Saturday, December 22, 2007

The 10 Best Things About the U.S.

I’m jumping on the “10 Best Things List” band-wagon. It all started with Notes From Spain’s “10 most annoying things about Spain”, then moved on to Ben's "10 best things about Spain”, because Spanish people got so pissed, to Show Me Spain’s “Top 10 best things about the states” list.

Now it’s my turn. I certainly wasn't going to do a “worst” list about Spain. That is just scary because I value my life. But let's just say that a few of my "10 best" are items that I think Spain could learn from.

Here goes:

1) Ethnic Diversity, Integration and Solidarity.

If you come to the U.S. from wherever, and you want to be part of the club, you will be. You will be an American and no one will tell you you’re not. I don’t care if you have an accent, are a funny color, worship funny gods, etc. This club is open to all and we are the best at the difficult task of integrating different people into our group. There is no Catalan silliness here. Texans may think they are “bigger” than New Yorkers, but in the end they know they are Americans just like the rest of us.

2) Continuity of Government, The U.S. Constitution, and Amendments.

We may fight and complain about who we elected as President but we know that there will be a President and not a General in charge. Even when all that crap went down with Al Gore and the Florida voters, nothing really nasty happened. Of course we knew there would be no Coup or something stupid like that. And the Constitution and Amendments? We really take those pieces of paper seriously. We have been discussing them, arguing over them, re-reading them, and following them, etc. for hundreds of years! Pretty wild.

3) General Honesty from People.

Generally speaking, I believe you can expect honesty when dealing with people in the U.S. We are taught that it is morally right to be honest. This is our strength and weakness. Sometimes people come from countries where this is not the case, where you have to screw your fellow citizen just to survive (not Spain). These people find that the U.S. is a giant playground made specifically for them to rip off trusting Americans, or the government – until they get caught. September 11 was possible because we trusted those scumbags to behave, just like we trust everyone who comes here. That one jumped up and bit us in the ass.

4) Best Movies, TV Shows, and Music.

Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but our movies kick ass. TV shows also are really the best (of course there are crappy ones too). We even do it without government subsidies. All Spanish movie stars know they have made it when they can go to Los Angeles and make movies. American movies make the most money even in Europe where hordes of moviegoers crowd theaters then feel guilty about liking American movies. And music? Please… Jazz, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues… Everyone likes at least one type of American music.

5) Incredible Geographic Diversity and Beauty.

We really have it all from slimy cities to incredible unspoiled beauty and wide-open spaces and everything in between. There are beaches, deserts, mountains, forests, and junk yards. If you want to drive on a straight road with nothing in site for hundreds of miles you can do it. If you want to ski in Southern California and then surf the next day you can do that too. Oh, and the coast of California … No nasty hotels or apartments on the beach.

6) Best Customer Service.

We are reaching a critical level of people complaining about this in Spain - something has to give. In the U.S., businesses know who is the boss. When they forget - they go out of business. Businesses and service providers here better kiss your ass or we get pissed. Everyone here knows the saying, “The customer is always right.” We believe it and expect it. In Spain it seems like companies feel that, “The customer is the one we get to screw”.

7) Best Place to be Creative, Start a Business, Make a Million Bucks.

The U.S. is the place to think of something new, something off the wall, something creative, that new device, that thing that cuts onions better than anything, etc. and make a million bucks, or just a living. Maybe it is something boring like selling hangers… whatever it is you can start your own business, work your ass off, sell a jillion of them, and be an obnoxious rich American (wink). Sure there is red tape, taxes, and hoops to jump through, but there is less here.

8) Rule of Law, You Can Fight City Hall and Win.

We take the judicial system seriously and follow the rules. If you don’t like your government, something it did, something it ruled on, how it treated you… you can fight City Hall and win… It may not be easy but it’s easier here. If you think a company is screwing you or the people. You can sue, you can vote, you can run for office. You can go on the evening news and get people on your side.

9) The ACLU and the NRA.

We have all types, all free to try to get whichever crazy idea they have turned into law. We have the American Civil Liberties Union defending pedophiles and fighting for the rights of Nazis to march in the streets and we have the National Rifle Association making sure you can go buy a gun if you want to. Now that’s freedom!

