America The Beautiful
I’ve been writing some vivid memories of my experience in the Soviet Union as an exchange journalist along with 12 other U.S. delegates from American newspapers. Upon my return I published a small booklet of my adventures and thoughts related to the experience.
Russia has been in the news so much lately with President Biden’s meeting with President Putin it inspired me to recall some of my thoughts about that experience back in 1975 over 46 years ago.
Many events have changed during that period of time and most significantly, the Soviet empire collapsed and the USSR became the sole state of Russia. President Reagan was successful in having Gorbachev do what he said, “Tear down that wall” that separated West and East Germany.
Recalling these tales, I went back and read my booklet this week to see what further tales might be of interest. I will publish a few more in coming weeks like our meeting with the “hardliners” at Izvestiya, the major Soviet newspaper. They were brutal hosts who had nothing good to say about the United States. The paper was controlled by the Communist Party. What struck me the most reading my thoughts from 46 years ago was some of my predictions about the future. Many have come true.
Reprinted from “Many Faces Of The Soviet Union,” 1975.
“First of all, there is no country as good as the United States of America. Our land is still young by European standards, our buildings are new, the fields are green, our people are happy and show it. Surely, we live in a land of many blessings and it certainly is a privilege to be an American.”
Several things separate us from the Soviet Union Probably the most obvious is our free enterprise system, the fact that people work for themselves and that we allow private industry to flourish without government management. Because of this ‘capitalism’ concept America has outraced all other forms of government and all other societies.”
“There are two dangers in our system as I see it: first, the government is always at the doorstep either with taxation or control. Under our system, if we destroy our free enterprise system we have ruined our way of life of rewarding individual effort. Everyone should be interested in seeing that government only provides those functions outlined in the Constitution and things that private individuals cannot do for themselves. If we allow government to replace private business we will soon become similar to the USSR.
The second danger of our system could ultimately be the concentration of the wealth in only a small percentage of the people. It could be possible in the evolution of our society that corporations and a few powerful men could end up owning most of the country and the money. We then could have the aristocracy that only a few own, control, and monopolize the masses.
The question ultimately might boil down to who do you want to be dominated by, business or government? Hopefully, it won’t be either, but a working combination between business that is allowed to make a profit and the government that provides for our defense and housekeeping chores. It does appear that both business and government are becoming more powerful, with the people caught in the middle.”
“We must remember that government in the U.S. gathers its powers from the people and the flow should be from the bottom up, not the top down. Regardless of political philosophy, all American people should be interested in keeping our nation at work, strong in defense and sharing the wealth and resource development by all people, including the American worker whose skill and sweat make everything move.”
Without workers there would be no profit and they must be rewarded. American workers live much better and make far more money than workers in the Soviet Union. But the Soviets recognize that the workers have great power and so they control them carefully.
In this country I feel we should bring our workers further into government, not just the unions, but we should elect more workers to office and get them more involved in the city, state and national government. If everyone in America can share both in the prosperity and the responsibility, we have a great future together.
“Finally, the American way is to provide almost unlimited freedom.”
Written in 1975, Craig Daily Press, Bob Sweeney