Becoming An American

Alex Tabarrok on becoming an American:

But the deciding factor in my choice was emotional. Four years ago when I awoke to the devastation, I felt that my country had been attacked. And if that is how you feel then what more needs to be said?

That's as good a reason as any. A piece of paper given out by a government agency can officially declare you a US citizen. But you become an American when you find yourself with a larger feeling of belonging to and affinity for the greater civil society known as "America". We're lucky that such a distinction exists.

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My experience as well as my

My experience as well as my reading of history indicates that persons living in this country today, on average, have it better than anywhere else, probably at any time. I think quite a few other countries could benefit by becoming more like us. However if you are talking about some ideal perfect place, America stinks in comparison.
I sometimes wish we could work out some kind of exchange program with other countries where we could take the malcontents and send them somewhere else and get some volunteers from the other countries to replace them.

I guess I'm not an American,

I guess I'm not an American, then. I've never felt much kinship to people just for being slaves to the same gang of thugs. My kinship is with the civil society of the world. Every day, more members of that civil society are killed by infectious diseases than died in the single rare incident on 9/11. Less visceral, less exciting, less anthropomorphic, such deaths fail to seize our imagination. And that causes us to waste vast amounts of money fighting the wrong things in the wrong ways.

I’ve never felt much

I’ve never felt much kinship to people just for being slaves to the same gang of thugs.

If that was the only criteria, I would similarly not call myself an "American". Nobody can control the place of their birth; few can control their choice of residence.

Yet, just as not all communities are the same, not all civil societies are the same. We may disagree, but it is my view that the culture of liberty of American civil society is what has kept our gang of thugs from doing what other gangs of thugs did in most other countries during the last century. I'm proud of the strain of liberalism that is skeptical of concentrated power and sees life as a positive-sum game has found a home in America. It is not a mere accident of birth that I praise.

That's not disparaging other civil societies; I wish the best for everyone. I hope people in other parts of the world become more American so they can raise their own standards of living so the infectious diseases are cured by sanitation and easily available, cheap antibiotics from economic growth.