It is a sad reality but the problem was with the wrong regulations in the wrong places without oversight. The problem wasn't capitalism. And as I have said, if we were educated enough as a people (I am not talking about you) we would be able to fill the high-tech jobs that are going unfulfilled as we don't have enough qualified candidates to fill those positions.
In addition, despite our problems, we still have one of the greatest economies in the world. We simply have higher expectations than rest of the world which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Sassan, you are surely right that a lot of people have it a whole lot worse in much of the rest of the world. When I "bitch" about the problems of the US, I am not usually bitching for myself, because I DO have it good, even though I'm in the lower 40% of income and standard of living. I have a small house, a car, enough money to pay my living expenses (including the computer!), good health insurance and enough money to pay for the low-cost entertainment that pleases me.
But I DO bitch for those who don't have it as good as I do. I have a friend who has severe migraines once or twice a week, but no health insurance and no job, so even while migraines are treatable, she is receiving no help. I see way too many homeless people pushing shopping carts on the street and sleeping under bridges. Homeless people freeze to death here every winter. It angers me that Republicans swear that they will accept no new taxes, while cutting programs like Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security for people who have no other source of income or health care. For the elderly, in particular, many of them worked their whole lives in low-income jobs, which means their SS benefits are low to begin with (the rich pay a smaller percentage of their income into SS and get higher benefits) and if Social Security and Medicare are cut, they may not even be able to save their homes, let alone keep food on the table. Doesn't that reduce them to just about the same place as the poor in other countries?
There is an upsetting number of people in this country who want to turn it into a theocracy. How is that different from the Muslim world? Germany was supposedly the most enlightened and advanced country of Europe, but that didn't stop it from sliding downhill and creating the biggest genocide in world history.
What I am getting at is that, although the US HAS BEEN a great country, it may not stay that way if the Christian extremists get their way. And their propaganda machine is impressive. Electing charismatic candidates who then turn their backs on the poor and middle class is not the way to keep our country great. So can you understand our bitching? It's not really bitching as much about now as it is about the seeming wave of the future. Which doesn't look good.
I did take a little hostile attitude to start off and I apologize. I agree that we are far from perfect as a nation - but I don't think making the claim that we are somehow not a democracy is a non-hostile or accurate position to take. While we do live in a free country and we have the right to express that sentiment - the very fact that we have the right to express that sentiment is what makes us a free and democratic country.
I agree we have a lot of faults in our system and we need to make improvements - but the type of people my original ranting or frustration was directed at were those atheists who call themselves rationalist but come across with such claims that America is a "dictatorship" or that we somehow don't live in a democracy (although we don't live in a democracy by definition) but for all practical manners. In addition, these people tend to give excuses for terrorists who commit acts of terror and they themselves ramble up with anti-American and anti-west sentiments by calling us imperialist. Sort of - the Nim Chimpsky and George Galloway types of atheists - those defeatists, isolationists, and apologists. So I apologize if my ranting came out the wrong way to others such as you.
One more thing: I do see the extreme religious right as a threat - but we have a great constitution which the courts have upheld. I don't think anyone, including those on the right that pander to the religious elements of their base, truly want to turn America into any sort of theocracy - but I too see that as a threat and would never vote them into office, including Ron Paul. On the other hand, I don't consider George W. Bush as that type of Christian or religious fundamentalist. I hope you would agree with that sentiment. I see maybe Michelle Bachmann and some other loons like that to some extent - but nothing comparable to the Islamic world. In addition, I don't think any of those loons have a chance of being elected and making a difference with their visions in contrast to the apocalyptic and dangerous loons which compromise the Islamic Republic. I don't see how some atheists can ignore the very threat civilization faces with nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic maniacs.