America: Land of the Free or Home of the Dangerous?

Deano

Ancient Mariner
After much debate clogging up the other threads, it has come to my attention that perhaps it's time to see how my fellow citizens of Earth feel about the place I call home: The United States of America. Let's call it somewhat of a customer satisfaction survey;
What do you like about the U.S.? What do you hate?
What did you used to like but now you hate?
What can we do to serve the world better?

I love my home and serve it proudly. I'm not a blind lunatic that unquestionably loves and follows everything simply because it has a U.S. stamp on it but that truly is the beauty of living here; you always have the freedom to change what you don't like. My friends and neighbors here can be some of the kindest and most giving people on Earth. Our citizenry is always quick to offer assistance in times of need around the globe. Our climates range from frozen tundra to dry and barren desserts, from rolling hills to majestic mountains, from sprawling evergreen forests to palm trees on white sand beaches; truly lands for every taste.

Please feel free to take the time here and share your own thoughts with the forum. Honesty is encouraged and appreciated.

NOTE: This is not a beat the crap out of George W. Bush thread, that's been done to death.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Let me begin by answering your question in a short way:
That depends on who will be the next president. ;)
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
Great topic Deano!

Deano said:
What do you like about the U.S.? What do you hate?
I guess I like what most immigrants like about the U.S. While not as much as in the past I still think it is full of opportunity for those who work hard and the American Dream is achievable. My mom and I are living it. The work ethic is something that has grown on me as well as the structure. I've learned a lot about myself in the last few years and I found out that I'm an organized, structured, anal-retentive workaholic and fit right into the system hehe.

I don't really hate anything (Maybe Bush lol j/k), but I dislike the religious fanaticism, the mind-boggling under-educated public (things like universal culture and basic geography being the most glaring examples), The exaggeration of The American Dream (all those highly unlikely rags to riches stories) and the arrogant "we're number 1" attitude.

What did you used to like but now you hate?
Toys 'R' Us. No joke, as a kid that place was toy paradise, I went in year or two ago for some legos... what a fucking dump.

What can we do to serve the world better?
Actually respect the international community. No one likes a pompous, bossy, asshole. Yes, the U.S does give plenty of international aid, but it is always with ulterior motives. Plenty of help goes to Europe while Africa gets continually ignored. The U.S isn't the only "power" doing this, but ceasing to exploit third world nations would be great.

That's it for now, off the top of my head.
[/quote]
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
First of all, my posts could be seen as generalizing, and of course I know there exist people who don't fit my descriptions, but in general these following thoughts are mine at the moment.

Deano said:
What do you like about the U.S.?

-Hollywood. I'm a big cinema freak, especially classic stuff, and most of it came from the U.S.
-Helping other countries, also military wise. Of course I can't approve all actions, but I still support quite some decisions, international missions, and such.
-The diversity of the landscapes, the country, the cities.

Deano said:
What do you hate?

-The T.V. preachers
-The hate vs homosexuality, often preached by conservative communities.
-The prudeness
-The corporate crap Bruce uses to rant about
-The lack of knowledge about many things outside their country
-This exagerated way of talking "Hellooooow, oh my God... how AAAARE youuu...", in other words, their superficiality in engagements, meetings. People from Europe look through that and experience this as an act. So act normal and real, it can be crazy enough already.

Deano said:
What did you used to like but now you hate?

Nothing I can't think of.

Deano said:
What can we do to serve the world better?

More understanding for and dialogue with allies, but sometimes also with enemies.
A more neutral point of view in the Israel-Palestina conflict. Supporting only Israel, and to defend Israel only won't work. Israel still has to fulfill many U.N. resolutions (39 I believe) and this should not be forgotten. I hope the U.S. will push Israel harder, so that the conflict can be judged by international law, in an honest and neutral way.
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
First of all, my posts could be seen as generalizing, and of course I know there exist people who don't fit my descriptions, but in general these following thoughts are mine at the moment.

Thank you for your observations Forostar, and I'm glad you put it out there as YOU see it; I didn't ask for what opinions should be or what I would like them to be. Generalizing is part of human nature, every nation has their own stereotypes so I don't see it as a problem at all.

Besides, I hate a lot of those things too.  ;)
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
I hope to see more as well. I am eager for the constructive critism and even more so to hear what people like about the U.S.

