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hyperbovine 1329 days ago | link | parent

Meh. I am well aware of how the rest of the world views the U.S., having spent a fair amount of time traveling around it. In Europe I got a sense that a lot of people were rooting for the U.S. to fail, and that those sentiments tended to cloud their otherwise sound judgement. Like for example the girl from Greece I met who swore that 9/11 was a CIA-instigated plot, and said everyone she knew agreed. Or the French guy who was berating America for backing dictatorships in the Mid-East and Africa, while his own government merrily sells them the guns and bombs needed to prolong the oppression. During Bush II I lived in Spain for a time, and the amount of distortions and outright fabrications that appeared in the papers there about things our leaders had said or done never ceased to amaze me.

And then we have the Brits, who never miss a chance to loudly empathize with what it's like to live in an "ex-empire", and boast about NHS--you know, the institution under which my friend waited 13 months to get a knee operation. (That's a long time to be crippled.) Of course, who knows how long that will last, what that hideous budget deficit you're now forced to confront.

The mistake people from other countries always seem to make when it comes to us Americans is that they mistake our politeness for ignorance. We're not blind to our deficiencies, our yours; we're just too polite to go around rubbing them in.

You could learn something from that.



semanticist 1329 days ago | link

Aside from appearing petty ('someone was mean about America, I'll be mean about their country'), I wouldn't raise the issue of healthcare as an example of America doing things right. You have one of the worst healthcare systems in any developed nation!

My wife is American and when we were first married, we had a discussion about where we would live. I didn't want to leave Scotland, so she moved here. Now she would refuse to move back to the US, even after the election of Obama in the US and Cameron here.

America is a deeply confusing and terrifying country to many people. It's a country that doesn't appear to care about its citizens in any meaningful way - and its citizens appear to be largely in favour of this. There are very deep cultural divides between the UK and the US, divides that are easily missed due to the common language and shared history.

In any event, this particular issue is in no way an American one. The same problem of overzealous police reaction to photographers is widely reported in the UK, to the extent of questions being asked in Parliament and the ACPO issuing guidance telling the plod on the beat to stop harassing photographers, which said plod largely ignore, especially in London.

I think it's pretty much inevitable. Our governments are spending so much time pounding out the 'BE AFRAID, BE ALERT' message that any push back against that is perceived as a direct attack, and is treated as such. The answer is to stop the paranoia about terrorists, but neither of our countries new governments seem keen to do that.

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philwelch 1329 days ago | link

American culture is very sink-or-swim. There isn't as much cultural demand for a safety net. I attribute this to our cultural memory of the frontier. Europeans think of welfare as a country taking care of its citizens--Americans are more likely to think of it as forcing hardworking, productive people to support those who can't be bothered to work for a living.

Incidentally, it's a misnomer that the US has one of the worse healthcare systems in any developed nation. The US has the single best healthcare system in human history, if you can afford it. Some people from countries with socialized medicine actually come here to have stuff done, since they'd rather pay to travel and have medical care in the US rather than wait in the queue in their own country. What the US lacks is a way of making the full use of that system available to everyone.

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epochwolf 1328 days ago | link

> The US has the single best healthcare system in human history, if you can afford it.

It's that if you can afford it that makes it worst healthcare systems in any developed nation in some people's eyes.

Everyone is comparing apples to oranges when it comes to this stuff.

System 1: Everyone has health care but it may be subject to wait-listing which leads to major problems.

System 2: A percentage of the population can't afford basic care but those that can, get exceptional care. Emergency care is typically available to everyone through public hospitals regardless of ability to pay but if you can afford part of it, it has the potential bankrupt you.

The systems reflect cultural bias.

Note: Any system has the potential to become rationed.

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semanticist 1328 days ago | link

To compare national healthcare quality you need to look at health indicators for the entire country, rather than the best possible case.

Talking about it in this way is like saying that YC has made a profit on every company that successfully exited. It's technically true, but it tells you absolutely nothing about the performance of Y Combinator as a whole.

A while ago I read an interesting article about why the US and Canada are so different in culture. Unfortunately Googling failed to find it again, but the summary version was that the US was heavily influenced by immigration by Ulster Scots from Northern Ireland, where Canada was more influenced by immigration directly from Scotland.

The difference between a colonising culture (the Ulster Scots) versus a colonised culture (the Scots) apparently explains the huge culture rift.

It was a compelling narrative, but that just makes me suspicious about it. It's easy to convince people of your pet theory if you make it into a good story.

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vixen99 1329 days ago | link

A smattering of anecdotes and you're 'well aware of how the rest of the world views the U.S.'.

Reminds me of the story of the psychoanalyst who, when presented with a patient profile, announced that this was clearly a case of 'X' diagnosed on the basis of his "1000-fold experience". "And I suppose", remarked his colleague, "the next diagnosis will be on the basis of your 1001-fold experience."

It may be possible to say there is a general view as to how the rest of the world views the U.S. but I can’t see how you can make that conclusion from the evidence you've reported.

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hyperbovine 1328 days ago | link

I'm sorry--was that an anecdote you used to make your point?

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