I must disagree with this post on many fronts; I'll try to be brief.
First, I am an American who was born and raised abroad, mostly in Asia.
As such, I have had the opportunity to come into contact with many different people of many different cultures, and most of them were personable and nice, the ratio being about equal amongst all races. However, they all had a certain moral certitude about their beliefs that was unimpeachable.
So, my premise is that America does *not* own the franchise on telling others what to do. The rest of the world has come to some conclusions about America without much understanding of America, just like Americans have about the rest of the world. It is a lack of understanding that causes this, not any particular thing. Yes, Americans are notoriously bad about understanding other cultures, but I've met plenty Europeans with the same problem, primarily that they do not understand Americans.
Now, for many reasons America is where I live despite the fact that being a software engineer, I could move to just about anywhere at the moment. The only other place I'd consider is Switzerland.
Now for the reasons:
The US isn't the only one to be proud of who they are. Bragging when you are on top isn't allowed, though. We had to be very careful about being proud of where we were when overseas.
The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our constitution. Most of the world, and a lot of the US, believe that the constitution either does not refer to combat arms or should be re-interpreted as such, but the constitution is quite clear on this point; it protects only such arms as 'are in common usage' in the military. Our constitution does *not* protect hunting and sport weapons. Now, as for revoking this right, first, there'd have to be proof that this would reduce crime, and no credible proof exists. Switzerland has high gun ownership and lax gun laws and yet has very low crime. England has much higher crime, although their gun laws are very strict. Crime isn't related to gun ownership at all, as these are law-abiding citizens, not criminals. It is an erroneous assumption made by most people that possessing a gun will cause one to effect a homicide.
Most of the stories of high payoffs in tort lawsuits are apocryphal. There is a thriving rumor mill about it, though. The tort system in the US is a problem, but it also keeps corporations honest, so I'm willing to live with it.
As to global warming, that has never been demonstrated to exist. Once a consensus is reached by scientists that it is actually happening, you can insist that the US do more. It is like gun control; no credible study exists to show what you wish to have the US do, and until one does, why should we do it?
The US has a big social problem. It is called the war on drugs, but I won't go into that. Private prisons invariably keep prisoners more cheaply than do public ones, and as a prisoner, you can sue a private prison for bad treatment, as is happening in Colorado right now. As for the death penalty, whether or not it is civilised, it is effective. The statement that 'no civilised country should have a death penalty' makes no premise, shows no data, and therefore is not an argument; it is a smear based on a prejudice that is a result of your upbringing. I was brought up that if someone murders someone, they die. That is justice. How a civilised country can not have a death penalty escapes me.
Cultural situations vary from state to state. In Colorado, alcohol and nudity are freely available and not much denegrated, but guns are, while in Texas, the reverse is true. That's more a reflection of the moral panorama of the area. I do agree with you that the US is needlessly prudish, though.
The USA isn't fond of the UN right now. The UN has made many moves to remove freedoms we like in the interest of uniformity, and as long as they continue to do so, my support of the UN will continue to fade. The US is a sovereign country, an idea that seems lost on most of Europe. I have written both my senators and my congressman insisting that I do not like the UN right now and would appreciate if pressure were applied through diplomatic means to let the UN and the rest of the world that the old adage still stands, "don't tread on me". And, this is one of the things other cultures find annoying about America: we'd rather go our own way for the most part. We won't sacrifice merely for unity or the common good of the world. Well, the US has a long history of being screwed by other world powers and are understandably paranoid about it. This fundamental paranoia goes along with a fundamental laziness to explain much of what America does, but both those things are considered wrong by much of Europe, which is an opinion, not a fact. American paranoia has kept us on the winning end of most our wars and American laziness is responsible for our wealth and technological growth.
The lack of social insurance is a good thing. There are many examples of failing social insurance programs around the world. I don't know how well Germany's is doing, but here, with the system we have, it is hard to get health care. The quality of American health care is very high right now. Most socialised systems result in lower quality.
Hmm, lessee, the parliamentarian system is a vast improvement over the electoral college? The rest of the world may laugh, but the system has worked for a very long time and we *don't* have a government failure every time someone manages a vote of no-confidence. I don't know what Germany's system is, so you may not have this problem, but most of Europe does, it seems. As to who is president, the popular vote was a statistical tie. The press here are reporting that Gore won it, but it was well within the margin of error, and in such cases, we resolve it by the electoral college. This is because the federal government is *not* directly elected by the people. It is voted through the states. The states are free to allocate their electors as they please, and some states do split their electors, but it is a state issue, and none of the federal government's business.
Now, about schools. The US school system is deplorable about drilling facts, but if you look carefully, you'll find that most people do not need to know these things for their daily life, and Americans are fundamentally lazy. The US school system does, however, teach a person to think independantly, which is something many European schools fail at. Also, if you have the money, you can pursue any subject you like at any pace you like. Getting the money is easy as long as your grades stay up. The opportunities available in the US school system are vastly better than those elsewhere.
The rest of the world, who use the term 'civilised' to refer to themselves, automatically assume themselves superior and get upset when an American disagrees. This anger is often made worse by the fact of the American success. It is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Often, people assume that they are right, meaning someone else must be wrong. However, in these cases above mentioned, this country more closely suits my worldview and yours more closely suits yours. Yes, the US tries to influence other countries to be more like it, but so does most of Europe. You yourself insist we get rid of guns and the death penalty. What is so different about what we do?
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
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