6 years of negativity can wear on you, that's for sure.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
I'll answer.

What do I like about America?

Lots.  The United States is the role-model for modern democracies.  It is first in the USA that we see ideas like the separation of powers, and the separation of church and state.  It's a tough combatant in wars and we hope it's a loyal ally.  It's got some gorgeous scenery and brilliant people.  It's got a history of the greatest triumphs and the worst evils, but it always seems to overcome the evils, and find a way to triumph.

What do I hate about America?

Lots.  I hate the fact that the government seems corrupt.  I hate the attitude taken by some (SOME!) Americans that their country is the beginning and end of the earth.  I hate that the levels of infrastructure and education in the country are extremely low, and it reflects on the populace.  I hate the fact that NASCAR is a sport and that Americans playing American-only games declare themselves "World Champions".

What did I used to like but I now hate?

The US Budget!  It used to be full of surpluses and economic awesome, now it is full of earmarks and war.  There's not much more than that.

What can the US do to serve the world better?

Worry less about spreading democracy and worry more about fixing the environment, and the trade imbalance with China, and maybe helping industrializing nations do so quickly.  Elect a Democrat.
 

Albie

Keeping an open eye on the Weeping Angels.
Deano, don't put your country down, your not so bad. Yes, some of the things that people have said they don't like about the US are good points. But think about it - we all wear jeans, sip Coca cola on hot days, make a real effort to go to the local cinema to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster and spends fortunes on your music. I could add more to that but at the end of the day it's something that makes real inroads to almost all of the western world - US culture.

A massive portion of the music I listen to are US bands, the films I watch are predominately US made. I appreciate this fully and like you guys for it.

But in saying that, it is also something that I do not like about the US. I don't like they way it is imposed on us - and, granted, it's not always the fault about the US - but to fill up so many high streets in the UK with so many fast food chains is a real bug bear of mine. If you guys had not made places like MacDonald's a massive success story, it may have never gotten to our shores.
 

Wästed The Great

Minister Of Chicks, Metal&Beer; Cool & Froody Dude
Staff member
When Deano first put this up I thought "hey, easy post, here".  But the more I thought about it, the more difficult it seemed.  There has been this sentiment here in the States of "America: Love it or Leave it"-- but I just don't buy into that.  I think I can love it and still want it better, cause its got its weak spots-- but I don't think there is a country in this world that doesn't have a weak spot here or there.  My country has tried to do a lot of good, and it has done some very bad things too.  But, all in all, I really think the world is a better place for the USA being what it has been.  I kinda look at the States like my kids, they are gonna do some really cool things and some really stupid things, but all in all, I still love them.

I also think there are a lot of stupid people that garner a lot of attention in the States.  But, mostly, you will find a lot of caring people here.  Our communities probably aren't a lot different from a lot in the world: most people in them will be willing to pitch in and help no matter what.  A house burns down and the people step in to help.  A family member passes away, and there is a line of people with condolences and food a mile long. 

I think our government could do a lot of things different, but thats why we hold our elections-- boot out the bastards that do a shitty job.  And, yes, sometimes its easier to say that than do that, but, hell, our democracy is still young in the long view. 

One thing that I hope people realize is that we all don't just support things just because its done by our country.  I'm sure that is known, but there was a big issue in the States about supporting the war or you aren't patriotic.  I think that the view has shifted to supporting the troops.  And that is something that I do believe in.  I'm sure you all feel that way about your own countries, but I really wanna say that I do appreciate all the people that have put their lives on the line so that I can sit here and type, while holding a cheeseburger and watching my satelitte tv. 
 

Perun

After the war?
Staff member
Deano said:
What do you like about the U.S.?

A lot. I have come to appreciate many elements of American culture in my early youth, and still feel bonded to them. I love baseball (although my favourite team are the Toronto Blue Jays). I love American food. American films, American music.
I have met many Americans who are extremely friendly, welcoming and open-minded. I haven't seen much of the States so far, but I've been to San Francisco and thought it was a terrific city. From what I know about other places, I think I would have similar feelings.
What I admire most is the American attitude towards freedom. All current political aspects aside, what made the country great is inarguably their culture of freedom. It was a haven for people from all around the world who could not properly unfold in their home countries. Sometimes, I think the defense of freedom in America is taking absurd or grotesque forms, but in general, I think the appreciation of their freedom is, or can be, America's greatest trait.
Moreover, America is a great, wide and beautiful country with much to offer for anyone's taste.

