Talk:United States

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Median household net worth fell 36% over past decade[edit]

A. NYT. Include that and the top 5% of households' net worth growing 14% over the same period?

B. Should we also include a chart showing the historical trend across economic recoveries? EllenCT (talk) 19:31, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Much too specific and recentist. I don't think it belongs in this summary article. We have articles on the economics of the U.S. that it can go into. --Golbez (talk) 13:18, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Golbez. This article covers a vast subject, and there is no need to provide excessive coverage to any aspect. TFD (talk) 15:39, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
We already have household net worth in the infobox, and a paragraph on it which discusses its distribution and its changes from June 2007 to November 2008 with three sentences, each describing general, absolute and relative terms. How is the past decade more specific or more recentist? The change over the past decade is both objectively less specific and less recentist. Since experienced editors do not even bother to examine the existing text when changes are proposed, it is obviously a mistake to propose changes before just being bold and making them. I regret I ever took the advice of those who want me to ask permission before being WP:BOLD. EllenCT (talk) 17:37, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
There is a limit to how much detail there should be and there already is a lot. The article already has a chart showing median income. I think the main points are: the U.S. has the highest level of inequality of any developed nation and the weakest social safety net, and poverty has increased since monetarism was adopted in the 1970s. Plus the positives - the high average income and overall largest economy in the world. In might be worthwhile to say something about how the negatives and positives relate. But we should not provide undue weight to this aspect of the U.S. TFD (talk)
So how about replacing the three sentences describing the change in household wealth from June 2007 to November 2008 (which I agree is needlessly over-specific now that the recovery is eclipsing the recession) with one sentence describing the change in median household net worth over the past decade, one sentence describing the change in top 5% household net worth over the past decade, and one sentence describing the trend in income changes during recoveries from 1949 to present? EllenCT (talk) 18:37, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Here are some more recent stories on wealth and income over the longer time frame. Does anyone believe there is any reason not to replace the '07-'08 change figures with changes over the entire past decade? EllenCT (talk) 21:05, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Another quantification of wealth over a longer time period. EllenCT (talk) 00:03, 10 September 2014 (UTC)


This article says almost nothing about the mineral deposits in America, such as coal, oil, iron ore and the like. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MissouriOzark1947 (talkcontribs) 10:05, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

There is something about this in the article on Petroleum. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MissouriOzark1947 (talkcontribs) 10:10, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
For most countries I don't think this would be worth mentioining in a summary article; howeverm given the massive importance of these deposits on the history and current status of the country, I think they deserve a mention here. Especially coal, oil, and , agruably, gold. (talk) 14:14, 5 September 2014 (UTC)


Here are some problems I found while doing this edit, that require more than my usual corrections to spelling and such:

  • "The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus, The Constitution has been amended 27 times;[233] the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights."
That is a strange summary of the Constitution. It mentions Article One, picks out one detail in it, and then it skips all the way to the amendments, and then makes several points about amendments. If I were to summarize the Constitution that briefly, I would mention legislative, executive, and judicial, before I mentioned the details picked out in that description.
  • I see in your archives that you have often discussed the "Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii" sentence, so add me to the list of people to whom it sounds wrong. The sentence doesn't say they were republics for a long time, nor does it say they were still republics up until they became states. Adding the word "well-established" before "independent" would fix it, if you don't want to get distracted by the California Republic and maybe West Florida.
  • The reference currently numbered 256 (numbers change when adding or deleting references) says:
Addis, Casey L. (February 14, 2011). "Israel: Background and U.S. Relations". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
That is confusing this report with this different report with the same title, a different author, and a different date. Either report would seem adequate to document the point you're documenting, but make up your mind. The report you cite should be the same report you get when clicking. Art LaPella (talk) 03:43, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Second Bullet[edit]

Agreed, I attempted the copyedit so as to read that Vermont, Texas and Hawaii were well-established republics when they entered the Union. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:14, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. Art LaPella (talk) 20:07, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

First Bullet[edit]

