The Extremes of America: Why It’s both the Best & Worst Country on the Planet
If you get past the clickbaity title, you will find that it’s absolutely true. I am incredibly fortunate to have lived in San Francisco now for the last 22 years of my life and have a Love-Hate relationship with America. Trying not to sound ungrateful, I admit I been such a huge beneficiary of America. Yet I can definitely say that I’ve seen the country as a whole degrade substantially over the last decade. I speak as both an American and Canadian who has lived abroad and is fairly well travelled.
I don’t think I got how broken the USA was as a place until my young daughter told me how they had “Active Shooter” drills at her elementary school. A food system that is awful: cheap but unhealthy and captured by the corporate food industry. The widespread issue of mental health, homeless and guns. A rapidly declining education system at the pre-University level. How most bankruptcies are caused by healthcare costs and medical emergencies, despite having one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Almost 17.7% of the GDP is spent on healthcare, almost $4 trillion dollars a year! The quality of life is really crap and America is literally like the book “No Country for Old Men” but with a badly run government by old white men. Life can be harrowing and honestly, I never really feel secure there. The quality of life is just not that great compared to Canada, Australia or New Zealand or most of Western Europe.
Yet despite all of this, I still can’t imagine doing business anywhere else. The United States will always be one of my bases. It’s one of the best places in the world for business and is the place to learn the craft of business. As President Coolridge once said “The business of America is Business!”
It is a massive market of 330M people that still attracts the best and brightest from around the world. America is one of the most commercial cultures that is highly competitive. And for the most part, still governed by law that is still business friendly unlike in many parts of the world. It is still the country of opportunity.
Yes, I do argue that the future opportunities of Africa and Latin America will be massive but for many the trade off in quality of life (ie. even higher crime rates there than in America) may be too much (as in my previous blog post on this topic. Here: https://hardfork.substack.com/p/high-opportunity-places-vs-high-quality). I worry about going soft and losing my edge when I spend too much time in Canada or Taiwan. The USA is the place to hone your skills and keeps you market ready and competitive.
But in this remote work world you can have both a high quality of life for a good price without missing out on business and investing opportunities. This is where the Digital nomad lifestyle comes into play. I still spend time in San Francisco but it’s limited with the bulk of my time in Canada & Taiwan with my family. I’ve also thrown in Ukraine and Portugal, Mexico and Japan (when it opens up). Basically it’s a “Follow the Sun” strategy where I spend time where the weather is nice. So for example, Europe & Canada is where I spend the bulk of spring and summer, while winter is when I am mainly in Taiwan (assuming they open their doors soon that is). This is very important as weather is a big driver of my mood and happiness.
The point is the problems and issues in America are also some of the biggest opportunities. There are so many things to be fixed. This is why we will continue seeing entrepreneurship grow and grow here. And as we’ve seen all it takes is a small percentage of amazing individuals to start a movement and change the world. Despite all the problems, as multi-billionaire Warren Buffet once said “Never Bet Against America.”