What do you hate?

Various aspects of what I meant with the "absurd or grotesque forms" of American freedom, such as the love of guns, the paranoia towards everything that has the word "social" to it, and so forth. I also don't like how Americans -at least in my experience- get overly political so soon in discussions. Too often, I feel that Americans are stuffing things in drawers- "Conservative", "Liberal", "Un-American", "German/French/Congolese" and whatnot. It's not necessary to put a label to everything, especially since they never fully fit anyways. Also, I think that many Americans are quite ignorant and don't really give a shit about what doesn't affect them immediately. Also, what Foro mentioned about the exaggerated way many Americans talk. Death penalty. That 'corporate bullshit'.

What did you used to like but now you hate?

Convenience. Buying needless gadgets just because they save you a couple of steps. This thing basically sums it up. A totally pointless thing, waste of money and power, just for the sake of not having to walk. Ridiculous. When I was a kid, I thought gadgets like that were cool.

What can we do to serve the world better?

Be consistent. I don't have a problem with the US being the world's policeman, but if you want to be, please be consistent. Rid the world of all dictators, not only the ones that are sitting on valuable resources. If you can bear the fact that things don't always have the "American" label stuck to it, make the NATO be the policeman. Everybody will know the US will have the greatest contribution, but the "smaller" countries like to be treated equally. That would make them more efficient allies, too. In other words, pass the world leadership role to NATO and UN. Be their first servant. It would be rewarding.
Oh yeah, and ban guns, abolish the death penalty, get rid of those "intelligent design" freaks, find a cure for AIDS, perfect nuclear fission and find a proper alternative to oil for fuel while you're at it. :p


EDIT: Maybe we could give this thread a nice twist if all the non-Americans who post here answer the same questions for the countries they live in?
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
Deano said:
What do you like about the U.S.?
As alluded to by others, the vastness of the country and the consequent and seemingly endless variety of subcultures. I grew up in the Midwest (specifically in Wisconsin) and lived for many years (most of the 90s) just northeast of New York City. The cultures of those two regions alone are so different that it almost seems like different nations.

I currently live in Denver, a city with an odd characteristic: most of the adults here are not natives. In other words, over half the people I meet came here from some other part of the US (just like I came from the NYC area). So this city is a great melting pot, where all the subcultures of the US come together.

As an odd aside, the "melting pot" nature of Denver is the main reason we have some of the worst traffic in the country. It's not the fault of the road designers - it's that everyone learned to drive in different styles, in different parts of the US. Yes, even how you drive is part of your culture. So the mix of every type of aggressive, normal and timid driver creates such confusion that traffic jams are the constant result. NYC has almost nothing but aggressive drivers - but because everyone there drives insanely, traffic actually flows smoother!

And the vastness of the country bit ... I live within sight of the Rocky Mountains. In less than a 2 hour drive, I can be in the highest mountains in the continental US (only Alaska has higher mountains). The Grand Canyon is a day's drive away, the Great Plains a day's drive in the other direction. The Badlands in South Dakota, the Everglades, the forests of New England... the wonders are endless.

Deano said:
What do you hate?
The success that the evangelical religious right is having with imposing their culture on the nation. The vast freedoms of the US allow that to happen. Not that I'd ever advocate removing the slightest bit of those freedoms, but it shows that every benefit has a dark side which can be exploited.

The homogenization of the culture, which combats the variety that I talked about above. Finding good, purely local interests gets harder as national conglomerates take over everything. Clear Channel owns most of the big radio stations. Six Flags has gobbled up all the amusement parks. Walmart has famously driven thousands of local merchants out of business. There's still great local culture in every city, but it's getting harder and harder to find. A random tourist will now have great difficulty doing so; you now need a local guide wherever you go to find anything interesting.

Deano said:
What did you used to like but now you hate?
Can't think of a good answer to this one offhand, so I'll be different and reverse it: something I used to hate but now like - the 2nd amendment and gun rights. I used to be a gun-control proponent. And if there were a way to control guns without stomping all over the rights of normal gun owners, I'd be all for it. But the 2nd amendment is serving a good purpose - preventing knee-jerk reactions to school shootings from making all gun owners into criminals. And for the record, I do not own any guns, so that's not why I'm saying this.

