Ahhh, its good to be back in the USSA (United States Socialists of America), where profits are private but all the risks are socialized!

I am settling back into my routine, but a few final thoughts from Berlin (my overview from the trip is here).

The general impression I got in Europe was that the USA is a confusing and bizarre place. From afar, the various debates in the USSA — there’s trillions of dollars for banks, but no re-regulation; the more aggressive battle is over nationalized Health Care — are both perplexing and somewhat laughable to the Europeans.

The US remains a source of great interest. Popular culture, from music to TV to films is enormously influenced by what is generated in America. Obama is wildly popular over here — much more so than in the US. They seem to appreciate a US President who engages in diplomacy and interacts with various leaders. In case you were unaware, George W. Bush was not particularly liked worldwide.

There is sort of an interesting perspective, kinda “Hmmm, let’s see what sort of whacky trouble those Americans will get into next” attitude. On the one hand, the USA is still the wild west, a fast growing, grand experiment in economic freedoms. On that front, it is a shining example to the rest of the world. But it was allowed to go off the rails, with seemingly little repercussions to the various CEOs, politicos and bankers responsible. That is totally mystifying to people over there.

In European’s eyes, the US populace seems terribly uninformed about most political matters — and vote accordingly. Europeans seem to be able to debate an issue without the vitriol and rancor that accompanies the rabid partisanship in the US. (One German $1+ Billion dollar fund manager privately remarked that Rupert Murdoch would be prosecuted in much of Europe). The two party system of the US is thought to be utterly corrupt, and is a joke in Parliamentary countries. Europeans recognize the United States as a “Corporatocracy” — government for and by Corporations.

The Economy here isn’t all that bad, and people remain somewhat optimistic.

Back to the usual banter a bit later . . .

Source: John Sherffius

Category: Economy, Psychology, Travel

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

77 Responses to “Back in the USSA”

  1. torrie-amos says:

    Sound unanimous imho……..and overall a consensous, okay shyte happens, we all understand and agree on that, yet, too have no repurcussions is pretty insane. In europe they gutted the top tier of bankers and replaced them. Not saying they are any better off then us financially, yet, at least they purged the idiots and put new folks in place who don’t have too hold onto past idiotic mistakes, versus, solving problems and moving forward.

    The more I read the more the game plan seems like this. Ben and Tim, cheap money for forseaable future. Banks have banked a trillion and will not lend. Alt-A foreclosures and primes will likely be crushing to the banks, possibly to the tune of 500 billion, yet, they got the coin and will probably do the same with this group as sub-prime keep it off the market until the last possible moment.

    So, no lending next year by banks, they make money from the graces of the fed and trading, and end up owning more properties.

    They will most likely extend all programs another six months, get out another stimulus package, which imho, doesn’t have to be too big, just enough too guarantee some pump into year end, as more of existing stimulus hits the streets.

    Most likely is we get a strong commodities rally several weeks into the new year, and then lot’s of horrible news from banks and governments while corporations do fairly well.

  2. Machiavelli999 says:

    Think about how warped and screwed up this country is. If Obama actually aggressively goes after the bankers, he’ll be called a communist. If you don’t believe me, remember the outcry from the right when he appointed a pay czar to regulate the bonuses of firms that were supported and only EXISTED because of the TARP. Can you imagine what they will say if he tries to regulate the incentive structures on pay in the banking industry in general?

    Then in other countries, the people get upset that too much money is being spent financing overseas adventures and not enough on the people. Here the supposed “small government” types are fine with trillions spent on the war, but if you dare to provide health care to the poor. Well…now you have gone too far Mao.

  3. [...] Posted by Chill on 23 Nov 2009 at 07:51 am | This is exactly the sense I get when I am overseas. The general impression I got in Europe was that the USA is a confusing and bizarre place. From [...]

  4. bsneath says:

    “Well the Hamptons girls really knock me out…….. ”

    Maybe Ambrose can gin up some good lyrics.

  5. Mike in Nola says:

    Seems like the Europeans have things about right.

    I thought it was amusing how wildly pro-Obama the French were during the election when no one of his background could be elected to high office in France.