10) Best Place to get an Education.

Let’s be honest. Some people in Europe like to say that Americans are stupid. Does this really make any sense? All the best universities are here. There seems to be a lot of research and innovation coming out of these stupid Americans. If you want an education and you are serious about working hard, you will get one. You will find grant money, or loans, or go to a state university basically for free.

That's my list.


Anonymous said...

A decir verdad no entiendo el barullo que se ha montado por el blog de ese tío. A mi lo que piense un estadounidense,un chino o un zulú sobre los españoles no me lo tomo en serio, otra cosa sería si eso mismo lo dijera un catalán, un valenciano o un gallego sobre el resto de españoles. Yo los blog como el tuyo me los tomo como una forma mas de entretenimiento. Además me he reido bastante con algunas entradas. Por cierto, no escribo en inglés porque soy bastante chovinista :)

Carl said...

Gracias por venir Y me alegro que te hayan gustado algunos de los comentarios.

EuroMadrid said...

Another bravura entry. I plan to clip, save and laminate this so that I can carry it around with me and whip it out of my pocket to recite the next time a Spaniard starts rattling off all the reasons why the U.S. sucks. jejejeje.

Juan Galt said...

All those reasons, plus fifo, is why my family dropped anchor here. I'm glad to have been born in the U.S. It took my family 10 years to leave Cuba, and for that I am thankful. I get the best of both worlds, my wonderful Cuban background, Spanish spoken at home and I still get opportunities that I just wouldn't get in my Patria.

Ayse Tezcan said...

I just got to the #4 and stopped there. As said before, I am originally from Turkey. I was so sick and tired of fighting the disease of abusing the system before I left it for good.

You are soooo right about the honesty part! These cultures equate being honest as being gullible. They boost how they tricked the more trusting one. At the end no one trusts each other. Democracies cannot operate effectively without this trust.

Companies and governments invest wasteful money into preventing dishonest people from cheating (the sight of security in stores is one evidence) and people spend so much time and energy to protect themselves from the crafty ones or to devise the craft. Then they wonder why they are slow at innovations.

I might comment on later ones but I just needed to get this out of my chest!

Ayse Tezcan said...

Yes, finished and ditto 100%!

You and I think so alike. Some of what you have said echoes some of my comments that have been embedded in btw your posts.

Ah, education! I am totally tired of fighting this subject in and out of America. I was educated by the so called "great European education." Bologne! It is generally based on rote memorization with no room to think, imagine and create. If your opinion is different than what the book and the teacher says, you have to rebel in some bizarre ways so you feel like you have power as a kid!

This doesn't mean we don't have problems in our education system but at least we talk and try to fix problems. I still think possibilities and opportunities are more in America than Spain. Anyone who follows education news can tell you about China's recent efforts on opening schools replicating US based education because they understand the creativity and thinking out of box is an important part of innovation and education must be designed to provide this.

If you don't like the education in your school, you can work with the school; you may make changes, even as a student. If you still don't like it, you do it at home and still can get good education (if you don't count those who do it for religious or uneducation reasons).

Because we are spending several months in Spain, my 7th and 8th grader kids have been taking all their courses through John's Hopkins University's program and their knowledge on any subject so far have proven superior to any of their friends they made here in Spain. Most importantly, they learn to apply book knowledge to the real world. Now, do this in Spain and take your kids out of school and travel the world so their horizons broaden!

Additionally, my kids made the effort to learn another language in a foreign country while none of these kids can communicate with them in English - all the while those Spanish kids are making fun of how they speak Spanish...

The lack of geography and world affairs knowledge that American kids are famously criticized for is also another misconception. I know more kids who know about the world in US than I met here. One of my kids competed in a state Geography Bee competition. He listens to BBC news and subscribed himself to the Economist! So you can find all kinds of kids in every country; best not to compare. Because comparing US education to any other is as comparing apples to oranges. But if I had the choice I would definitely choose apples!

Carl said...

Thanks Ayse,

I wish I was one of your kids!