That actually leads to a point which should be mentioned ... so far, the constitution in general has worked. Despite the abuses and offenses of individuals, things eventually get corrected. Sometimes it takes a long time - it took a century for blacks to start getting full civil rights. But our legal processes are built on a solid bedrock that has not yet been corrupted, so in time all wounds get healed.

Deano said:
What can we do to serve the world better?
Lead the way in healing the environment, preferably before Florida goes underwater because the Greenland glaciers melted.
(Because my parents have a pool at their house in Florida, which I like to use when I'm there every 3 years or so.)
Elect leaders who will cooperate with the rest of the world, using the UN for interaction. We have that beautiful building in NYC for a reason, even if the current president would like to pretend it's not there.


I'd like to emphasize that in the following three points, I am to a large extent playing devil's advocate...

Forostar said:
-This exagerated way of talking "Hellooooow, oh my God... how AAAARE youuu...", in other words, their superficiality in engagements, meetings. People from Europe look through that and experience this as an act. So act normal and real, it can be crazy enough already.
In my experience, that is a female trait. I honestly don't know any guys who talk like that (but I do know many women like that). But consider: in America, that kind of behavior is actually genuine. It may seem strange to a European, but it's quite real here (as in, not an act). So for people who grow up in that culture, talking that way usually is "natural and real".

LooseCannon said:
Americans playing American-only games declare themselves "World Champions".
If it's an American-only game, then our champion would indeed be the best in the world. I don't see the problem here. It's entirely reasonable to call the NFL champion the "world champion of American football", since no team from anywhere else would be better. I will admit that this complaint is reasonable for some other sports like baseball and basketball which have strong international followings. But even in these cases, the American teams are usually among the world's best. The "world champion" label may be indicative of egotism, but it is nonetheless often correct.

Perun said:
This thing basically sums it up. A totally pointless thing, waste of money and power, just for the sake of not having to walk. Ridiculous.
Inventing new gadgets is an American obsession, even if the gadgets appear useless. But more importantly, the Segway was invented with a specific use in mind: fast transport from building to building in large corporate campuses. In such environments, you may have to travel a mile to your next meeting, and you may only have 10 minutes to do it. The inventor's mistake was hyping his invention like it was really meant for ordinary people. And I've never seen anyone using a Segway; people here still prefer to walk.

Let me emphasize this again:
I'm not saying the above posters were wrong. I'm pointing out that there's two sides to every story, and a most Americans would see the above points differently like I did. I find it interesting, as an indicator of my own bias, that the above three points were not made by Americans ... while the posts above from Americans I generally agreed with.
 

Genghis Khan

Ancient Mariner
SinisterMinisterX said:
The Grand Canyon is a day's drive away.. ...the forests of New England... the wonders are endless.

I've visited the Grand Canyon last November when I was seeing my cousin in Mesa, Arizona.  A breath-taking sight.  I wish I had a whole day to spend there.  A couple of summers ago I've hiked mountains in Vermont.  My then girlfriend and I were visiting her friends there.

* About females exaggerating their talk.  That is true in pleny of cases here in Canada, too.  SMX is right that those girls consider such speech as normal.  Go figure, eh!

I have just one thing to add.  I love the fact that regardless what tragedy happens, I find that Americans have a great spiritual will to surmount the odds.  There is a great degree of optimism still left in American culture.  A lot of people speak how their innocence was lost after the 1950s, but I believe that Americans have retained their optimistic spirit.

I agree with all who criticized the American government's foreign policy.  But then again, I have not met a government I truly liked.  :)
 

Raven

Ancient Mariner
Perun said:
...Oh yeah, and ban guns, abolish the death penalty, get rid of those "intelligent design" freaks, find a cure for AIDS, perfect nuclear fission and find a proper alternative to oil for fuel while you're at it. :p

Perhaps a slight reordering of those hopes would speed things along...not that I'd be advocating eugenics or capital punishment for the creationists... :innocent:

What do you like about the U.S.?
There is plenty to like about the US.  I've never been there myself, but I would certainly like to travel there in the near future.  The landscape is breathtaking, the diversity vast and the cities are (for the most part) steeped in culture and history.  As has been mentioned, many of the bands we listen to and films we watch are from America, and you can be sure that more than half of the gadgets in my near reach were developed or invented in America (most of them probably constructed in China, but whatever).

