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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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What’s Exceptional about America?


Two articles on the front page of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal belie the quaint conservative notion that the United States is an “exceptional” nation.

One article was entitled “China’s Economy on Bubble Watch” and the other was entitled “Europe Faces Pension Pinch.”

The article about China, which has long been governed by a communist regime, states that Chinese officials are emphasizing “growth” in the economy while, at the same time, avoiding an inflation of an asset bubble. To achieve these goals, China’s central bank has set specific targets for increases in the money supply.

The Chinese communist plan should sound very familiar to Americans.

Meanwhile, over in Europe the national governments are increasingly concerned that there are insufficient working young people to fund the pensions of all the people who are retiring. The second article points out,

State-funded pensions are at the heart of Europe’s social-welfare model, insulating people from extreme poverty in old age. Most European countries have set aside almost nothing to pay these benefits, simply funding them each year out of tax revenue. Now, European countries face a demographic tsunami, in the form of a growing mismatch between low birthrates and high longevity, for which few are prepared.

That should sound familiar to Americans as well.

So, what’s exceptional about America, at least when it comes to those two matters?

America has a central bank, just like communist China. It’s called the Federal Reserve System. Like the Chinese central bankers, Fed officials centrally plan the country’s monetary system.

America also has Social Security, which is essentially the same as Europe’s pension system. Like European countries, the United States simply taxes younger workers and gives their money to seniors.

So, where is the exceptional part?

How about healthcare, specifically Medicare, Medicaid, regulations, and medical licensure?

There’s nothing exceptional about that either. In Europe, China, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and other countries around the world, government assumes the responsibility for providing healthcare for people.

Education? In China, Europe, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, and everywhere else, the government is responsible for educating the nation’s children. It’s the same with public schooling here in the United States. The only difference lies in the nationality of the teachers and the particular doctrines that are being taught. But all educational systems involve socialist central planning, coercive attendance, forcible funding through taxation, and government-approved schoolteachers and textbooks.

Income taxes? They are found in all those countries and also here in the United States.

A government-managed economy? That’s the system everyone has, including here in the United States.

Immigration controls and trade restrictions? Every country is alike. They all reject the libertarian concept of open borders.

Drug war? A few countries have legalized drugs but the United States, with its oppressive drug laws, is like all the rest.

Standing armies, secretive intelligence agencies, and secretive surveillance agencies? They are part of almost every government in the world, especially the totalitarian, dictatorial, and tyrannical ones.

So, where’s the exceptional?

Let’s face it: There has really been only one exceptional country in history. That was a country that had no Social Security, no Medicare, Medicaid, medical regulation, and medical licensure, no federal income tax, no government-managed economy, no national-security state, no drug laws, no immigration controls, and no public schooling systems.

No one can deny that that was truly one exceptional country.

What country was that?

The United States of America, before modern-day Americans adopted the welfare-warfare state apparatuses that converted America into a very unexceptional country.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.