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ETpro's avatar

What would you list as the top 10 challenges to America's strength?

Asked by ETpro (34469points) May 6th, 2012

Even if you can’t think of ten, that’s OK. List what you do see as our national problems. What’s #1, 2, 3… And if you wish to suggest solutions of expound on why the list ranks the way it does, by all means have at it.

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Religion, anti-intellectualism, racism, sexism, money in politics, excessive military spending, predatory capitalism, imperialism, over reliance on the financial and service sector, lack of actual industry and export economy.
No particular ranking.

digitalimpression's avatar

Generalized anti-religious Ignorance, elitist mindset, predatory capitalism x 2

tranquilsea's avatar

The polarization of the country.

syz's avatar

An anti-science, anti-intellectualism, lowest common denominator mindset.
Political polarization and the role of money in politics.
Corporate greed and rampant, unregulated capitalism.
The undue influence of religion on government and legislation.
An increasingly failing educational system.
Short-view attitudes about environmental degradation.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

1. Sense of world righteousness, as in the assumption the USA must be the innovator, leader and/or authority for what works best in the world.

2. Social sense of entitlement by Americans, even when they go outside the USA.

3. General feeling of exemption from conservation, as if it’s the job of all other countries to conserve their resources, curtail their populations, protect what open nature is left.

Jaxk's avatar

Omnipotent power of the presidency.
Massive shift of law making from congress to unelected Bureaucrats (the regulatory agencies).
Energy independence.
I bemoan the loss of the Space Program. It will be decades before we realize what we’ve lost.
The gradual shift of government from local to central planning.

jerv's avatar

1) Conflict-related paralysis; we are so busy fighting each other that we can’t get anything done

2) Religious extremism

3) Political extremism

4) Economic inequality of a type not seen since Feudalism, at least not outside of tyrannies and dictatorships

5) Willful ignorance

6) Solipsistic shortsightedness and lack of empathy bordering on (or to the point of) certifiable mental disorder

7) Putting profit before progress, prosperity, or anything else

8) An unwillingness to sacrifice for the greater good, or even acknowledge that “greater good” is even a valid concept

8a) Unwillingness to take a slight reduction in short-term wealth in order to invest in the future by helping others; every job created is one less person living at taxpayer expense, so if you want lower taxes, help people get off the government teat.

9) The delusion that we actually have a free market. The irony there is that those who proclaim the loudest that they want a free market are pushing policies that make it less free.


Pay no heed to the numbers; I merely listed them in the order that they came to mind, not in order of importance

Dutchess_III's avatar

People who are unwilling to work and are unwilling to get involved and are unwilling to VOTE.

Rheto_Ric's avatar

1) China
2) China
3) China
4) China
5) China
... you get the drift.

prasad's avatar

Being an outsider, I could think of some problems.

1) Terrorism.
2) Grudge of Muslim countries (like Iran, Pakistan). Well, I read it in newspapers here.
3) More number of foreigners settling in the US. I could feel how hosts feel; our state is facing similar problems.
4) I think Americans spend too much money on living as compared to our standards. It may be all right for you, but it is excessive for me at least. This may not be a problem to you though.
5) Number of Indian films that are filmed in US are constantly declining due to strict rules and difficulties in getting visa. Again, this may not be a problem to you. But since Indian tourists that are lured to see America by watching movies might change their mind.

Besides, I think America is a good country and also the Americans.

whitenoise's avatar

a disrespect for the environment leading to loss of resources
Religious fanatism
a black and white world view
a believe that might is right
a growing disprespect for personal privacy
arogance in foreign policies and evaluation of foreign strengths

YARNLADY's avatar

willful ignorance
Addictive computer activities

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^^ Like Fluther. :(

flutherother's avatar

National debt
Polarisation of the country into the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor
Political system that is corrupted by money
Human rights abuses
Cultural narrow mindedness
Obsession with the military.

whitenoise's avatar

Would be interesting to also ask what top 10 opportunities are. This way the question is slanted to negativity.

1) optimism
2) hard working
3) creativity
4) resolve
5) respect for other people’s freedom


ragingloli's avatar

With the patriot act, guantanamo concentration camp, war on women, the out rage over the “ground zero mosque”, the opposition against gay marriage, point 5 really does not hold any water.

whitenoise's avatar


They are both there in the US… It is not one unified thought across all Americans.

jerv's avatar

@whitenoise And that is what is causing many of our problems.
Tax cuts or no?
Help people, or fuck the poor?
Allow equality for homosexuals, or shove them back in the closet?
Tolerate non,white non-Christians, or treat them like (at best) second-class citizens?
Respect human rights, or only respect the rights of law-abiding Americans of a certain income level who do not espouse any views contrary to your own?

You are correct that there is a lot of negativity here, and that there are dwindling opportunities, but overall, the skies are darkening over our little empire.

