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Originally Posted by Lillietta
I agree with you sponger. I have to admit when I was young and idealistic and romantic, I wanted to live elsewhere. Now that I am middle-aged, the only other place I would consider is Vancouver, BC because it is close to the US and I do prefer the lesser crime in Canada. But I have to say that I don't agree with Moose about individual people. We are a capitalistic nation that places way too much emphasis on money but you can choose to find many, many people who don't share that characteristic and spend your time with them. The big cities emphasize this more than the rest of the country and the big cities are the ones visited usually by tourists. It would pay to have visitors see the rest of our country - the smaller areas - that is the real mentality - many humble people enjoying the simple pleasures.
The main reason now, after having traveled extensively in my lifetime, that I would choose staying here is that we have so many more options than I have seen in any other country which gives us a freedom that may not be understood by those viewing our crummy politics, but I honestly don't think our politics are any worse than anyone else's in the overall view. We had a horrible time with Bush, but a good time with Clinton and now who knows?
I lived and worked in the US for 3 years, visit every single year, have numerous American friends in the US and in Europe. I spent a year travelling around America, and visited every state. I spoke to thousands of people in that year across many States. My grand-father was American.
I read American Papers daily ( NY Times and Herald Tribune), weekly magazines such as "Time", and "Newsweek" and the New Yorker. I also read websites such as the ones for the Washington Post and Boston Globe. I try to keep myself informed on a very regular basis , and also keep up with the forthcoming elections.
I also lived on every continent ( apart from Australia and Antarctica) so I think I am not that narrow-minded, naive or ignorant as to the rest of the world.
What I noticed was how much more important money was to people. It seemed to be what everyone talked about, how people judge other's people's success. More important than time ) to spend on leisure , family, friends etc...) which to me is really odd.
I was also surprised at the fact that the vast majority of Americans think their own healthcare system is broken. Utterly broken.
I never said all Americans were greedy, selfish or nasty as some posters implied, I said as a Nation ( basically the way it is politically run) there is far too much emphasis on limitless profits, greed and self absorption. I have nothing a kind of benighn capitalism but aggressive capitalism really scares me. It ignores crucial social issues such as poverty, exploitation and human misery.
I was surprised of how much utter poverty I saw in the US ( the Appalachians and Alabama for example ) , almost to developing country level. But what shocked me most was that when I told other Americans in well to do urban areas for example, many denied it ( and some called me a liar in fact).
There seems so much self-denial going on about how some of the poorest and most vulnerable are treated as well as complete indifference from many quarters. It really shocked me.
Believe me I am not wearing "rose-tinted" spectacles about Europe and I am perfectly aware of the many social ills and problems facing my "home" continent. I have been a "social activist" for over 24 years so I quite aware of my own ( and other Nations) Nations' many shortcomings ( and always more than willing to throw the first stone when needed).
We too have poverty and homelessness. But in my considered opinion being poor in the US is far, far, worse than being poor in France , or Germany. By a long, long way.
It frightens me that Americans have been "brainwashed" to see any kind of social net as "communist". I know the cold war was traumatic but it still bemuses me that anyone thinks rewarding hard working people with paid vacation is communist, how ensuring every one has access to the same free healthcare is somehow some evil ploy to take your money away.
I guess what I am trying to say is that Europeans see those things as basic rights whether left or right wing. France, Germany, Austria all have a very wide and extensive social net and all are led by right wing governments. People have had to fight for social improvements and minimum standards. If you don't ask and fight for your rights nobody else will. Certainly not the people who have nothing to gain by it.
I love America and Americans. Would I come here every year, be on an American Forum and have many American friends if I didn't ?
I even considered moving there but we thought long and hard about it , and too many factors were against it.
I think most Americans are utterly let down by their government and the wealthier echelons of society .
I also feel there is too much propaganda on the "evils" of a more compassionate social system . The strident way anyone who challenges America is derided as being anti-American is just really sad.
America is a fabulous, richly varied place but to me unless you are rich or even just middle class but in a very stable way it is a precarious and really quite scary place to be.
For example I have a pre-existing condition with my health and no insurance company would insure me . Should I be left to die because I sadly suffer from bad health ? There is no way I could afford private healthcare even though my partner earns a good income. It would make us bankrupt. I don't feel my life is somehow less important or valuable than someone who is healthy.
Too many people seem to have to run to stand still in America, working themselves into the ground just to stay alive. I believe life is for living to the full, to enjoy and spend time with my loved ones. Working is great. Working like a slave for peanuts and no benefits to me is an obscene waste of human life.
Sometimes I think I like Americans more than they like themselves. I believe they deserve much , much more than they get.
Hard working, nice people who have been mis-sold a concept of what life is about.
I really didn't mean to offend anyone and I am sorry if I did. I was just trying to explain why to me living there is not an option unless we can be guaranteed a change in political and social attitudes.
I know American pretty well for a foreigner and in fact admire much about Americans. There is still a wonderful pioneer spirit and a resilience I greatly admire.
But on balance I think it is not a place I would be comfortable. I believe too much in social justice and it hurts me to see the way the people at the bottom of the ladder are treated and how many of them have been convinced they do not deserve better.
The US are on of my favourite places on earth but politically I just weep. Europe is far, far, from perfect but at least I would feel less abandoned should something go drastically wrong with my life for whatever reasons. Being poor or sick isn't a crime but sometimes I think it is akin to that in the US.