On college campuses around the country, you’re likely to hear professors and students disparage the U.S. with the media spouting a similar message. Is that how the average American views their country, though? I had the pleasure of taking an Uber in Chicago last month driven by Naim, a new member of the American family.
Originally from Jordan, he moved to the U.S. three years ago hoping to improve life for his family. Despite a job and relatively stable life back in Jordan, they couldn’t truly prosper. He made a living for his wife and daughter but they didn’t have enough money to save, nor were there opportunities for his advancement. He compared that to the opportunities in the U.S. where he said he could “improve my life here. Life is hard here, not easy, but [it’s] better than Jordan.”
Some of the most patriotic Americans originally immigrated from other countries. The rule of law, economic opportunity, and the guarantee of human rights are things we take for granted having grown up in the U.S. However, these things are not a given for billions of people around the world. Those who rally against and even despise America are themselves living in its unmatched prosperity and freedom. Most Americans have never had experienced what it’s like living under extreme poverty—less than $2 a day. The number of individuals in the U.S. that live in extreme poverty is estimated to be 326,000, or 0.1% of the U.S. population according to new research by the American Enterprise Institute—far too many but better than the world average at 10%.
In a climate where patriotism is frowned upon and bashing America is the acceptable alternative, sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to put things in perspective.
Currently, Naim is a fulltime Uber driver. “[It’s] not the best job in the USA,” he admitted but is studying to be an auto technician outside of work. Originally he thought about becoming a nurse but, “it takes so much school and money. I thought that money would be better spent on my daughter.” He’s attended the automotive technician program for 9 months now and will finish next year.
He even said he plans to move to a state where the pay for that line of work is higher than Illinois. Some people don’t care to move across state lines to find work—let alone to other countries. Naim, however, is willing to go where the greatest opportunities are. He hasn’t even made it back to Jordan as he’s too focused on building up his new life here.
Naim said that it’s impossible for people to prosper in Jordan because they make rules and restrictions that prevent people from being too successful. He mentioned that Jordan recently got Uber but it’s limited by various government rules that make it quite difficult for poorer people to get started. By contrast, in America “There’s no limit to what you want to do.” A lot of Jordanians who want to make more money go to work in wealthy Gulf Coast countries but even there it isn’t safe with war and conflict. “The government here protects its citizens,” he said. “The Arab countries, no. The governments aren’t good. The people [however] are nice and trustworthy.”
Compare that authoritarian restriction to the economic mobility in the U.S. Economist Thomas Sowell noted, “most working Americans who were initially in the bottom 20 percent of income-earners, rise out of that bottom 20 percent. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain in the bottom 20 percent.”
While many decry income inequality in the U.S., the reality is that the people that occupy various income brackets are constantly changing. People who started in the bottom 20 percent of income earners actually have the “highest rate of increasing their incomes.” Naim may not be in the top 20 percent but he’s more than likely to advance from where he is now.
Naim is a reminder that the U.S.A. really is great. He’s a prime example of the American Dream, a new citizen contributing to society and embracing American values. Next time you hear someone say that America is awful, you might suggest they ask an immigrant if that’s really the case.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.