The biggest pros and cons of living in America are free water and those darned cockroaches. Only kidding. Sort of. Like most countries full of flawed people, America isn’t perfect. Among all the liberty and amber waves of grain, there are good people and bad people, good laws and bad laws, and, well, politicians. While we have an abundance of everything you can think of, like TVs, cars, and deer, we also have plenty of crime, dysfunctional politics, and an unhealthy obsession with the Kardashians. It’s not all bad though, and we’re learning just like everyone else (albeit sometimes way too slowly). Curious to find out more? Let’s take a trip across the States and learn about The Biggest Pros and Cons of Living in America!
America is usually called a “melting pot” since it has a long history of many people and cultures from around the world immigrating for better opportunities. As a result, America represents a wide array of cultures and languages, providing different points of view and, of course, delicious food.
America has long been a hotbed of racism against minority cultures. The racist roots of African-American slavery and Jim Crow laws as well as the poor treatment and stereotypes of Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Indigenous Peoples, among others, still exist today in various forms and branches of society. In an NBC News poll, 64% of Americans said racism remains a major problem in America.
Along with the diversity of people, America has a diverse natural landscape. From the balmy beaches of Florida and rolling mountains of Appalachia to the chilly winters of Minnesota and the soaring cliffs of the Rocky Mountains, America has plenty of environments to experience and explore. Among the many beautiful places throughout the country, it has 58 National Parks protected by the federal government and available for camping, hiking, fishing, and many other great outdoor activities.
Con: Dirty Cities
Big cities can provide lots of opportunity, but they also have a downside. From New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles, some of America’s biggest cities are also the filthiest. They smell, produce smog, have an abundance of trash and litter floating about the streets, and sometimes have rodent problems.
Pro: Political System
This will depend widely on where you’re standing in the world, but overall, America’s political institutions, its provision of civil rights, and its ability to correct itself over time, has been a huge win for society. Its overall political system keeps several checks and balances in place to stave off egregious abuse of power. It allows anyone to run for political office, and its citizens have a large say in how things should be done from the local to the federal level. It’s not perfect, no system is, but if you’re looking to have a voice in your community, America is the place to be.
Con: Political Division
Today, America has intense political divisions that only seem to keep growing. Its (essentially) two-party system exacerbates this problem, giving people only two extremes to choose from. The constant back and forth of controlling parties taking power with each election causes instability and fluctuation in the policy and laws written, if they’re written at all. Its also difficult to talk to anyone about politics without fear of losing friends or creating a scene.
Again, this depends on where you’re standing, but overall, the American economy is one of the best in the world especially for job opportunities. It has many industries to choose from, including but not limited to computer science, entertainment, and business. Generally, if you get a good education and work hard, you’ll be rewarded for it and more opportunities will come your way.
Con: Corporate Culture
Many jobs for large corporations require long-hours, grueling environments, and might be low-paying. Often, corporate culture minimizes the individual, making them feel like a number or a cog in the machine that could easily be replaced. If you’re lucky, you’ll work 40 hours a week, but many employees are expected to go over that (without overtime) to keep their job.
Pro: Real Estate
If you didn’t know already, America has tons of land, most of it unused and fairly cheap, depending on its location. So, if you want to get into real estate, America has a decent market.
Con: Public Transportation
America is built on the back of the automobile and has a terrific highway system, but overall, it’s public transit system is lacking. Ask any American commuting to work in a city, and they’ll tell you it’s a bear. Of course, some American cities are better about buses, bikes, and trains than others, but traffic remains a huge problem, nevertheless.
Pro: Bounty Hunter
This might sound strange, but have you ever thought about being a bounty hunter? No? Just me? Anyway, believe it or not, America is one of the few countries in the world that still allows bounty hunting. So, that’s always an option.
Con: Gun Violence
America has a huge gun violence problem. With very little gun regulation and a culture that frequently refuses to do anything about gun violence, gun deaths rank much higher in America than other developed nations. From frequent mass shootings to self-inflicted gun shot wounds, the statistics are staggering.
Pro: Higher Education
America hands-down has some of the best universities in the world, including, but not limited to, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, and University of Chicago. People from around the world apply to many of these schools and programs because they’re the very best. On top of that, if you’re a resident of a state university, you get a discounted tuition rate.
Con: Student Debt
While every child is granted a free education in the American public school system, they have to pay for their higher education at colleges and universities. With many higher paying jobs demanding a four-year degree, many students flood into colleges, taking on loads of debt that’ll wear them down for years after graduation. In fact, the average student has $37,172 in school loans. The total student loan debt in America is $1.52 trillion. To make matters worse, many degrees are worthless for the ever changing job market.
Pro: Medicine and Research
America has some of the best hospitals in the world, many working on cutting-edge medical research. From Mayo Clinic to John’s Hopkins Hospital, these places train and employ doctors with a variety of specialities to help combat disease and treat patients. We also dwarf most other countries in researching biology and medicine, creating new drugs and treatments.
Con: Healthcare System
Our healthcare system is awful. A study by the The Commonwealth Fund, focusing on developed nations’ healthcare systems, found that the U.S. had the worst system. Healthcare costs are so high, they could easily bankrupt you if you don’t have insurance. Those who have insurance deal with increasing insurance premiums and deductibles, sometimes for poor coverage.
Pro: No Class System
Since its founding, the idea of equality has been built into the framework of American society. While its history has failed and fought over staying true to this virtue, under the law, thanks to many constitutional amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there is no class or caste system.
Con: Money is All That Matters
While the law protects citizens against various kinds of discrimination, class status is primarily determined by wealth. Money is king. If you have it, then you’ll likely get what you want, be more respected, and have more opportunities. If you don’t, your opportunities diminish, and depending on how poor you are, you’re looked on with disdain or ignored.
People in America are exceedingly generous with their time and money toward domestic and foreign aid. Many local churches across the country, supported by donations, provide food shelves, homeless shelters, and aid to others in need. American corporate foundations give hundreds of millions of dollars to charity programs. In most categories, the U.S. dwarfs other nations in giving. For instance, according to 2014 data by the Center for Global Prosperity, the U.S. gave $43.9 billion in private donations in foreign aid in comparison to the UK which gave $4.9 billion.
Con: Obsession with Entertainment
With the advent of Hollywood, movies, television, and now the internet, Americans have long been obsessed with entertainment. With smartphone addiction, you’ll often find Americans walking down the street, looking at their phone and rarely making eye contact with anyone. The constant need to be entertained is rearing its ugly head in other forms, such as poor mental and physical health and poor public discourse.
As Neil Postman put it in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, “Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities, and commercials.“
Love learning about America? Of course you do! So go check out 25 Fascinating Facts About America before Uncle Sam gives you the stink eye.