7 Things I Love About the US: From an Immigrant Who Didn’t Make the Forbes 400 List
With all the anti-immigration rhetoric in the United States going on right now, mostly due to a certain politician who shall remain unnamed in this post, I feel I should say a few things about how this specific immigrant views this country.
I think it’s fair to assume that the vast majority of immigrants in the US love this country. Otherwise, why would we be here, right? (Although, if you believe some people, we’re here to rape and pillage like Hollywood vikings.) But, the truth is, many of us are here because the US offers us opportunities that we could only dream of in our home countries.
I’m not just talking about capitalistic opportunities (many of us could easily start a business in our own countries), I’m talking about more basic opportunities like expressing an opinion without the risk of being shunned by one’s peers because they’re worried about being seen with you after you’ve expressed an unpopular opinion (by the ruling government’s standards).
Let me tell you why I, someone who immigrated here decades ago, love the US.
There are bound to be two specific groups of people who disagree with my reasons:
- America Haters (or Blame-America-for-Everythingers) To them, everything about the US is deplorable and there is nothing about it to love. Let them have and enjoy their hate. We’re free to not care.
- Natural Americans that might love America but do not realize how good they have it versus ‘Naturalized’ Americans who come from other places and can see the obvious advantages of living here. Some of them might think that America needs to be great again, not seeing the true greatness in the fiber of this country. Some Americans who were born and raised here and who constantly blather about freedom have no idea how valuable it really is because they’ve never had it taken away before. They don’t love and cherish freedom or understand the principles that form the foundation of this land and ingenuity of the founding fathers, instead they just name drop it into conversations like a B-list celebrity acquaintance.
And, I have to also mention before starting that I know the US is not perfect (no place is or will ever be). So, don’t think I am under that illusion. If the title of this writing was “What Can Be Improved About the US,” that list would fill a tome. Yet, I still believe this is the best country on earth to live (as long as you have decent health insurance and a remote control to change the channel when you can’t take the stupidity you hear between nose sniffing).
Here are my reasons:
As far as I am concerned, this is the №1 resource of America: Hundreds of millions of Americans with skill, experience and the desire to create, and to do so in a creative way. I love that there are dozens of different brands for bicycles, kites and even cheese spreads. I love the ridiculously functional gadgets that companies keep coming up with. There is a reason why breakthrough, culture-changing inventions come from the US, like the internet, the electric guitar, wind surfing, the safety pin, the swivel chair, autopilot, the credit card, the barcode, the cash register, modern refrigerators … shall I continue?
I know some might not put this as a positive on their list, but for me (someone coming from a culture where it is better to be like others, rather than stand out and be ‘judged’) this is one of the best things about the US. It is so easy to be ‘who you are’ in US. You can wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and be yourself the rest of your day. You can wear the color you want, do your hair the way you like, drive the car you want (provided you can afford it), eat (or don’t eat) what you please. You can choose to be the ‘you’ you want to be.
This is the action that occurs when creative ideas and desires of individualism come together. The spirit of the colonial settler and the wild west frontier continues with the entrepreneurs of the US. And the US rewards this spirit by continuing to be one of the best places to do business. (I know a bunch of you do not agree with this, and I get the same feeling sometimes — when I forget some of the other countries I’ve dealt with before — but when you consider everything from market size to the available tools, l believe this is true).
We also don’t have to contend with the so-called ‘tall poppy syndrome’ in the US. In many countries, if you become successful (like, say, you start a successful business), you are considered a tall poppy among your peers and instead of them praising you for your success, they’ll resent you instead. They might think you’ve done something illegal or you must have received an inheritance or something to get where you are.
In the US, on the other hand, success is lauded outright and if you have started a successful business or have raised yourself up from humble beginnings, you get praise from your peers rather than contempt.
Yes, I agree this can be and probably is something to criticize because it encourages acquisition of products and services in ever increasing amounts (for an ill-advised means of happiness). Yet, it is the oxygen that fuels the fire of this capitalist economy. It comes from individualism, it gets served by creativity and it embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of this society.
(5) Pursuit of Happiness
The Declaration of Independence states that everyone has certain “unalienable rights” and gives only three examples of these rights: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” (The pursuit of happiness being the right to build your own life and try to live your dream.)
These rights are given to all Americans and the government protects these rights. How special is that? The government protects these intangible rights over things like estate, property, or any other ‘creature comforts of society.’
I believe the “American Dream” is rooted in the right of the “Pursuit of Happiness” and continues to live in the fabric of our society today (despite many challenges).
Again on this one I will get many that don’t agree with me, but I believe overall the US is one of the most ethical societies (in the social and business sense) in the world. So this is one of the easiest places to be able to live an ethical lifestyle. This one is hard to prove, of course. The closest thing I can see is Ethisphere’s annual list of the most ethical companies. US companies make up most of the ethical company list every year. On the 2015 list, three out of every four companies listed is from the US.
Despite the contrary arguments in the spotlight thanks to a certain political figure, America is great already, and I personally believe no other country could be better.
Probably the most important challenge facing America now is its rising economic inequality. When I was a black-haired economics major, the US was one of the better global economies as far as income equality. Now, as a mostly gray-haired entrepreneur, I see that it is one of the worst. I am optimistic this will be solved as the political system adjusts to major technological innovations awaiting us in the next twenty years. I am talking about Distributed Autonomous Organizations and Enterprises taking more critical parts in the future economy.
America offers hope to whoever needs it. It is not sunshine all the time but there is no other country on the earth where hope is so abundant.
Popular or not, these are the things I love about the US and the reasons I left my homeland of Turkey decades ago with my wife to come here and live our life the way we want to.
I am part of the vast group of immigrants who start businesses, create jobs, bring new ideas and innovations into the country and help boost earnings for all Americans (not me bragging, by the way, these are courtesy of the official White House website). I think I can safely speak for the majority of us immigrants when I say we all love this country and want what is best for it.
And we should. The US has been incredibly kind to immigrants, turning some of them into billionaires (well, they did it themselves, but being in the US surely helped). As recently reported by Forbes with their Forbes 400 list, which ranks the richest Americans, naturalized Americans make up 10.5% of the list (42 spots) but only make up 6% of the US population. When you consider the fact that a good chunk of the Fortune 400 did get their start from their already American ancestors, the immigrants’ success ratio looks even more impressive.
Could these people have been as successful in their home countries? Maybe. But, I like to think coming to America was at least partially responsible. I know it’s been for my family.
Immigrant or not, we are all Americans.