Capital: Washington, D.C
National Anthem: ¡°The Star-Spangled Banner¡±
Monetary unit: US Dollar
Area: 3,602,816 sq. miles.
Estimated Population: 260,529,000
Official Language: English
Major Exports: Aircraft, vehicles, chemicals, coal, machinery, corn, oil, soybeans, and wheat.
The United States (US) is the fourth largest country in the world, located in central North America, south of Canada and north of Mexico. The eastern region of the country has the Appalachian Mountains and the western side of the country has the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere else, the land is rolling fertile, flat plains. Towards southern US, near the Mexican border, there is semiarid land, along with a small desert. The climate is varied in the US. The northern regions of the US actively receive cold weather with temperatures ranging around the 30¡ãF, while the southern regions of the US have temperatures around 80¡ãF.
The US economy is the biggest economy in the world. This is mostly because the US has an abundance and an increased variety of natural resources. The country is dependent on importing raw materials and oil, to process a variety of goods, and export it out to the world. In recent times, the US continues to expand all its sectors, its industrial sector, agricultural sector, and manufacturing sectors. Inflation has always been an issue and is always present in the economy. The US industrial activity significantly increased in its states of Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma in terms of oil refining and mining. It also expanded its aerospace industry and other high-end technologies that give US the strong power it has today. In the 1980s, much of the banking industry was developed, however the nations¡¯ trade worsened in this decade. Then in the early 1990s, there was no international investment in the US Dollar, which depreciated its value, further increasing the deficit that it has. In 1990, the US economy suffered an economy recession. The recovery came surprisingly gradually with the onset of the Clinton Administration. However, after the end of the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration took over, which further put the economy in decline while depreciating the US Dollar.
of the Nation
The British colonies in North America, later to become the United States of America, were originally established from expeditions hoping to find gold as the Spanish had in Central America. Instead, with no gold to be found, the northern colonies became trading outposts for the fur trappers, and the southern colonies quickly became important exporters of tobacco and sugar cane. Trade was mainly with the mother country, Britain, but with the Declaration of In dependence in 1776, and the successful war of independence, the newly formed United States of America were able to expand trading to other countries (mainly France, who had helped the colonists during the war), while keeping tariffs on imports high so as to protect home markets. The biggest boost to trade in the early years of the country was the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France, effectively doubling the size of the nation and giving the U.S. control of the Mississippi River, an extremely important trade route for fur and other materials. Also, the U.S. adopted a "free trade" economy, or capitalism, which allowed trade to expand through business ventures, one of the biggest institutions (at least in the South,) was the Slave trade from Africa.
However, the Civil War (1860-1865) ended the slave trade for good in the U.S., and forced the southern states to use paid laborers in their plantations, resulting in a lessening of exports from that area for a time. In the late 1800¡¯s, Industrialization, which started in Britain and quickly spread to the more developed countries, hit the U.S. and the North became a center for the steel trade and machine production. The completion of construction of cross-continental railroads around this time further lead to an increase in inter-state trade and trade with nearby countries. The U.S. up to this point had pursued a policy of isolationism, and thus was not a large player in international trade, but that would all change with the onset of World Wars One and Two. Both wars dramatically changed U.S. society from an isolationist country to one which, at the end of WWII, was one of the two most dominant economies in the world.
Between the World Wars, the Great Depression halved trade revenue all over the world, and while conditions in the U.S. were not favorable, the nation fared better than many other countries, and recovered more quickly. World War Two catapulted U.S. production to many times what it had been before the war, and production did not slow down after the war as it had after WWI. The U.S. started reconstruction of post-war Japan and Germany, thus establishing trade agreements with two of today's biggest trading allies. The Cold War with the U.S.S.R. forced the U.S. to expand her influence to all parts of the globe, laying the basis for the system known today as globalization. By competing with the Soviet Union, the U.S. set up trade agreements and embargos, some of which are still in place today, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. has become the dominant trading force in the world. In addition, the U.S. has become one of the world's largest importers, and as a result developed a sizeable trade deficit, which simply means that the nation as a whole imports products from other countries much more than it exports products to other nations. Some of the main U.S. imports are manufactured products such as clothing, cars, etc. for the reason that those commodities can be produced cheaper out of the country. As far as exporting, the U.S. is one of the world's biggest exporters of agricultural products such as grain and meat, due mainly to the excellent growing soil found in the Midwest and the area purchased from France over 200 years ago, and the country also provides and specializes in services. In short, the U.S. involvement in the Cold War changed the world irrevocably, establishing the "global economy" and heralding a huge increase in the amount of trade done all over the world.
The United States has the most influential economy in the world. From how much the stock market rises to how much the budget deficit is, every number affects other nation¡¯s. In close connection with the economy is of course the image that the US must keep; the political representation.
The United States is a popular democracy¡ªa country where people are given power by popular vote. Internally, politicians are responsible for the upkeep of their image which reflects their attitude and more importantly the public¡¯s votes. Here are some examples of political issues that have been dealt with in the past decade alone:
Issue 1: Outsourcing of Jobs
Many companies have been firing American employees and hiring workers from other countries because it¡¯s cheaper. Companies that have done this include: Nike, IBM, and many other high tech companies. Why would they do this? America is one of the few countries that enforces strict child labor laws. Thus, it costs less to pay poor people in China who need a job than to pay Americans minimum wage. Why is this such a big political issue?
