Americans in Europe

Aug 17th, 2000, 01:50 PM
  #21  
Steve Mueller
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Kavey,

Massachusetts may routinely return Ted Kennedy to the Senate, but when he tried to get the democratic nomination for President in 1976 he was easily defeated by Jimmy Carter. The Kennedy's are a favorite subject of tabloid reporting because of the trouble that they are always getting into, not because Americans revere them.

I am not claiming that the British themselves are offensive because many of them uncritically accept the notion of royalty. Given your history and traditions it is understandable that such anachronistic institution continues to exist. I am also not claiming that class distinctions don't exist in the US. But in the US, class distinctions are not formally sanctioned by the state.

I also disagree with your comment that royalty is "just a tourist attraction." It's British tax dollars that allow Prince Charles to do nothing except play polo, ponder architecture, and attend parties with Camilla.

I think that the most interesting question about royalty is the impact that the European Union will have on the institution. Nations with royalty, such as the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, etc., will be politically united with nations, such as France, with strong anti-royalist traditions and sentiments. Seems like a volatile mix to me.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:27 PM
  #22  
Rachel
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Dear Dear Steve,
I am so sorry that in all my arrogance and message posting I completely forgot that I am after all only here because of America and the brave Americans who fought for my freedom and won the second world war for us poor defenceless Europeans. Thank you so much for coming in at the 11th hour and saving the day... How silly I am to think that the hundreds of thousands of my countrymen who fought did it for nothing and should have just hung on a little longer for our rescuers.Please accept therefore my deepest thanks and sorrow for any offense caused to my American brothers and sisters to whom I can thank for the life I can now lead (even if it is in Europe) How I wish I could live in that great land beyond the Atlantic,still I can dream....
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:32 PM
  #23  
kavey
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Steve

The political union in Europe is many things to many people ... volatile for many yu are right... and it is more than our differing opinions on royalty ;-)

I think in Europe each country has had so many centuries, even some millenia to get used to its little idiosyncrasies that it is hard to accept moves towards homogenity (is that the right word)

Difficult issue... want to unite and want to retain all our uniquenesses, sadly politicians dont seem to be able to separate the two things

PS, I have seen when visiting US thatthe Kennedy's are not just a political institution but also revered as a family. The Brits do fund our royals (personally I am strongly anti this) but then the US inadvertently do the same for the Kennedy's by continually electing them into lucrative positions on the basis of the family name!!!!

;-)
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:32 PM
  #24  
Sjoerd
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Steve, perhaps a bit off-topic, but royalty is still very popular in some European countries, like the Netherlands. There has been a serious debate here about getting rid of the Royal Family, but more than 80% of Dutch people prefer the present system. Let's face it: every country needs some kind of system where tax-money pays for a head of state who opens new bridges, goes to hospitals to talk to the sick and travels around on state visits. In France or the USA, this tax money goes to a president who has some power, in Germany it goes to a president who does not have much power, and in the UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Belgium and Spain it goes to the Royal Family. As long as the real decision makers are democratically controlled, it doesn't really matter who is opening the bridges.
The EU will not be one country like the USA for many years, decades and more to come. Differences between the countries (language, culture, etc.) are just too big.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:32 PM
  #25  
janine
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Generally, I find most Europeans to be more tolerant of Americans than we (Americans) are of each other.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:35 PM
  #26  
kavey
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Sjoerd

Brilliantly put

Ditto

I dont like the sheer volume of funding UK provide not to just one royal but the whole bloody troop but your ideas about their figurehead status is as mine, that they perform a function not dissimilar to for example french presidents...