At the last paragraph in the introduction section of Government and politics, beginning "The original text of the Constitution...", the entire paragraph should be replaced with something which describes the U.S. government and politics, --- discussing the judiciary with the following wording:

Federal Courts rule on state law and constitutions and on federal legislation and regulations by judicial review as defined in Article Three of the Constitution. They apply the Constitutional principle of the Supremacy clause, that the Constitution, Congressional law and treaties are the supreme law of the land. State Courts also rule by their state constitutions in a judicial review of state legislation. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:06, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Reading it again, I now have a better understanding than I did before, of how that paragraph fits into the entire section. So I'm glad I didn't mess with it myself! Art LaPella (talk) 20:09, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
No, your initial assessment is correct. The paragraph is a badly written, redundant and unsystematic stab at talking around the subject of the Constitution and the courts. Overall the introduction in the section treats the three major branches of government, then some consideration of lawmaking in the country. The judicial system has a hand to play in what law stands, therefore I crafted a substitute paragraph on the courts. Perhaps the last paragraph needs to be struck without any replacement, but in any case the paragraph as written is unsatisfactory. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 22:15, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
My initial assessment was that the two sentences (or one comma-spliced sentence) were a poor summary of the Constitution. My second assessment was that the whole section is about the Constitution. Thus I have no further objection, to either the existing text, or to the suggested replacement which is probably better. Art LaPella (talk) 00:26, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Early settlement[edit]

The second paragraph of this article begins "Paleo-Indians migrated from Eurasia to what is now the U.S. mainland around 15,000 years ago," then moves on to the more reasonable starting point in the 16th century. This beginning seems absurd. If we're talking about the piece of land, rather than the country, why not begin with another arbitrary event on that land? The next paragraph discusses contemporary native tribes, which is a more natural place to bring up the fact that the land was settled.

(After too many bad experiences editing myself, I'm just going to leave this here in the hope that someone with the cachet to defend their edits agrees.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Introducing American history with Paleozoic era migrations from Asia and the extinction of the earliest Mound Builders follows the convention of many introductory U.S. textbooks which then develop the theme of streams or waves of immigration from other continents, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, over the course of their narrative.
Part of the modern historiographic agenda is to avoid an exclusively British-centric view of national development. It’s not that other starting points cannot be reasonable, only that it is now-a-days usual for the general reader with a recent American background to begin with "Paleo-Indians migrated". TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 12:24, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
It isn't only this article that does that. Many (if not most) articles on the history of countries begins with the earliest settlement of that country. History of England begins "The territory that now constitutes England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by ancient humans more than 800,000 years ago as the discovery of flint tools and footprints at Happisburgh in Norfolk has revealed.[1] The earliest evidence for early modern humans in North West Europe is a jawbone discovered in Devon at Kents Cavern in 1927, which was re-dated in 2011 to between 41,000 and 44,000 years old". History of France begins "Stone tools indicate that early humans were present in France at least 1.8 million years ago.[1] The first modern humans appeared in the area 40,000 years ago. The first written records for the history of France appear in the Iron Age." History of China begins "The Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization, although cultures originated at various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys millennia ago in the Neolithic era. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations." History of Australia begins " Aboriginal Australians are believed to have first arrived on the Australian mainland by sea from Maritime Southeast Asia between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. The artistic, musical and spiritual traditions they established are among the longest surviving such traditions in human history." I could go on ad infinitum, but you get the point. It is convention to discuss the history of a country by starting not just with the foundation of the specific state in that locale, but with discussion of the first human habitation at that locale. After all, if we only considered the current state, France has only existed since 4 October 1958, and starting there seems patently absurd. Instead, it helps to have a context for human habitation of that country from the earliest evidence of it. --Jayron32 17:24, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
All right, you two have won me over. It's not how I'd approach it (I think the history of a country's founders and inhabitants are more relevant than its geography), but it's consistently applied, well-intentioned, and harmless. Could have done without the reductio ad absurdum on France, though, Jayron32. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Aboriginal Americans remain inhabitants, and remain a distinct group, and continued to play a role in American history. While the start date of the U.S. is 1776-83, some mention must be made of the history of the states that formed the union. The fact they were founded in territories that had aboriginal inhabitants is relevant. OTOH, the history section must remain brief, and extensive discussion should be left to other articles. Furthermore, unlike Australia, the U.S. had a huge range of aboriginal groups (especially when Hawaii and Alaska are included) and many of these groups also had members living in what today is Canada and Mexico. TFD (talk) 21:19, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
IMHO, Such a diverse range of rich and important cultures and combined with interesting and fascinating general history of North America, Alaska and Hawaii absolutely deserves its own main page, history of the united states, which is more general than the country itself, which has a starting date range and early history etc. This page is already too full and confusing, hard and difficult to navigate, challenging to use and to find specific information. Zarpboer (talk) 07:31, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
See History of the United States. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 08:58, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
I did, thank you. that page is important to the history of the US itself and is already so full, Maybe either 'early history of peoples of..' or index page with sections and links to the already existing detailed pages, where they exist and just the section for those that do not yet exist. This probably needs much more thought/discussion in order to formulate a proper suggestion or to figure out whether it is workable and an actual improvement or not? Maybe someone already knows :) Zarpboer (talk) 13:28, 12 September 2014 (UTC)