  6. bsneath says:

    “The general impression I got in Europe was that the USA is a confusing and bizarre place…..but it was allowed to go off the rails, with seemingly little repercussions to the various CEOs, politicos and bankers responsible. That is totally mystifying to people over there.”

    Barry, May I suggest that you will get this same impression from most of your followers here in the States.

    How did it happen? When exactly did it happen? Why did it happen? Why is it allowed to continue? Why are there no consequences? What will be the future consequences of there being no consequences today? What is causing the paralysis in American politics?

    Are we perhaps witnessing the final desperate acts to retain power and wealth in a collapsing civilization?

    All of these questions will be great material for the history books.

  7. call me ahab says:

    sign pretty much says it all-

    Obama has zero credibility- if he wants to get the folks to rally around him he has to stand for something that shows he is against the status quo- “that there is are banker’s and then the rest of us”- he can talk about health care all day long- but is not where the anger and emotion is-

    it will take a few select folks in congress from both sides of the aisle to pull together something that smacks the banks and the Fed around and creates “real” change

  8. bsneath says:

    call me ahab Says:

    And how is “The Great Campaigner” going to turn against the banks who are financing his network of community organizations and the Democrat’s mid-term election coffers?

    We thought we elected a statesman will principles. Instead we elected the Chicago political machine.

  9. bsneath says:

    “with” principles.

  10. “Europeans recognize the United States as a “Corporatocracy” — government for and by Corporations.”
    –above

    even the Euros have been well-trained..they, if anyone, should remember that they are describing F@scism.

    an -ism that sprouted its, first, “Green Shoot” in its, Europe’s, own Soil, just, last Century..

    maybe, after We sell-out to a Supra-National governing body, oh wait…

    NAFTA, WTO, UN…

    d*mn, that “All the News, that’s Fit to Print” is, quite, the Siren..

  11. call me ahab says:

    “maybe, after We sell-out to a Supra-National governing body, oh wait…”

    MEH- have you read the comments or heard the some are describing Obama as the first “post American” American President-

    you know “pax-americana”- whole world- we’re all good- let’s all just get along- I am the leader for all the world’s people- blah, blah, blah-

    if he carries that mantle w/ open arms the American’s will most assuredly reject him in the end-

    sort of like Gorbachev- reviled in his own country but loved by everyone else

  12. bsneath says:

    Obama. Tear down this Oligarchy Wall!

  13. Wes Schott says:

    …gated community

  14. Your comments seem like the typical European comments from any period in history. They always view us as an abnormally large child. They are afraid to piss us off due to our size, but they regard us an infantile and ignorant.

    I find it amusing that they mock our two-party system, which does need an overhaul, but their parliamentary system results in a constant turnover in power, especially in countries like Italy. Also, the same people who burn the stands down at a soccer game think we are too “violent” in our political conversations. And, of course, they blame us for the economic situation in the world, but their banks levered up more than our banks. So even if it was our idea that migrated to Europe, they took it to a whole different level.

  15. bsneath says:

    SwimUpstreamToWealth Says:

    The overhaul to our two party system needs to be a third party dominated by the moderates and independents who are not represented by either the polarized right or left who today control the Republicans & Democrats.

    A recent poll shows that a large number of Americans are socially tolerant and fiscally conservative. Unfortunately we have gerrymandered our Congressional Districts to elect fringe candidates and not centrists.

  16. O2 says:

    SwimUpstreamToWealth Says: “…but their parliamentary system results in a constant turnover in power…”

    Sounds fantastic. I say we give it a try.

  17. Harald von Panzeraabe says:

    The only way to fix America is to first breakup the media oligopoly which has all of America by the balls; break up News Corp/Disney/NBC/CBS/Clearchannel into hundreds of pieces and sell them off to independent newscasters.

    Once you take away media control you can go after the banksters and the Fed; you breakup Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPM and you re-enact the Glass Steagall act.

    Next step thereafter is to go after the congressional whores who sell themselves to the pimps of the various lobbies ; the American congress is the most corrupt political body on the entire planet- if you dont fix that cesspool you cannot fix America.

    Finally you go after the trillion dollar Pentagon bureaucracy; you bring in a team of experienced corporate cost cutters and you fire 95% of the bureaucracy and you bring down defense spending from 1 trillion down to 100 billion max. From the resulting savings you mailout a cash refund check to all American taxpayers every year for the next 10 years. Instead of cash for Goldman you mail it directly to the taxpayer so they can invest in their small business or rebuild their personal capital reserves.

