There was a time not too long ago when Americans could get away with not caring so much about events outside of their own borders—with the odd exception of Cold War events, the incursion du jour in the Middle East or Africa, or a terrorist attack on American interests overseas. For the most part, these were things that happened in far-off places and the average American had a tough time trying to understand why he should really care. It was difficult to comprehend how daily life in America would be impacted in any significant sense by these things. But now, not caring is no longer an option, if only because power and influence over Americans’ lives is no longer centralized in America. Yes, the rest of the world does impact your daily life—drastically in some cases. Let’s have a look at a few examples.
1) Americans are currently fighting a war run by the United Nations. Remember that useless, money-sucking, paper-shuffling entity headquartered on Manhattan’s East River that seemed to do nothing except hoover your hard-earned cash? Well, now that white elephant is heading up U.S. military efforts in Libya in a war for which no Americans ever voted and no congressional approval was ever given. That white elephant has now barged out of the gate and, if a joint letter this week signed by leaders of France, the U.K., and the U.S.A. is to be believed, isn’t keen on stopping until “regime change” is achieved—all without any debate or vote in America. If you have a problem with it, you may want to write to your favorite British parliamentarian. They were the only ones to vote on it.
2) American TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout funds went overseas. American taxpayers have helped bail out banks to the tune of $700 billion, and in turn those banks bailed out the Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, and others to the tune of billions, according to a congressional oversight report. As someone who banks in France, I’d like to thank the generous people of America for keeping my bank running in the manner to which it has become accustomed, despite the fact that you’ll probably never open an account here. At the very least, if you’re ever in Europe, maybe you could call up the bank managers and ask that they treat you to dinner.
3) Now that America is in debt from bailing out its own banks and Europe’s, China has come to the rescue by purchasing U.S. bonds. So the next time you’re in the toy store and looking for a cheap, preferably lead-free trinket for your kids, remember that “buying Chinese” is about the same as “buying American” at this point. When you support the Chinese economy, you’re not only ensuring that there will be money left for your own retirement, but also that the U.S. government won’t go any further into the hole due to bond-dumping and cause the prices of everything around you to skyrocket. So you might as well buy the “made in a sweatshop” toy, as counterintuitive as that may be. The money from the sale won’t be going directly into the pockets of Americans, but will ultimately prevent any more from being taken out.
4) Some of the solutions to America’s current problems are already being addressed and tested in other countries. France, for instance, is closing some loopholes in the interest of cultural preservation. This week’s implementation of the burka ban and another proposal by the French Interior Minister to limit legal immigration in the interest of cultural preservation come to mind. As it often is, Europe is on the front line of war—cultural or otherwise—and these battles and related struggles and victories are important to note. It’s only a matter of time before America is obligated to deal with the same issues. Knowing how other First World democracies dealt with these situations will prove useful.
5) Economic competition is no longer limited to inside America. Emerging markets such as Brazil, India, China, and whoever else may come down the road as a result of development in countries with educated populations undergoing democratic revolution, will force even local American businesses to compete worldwide for talent, business, and resources. When even small-business entrepreneurs running “ma and pa shops” in America are able to outsource their errands and administration through a website in Bangalore for a fraction of the cost of hiring someone in America, the competitive reality of a worldwide economy hits home. Not that it’s morally preferable—but it’s reality. And it’s only by realizing the nature of what’s happening outside its borders that Americans can innovate, adapt, and compete.