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American has become exceptionally bad -- Mike Pfrang
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American has become exceptionally bad -- Mike Pfrang

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A couple things about American exceptionalism trouble me.

The legal manufacturing and dispensing of narcotic medication indicates we have a nation awash with pain. The number of firearms in private possession indicates we live in a country of exceptional peril to its residents. The number of people without access to basic medical care, nutrition and shelter indicates we have extraordinary levels of lifestyle impoverishment.

Our exorbitant medical costs suggest a population replete with physical debilitation. High levels of political unrest and dysfunction show a low level of democracy among the countries of the free world. The pervasive levels of nativism, xenophobia and other bigoted beliefs found in our politics and media hark back to tribal societies of earlier centuries. The rates of homicides, suicides, violence and lifestyle illnesses seem like something lifted out of a Dickens novel, or off the pages of the Old Testament.

Our forefathers occupied a land of almost unlimited prosperity and designed a government that for its time was considered a model of enlightenment. In a few short centuries -- barely an eye blink in historical time -- we have squandered that inheritance and moved well down the road from riches to rags. To me, at least, that seems exceptional.

Mike Pfrang, Madison

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