Just after: "...a prominent political and cultural force, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovation." I would like to discuss adding a sentence about what makes America great. From a neutral perspective, this is important because I believe that it is not simply the richness of resources, that is mentioned on the page, or the abundance of land, or any other factor except the people and the Culture itself, that makes the USA what it is. Further down the article, the section on Culture describes the American creed and American dream, but a short and simple sentence in the heading that also references the Cultural section, the same as the other references do, would add to a neutral view of the country. Would someone be willing to help me to construct such an proposed addition please? Zarpboer (talk) 12:44, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for suggesting that my edit "requires copy-editing and better placement (not after geology) - requires discussion on talk" - Dhtwiki = It was: The people of the United States are known for their ideal "that all things are possible books", their emphasis on freedom, initiative and individuality and for their pursuit of the American Dream. - My citation was: The American spirit; a basis for world democracy - - please suggest a more appropriate position? Is improvement to the sentence by replacing "their emphasis on freedom, initiative and individuality and for their pursuit" with "their emphasis on freedom, initiative and individuality as well as for their pursuit" be adequate? Zarpboer (talk) 12:58, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
I meant "geography" (and climate), not "geology" with regard to placement. It would go before, if it were agreed to. But the fact that you've had no response to your initial comment tells me, and it was my reaction, that "what makes America great" is too nebulous a topic to be addressed easily, if at all. At least it needs to be developed in the article body before it's reflected in the lead (your initial suggestion seemed to be to place it in the Culture section). However, if you're going to address the point, I think you need to have references more recent than the one you quoted (also, remember that punctuation goes before a reference, which I think was my major complaint regarding your edit needing copy-editing). Dhtwiki (talk) 13:11, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
For a more recent take, we could use:
Americans have built a nation over the course of their history in a continuing contest over the meanings of freedom, politically, economically, and over which residents are entitled to its expression in their participation, civil liberties, moral ideals, and working lives.
(ref. Foner, Eric. The Story of American Freedom (1998) ISBN 0-393-04665-6, p. xvi-xix.) TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:18, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
That is a very good reference. (and a great sentence) I am going to work through it properly, thank you so much, it covers the shaping of freedom very well! - My comment was more related to the people of the USA, I came to the page originally to look for a reference to American culture, can do spirit and what the core differentiators are. I had to read through a lot, to get to the culture section, (The USA page is gigantic) then that linked to the American dream and even then, nothing much about that which is the generally accepted notions of freedom, individuality and initiative - in an academic paper I once read "can do spirit"? Adding an additional section would make the page even larger than it is? It is obviously the people of America that makes the country great?, what and who the people of America are at their core, that is the deficit on this very well developed page? Maybe this is all obvious to an American? but it is not obvious to the non American and it is difficult information to find Zarpboer (talk) 14:31, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
How does Foner's sentence distinguish the United States from other countries, much less pinpoint what makes the U.S. great? How we came down on the issue of who is entitled to participate has varied widely throughout our history. 1919, the year of your reference that talked of a "can do" spirit, was the year of most lynchings of blacks, if I recall correctly. For some a "can do" spirit caused them a lot of trouble. And that was an era in which we were growing and becoming greater. Dhtwiki (talk) 05:06, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
But that is exactly the point made above already... the American people developed, and is constantly developing an understanding of freedom. It is the ability of the people to be honest with themselves, to reflect, to freely speak out, to criticize themselves. This from the 17th century, through 1919 and to this present day. Sofar as I can establish, that is the universal truth about the American people and what makes them great. Regarding the "can do" spirit, it is in this spirit that many good and bad things were done? From a neutral point of view, it is not really relevant whether the "can do" spirit has done evil things or good things, just simply that it was, and is the essence of the American people? Zarpboer (talk)