    It can be done but the only way you can fix America is to first go after the media oligopoly who protect the banksters, the Fed, the congressional whores, the Pentagon waste and the generalized corruption of America that is slowly bringing all Americans to its knees.

  18. Mike in Nola says:

    O2:

    Yes, the advantages of a parlimentary system like Britain’s became obvious ove the past 9 years. You don’t rise in that system without experience/ability in national government. There is also the ability to get rid of someone who sucks. With such a system, we likely would have been spared the last two presidents, or at least could have gotten rid of W in 2006.

  19. red_pill says:

    sounds like the usual litany of European complaints/criticisms. they are right on some counts but they have their own set of problems that we don’t have: more inflexible labor markets hurting their competitiveness, massive brain drains in countries like France hurting innovation, overly high tax burdens, etc. what we must do as a thinking society and have been completely unable to do is learn to pick and choose from what they have done right and discard what they haven’t.

    the first mistake is to use the phrase “Europe”, it is incorrect to do so. there is a vast difference between Sweden and Italy, for example, in terms of corrruption. we must learn to be more subtle in our arguments but that only comes with education about them but since our educational systems are more US-centric, the avg American (this is where political change should be coming from) doesn’t know much about them except what people spout on TV (much of it cliches) and what we read (who has time to read anymore? when our thought is confined to ADD-like sound bytes). republicans routinely use the phrase “European style socialism” but no one ever asks them to define it, and if they did, who would be able to say they were wrong? there is the crux of the issue -we need to re-educate ourselves, not to agree with Europeans but to make better logical arguments and to make better decisions. however, despite having more knowledge at our fingertips than at any time in history, we are more ignorant than the generation before us – why is that?

    I don’t like the villanization of corporations and executives in Europe – I have lived there for over a year as an adult in four countries (Spain/France/Sweden/UK) and it is real – but it is true that individuals responsible for the crisis need to be prosecuted (I’m thinking SEC primarily). why aren’t we outraged as a society? why is Geithner where he is – when he was part of the old guard that led to this mess? why isn’t Bernanke held accountable for the BOA – Merrill situation? are we so jaded and cynical that we just casually accept and look over these things because they are perpetrated by the economic and political elite? have we become a mega-oligarchy? does anyone care? we have become the kings of false sincerity on the global stage and of hidden taxes on our middle and lower classes – history will not be kind.

  20. km4 says:

    ‘extend and pretend’ hopefully will bring a populist 3rd party to power ( perhaps by 2016? ) since the mostly bought and paid for assclown politicians in Congress ( virtually all GOP + most Dems ) continue to kick the can down the road.

    U.S. National Debt Clock will go from $12 Trillion today to a projected $20 Trillion before 2020.
    http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    By then USA will likely be the BIGGEST banana republic in the world

  21. Gene says:

    As always, your opinions and 89 cents will buy me a cup of Joe at 7-11.

  22. Pat G. says:

    Welcome back. Glad you had a safe trip. Nothing has changed. Just more of the same. The illustration says it all….

  23. Michael M says:

    Agree with your assessment Barry.

    Let me add though that Europe and the US are increasingly converging. Overindebted, underemployed, overspending, democracy as theatre, MSM getting sillier by the day, “English” speaking, globalised, overtaxed, commercialised, responsibility avoiding, career focused, hippocrite, cultureless, uninformed, obese, medicated and nationalistic – it’s Monday in Copenhagen, it’s raining and it’s dark at 4 PM, so forgive me my rant…

    That said, the differences between European countries are still huge (especially between North, South and East) though also slowly converging, sometimes even within countries you see huge differences. The difference between say the Finnish and the Italians is like the difference between the Japanese and the Mexicans.

