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The surest indicator of a great nation is represented not by the achievements of its rulers, artists, or scientists, but the general welfare of its people.
The speaker asserts that it is the general welfare of people that should be regarded as the indicator of a great nation instead of achievements of certain elites while the public are holding various perspectives on this issue. From my point of view, the general welfare of citizens should be given the highest priority for any nation and thus it can greatly represent the well being of the nation. Beyond this concession, however, achievements of rulers, artists, and scientists are non-negligible factors indicating a nation's well being since they usually serve to improve people's standard of living.
The very objective of a nation's rulers is to provide citizens with a qualified life and the most important factor contributing to it is the welfare regime. Therefore a good welfare system can effectively represent a great nation. Opponents may argue that judging a nation is never a straightforward issue as it involves various requirements such as, stable economy, pollution-free environment, freedom of speech, and healthy legal institution. On the other hand, however, a good welfare system can only be established if all the requirements above are satisfied, in other words, all of these factors to some extent serve as foundation on which a complete and sound welfare state is established, hence the welfare of people would still be an appropriate indicator of a prosperous nation.
Notwithstanding the foregoing reasons why the general welfare is an adequate indicator of a great nation, the statement poses certain problems that it unfairly ignores the influence of social elites, such as scientists and artists.
In the area of natural science, the primary goal of most scientific researches and inventions is to benefit the public's life quality so as to develop a prosperous nation. An example involving the discovery of antibiotics can aptly illustrate how a scientific achievement can contribute to a nation's development. In early twentieth century, thousands of lives are easily claimed by pneumonia until a pathologist and bacteriologist discovered the first commercially available antibiotic that kills bacteria. In current society, numerous examples prove that scientific achievements can address pressing social problems in various areas and hence they are certainly good indicator of a great nation.
The development of art also fairly indicates the well being of a nation for mainly two reasons that artistic works enrich people's spiritual life and that great art achievements are accomplished on the foundation of a peaceful and stable societal environment. Generally, the public would not appreciate or pursue fine arts until they are satisfied with their material conditions, hence abundant art achievements indicate both spiritual and material civilization, in other words, a well-developed society.
In conclusion, I concede the speaker's assertion that the general welfare is a proper indicator of a great nation because improving citizen's quality of life is a nation's ultimate objective. However the speaker unfairly ignores the contribution to a nation from achievements of certain social elites that scientific inventions help address social needs and artistic achievements elevate people's inner world.