  • Comment I'd be highly reluctant to insert any single individual's opinion of the American people (or any other people) into an article about a country. It would seem doomed to fail WP:POV. I'm especially reluctant when the source is around 100 years old but even a new book would fail WP:POV.Jeppiz (talk) 21:31, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Response to comment: Is your proposition that it is a single individuals opinion that the culture and essence of what is a country, is not its people? It is preposterous to even consider that a country could exist without a people! Anyway, to take this back to the original issue: On this USA page, if it is generally accepted that a country cannot even exist without people, then in the heading weight should be given to those people. Personally I do not know what makes the American people who they are. What the USA page does not reflect, is why is the USA great? Is it the USA laws?, The amount of natural resources in the USA? - Patently, not. It is the American people themselves. So then, what is it about these people? What is it that differentiates an American from myself (an African)? What I do know, is that they are a great and giving people, who have and are constantly developing and even re-inventing themselves. They have done many great things and continue doing many great things. (I can give a simple recent example to reflect the giving spirit of this great nation: sending 3000 troops to help with the West African Ebola virus.) American people are awesome. And simply the culture of who these people are needs more weight in the heading of the USA, that is not a WP:FRINGE or single individuals opinion. It simply is a neutral, balanced and encyclopedic view of the page itself. Zarpboer (talk) 07:59, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
So we now have a statement supporting the idea of a summary sentence on the American culture. And another disagreeing with the general idea in the abstract because characterizing "what makes America great" will be POV. I agree with the general idea. The source may be from a historian with a sociological emphasis, who may be describing the American culture without determining that is "what makes it great", but rather iterates specific characteristics contributing to its continuation as a recognizable world culture. So the search is on for the reliable source with a pithy characterization to supply proposed language for a copy edit. Otherwise the suggestion dies at the conceptual stage as unpractical. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 12:28, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Zarpboer, as usual (I'm sorry to say) you don't get the point and then you rant against your own misunderstanding. Nobody is denying that there are different cultures and that countries consist of their individuals. But to from there to a phrase claiming to define a nation is quite a leap. And how to decide on whom to rely? Mitt Romney has one view of what characterizes the US. Usama bin Laden, to take an extreme example, also had a view on that, though very different from Romney's. If you ask sociologists from the UK, Mexico, Nigeria, Iran, Russia, Australia and China about what defines Americans, you're likely to get very different answers. So the question is quite simple. If we should include the view of one, or a few, individuals, how do we decide whose view of the US to present?Jeppiz (talk) 12:35, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Jeppiz No, sorry, You are not understanding what I am saying... I never said 'culture' - You did. I said: "a Country consists of people" Regarding your remark about the views of what characterizes the USA, the answer is simple: Use that which is the generally accepted view(s) of what defines the American people. Even between Usama bin Laden and Mitt Romney the views do intersect, or at the very least not conflict, around a few simple words, for example: Freedom. Then, the idea is not to define the culture of the American people, culturally the American people are non exclusive and Americans consist of almost all the different modern cultures on the planet. There is no universal truth or universal fact, which is why Foner's sentence: Americans have built a nation over the course of their history in a continuing contest over the meanings of freedom, politically, economically, and over which residents are entitled to its expression in their participation, civil liberties, moral ideals, and working lives. Read it again - And more specifically as it pertains to the economic part of that sentence, it excludes ALL nations. (Extreme example, Zimbabwe progressive example, Britain) the defining differences here are: continuing contest, the British nation is not so defined, and on the other side of ridiculous, neither are the Zimbabweans or anyone else. In fact, ask not how Foners sentence makes the USA great, rather ask how it does not? Which other nation on the planet can make the same claims of constantly, consistently over hundreds of years, doing the same thing now as they did a hundred years or two hundred years, ago? The American people are discussing freedom right now, today, somewhere in the USA it is a trending topic, the same as they have consistently been doing. Nobody else does this. Not the Dutch, Not the Germans, nobody. For other nations it is more of a cyclic thing, not a continuing contest, over centuries. And when I say nations, I do mean the people (all the cultures that combine into a cohesive unit which forms a singular country) - Personally: If I am not understanding something then maybe if someone could explain it differently to me, I would sincerely appreciate it, maybe I am not as intelligent as you are and it would be really cool to come to terms with this concept properly Zarpboer (talk) 13:10, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Politicians are not reliable sources published in academic journals with peer review. Everything is not relative. The point of going to academics is that they will have analytical descriptions which can be acknowledged in many different places, as their characterizations are backed up by evidence. The variable will be whether those same traits are admired, respected, tolerated or reviled.