  24. philipat says:

    Barry and all,

    At the risk of getting flamed by a largely US readership, well……………………………….oh, wtf.
    I’m a European who has lived and been all over the world. And whilst I love America, I love Europe even more for the history, the architecture and, above all, the lifestyle. The US Pharma Company I worked for could not believe that I turned down the opportunity to get a Green Card when I worked in NY for 3 years. In part for tax reasons, I confess, because I could truly see no personal benefits in holding a US Green just for the privilige of having to submiy an annual 401K and pay US taxes whilst living in Europe and Bali.
    Most Europeans have the advantage of having travelled extensively to the US so have a base for comparison. Most Americans have not. And this is a problem because it means that, in the general populous, there is no international perspective. This, together with an introspective educational system means that most Americans totally lack any global perspective. Consquently, most Europeans look on Americans as being arrogant. It’s actually not arrogance but ignorance. And I talk here of the great masses not the minority who frequent this great board.

  25. torrie-amos says:

    agree w/above, even amongst my educated friends international information is almost non-existent, ie, america centric, 2 years ago folks were up in arms about china mfg taking out jobs, i was like, ummm, that’s been going on since 1976, you’re 30 years behind the curve

  26. hue says:

    looks like the rich s ocialists will jack the market up this week on low volume.

    Philipat, most Americans lack perspective on some parts of America, like if you’ve never been the South, you think the South is exactly like the stereotype. replace South with NYC, the Northeast or anything other region, and the same applies.

  27. batmando says:

    @ Harald von Panzeraabe at 9:06 am
    In your prescription, to whom does “you” refer?
    By what mechanism(s)/laws(s) are media conglomerates to be broken up? via legislative process?
    No wait, the congressional whores and the cesspool have to be gone after too.
    So which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

  28. hue says:

    looks like the rich s o c i a l i st s will jack up the market on low volume this week.

    philipat, most Americans lack perspective on certain parts of America. if you’ve never been to the South, you think the South is exactly like the stereotypes. replace South with NYC, or the Northeast, or any region, and the same applies.

  29. jus7tme says:

    >>The two party system of the US is thought to be utterly corrupt, and is a joke in Parliamentary countries. Europeans recognize the United States as a “Corporatocracy” — government for and by Corporations.

    That is the core of the problem: Our election system.

    It is our ELECTION SYSTEM that makes our representatives so susceptible to corruption. In short:

    single-winner-districts –> two-party duopoly –> no real competition/alternatives –> corruption.

    Our problem (in the US) is essentially one of a defective political framework. Specifically that the constitution does not spell out in detail an election system that will prevent corporations from running the country. Since parties do not really have to compete for votes, they will compete for money instead, and the result is that the corporations runs everything.

    A parliamentary system would be great, but first and foremost we have to fix the election system so that it supports having more than two parties.

  30. rubyruby says:

    @ philipat:

    You’ll get no flames from me. It’s been many years, but my husband and I used to travel to Ontario for his job with an auto company (now small 3.) Even in Toronto, newspapers (then) would give us a more international perspective on what was happening in our own country. Experiencing other parts of the globe is the very best way to better understand our own place in the world.

    It frosts me when neighbors say, “Oh, I would never travel abroad. America has so many wonderful treasures to see; we don’t need to look beyond our borders for anything.” It’s an idea that any interest in other countries reflects some dissatisfaction with all the Freedom and Liberty that we have here. We have spent many decades telling ourselves that “We are Number 1!” and can’t even imagine why anyone would be happier elsewhere on the planet. Provincialism rules.

    My roots are here, and have been from the 1600s or so, but I’d like to walk in the historical places in the rest of the world without having to defend my choice.

    Welcome back, Barry!

  31. philipat says:

    torrie-amos@torrie-amos Says:

    November 23rd, 2009 at 10:12 am
    agree w/above, even amongst my educated friends international information is almost non-existent, ie, america centric, 2 years ago folks were up in arms about china mfg taking out jobs, i was like, ummm, that’s been going on since 1976, you’re 30 years behind the curve

    Torrie, As in “For all these years”?!

    Yeah, most US persons haven’t yet caught on tothe fact that “Globalisation” means “Moving jobs out of the US to the Developing countries to the benefit of MNC’s and not the American populatian in general.

  32. Mannwich says:

    And the Euros would be right.