DaphneT's avatar

No particular order:

stagnation in college education
using factory culture as a de facto work ethos everywhere
sound-bite news
pompous propaganda masquerading as journalism
“reality” entertainment shows
vulgarity everywhere
lack of physical fitness
too many raining-on-parade verbal exchanges
the ream of judgemental-induction advertising

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli All valid points, expecially “no particular ranking”. I think “no particular ranking” may be our number 1 problem, but who can say, because it doesn’t have ranking.

@digitalimpression Could you explain points 1 and 2 for me. I am not sure I follow your meaning.

@tranquilsea Amen to that one.

@syz Those 8 are great mate.

@Neizvestnaya I don’t know where those fall in the top ten, but they are certainly in play. Thanks.

@Jaxk It’s another one of those rare, magical moments. I agree with you. I was wondering when somone would face up to the fact that the debt is now roughly 100% of GDP and still rising. Some transition from local to regional and central planning is probably inevitable in today’s world. Things are quite different from the 18th century. But where local control can work, it should be allowed to.

@jerv Great list. Clearly form the many great answers I’m getting, it’s pretty difficult to keep it down to just 10 problems.

@Dutchess_III No question those are problems, but I wonder if other, more pressing problems and inequities helped create those.

@Rheto_Ric Seems to me that China is just doing what it can to look after its own people and its own interests. To the degree China is a problem to the US, don’t you think our own shortcomings made it so?

@prasad Thank you. I think that those not immersed in the problems here can often see where we are blinded by or proximity and our prejudices. I appreciate your thoughts.

@whitenoise Solid collection. Thanks.

@YARNLADY Copy 1 and 2, but, as @Dutchess_III nbotes, 3 strikes too close to hoime. :-)

@flutherother Good list. Thanks.

@whitenoise That would make a good follow-on question. Since it was your idea. feel free to ask it. @ragingloli has a valid point about some of the obstacles to thise positives saving us. As you indicate, we’d have to look at how the positive and negative are influencing society. @jerv makes that very clear.

@DaphneT I get everything else in the list, and agree they are topical problems to be included somewhere on our list. But what does “the ream of judgemental-induction advertising” mean?

phaedryx's avatar

Some things that come to mind:

1. Campaign Finance (
2. The shift from news media as a public service (networks didn’t require them to generate money) to news as entertainment (have to generate ad revenue).
3. Expensive wars
4. US imperialism
5. Political extremism
6. Skyrocketing education costs (check out this graph)
7. Class immobility
8. Apathy

jerv's avatar

@phaedryx #6 is irrelevant with the rise of anti-intellectualism ;)

Plucky's avatar

From the outside looking in (no particular order):

1. Over consumption.
2. Public schools (mainly grade school) ..their lack of, well, education.
3. Ethnocentrism.
4. Exploitation of the international environment and humanity itself.
5. Too much dependence, and trust, on media for information.
6. Capitalism – going way overboard.
7. Racism/discrimination.
8. The extreme need/desire for entitlement.
9. Religious extremism.
10. Imperialism/militarism.

Nimis's avatar

1. Americans

phaedryx's avatar

@jerv hmm maybe, but I can’t think of any politicians who don’t have one or more college degrees; this year the two major party candidates are harvard graduates.

What worries me is shackling a generation in inescapable student loan debt (with dire consequences).

DaphneT's avatar

@ETpro, sorry I got interrupted about that point, and I was making up words to describe what I was experiencing. Anyway, my thoughts on that topic, last night, were revolving around how advertising was inducing me to make judgements about myself and the people around me. Essentially fanning the flames of envy and feelings of being ostracized. Examples like lingerie, automobiles, electronics, etc. Those are just the recent spate of product ads, then there are the horrible political ads we have going on around here. I spend a lot of time sitting with my Mom while she watches TV, so I’m rather overboard on TV ads. So I was using the word induction in an unusual way.

I guess all my thoughts land under the heading of cultural antipathy.

ETpro's avatar

@phaedryx Great first list and adding Student Debt and cost if education makes it even better. THe father of Public Education, Thomas Jefferson wanted desperately to set up free state universities where deserving students could attend undergraduate and even graduate school at taxpayer cost. His private correspondence with friends clearly reveals this. But he knew the regressives of his day would never allow that. Public funding of K-12 was the best he could manage, politically. And those who favor education being a right of wealthy landholders are now slowly closing the lid on even that.

@jerv Hardly. It’s even more relevant as a problem. It’s just irrelevant in the “minds” of the regressives. If we regress far enough, even those of the Dark Ages will be considered too enlightened.

@Plucky Great list. Thanks.

@Nimis That wouldn’t hurt if I could find some way of disputing it.

@DaphneT Thanks for the clarification. I see where you were going, and totally agree.

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