The Ugly American Lives

MCN Listserv Discussion

Having traveled a great deal in Europe (two weeks last March again) I can tell you that Europe smiles in amusement about our ‘more freedom’. They find it a myth we perpetuate to keep our own citizens asleep and compliant. They see homeland sec as the ‘new Nazis’. I tend to agree. We no longer have sovereign control of our own bodies or can protect our children from groping by any stranger in a uniform- how ‘free’ is that?

As one German lady said to me- “Americans talk about all their freedom, but they can’t go into their own yard and sunbathe topless without getting arrested! In Germany, people go into parks on lovely days during their lunch- carefully remove their tops and stretch out to catch a few rays unharassed unless they’re being lewd. They find our puritanism hilarious.

A Norwegian comment was that for all our freedoms, we can’t even build what we want to build on our own lands. They are much less regulated than we are, although they’re swiftly catching up in the cities.   Norway has a very limited banking system, depending on plastic. You can’t just walk into a bank anywhere but Oslo- they have no checking accounts. Cards or cash only.

In Norway, the farmer is protected through a few regulations- the main one is that sellers have to buy Norwegian produce FIRST when it’s in season, then augment with less expensive imports when local goods are not available. The Prince wants his people to continue to be part of a thriving economy.  Since they use hydro-electric from the fjords, electricity is almost free. Medical is free, and when a child is born, the country gives the parents about $6-8,000 to put aside for expenses, buy furniture and clothes for the baby. When did the US ever do that?  We don’t even have ‘Welcome Wagon’ for new residents anymore.

The French notoriously are more flamboyant and tolerant- having a history of revolt and destruction. I don’t know a lot about their infrastructure, but one of their Christmas traditions that I LOVE is that parents take their small children around to the elderly and shut-ins and have the child give THEM gifts of food, to teach them compassion for those less fortunate.

In England, you aren’t even required to have your driver’s license on you. If you get a ticket and need to produce one, just take it down to the station sometime that week and they’ll deal with it, respectfully- no brutish posturing. They don’t have electronic or picture ID- it’s paper, like our social security card unless that’s changed in the last couple of years. They are much more polite, and in a very crowded tube you’ll hear “excuse me, excuse me, pardon me, so sorry,” along with ‘mind the gap!’

People in the Isles are very healthy and love to hike, and allow people to walk across their property on long hikes without confrontation as long as they leave no impact. You can walk for hundreds of miles on these long paths and see some of the most glorious landscape in the world, just climbing over stiles at property borders put there for just that reason.

People of Europe are more self responsible, less dependent on government bailouts, and more family and community oriented.  They have better wages, and get more from their taxes. You won’t see them texting and walking out into traffic- they pay attention!  They joyously go out to eat and meet with their neighbors.  They have better public transportation, better infrastructure, and more restraint on runaway business expansions.

They’re not so bound by environmental issues like a ‘surly sopworth’ or some obscure plant, as it’s been terraformed by man for thousands of years and has few ‘wild’ areas unless you go into the mountains. People there also are more mindful of cleanliness, and shopkeepers wash their windows every morning and take pride in the beauty of their city.  Streets are cleaned every day. Purchases are wrapped up in tissue paper and taped.

In Australia, they are more open to new things than many of the older countries, and have much of the freedoms we USED to enjoy.  They live hard, and play hard.  They are also REQUIRED to vote in the elections, and can be fined for not doing so- it’s not a right, it’s a civic duty!

So- I think we boast of our freedoms without reason sometimes.  Our country is young, and I’ve stayed in hotels older than this whole country! We’re immature upstarts.  We’re digging ourselves into a very deep hole with our arrogance.  We’ve became the ‘school bully’ who wants to control everything and grab all the attention, causing other countries to resent our haughty superior attitudes and want us to take it on the chin ‘to teach us we’re not so hot after all!’ Ahhhh yes, the Ugly American lives- how embarrassing!