  33. red_pill says:

    I am a US citizen of Latin American extraction. Two little anecdotes on ignorance in the US from personal experience:

    1- in high school (not elementary but high school) I was asked twice by different individuals: “is it true that people live in trees where you come from?” at first, I played along as if they were joking (it would’ve been a crude joke but who cares?) and then, to my horror, I realized they were not joking…

    2- a supposedly well-educated individual that I worked with once told me that they didn’t know how to speak “Puerto Rican”, as if it were a distinct language from Spanish. again, for a split second I was waiting for the punch line but none came.

    I have had dozens of these experiences.

  34. bsneath says:

    @red_pill:

    Those are examples of where our education system has failed well beyond ignorance into the realm of just plain stupid! (Although in Puerto Rico they do speak fluent “span-english”, don’t they? :>} – my crude attempt at humor that I hope does not offend. )

  35. red_pill says:

    I don’t have a problem with crude humor, in fact welcome it – just ignorance. and yes, Puerto Ricans do have that rep.

  36. EAR says:

    W gets 8 years to do his careless, sloppy, hokey, comical, wanton, destructive, ’cause God’s says so, smart is dumb, trickle down bullshit and O can’t get a year to try and clean up the historically unprecedented shitstorm he left behind.

    This country is teeming with ignorant, self indulgent and petulant dopes. They have access to more information and fact than anyone could have ever imagined yet are still stupid.

    Many people in this country yell and scream about having been betrayed. But many, often those who yell and scream the loudest, are complicit in their own betrayal. In the midst of the bullshit booms it’s all good, the future is the next week, month or year even though you have financial commitments that span decades. And when it all comes tumbling down, it’s time for the Red Flag Retrospective.

    This u(dys)topian nonsense should have made more people nervous…

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/10/president-bush-and-home-ownership/

    But it didn’t, and rather than learn from the subsequent beating many, encouraged by a panicked MSM fighting for evaporating consumer dollars, are indulging in ideological opportunism and blame games… same old, same old.

    It must be entertaining to watch with a glass of wine or a stein of beer and affordable healthcare all around you. Until, of course, you find out your bank got in on some of that good ole’ CDO action.

  37. GB says:

    Wouldn’t United Socialist States of America be grammatically correct?

  38. Thor says:

    Let’s try to make distinctions between continental Europeans and the rest of the non English speaking people’s of the world.

    Ask the Brits (or the Irish, Canadians, Australians, etc for that matter) whether they think they have more in common as a people with say, Americans, French, Germans, or Poles.

    So many of the anecdotes I’ve read above about Americans can very easily be used to describe any citizen who grew up in an English speaking country.

    The English and the Australians are no more multi-lingual as a people than we are. You can find as many articles bemoaning the inability of the English or Irish students to find Berlin on a map as you can about US students.

  39. Thor says:

    Ear – “This country is teeming with ignorant, self indulgent and petulant dopes.”

    Yes it is. So is every other country in the world when you get right down into the grit of their cultures and listen to the average discontented citizen. Our problems are not unique, to assume that somehow they are, or that we are especially deserving of scorn is nothing more than a symptom of the very same arrogance so many people here have mentioned.

  40. OkieLawyer says:

    @Thor:

    While I have had the privilege of traveling throughout Europe in my younger days — and I would like to return someday — part of the American reason for not traveling overseas are plenty. Among them are:

    1. The lack of vacation time allotted to American workers (just like health care, we are the only industrial country to not guarantee vacation time as a right);

    2. The time involved in going overseas in relation to staying closer to home;

    3. The language barrier and the fact that we don’t learn any other languages with proficiency. Language differences are a natural barrier to understanding others. It was hard enough when I was in England and we were “separated by a common language.”;

    4. The cost of traveling overseas vis-a-vis the U.S.

    Regarding the “ignorant, self-indulgent and petulant dopes” comment: people are pretty much the same wherever you go. You have good and bad people everywhere. The trick is finding the good ones and avoiding the bad ones.

  41. Thor says:

    Okie – Agree completely. To clarify, I’m most definitely not an apologist for what’s wrong with our country. I just make an effort to see our problems for what they are, our problems. Some of them are unique, most of them are not.

  42. Onlooker from Troy says:

    philipat

    I challenge your assertion that “Most Europeans have the advantage of having travelled extensively to the US so have a base for comparison.”

    Do you have hard data to show that? Or is it just the majority of your circle of acquaintances? I think that this notion that Europeans have good knowledge of America and are so well traveled here is overblown, to say the least. But it sure sounds great, doesn’t it?