What do you hate?
The religious fundamentalism.  First and foremost.  It's a disturbing fact that less than half of Americans believe in evolution (by contrast, that's less than in Lithuania and the Ukraine, and only marginally higher than Turkey), and it's even more frightening that the fundies feel that they can impose their views onto every aspect of life in America.  They can believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and that God made us from scratch if they want, but to attempt to teach their world view in a science classroom with no justification other than polemicism?  Other than that, I'm not a fan of the globalisation/commercialisation that has its roots in America, although this is just as prevalent in the UK and Ireland, anyway.  The attitude inherent to the globalisation is, as others have said, a little arrogant, to say the least.  And the usual amusing geographical ignorance of Joe Public raises a chuckle now and again.

What can we do to serve the world better?
Well, electing a Democrat for President would be a good start. ;)
And, yeah yeah, no death penalty, bitch-slap the creationists, put active pressure on the industries to conform to Kyoto, get the finger out to lead the way forward on environmental issues (rather than being shouted at by Costa Rican delegates in Bali), and generally lead us to a land of milk and honey.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Raven said:
It's a disturbing fact that less than half of Americans believe in evolution (by contrast, that's less than in Lithuania and the Ukraine, and only marginally higher than Turkey)...

Less than half??
Besides disturbing I find that also rediculous! Home of the Dangerous fits better to these statistics than Land of the Free.
 

Mmm...Donuts

Trooper
Deano said:
After much debate clogging up the other threads, it has come to my attention that perhaps it's time to see how my fellow citizens of Earth feel about the place I call home: The United States of America. Let's call it somewhat of a customer satisfaction survey;
What do you like about the U.S.? What do you hate?
What did you used to like but now you hate?
What can we do to serve the world better?

Great topic Deano! Let's start.

Stuff I like about the US is its versatility in a lot of stuff. You can get a lot of needs almost anywhere, and the span and diversity of landscapes in the nation means versatile choices for vacationing and the like. And like Forostar's answer, Holywood! 

What I hate about the US is the bizzare legal things I observe ( I know it is present in other countries but it seems so prevalent here, especially over copyright stuff), and some cases of over conservatives thoughts. And another thing is some american music companies who just keep making shallow songs for hits.

I can't really think of a used to love hat now..

As for serving the world better, it'd be nice to set a good example and drive for global warming awareness, huge relief efforts for poor countries and the like.
 

Albie

Keeping an open eye on the Weeping Angels.
Perun said:
EDIT: Maybe we could give this thread a nice twist if all the non-Americans who post here answer the same questions for the countries they live in?
After hearing about the new Rough Guide to England that made the news recently, I did think about starting a thread about what people thought of other posters countries - but this thread sort of came first and asked for our opinions of the US. So the thought of this idea petered of a bit. As the guide states, apparently we English are a nation of overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts. But it's also a country of animal-loving, tea-drinking, charity donors, where queuing remains a national pastime and bastions of civilisation, such as Radio 4, are jealously protected.

But the bit that made me laugh was this:- It's a nation that prides itself on its patriotism – yet has a Scottish prime minister, an Italian football coach and a Greek royal consort. - now, the last time I checked, the Prime-Minister is the PM to the British where the party he represents is elected to power by the people of Britain - so for all we care, he/she could be Welsh.

So instead of answering the questions about our own, we could answer these and similar questions of other posters countries. Just a thought. :D
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
Deano, don't put your country down, your not so bad.

I have the freedom to put down what I don't like; I actually fight for that freedom.  ;)

Really, there isn't much I don't like, much of my ranting is sarcasm conceived from traveling the world over the years and hearing varying degrees of sentiment about my country..... rest assured, I LOVE it!
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
I think the biggest complaint against the US is that, since the Cold War started, they are content to declare that X, Y, or Z nation deserves freedom, and then attempt to liberate it.  Sometimes, it turns out okay - sometimes, less so.  But like Perun (I think) said, it seems to be based on natural resources more than a true desire to spread freedom and democracy.  Plus there's the matter of all the vicious dictators in Latin America that were (are?) supported by the USA in order to maintain regional control.  Democracy is best!  (When expedient to US needs.)
 
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