There's some xenophobia going on in this discussion-- not so sure why some Americans still fail to realize that we're a nation of immigrants (with a smattering of natives) and that heterogeneity defines this country. Such fear/hatred does not improve matters.
On another thread, while it's probably not in the best interests of any country to radically change structures, incremental changes toward an end that we have an agreed upon consensus toward reaching is the basis of our government-- just like all other legitimate governments. I think most Americans can agree that we want the next generation to have a better life than our own. Defining 'better' in a generalized context can be thorny, but people could use objective measures like median household income, various public health measures per capita, CO2 in the atmosphere, education comparisons across nations, etc. I admittedly could not define it on my own, it's something that comes through discussion with others. Once agreed upon, then steps can be made to try to meet those interests, whereby the means should not be so important as long as we get closer to meeting such interests. This is a social contract, we have one in the Constitution.
As for +Norbert Sluzewski
, whether you like it or not, by being engaged in society, you adhere yourself to a social contract on what is acceptable (or sufficient as you said) and what is not. Any title that you may hold in your profession is a title given to you because you met requirements that were deemed sufficient to the organization. With respect to currency, we all agree that a $20 bill has the value we attach to it (objectively, it's just paper with no utilitarian value). Your assumption that other countries, just because they integrate more socialism into their systems, have low ceilings lacks logical grounding. People cannot dream big and achieve in Scandinavia? How about the founders of IKEA? Maersk? Even Lego? They weren't being limited, if anything, by in large, most people in Scandinavia are empowered to have the opportunity to do something great.
In the US, we say we believe in equal opportunity, but ultimately, does the middle-class white guy have the same opportunity to succeed as the working-class black girl? I can be more extreme with that scenario and say an upper-class white guy, but the point is the same. Our social and economic structure limits the lower classes from receiving anywhere near the same opportunities to succeed in life as those with wealthier means. This does not mean that people cannot break through, but that is the exception. It's old news that working hard will get you somewhere in the US, that's not necessarily enough to achieve social mobility, the cards are stacked against the younger generations from doing the same thing that the older generations were able to do in the past. I'm not speaking out of spite or bitterness, I broke through.
To claim that Finland, or Europe for that matter, has a social agreement for what is sufficient-- and the USA doesn't-- is preposterous. Social agreements make up society. I agree that the US has had a positive effect, in many respects, on the world, so has Scandinavia/Europe-- also, in many ways. The exchange of ideas from different cultures adds value. However, I don't know what you mean by wishing the fate of countries like Finland, since it's not clear as to what 'fate' you mean. If you mean a more complete understanding of equal opportunity, then I suppose I somehow condemn our culture.