The employees overseas generally work in terrible, indecent work environments.
example: In 2001 Nike had a little over 100,000 people employed in Indonesia producing over $1,000,000 worth of revenue each year; of those 40% had reported at least verbal abuse and mistreatment
The Maastricht Guidelines On Violations Of Economic, Social And Cultural Rights was formed (makes sure people overseas are treated well). The Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) was also founded (by workers, for workers). Most of the legislation passed within the last decade basically tells companies that if they don¡¯t treat people overseas ¡°fairly¡± they aren¡¯t allowed to sell products in the US.
With more jobs going to people overseas, Americans lose their jobs.
example: In 2003, IBM had had said it would create 2,500 new jobs, most of them overseas outsourcing.
example: Many companies today have customer support overseas. That means when you call an 800 number to ask for computer support, chances are it¡¯s a person in Indonesia, India, China or other Asian country.
As of yet, this problem hasn¡¯t been solved. During the 2004 election, this will no doubt be more of a political issue as more and more people are losing their jobs, especially in the Information Technology (IT) sector. The main reason companies are pursuing the overseas IT sector is that tech professionals here get paid in US dollars (hundreds of dollars) while overseas workers will do the same work for tens of US dollars.
Issue Two: External AIDs Crisis
As much as the internal image of a politicians matter, so does the US image to other countries. In a State of the Union address in January of 2003, President George W. Bush showed concern for the growing population in Africa with AIDs.
How can any powerful country sit by and watch another die? It¡¯s like this: If a teacher is walking by during a lunch period and sees a bully beating up a defenseless kid, the teacher has the responsibility to help out the defenseless kid. In that way, the US is trying to help out other countries; to make it seem compassionate.
During the 2003 year, Bush and the United States congress have started the USAID foundation. They try to provide emergency relief to African countries, teach the population about AIDs, and even provide food [should I say they provide food so people don¡¯t have to become whores to make money to get food? Hehe]. During the 2004 year, there is an estimated budget of about $70 million dollars given to the USAID foundation.
Now, you might ask why we have to invest anything in AIDs research; I mean, why should we care what other people think is ethical? Why does image matter at all? Again, the US is in a special situation. As a world leader that has one of the most powerful economies in the world, we influence others. It also happens that this image gives us the ¡®bully¡¯ look; that is, we are so powerful that we can throw our weight around with anything we want, which causes other countries to dislike our power. Within world organizations this plays an important role; politicians can block vote other countries off the UN security council or stop trade with certain countries. Many economists believe o offset such an image, the US invests in human interest projects such as the AIDs epidemic and helps police the world. On top of that, there¡¯s another hidden advantage: Africa, to the US, is worth an estimated $4 billion dollar market. By helping them, they are helping themselves. They look good and are economically benefiting; that¡¯s what politics is all about.
Future and Beyond
The United States is by far the largest and most influential economy in the world and will most likely remain as a keystone in global economics, but that does not excuse them from economic problems of their own. Individuals are able to practice a considerably free form of business with limited involvement from the government. Business firms have the ability to make most decisions on their own and generally practice business with more flexibility than Western Europe and Japan. On the other hand, the US must confront higher barriers to enter the foreign markets while foreign markets have less of a threat when engaging with the US. With the advances in the sciences and technology through a more educated population, competition to receive raises, health coverage and other benefits is rising. In the period of 1994-2000, the US had a period of prosperity with lower inflation and unemployment rates, as well as greater output. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 shocked the nation in all aspects, especially the economy, but within a year¡¯s time, the American economy recovered gradually. The period of high alert and the war on Iraq directed most of the government spending toward defense, which in turn increased the budget deficit to the highest it has ever been in American history. In the long run, the largest problems the US faces are increasing costs to cover the health and pension of the aging population, renewing the national budget deficit, providing more sufficient investment for economic infrastructure, and managing the stalemate of family incomes in less fortunate economic groups. The US shows a very resilient economy that is sure to prosper if they successfully care for their citizens and continue to maintain friendly relations with their trading partners across the globe.
Although the US is situated in a very commendable economic position in the world, they must manage serious domestic issues to ensure the future prosperity of the nation. According to David W. Hornbeck, a US economic theorist, he claims that education is one of the most powerful tools to provide for a healthy economy for the US in the long term. He certainly agrees that non-educational based aid is important to foster the well-being of the current generation, but also assesses that with improved education working in conjunction with such aid will be able to better prepare the next generations by equipping them with the skills needed to succeed and in turn, strengthen the efficiency of the economy.
Did you know?
The U.S. is the world's third largest naiton in terms of population
The Mississippi-Missouri river system is the second longest in the world
The lowest point in North America is Death Vally, California
The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of wheat and corn
The U.S. is the forth largest nation in land area
More than 75% of the U.S.'s population is urban or suburban
The highest point in North America is Mt. McKinley, Alaska
The U.S. is the world's largest producer of Electrical and Nuclear energy