 
Aug 17th, 2000, 03:45 PM
  #27  
Al
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Someone above said that the Kennedy family maintains its economic base by having its members elected to public office. Wrong. The Kennedy family's wealth got its start with the liquor and real estate businesses of old Joseph P. Kennedy. Hundreds of millions of dollars back before inflation, in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Further smart investments, the use of tax-avoiding trusts, and the practice of marrying well has parlayed that first fortune into really big money today. What money that is paid them for public service is but a drop in the bucket compared with the old, expanding, and tightly-managed family fortune. America's apparent obsession with this family has a certain soap-opera quality, based on scandals, misfortunes, and genuine accomplishments. Don't expect it to decline soon -- there always seems to be another generation coming along and getting into scrapes, the courts, or the Congress.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 05:19 PM
  #28  
Rudy
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To [email protected] and others who somehow feel that Europe has to thank us for their present freedom: Most of the people posting on this board, with the exception of a few like Al, had no hand in fighting WWII, and Europeans owe us nothing. Our troops fought and died side by side with our European allies. Taking nothing away from the generation Tom Brokaw rightly refers to as "The Great Generation", our country went to war, as countries do, when our own national interest was threatened. A Europe dominated and controlled by Adolph Hitler would have been, from our perspective, intolerable and eventually threatening to us. After WWII, our allies in Europe were grateful for our crucial help, and our enemies were grateful for the assistance we gave them to rebuild. But enough is enough. The present generation of Europeans doesn't need continually to thank people, most of whom were not even alive when Hitler was defeated. In addition, most of our allies, especially the British, have stood with us in our wars, from Korea to Viet Nam to the Gulf. Since I was alive during all these wars, I want to thank our European friends, especially our friends in Great Britain, for coming to our assistance.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 06:12 PM
  #29  
SharonM
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Thanks Rudy...
I was kind of getting irritated by the "be grateful to us for freeing everybody" stuff too. It's easy (?) to throw punches, but what's the point? That just propagates everything that we're talking about. I don't take credit for the bad things "we've" done as a nation, history-wise, so why would I take credit for the "good" decisions. I wasn't born during WWII so I had no vote then. Maybe I have a little say now.
Did that make sense?
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 08:08 PM
  #30  
uptop
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up top
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 10:02 PM
  #31  
Dave
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This post was NOT meant as a Europe bash, though some appear to have taken it in that direction. Actually, it seems more Americans than Europeans have negative things to say about American travels as a generalization. I pity them for their low self esteem when they have to trash their own country-men in order to appear superior in their minds. They are probably some of the worse travelers - can you imagine their posturing while on a trip! And Rachael, you are either very immature or have a tremendous chip on your shoulder. You are probably one of those restaurant workers that love to be rude to foreigners....anyway, since this was my post, please no more of the bull about WWII - it does not honor the dead from any of our countries.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 01:55 AM
  #32  
Rachel
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Actually Dave, each time I was replying to rude and immature posts written by others.(namely Steve and one of your comments Dave). And yes I was upset by these posts and did perhaps react a little "over the top". You are correct in that many from our countries died for our freedom and I in no way mean to negate that - it was a general comment but yes on re-reading it did look disrespectful. So I am sorry (especially to Al). I too have relatives in the States and was treated with much kindness while there, but it is true that the occasional "freedom" ect comments do annoy me especially as we all lost many of our men and women in the war fighting Hitler...but perhaps we should now stop talking of that..so I am sorry to you and those I upset. Perhaps its a mix of immaturity and a little chip..
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 05:32 AM
  #33  
dan woodlief
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It seems that what could have been a hostile discussion has really turned out a few pieces of wisdom. It's always nice to see so many non-Americans taking part in these discussions. Let's face it, whatever you say about tolerance for Americans in Europe, it is no secret that there is a degree of anti-American sentiment out there, some of it earned and some not. Plus, Americans on average do not have a great knowledge of the world around them (that extends to not even knowing the capitals of most American states). However, trying to fit in has its bounds. You should be proud of where you come from, but be realistic too. The U.S. is a great place to live in many respects, but I have seen many things in Europe and other places that I would like to see more of here. If you want to fit in out of respect, that is one thing (such as wearing long pants in church or trying to speak the local language), but doing it to disguise your own nationality is usually not necessary or worth it (plus, it is hard to pass for a local anyway). Do what it takes to enjoy your experience abroad without showing disrespect for the culture of the place you are visiting.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 09:21 AM
  #34  
Steve Mueller
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Dan,

I agree. Be proud of where you're from. I don't resent anti-American sentiment among Europeans nearly as much as I do when it is from extremist Europhile Americans. Why is it that so many Americans traveling to Europe are quick to label their fellow tourists "ugly Americans?" Why, in the minds of some, does simply being identifiable as an American tourist considered offensive?

Independent of the WWII issue, Americans and Europeans owe one another tremendous debts of gratitude. It is impossible to objectively argue which is more indebted, and this is why we can both readily convince ourselves that the others are ignorant and ungrateful.

To a large extent, America's debt to Europe is cultural in nature. American political institutions are founded upon European ideas. Our concepts of individual liberty are greatly influenced by the countless Europeans that sacrificed their lives during the ubiquitous "peasants revolts" during the middle ages. Our convictions concering religous freedom are heavily influenced by the violent Protestant-Catholic conflicts that plagued Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. The American legal system is modeled after that of the UK. Because they seem to be so much a part of "our" history, it is easy to overlook the many philosophical and intellectual contributions that Europe has provided.

In contrast, Europe (along with much of the world) owes America a tremendous technological debt. Where did the computer age begin? Where were antibiotics and HIV treatments first developed? Aircraft, communications satellites, electrical lighting, etc. America's contribution in science and technology exceeds all other nations combined. During the past quarter century, 68% of the Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics, medicine and economics were awarded to researchers at American institutions (132 vs 17 for the runner-up UK). Americans have invested considerable resources into basic and applied research, and much of the world has benefitted. Admittedly, America does not have one thousand years of culture to offer the world, but how different would today's world be without America?

