Short Read

America: The Grim Truth

 

Some of the claims in the article are untrue (70% of taxes going to the military) and others are just nuts (the government is going to lock the place down...they don’t want their “recruits” escaping. They don’t want YOU escaping)

 

However, let's take a look at the primary claim:

"You (Americans) have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin"

 

and some of the supporting claims

Americans have:

-less access to health care

-poorer diets (less healthy)

-Low quality food (more processed, more contamination, etc)

-More reliance on meds

-Less vacation time (more stress)

-Expensive education (starting life with high debt)

-Greater Debt Overall

-Higher Bankruptucy rates (see above on debts)

-Less freedom (drug tests, surveillence)

-Misinformed citizenry (Fox News, Right/Left wing media)

-An uneducated population

-Corrupt politicians

-Crushing Debt

-etc, etc, etc.

 

I'd love to hear from anyone, but especially those of you who reside outside of America and can provide objective viewpoints.

 

 

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PB,

So then the bottom line is you think I owe you and I don't. Your idea is fundamentally Marxist.

that made me lol

 

have you ever read Marx?  

 

I don't think you owe me anything.  I think you owe everyone something.  No one prospers without taking from others.  If you've prospered more, you've taken more.  plain and simple. (I can't help but notice that your reply was shorter than I anticipated)

One of the biggest differences between America as a country and other western states to me, is the measure in which America is ruled by it's history. Often I get the idea that Americans look for solutions in their past and think "that which was good enough for my father is good enough for me". To me, this has the potential problem that Americans miss out on opportunities to improve their society simply because of preconceptions that things are "socialist" or "anti-american". Other laws and methods are kept despite of better alternatives because these are "american" principles that should not be meddled with. 

 

Also, it seems to some Europeans like me that some Americans have distorted ideas about how other western countries operate and how political systems function abroad. Partly due to media such as Fox News, I presume it seems that a significant part of America is willfully ignorant in regards to the world outside of the US. 

 

Ignorance and religiosity often go hand in hand and people that spent inordinate amounts of time polishing their in group relationships tend to get isolated from society as a whole. In regards to the world and western states, I would say that many unnecessary barriers exist between the US and other countries based upon a tendency for Americans to forget what is beyond the horizon. 

 

I don't know whether Americans have the worst quality of life in the developed world though, statements like these tend to be highly subjective. However, I can tell you that in regards to freedoms and liberties both in theory and in practice the US can learn an awful lot from other countries. I would consider myself to be a pragmatist, what works, works and that's why we keep it in place. Americans, in general, tend to be more idealist in their opinions as in that they seem to wish that reality bends itself to their will instead of bending their will to fit reality. 

 

I'm not saying that these problems are only affecting Americans, I would presume from the limited information that I have that it is more present in American culture then it is for instance in western Europe, though. 

 

Interesting topic, I wonder what other views people have.

Rob,

Thanks for your perspective, and yes, it is an interesting topic and one in which I would very much appreciate the non-American perspective.  It is a difficult question to get an informed and objective answer on from my fellow Americans. 

 

You raised some interesting points that I'll elaborate on below:

(Note:  Please see my question for you at the end of my comments)

 

"Often I get the idea that Americans look for solutions in their past and think "that which was good enough for my father is good enough for me."

 

Absolutely, thus the mythification of our "Founding Fathers" and a desire to return to "God", "The Bible" and the past as if things were oh so wonderful back then.  It seems to me that us Americans are naive and/or misinformed about the reality of our history.  The book "Lies My Teacher Told Me" is about the myths and unrealistic glorification of American History that is being taught in our public schools.  If only our history teachers could use "A Peoples History" by Howard Zinn instead of the fictional text books currently used.

 

"I presume it seems that a significant part of America is willfully ignorant in regards to the world outside of the US"

Again, I would concur.  I would wager that most Americans don't even know what type of political and governmental system Canada has.  Why should we look to other countries - we are the "shining city on the hill", right?  Ronald Reagan is a God around here and certainly everything he says is true, isn't it?

 

"Ignorance and religiosity often go hand in hand"

I don't know if "Ignorant" is the correct term to describe the Americans I know.  Many of my colleagues at work are much more intelligent than I am - and they are all religious and all conservative Republicans.  I'm really not sure what to call it.  I suppose it is the need to conform more than anything, although the lack of critical thinking skills and reasoning restricts their ability to not follow the herd.

 

"I don't know whether Americans have the worst quality of life in the developed world though, statements like these tend to be highly subjective."

"Worst quality of Life" might be a stretch, but it is a long way from the "best"  in may different measures - IMO.

