It is amazing to me how ignorant Americans can be on the most basic worldly matters.

I just read a report about how more than half of Americans believe China is the world’s largest economy. I hate to break it to you “over half of the country”, but our GDP is almost three times as big as China’s.

In fact, America has a GDP larger than the next four largest countries combined. We also have a GDP larger than the 6th-14th biggest countries by GDP. If words are too complicated, here is that same information in pretty pictures:

America GDP Comparison

As you can see here, America's GDP is about the same size as the next four largest GDPs or the 6th-14th largest GDPs combined

Turn on the TV and you’ll see people talking about how much of a mess our country is in. You might hear about our very own president who doesn’t believe in American Exceptionalism compared to the rest of the world. Here are the words of Mr. Barack Obama:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

You can read the full quote here. I understand he made this statement while overseas and was trying to be diplomatic about praising his own country while acknowledging the rest of the world. I truly do understand why he would say what he did; I just wish he hadn’t.

I believe the combination of the American Constitution, our national history, and the unparalleled intelligence, compassion, and entrepreneurship of our citizens makes America exceptional not only today, but in the history of the world.

We’ve made mistakes in the past and we’ll make mistakes in the future, but America is the economic and political engine that has been driving the world for the better part of a century. We are proof that freedom and economic prosperity is within the grasp of any country.

Except I wonder if we even believe it ourselves. The scariest part about over half the country believing China has the largest economy in the world is the fact that those people seems to be perfectly happy with the idea of letting China lead the rest of the world.

If those 50%+ were right, that would mean a country without freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion would be driving the world’s economy. If those people were right, a country where having more than one child is illegal and where crimes such as embezzelment and tax fraud are punishable by death would be setting the world economic standard.

That’s not okay with me.

The median income in China is less than $6,000 USD. The average person in China is living in what you or I would consider poverty. Is that the economy you want leading the world?

I’m not suggesting we pick a fight with China. While I feel bad for all the people who are living in a totalitarian society and don’t have the political freedom to pursue any dream they may have, I believe there can be a diplomatic solution to their plight. I don’t want to “beat up” the Chinese before they get bigger than us because I don’t believe it’s morally right, but I’m also smart enough to know China vs. USA would result in nothing less than nuclear Armageddon.

I don’t want to cut them down; I want to make sure we stay bigger than them, and everyone else, forever. I’m suggesting that we, as Americans, embrace our role as the leader of the free world. Even in this post-recession world, our economy is still almost three times as big as China’s because we have a foundation of economic and civil freedoms.

Americans are natural entrepreneurs. We take risks. We aren’t afraid to fail. Our European ancestors took a massive risk in sailing across the ocean to come to America. Many didn’t even survive the trip over, but those that did laid a genetic foundation of motivated, risk averse people who built the largest economy in the world.

We have an exceptional political system and economic foundation based on FREEDOM that will allow us to be a beacon of light and hope for the rest of the world, so long as we embrace that responsibility.

If we don’t take that responsibility seriously, then instead of being economically larger than all the following countries combined, we’ll just be another one of them.

GDP smaller than America

The combined GDP of all countries listed here is still smaller than the GDP of the United States of America