    How many Europeans have actually traveled to all parts of America?

    I would contend that their misperceptions and ignorance of us is just as bad as ours of them. Prove me wrong.

  43. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Ah Thor, you slipped in here while I was reading and penning a post. I thought of you when writing my thoughts.

    Believe me all, I’m as exasperated, frustrated, and disgusted with ignorance, arrogance, and narrow-mindedness of many Americans as anybody around. So I’m no great defender of most of our citizens.

    I just reject the notion that all the rest of the world is so worldly and open minded as is so often opined, and reflected in this comment section. It’s just not so. There may be a larger proportion due to the dynamics of living in a smallish country surrounded by many others with a more diverse culture and array of languages. But that’s just circumstance. People are people.

    And the reason, of course, that English speaking peoples are less multilingual is just because they don’t have to be. English is the dominant, and often official, language of business, aviation, etc. That’s just a fact. If put into the circumstance of needing to learn a different language that so many others in the world find themselves in, believen me, Americans, Brits, Aussies, etc. would do so. So let’s deal with facts not elitist notions.

  44. EAR says:

    Thor…

    “So is every other country in the world when you get right down into the grit of their cultures and listen to the average discontented citizen”

    Enlightening. Thank you for that. If you didn’t say that I wouldn’t have known it.

    The subject was the European perspective on the US. I added my perspective as an “discontented citizen” of the US. Your response is just taking up space. Did you think that it would expand my knowledge of the rest of the world?

    By the way, our probems are “unique” in terms of their scope and breadth and the “system” we live by that perpetuated them. You know, the one eveyone around the world aspires to. Even those who are compelled to defend dopes because they live within their borders can agree with that.

    OkieLawyer…

    “The trick is finding the good ones and avoiding the bad ones.”

    Absolutely.

  45. Mannwich says:

    When the dopes start outnumbering the non-dopes in large numbers, this is what we end up with. It’s easy to “avoid the bad ones” or “dopes”, but when the dopes start affecting the non-dopes’ lives in a meaningful way, that’s when I (and others, I would presume) start to get little ticked off.

  46. torrie-amos says:

    Europeans have long history and geograhpic ease. Most europeans have traveled all over europe, which is extrmely easy cause everything is close and rail is cheap, besides just a car. Which leads to a percentage, not all, venturing further overseas. I don’t see them any different as people, just a different perspective, more of a willingness to think in longer term perspectives. ala, France, going all nuke, why?, it’s just pure logic, no natural resources, thus, it’s cheapest energy for them. There own low cost manufacturing left them 4 decades ago, so, they are nich manufactureres of high end specialized products, like most these changes have been forced upon them over time and circumstances

  47. Thor says:

    Ear – Angry much?

    “The subject was the European perspective on the US”

    Your response is an American opinion about what the “European” perspective is on toward the US. Nothing more. There is no “European” perspective because their opinions of us are as varied as our opinions of ourselves. Had you traveled, or spent any time actually talking to people from other countries you’d know this.

    “You know, the one everyone around the world aspires to”

    That’s a rather sweeping generalization and speaks for itself I think.

    “Even those who are compelled to defend” . . .

    I try to look beyond my own ignorance and anger at the system within which I live. The only thing you’ve proven thus far is your rather obvious inability to do so yourself.

  48. bsneath says:

    I try not to make a habit of agreeing with Thor :>}, but I agree with Thor.

    It is easy to believe the grass is greener on the other shore. There are many aspects of America to take pride in. For example we treat minority cultures with much more respect that do many European societies whose populations hold tremendous prejudices against “foreigners”.

    The focus of BR’s original post is the European perspective of the Corporatocracy that somehow has overtaken our political and economic systems and their amazement that nothing is being done about it.

    If anything it reflects their respect for the values that America once had and their bewilderment with what we have turned into. And I share their bewilderment 100%! We have gone from a nation professed to values of integrity to one where it has become acceptable for “the ends to justify the means”. Where did we go wrong?

  49. Brett Tibbitts says:

    While it’s always interesting to hear what Europeans think of us, I am always bemused when Americans care so deeply and are wounded by Europeans disapproval of our unwashed ways. The left in the US especially get hurt and angry when Europeans don’t approve of what we are doing politically or who are leaders are at the moment – like during the Bush years.