The religious tolerance in the United States which allows Sunnis and Shia to worship with their families in a Mosque of their choosing and make it home with all alive is despised in the Islamic State, where one is executed on the roadside for answering the diagnostic question wrongly: How many kneelings at morning prayer? The Sunni answers correctly for that culture, the Shia is summarily executed. There is nothing the U.S. can do to satisfy the ISIL objection as long as Shia are allowed to worship in peace in the U.S., and the American culture will not admit religious intolerance, and there is evidence which peer-reviewed academics use to support that view.

But religious toleration as a trait in the American culture cannot be included in this article without a reliable source and proposed language for a copy edit which is agreed to in consensus. The issue is encompassed in the Foner quote addressing "civil liberties". It describes a culture of contests over core values, which is to say each iteration in the quote refers to traits in the culture. The POV "what makes America great" is exactly what is to be avoided in favor of what is descriptive. Although adherents of American exceptionalism are everywhere, it is not necessary to demonstrate that no other culture is religiously tolerant to describe the U.S. as such, only that it is descriptively manifest among the Americans as a culture in order to note it in one way or another. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:24, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Cool!, the way you explain things are very very cool, thank you so much for taking the time TheVirginiaHistorian I also now understand the inclusive nature of the descriptive differences in the various iterations of the sentence. And, obviously as per your explanation, I similarly accept that additional references to the American dream, can do spirit, etc. will require the same descriptive source as Foner. So, the Foner sentence is fine, with consensual acceptance, and the hunt is then on for contextual and non WP:SYN generally academically accepted citations which includes the additional concepts. Okay, research it is then Zarpboer (talk) 13:42, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Can I just remind everybody about WP:FORUM? ThanksJeppiz (talk) 15:44, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
I was thinking of sources such as the social historian who was the Librarian of Congress for a number of years, Daniel Boorstin, mining his books, articles and speeches. Foner was president of the American Historical Association. The idea is to find a reliable source of nationally recognized stature in an academic field. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:43, 20 September 2014 (UTC)


"Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered center-right or conservative and the Democratic Party is considered center-left or liberal." I'd say that was more of an outsider's description, within the US they are just seen as right/conservative and left/liberal. --Khajidha (talk) 16:42, 15 September 2014 (UTC)


Should I remove this part?

"Samoan and Chamorro are recognized by American Samoa and Guam, respectively.Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands"
  • I've been looking for verifiable sources for months and ended up with nothing,I think we should remove these words because they are tagged with "citation needed" tags.--ChamithN (talk) 21:34, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Add "Zoroastrians" to the section in religion in America.[edit]

In the section listing other religions, you also add Zoroastrians, as they do have a presence especially in California. Refer to the part about "membership". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2014 (UTC)