 

"Americans, in general, tend to be more idealist in their opinions as in that they seem to wish that reality bends itself to their will instead of bending their will to fit reality"

Again, I think this goes back to the idea of American Exceptionalism.  We are the pinnacle of human society, or so they think, so why would we consider changing anything?

 

Rob: 

I see you are from the Netherlands -lucky you.  Question:  Have you been to the US?  Whether you have or have not, can you provide your perspective on the key differences in Quality of life between your home country and America?

 

I don't know if "Ignorant" is the correct term to describe the Americans I know.  Many of my colleagues at work are much more intelligent than I am

 

It was not at all meant as an insult to intelligence, rather to point out a lack of knowledge. Being ignorant of something is nothing to be ashamed of, it is in fact the correct state of being in regards to most subjects. Hell, I'm even ignorant in regards to what I'm ignorant about! Further more, I don't see intelligence as a measure of quality in a human, it's a tool just as knowledge is. Whether you have it or lack it, it is not a valid measure for human quality.

 

American Exceptionalism

 

Funny thing is that most Americans I meet in the Netherlands tend to say "I'm from *insert US state here*" then "I'm American" as if they're trying to create a distance between themselves and this idea that we Europeans have of American Misplacedtriotism.

 

The "redneck" Americans tend to behave in the exact same manner as the "anti-social" types here in the Netherlands. The more liberal people in Western Europe are not that different from the more liberal Americans either. The catholics behave in similar manners (although in the Netherlands religion is very much a private "indoor" matter) the protestants do too, and we even have the odd evangelical organisation that resembles the American churches quite well. We're the same people here on the other side of the pond, just a different mix.

 

All in all, I don't really see where Dutch culture stops and the influences of American culture seep into my own life. Whatever opinions I have about which is which are clouded by years of pointlessly beating dead horses with fellow ignorant humans in smoky bars or coffeeshops. I don't even presume to be Dutch, cause I simply don't know  what the %&*$ it's about to be Dutch, or feel it.

 

I watch English, Dutch and American news, several blogs from similar origin, I watch American, British, Australian, Dutch, Korean and Japanese TV shows, cartoons and series and movies so you tell me what part of my experience is Dutch. I honestly don't know.

 

I do believe that the quality of life in the Netherlands is better, for once we are more productive*, we are more liberal in our opinions about what can be allowed or not. Our prison system is better, most people below the age of 40 are bilingual, we have more different nationalities in our capital then New York, and religion tends to be a private matter for people to practice in their private lives. Because our own national cuisine is not that spectacular we tend to steal it from other cultures, so you can find all kinds of international ingredients and restaurants here. All in all, it's a melting pot of different flavors of people which to me improves quality of life.

 

It is all purely subjective, and quite honestly I think I would have stated exactly the opposite if I were to have been born in the US. 

 

* according to recent study by the Conference Board. (62.1 vs 61.1$ per hour for the Netherlands and the US respectively)**

** which could be a statistical difference, but let's not mention that ;) ***

*** Except when talking to Obama who forgot about Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands in his "Americans are the most productive" remark during the SOTU. 

RVS,

I really like the founding fathers. Not because of tradition, convention or because my daddy did. I value their morals and ethics. I value the constitution of the United States because it upholds the rights of the individual, which, imo, morality centers around, since all moral decision are made by individuals and one cannot properly rely on someone else to live their life. I believe sacrifice, not charity, philanthropy, compassion or empathy, but sacrifice is wrong and therefore altruism and socialism. This, again, has nothing to do with me not wanting change or liking old traditional ways and such. I believe it is a wrong assumption to think that the US would improve were it to be more socialistic. This place is getting worse because it is becoming more socialistic. But that's just me and my opinion. I cannot speak for other Americans.

I thought you didn't like taxes.  That is in the constitution.
Not income taxes. Not originally.
And I'm sure there is a thing or two else that I don't like, but the general idea of upholding individual rights is what I most identify with.

Both my daughter and I are Canadian and have lived in the US and I totally agree with the list.  We are

much more relaxed here as far as debt is concerned.  We have no medical worries here, no fear of being sued and everyone gets 3 weeks vacation per year when starting a new job.  We trust our government, our police force and our health care system and our banking system is secure.

 

Americans seem to be paranoid about universal health care, their government and feel the need to constantly carry guns to protect themselves.  In Canada those things never cross our minds.  We feel safe here.

Thanks Willow, and good for you and your daughter.   I'm sure Canada has their conservatives too, but I doubt they are as loud-mouthed as they are to the south.  

 

My family and I may join you in a few years.  I hope they let us in. 

The Canadians that speak out are not the religious zealots that I hear from the US.  You seem to be heavily influence by that sector and I find that hard to understand.  Religion does not make laws in Canada the way they seem to try in the US and the way I have seem them try to do in the US.

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