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2021-12-20 12:08:17 (UTC)

Prompt 145: US Citizenship

145. Does being a U.S. citizen provide any advantages compared to citizens of other countries? Why or why not? What are some disadvantages?

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For the sake of clarity, I'll address this in terms of "being a citizen of, and living in, the United States."

To begin... There are public libraries all over the United States. It is easy for anyone to acquire a library card and borrow books and other media at no cost. There are also universities and colleges where I can attend certain classes for no cost. Certainly not -all- colleges provide this, but some do. I doubt these are exclusive to the US, but at least they are easy to accomplish here.

I can have a savings and a checking account in a credit union instead of a bank, and I see that as a distinct advantage. Though my interest rate may not be as impressive as that found at a traditional bank, I have more peace of mind.

There's very little chance that the US will be attacked by any foreign power (unless the US government goads them into it), and military invasion has a fairly poor chance of directly affecting me so long as I live within US borders.

Probably the one thing I like the most about the United States, and being in it, is that there is an absolutely massive interstate highway system. Should I want to go somewhere else in the 'States, literally thousands of miles away from where I currently stand, I can use a vehicle and eventually find my way there. There are even fuel stops and mechanics along the way so refueling and maintenance aren't significant issues. I'm white and male, and I have an unremarkable car, so as long as I'm not a jackhammer on the road or involved in some sort of collision or disaster, then the cops won't bother me.

In line with the previous item: fuel is cheap for the typical US citizen. Taxes subsidize the cost of gas so much that Europeans - who likely want to drive just as much as the average US citizen - are envious.

Food is also cheap, so if you need to eat it's there. It is very difficult to starve to death in the United States if you are anywhere near civilization. Businesses of all kinds are throwing food away every single day at the close of their workday. Even if you have no money, no roof over your head, or other basic necessities, you can find food somewhere. (Note that nutritional value of the food is a crap shoot, but at least subsistence nutrition is abundantly available). I live in a time and place where I can pick and choose to be a vegetarian or even vegan, and have several options of where and how much I eat.

In general, civilization is present throughout the United States. That means that nearly wherever you go, there are utilities and infrastructure: roads, electric power, and running water. Most buildings that have not been abandoned are maintained (those that are condemned are typically demolished within a year of such designation), and though they may be cold in the winter and hot in the summer, at least they won't likely collapse on you when you sleep at night.

The US National Parks system is absolutely fantastic. They may not have much, but what they do have is impressively cared-for when one considers their typical operating budget.

Were I to travel abroad, chances are very high that wherever I go, I'll find a US Embassy somewhere in that country.

Also, I don't have kids, I don't have debt, I am not responsible for managing a mortgage or property. I'm college-educated (though that might be difficult to notice unless you ask), and my school debt is completely paid off. However, I see those as advantages anywhere (as well as avoiding disadvantages, which is similar but different), not just as a US citizen.

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What are the unique disadvantages of US citizenship? Beyond the potential of an inaccurate reputation from those not in or around the US (that we're all rich, and we're all boors), I can't think of any significant ones. Living in the US, or at least being a US citizen, has revealed that most of the problems of objective survival have been solved.

Again, I speak from a position of privilege here: I'm not a woman, I have no children, I have no debt. Should you have any of those three characteristics in your portfolio, then you're fairly hosed. Same goes for if you have acquired some sort of chronic health problem, since healthcare is both prohibitively expensive in the US, and controlled by corporate interests. A lot of people in the US work terrible, grinding jobs just to not have to pay the public option in healthcare, and it's still expensive.

No one has control over anything related to their sex, their race, their parents, or their genetics. To treat that person as a lesser-value being based on these non-controllable factors alone is a hallmark of US history, from colonial times to the present.

Race is the most apparent, but it seems like people forget that women as a class had to fight for things like the right to vote, to have separate restrooms in public places and at the workplace, and to be able to choose to -not- carry a baby if they became pregnant.

Personally, I think most of the advantages of being a US citizen also revolve around being a white male. Considering white males have run this country for centuries now, it's expected that people who look like them will be considered favorably. Generally speaking, the less one looks like a white male, the less privilege and advantage you have in the US.

Corporations are considered "legal persons," which I think is foolish (but that's only because I'm not one of those in power and so I can't take advantage of that status as they do), as they are an artificial construct. Workers are treated like chattel, but this is hardly a US-only phenomenon. Capitalism and consumerism rule the USA, but that's also not exclusive to the US.

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This prompt turned out to be more worthwhile than I initially thought it would be.

Because the USA has so many advantages compared to other countries in the world, and because it is so geographically-separated from other countries, there are many US citizens who live their entire lives without crossing the borders and visiting another "developed" nation. This is unfortunate, as it leaves the general public ignorant of the rest of the world, and encourages them to think of the US as being the absolute best of everything, or that there is no alternative to the way life is right now in the United States.

It doesn't have to be this way, but for many US citizens, it always will.


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