first in the world in the number of prisoners per 100,000 residents. That’s well ahead of Canada (which ranks 136th) and even Russia. The U.S. incarceration rate for African American men, which is about six times higher than that of white men, according to 2010 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, points to yet more unfinished business.

As for the pursuit of happiness, Americans are free to do just that — provided that they aren’t rotting in jail. But are they likely to find it? Most Americans work longer hours and have fewer paid vacations and benefits — including health care — than their counterparts in most advanced countries. Consider also that in the CIA World Factbook, the United States ranks 51st in life expectancy at birth. Working oneself into an early grave does not do much for one’s happiness quotient. This year the United States tied for 14th in “life satisfaction” on an annual quality-of-life study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That puts the United States behind Canada (eighth) and Australia (12th). A report co-authored last year by the economist Jeffrey Sachs ranked the United States 10th in the world for happiness — again behind Canada and Australia. The Sachs study found that the United States has made “striking economic and technological progress over the past half century without gains in the self-reported happiness of the citizenry. Instead, uncertainties and anxieties are high, social and economic inequalities have widened considerably, social trust is in decline, and confidence in government is at an all-time low.”

Ouch.

Which brings us to the related matter of the revolution’s long-term impact on politics. While the Canadian, Australian and British governments have shown they can get things done, including passing tough austerity budgets in recent years, the norm in Washington has become paralyzing partisanship and gridlock.

In these senses, the American Revolution was a flop. Perhaps it’s time for Americans to accept that their revolution was a failure and renounce it. (For their part, many Russians have.)

Alternatively, rather than being wedded to every practice or institution that arose from the revolution, however counterproductive or dysfunctional today, perhaps Americans can rekindle some of the boldness of the nation’s Founders to create a “more perfect” and happier union.

Last Fourth of July, while I visited sweltering-but-beautiful Washington, I came across an inscription in the Jefferson Memorial in which the third president warned against allowing institutions to calcify: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. . . . [W]ith the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

Those modern patriots who make a show of reading the U.S. Constitution aloud, as though it was carved in stone, might do well to reread Jefferson’s advice.
In a free society, it is not the obligation of the citizen to prove to the government that he is a good person. It is the obligation of the government to prove to the rest of the citizenry that the citizen is a bad person, with probable cause.
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Re: The American Revolution was a flop

Postby Chilidawg » Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:04 am

He's just PO'd because we won the Stanley Cup again.
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Re: The American Revolution was a flop

Postby ctdeathfrombelow » Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:34 am

Hmmm, I'm pretty sure India was a British colony. Oh oh oh, or what about South Africa? They were a British colony, they had the apartheid until the 80's.
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Re: The American Revolution was a flop

Postby SpinnerMan » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:02 am

There is a natural tendency for people to want to believe that they live in the greatest country, but when doing that does anybody ever compare themselves to Canada when they try to make that argument? :lol3: :lol3: :lol3: :lol3:

Maybe he should write about how Mexican Independence was a flop? Or could that be construed as hate speech under Canadian law? And who says Americans don't have a sense of irony?
A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of the country. The statesman wished to steer, while the politician was satisfied to drift.
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Re: The American Revolution was a flop

Postby assateague » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:22 am

Should've asked him if he thinks he could have written his editorial as well if it had to be in German.
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