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How do you wish the US were more like Europe?

How do you wish the US were more like Europe?

Aug 4th, 2005, 09:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 358
"For example, the reason many European towns and cities stop abruptly is caused the fact that the land cannot change hands -- it is owned by the church or by aristocrats or by banks. Locked up in tangles of trusts, the land prices have soared to where it is not economically practical to build"

USNR, as many Americans on this thread, you are confusing the British particular situation with what happens in Europe as a whole (particularly in the 2001 rantings about healthcare). Anyway, re suburban development in Europe, I beg to differ on two issues :

1. Sadly, we do have suburban sprawls in France. Take a city that lots of Fodorites know, Avignon in the South of France. It's a relatively modest conurbation (200,000), but to get there you have to drive through 10 miles of worst-than-American shopping malls, cheap motels, hypermarkets, car washes, etc., and this coming from three or four directions

2. In continental Europe, rural land belongs to peasants, period. Insurance companies own a chunk of the nicer properties in large French cities, a few low ranking aristocratic families might own the odd hectare here and there, but that's it. Precisely this atomization of rural ownership is one of the problems of the French countryside.
Art_Vandelay is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 10:27 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,841
I was not going to comment , until I say Ira's comment on British arrogance.

The British as a nation are arrogant. As are the Germans, the French and the Americans (and probaly most nations if you dig deep enough).

What shocked me is that at least half this discussion has turned into a patriotic rant. While large numbers of posts disparage all things European, apparantly the only things that count as arrogant are not worsshipping the USA - as in "I'd rather emigrate to Australia"

I cannot see how it can be unamerican to believe that not every single aspect of US culture is superior to that of every other culture on the planet. There are many things I envy about continental Europe. There are also many things I envy about the US, one being the constitutional right to freedom of expression and free speech.

It just seems a pity that such rights do not allow discussion of possible advantages of other cultures without "Well why don't you leave".
willit is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 10:31 AM
Posts: n/a
One thing I appreciated when visiting some cities in Europe is what I perceived to be an appreciation of limited resources.
For example: driving smaller cars; using mass transit; walking; serving reasonable portions of food, and no "bottomless" refills of chips and drinks and bread, even condiments; not "paper or plastic?" but bring-your-own re-usable bag to grocery shop, etc.
I wish in the States we wouldn't be such a throw-away society. Not to say that I don't love my life in the States-- so don't get all hyper-political on my remark-- just that we do have room for improvement.
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 689
USNR speaks thusly: "..immigrants from Europe boast and boast and boast about how good things were in their former country -- until they go back for a visit -- and then all is silence forever afterward."

Sadly, like all generalizations, this is just flat wrong. I speak from personal experience: I was born and grew up in England, emigrated to the US as an adult. I've now lived about the same amount of time in each. Yes, I still have an accent and am recognizably a Brit -- to Americans. To Brits, I'm more of a puzzle (are you Australian?) We visit family in England regularly, and love our time there in London and in the beautiful Dorset countryside. As much as we love to come home to CT.

As retirement approaches (from a distance, LOL) we pondered whether to move back to the UK. We decided no, our life and family is here now. We see the advantages and drawbacks of both sides of the pond.

<soapbox> There is no one-step easy answer for these questions, but I do wish fewer folks in the US took a "love us as we are or just leave" attitude. That's not what made this country what it is. The ability to see what is not working, and work to improve it, is a priceless asset. Don't just put on blinders and say everything is perfect -- it never will be, this side of heaven. </soapbox>

Okay, I'll stop now!
SB_Travlr is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:31 AM
Posts: n/a
Does it make you less American to say, "I wish we had better public transit here", or "I wish there was less urban sprawl"?

I don't think so - I think it makes you a person who wants to improve your country and community. No country is perfect. IMHO, those who blindly ignore suggestions for improvement based on "patriotism" are doing the country more of a disservice than those looking to improve weaknesses.
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Interesting that this was a 'dead' thread, over 4 years old, until CountryWizard decided to resurrect it with his "America, Love It or Leave It" post." Wonder what prompted that -- a disagreeable bit of potato in Albania, perhaps?

Anyway, I'm choosing to ignore that contribution, and others of the same kind, to attempt a post of my own, which I hope will come out sounding a bit more well-considered.

What I experienced in my European vacations, and enjoyed very much while I was there, was a different sense of time.

Now, part of that difference, I recognize, was part of the overall 'vacation effect'. That effect made me more relaxed, less hurried, no doubt.

But it seemed to me that the local folks, even in metropolises like London, Prague, Berlin, Vienna -- they all appeared to me to be much less driven than comparable urban crowds in the US.

They also seemed to find time to linger in a cafe, to spend time in a park reading or playing a casual game of soccer with friends, to stroll the boulevards with their children and spouses and take in the sights around them. And the fact that shops closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday brought even more of a sense of leisure and openness.

Here in the US, I think we stole that temporal spaciousness away from ourselves, by accepting 24x7 commerce and the advertising engine that drives it as the norm. Everything seems pointed to 'now': shop NOW, go somewhere else NOW, do 2 or 3 things at the same time NOW.

Urgency seems to ooze out of the pavement everywhere in the cities these days, and we respond by feeling constantly harried, hustled, hurried, hassled. We are even made to feel a little guilty if we don't plug into the urgency and react, react, react NOW.

Wonder if there's any way to recapture a sense of 'let things just be for a few minutes', and give ourselves the gift of true, lasting leisure?


fritzrl is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 195
First of all I feel we have the worlds greatest country but we have lots of problems that European nations also have but in a minor way. All countries have their own kinds of problems, some that they have we donít.

Developed European countries have less alcoholism, drug problems, teen pregnancy, major crime, heart attacks, obesity, low divorce rate, better education, affordable medical care (although not as good as ours) just to name a few. Nearly all of these can be attributed to their life style/society.

Very rarely do you have to work 50 hours a week. In the Netherlands, work is work time and family is family time. You do not call a person at home about work unless prior arrangements have been made. This attitude makes for better family life and better health.

Europeans can get into loud arguments and hand waving over car wrecks, and depart friends. In the USA, these same arguments would turn into fights.

They use credit more responsibly that we do.

I attended 1 & 2 grade in Europe. When I came back to the States, I had the eqivalent of a 6th grade education in science, math, reading, and writing.

Since you can drive through most of the European countries in 1 day, a different culture is literally right next door. They have to be more accepting of different ways.. Whereas we have a tendancy to look down on anything different.
JSLee is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 770
I admit I need not read all the posts as the politics started to get in the way for me. My wish is trivial. I wish we had better train transportation. I live in Texas and rail transportation (if you are not "freight") is almost non- existant. Wonder if I would really travel this way if given the option here.
mimipam is offline  

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