Finally, the World War II debt is somewhat mutual. It doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that modern America would be dramatically different if the Allies had lost the war. The aftermath would have made the Cold War look like a limited training exercise.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 10:14 AM
  #35  
Tony Hughes
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Sheila, I'll wager the states has changed quite a bit since you were last there - they now have coke in glass bottles and your burger can have catsup OR ketchup!

Take Bravehair's advice and go visit.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 10:32 AM
  #36  
dan woodlief
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Steve, to take what you are saying one step further - many of the great innovations that either originated in the U.S. or were first "perfected" here had a lot of input from recent European immigrants.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 11:01 AM
  #37  
ilisa
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I'm sorry, I'm still chuckling over the remark that the Kennedy's are continually elected to "lucrative positions" on the basis of their name. As someone who has worked on and around Capitol Hill, I can tell you that being a member of Congress is hardly lucrative. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate make $141,300 per year (the Speaker and party leaders are a bit more). While that may seem like a lot to the average American, it is nothing compared to the CEOs of most major corporations and the heads of many associations (my executive director makes $651,000!). For the Kennedy's, that's pocket change. And regardless of what you think of the Kennedy's, they have been among the strongest supporters of children and education issues in Congress.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 02:37 PM
  #38  
Steve Mueller
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Dan,

You're right. As a physicist, I am very aware of the contributions that many WWII refugees made to American scientific and technological advances (Einstein and Fermi are obvious examples). But don't overlook the fact that America provided these individuals with the resources that they needed to fulfill their destinies. I have many colleagues that have immigrated to the US because they believe that this is the best place to carry out their research. Historically, Americans have been very supportive of research and development.
 
Aug 18th, 2000, 02:52 PM
  #39  
Angela
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The basis of Antibiotic research and development leading to drugs for human consumption was carried out by British scientists and financed by British Government was it not? Fleming, Florey, Chain ect (not forgetting the French and Pasteur who started it all). I think it is perhaps fair to say that as nations we need each other and should acknowledge that none of our countries can do it all on their own.
 
Aug 19th, 2000, 09:16 AM
  #40  
Steve Mueller
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Angela,

American played a greater role in the development of penicillin than you may realize. Florey's research was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Moreover, the drug that we know today as penicillin was, as I stated, developed in the US. Penicillin is derived from Penicillium, which has many species, and the original variant discovered by Fleming was impractical because it could not be cultured rapidly enough to render mass production feasible. During World War II, Florey moved to the US where, in collaboration with American pharmaceutical companies, he discovered a more practical variant of Penicillium on a moldy cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois.

Nevertheless, I agree with your point. Technological advances in the US have benefitted tremendously from European research. The most influential scientists in the world were predominantly European (Newton, Galileo, Darwin, Bohr, Einstein, Copernicus, Faraday, etc.). If the US had begun with a clean slate, it is very unlikely that it would have been capable of the technological progress that it has exhibited.

I still maintain that one of America's great gifts to the world has been our willingness to consistently support and provide substantial resources for research and development. Musch of the world has benefited from the results. Since the advent of the 20th century, and particularly since the end of World War II, America has given more than it has received.

Mendel pioneered genetics, Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, and Crick & Watson characterized DNA. Today the culmination of these great ideas is the Human Genome Project, which is dominated by the US. I don't mean dominated in the intellectual sense, but simply that it was through the efforts of the US National Institutes of Health that this program was conceived and, most importantly, funded.

There are many more examples. Bernoulli elucidated the principles of lift, and the Wright Brothers developed the first modern aircraft. Bohr, Planck and Rutherford described the Atom, and the US Atomic Energy Commission harnessed its power. Galileo observed the craters of the Moon and the satellites of Jupiter, and NASA put the first man on the Moon and sent the first probe to the outer solar system. Faraday, Volta and Henry were the first to understand electricity, and Thomas Edison developed the first power stations and electric lighting. Some of these acheivements were the result of national efforts, and some were the result of private enterprise.

America is no more a nation of geniuses than Britain, Germany or Japan, but I do believe that Americans have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to supporting the research and development that produces technological advancement on small scales as well as large. I also believe that much of our progress if faciliated by our (largely) shared distaste for socialist-type controls on industry and the economy. Edison would not have been nearly prolific if the government dictated what he could and could not produce and only allowed him to keep 40% of his profit.

I work with a fair number of scientists and engineers that are European or Asian emigrants. They chose to live in the US because they believe that this is where they can work most unhindered. Their willingness to come to America, combined with our willingness to accept them, also contributes to our technological and scientific productiveness.
 

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