I lived in Taiwan & Singapore from 2003-2010. I’ve also visited 37 countries worldwide, and have seen (and utilized) their government health, education, benefits, and infrastructure systems. While our politicians, utilities companies & business leaders continually tell us America is #1, my experience both here & abroad shows me America is mediocre at best in many areas. Take Superstorm Sandy for example. My home was without power for 13 days. While living in Asia I experienced typhoons, tropical storms, and earthquakes that were worse than Sandy. The longest I was without power was 8 hours. Why? Power lines were underground & substations were on high ground. Two weeks ago my cable went out twice. That means no internet, phone, TV for me. Each time I called via cell, it took me over 30 minutes to get through the automated system to speak to a live person, and still my service was out for 2 days each time. When my cable went out overseas, a live voice answered my call and I was back up in 2 hours max. Last week I received an automated call from my township. It stated that there would be only one pickup for all Sandy storm debris; that no tree stumps would be accepted; and that nothing can be over 4 feet in length. My township wants to go to once a week garbage pickup, has no recycling centers open on Sunday, but has the nerve to mail a multi-color glossy newsletter touting they are cutting costs, not services. Baloney! When I lived abroad, garbage collection was three times a week. Daily, there are news releases from companies announcing record profits. The next day these same companies announce they are laying off tens of thousands of employees to “improve their bottom line & stock price.” When trying to deal with these companies, you find their response time & service levels keep getting worse & worse. We have become Mediocre America. Whether public or private, the customer service we get is mediocre at best. Mostly it’s sub-standard. Yet politicians and corporate leader proudly state “we are doing more with less.” That’s just not true. They are doing less with less, and we are getting less service. Until we, as a country & a society, refuse to accept mediocrity, and demand investment in public & private infrastructure and services, America will remain unexceptional, even though we have the capability, capacity, and capital to truly be #1. To those who say “if you don’t like it, leave”, I say if you love America you too should push for the change needed to really be #1 again.