    Are our memories so shallow? Are our history lessons completely forgotten or, worse yet, never learned? It was only a few decades ago that Germans were wildly in support of Hitler and the rest of Europe couldn’t line up fast enough to appease Hitler. And we bemuse them?

    Human kind is human kind all over. The country that is ahead today could well be way behind tomorrow. No country can avoid hard times. The order of the day always is humility and not bemusement or thinking one section of the world has it all right or wrong.

  50. madman130 says:

    It’s the geography!

    Europe is a continent and US is a country. Bordering different cultures/languages will definitely force you to learn the languages/cultures and build some perspectives. No need of that in US although some people in bordering southern states may have acquired some perspectives about Mexican culture than let’s say people from South Dakota.

  51. Mannwich says:

    @Thor: I tend to agree with you. There are differences in cultures, but at our core, human beings are mostly the same. Haven’t changed much throughout many generations either, but the one thing I don’t see are masses of loudmouths ignoramuses demonstrating against their own best interests (e.g. healthcare, taxes on the wealthy, caps on CEO pay, etc.).

  52. Thor says:

    Manny – thanks! :-) I think you and onlooker know that I’m definitely not an apologist for the ills of our country and people, I just try hard to see them in context and to look at the bigger picture. I think a better argument to make would be the relative decline in the WESTERN system as it has been practiced over the last 20-30 years. . . .

    Entertainment is another interesting topic . . . I think we can agree that so much of what we have on TV today is crap. How many people have taken the time to discover that so much of that crap has been imported from England and Australia?

  53. bsneath says:

    Thor, I agree with you also. Many aspects of our culture to be very proud of.

    The spreading corporatocracy just isn’t one of them. Nor is the belief in “the end justifies the means” which also has become accepted practice somewhere along the line.

  54. hue says:

    mass demonstrations are so 60s. now many of those same demonstrators have money and watch Fox news. today, we just demonstrate by keyboard.

  55. Thor says:

    Bsneath – absolutely agree

  56. Mannwich says:

    @bsneath: That is a direct result of the “get rich or die trying” (or destroy anything in one’s path) mantra this country developed over the past 30+ years. I would argue that’s the real pandemic that is destroying our nation. There’s no responsibility to anyone or anything anymore, aside from doing everything that you can to get rich quickly. In Europe, people seem to be generally more content with middling lives and not destroying their neighbor, community and country in trying to get uber-rich. The extremes are everywhere in our culture in the U.S. To me, that’s the real issue.

  57. Mannwich says:

    @hue: Where has demonstrating “by keyboard” gotten us? I know it’s gotten ME more irritated, but that’s about it. I don’t really think it’s accomplished anything.

  58. bsneath says:

    Mannwich – absolutely agree

    OK, now that complete blogosphere harmony has been achieved, I best sign off and get some real work done.

  59. hue says:

    @manny, thank is my point. we just whine by keyboard, not sure what demonstrating really gets us, plus no one is organizing anyway.

  60. hue says:

    urg, that is my point.

  61. EAR says:

    Thor…

    Not angry. Just agitated when someone counters an argument by stating something that is obvious or inane with the belief that they are somehow covering new ground.

    Again…

    “So is every other country in the world when you get right down into the grit of their cultures and listen to the average discontented citizen.”

    And…

    “I just make an effort to see our problems for what they are, our problems. Some of them are unique, most of them are not.”

    And…

    “There is no ‘European’ perspective because their opinions of us are as varied as our opinions of ourselves.”

    Wow. Thank you for wielding your intellectual hammer, Thor. We are all better having absorbed these beauties.

    And… you have the nerve to write with a touch of smugness?

    BTW, “sweeping generalization?”

    “Ear – Angry much?”

    “Had you traveled, or spent any time actually talking to people from other countries you’d know this.”

    These are small yet completely unfounded generalizations of someone you don’t know at all. A typical response from someone who doesn’t like it when another person points out the watered down nature of their arguments.

    And now… bsneath…

    “Many aspects of our culture to be very proud of.”

    I have rallied the prideful. Yawn.

  62. Mannwich says:

    @hue: Which is why I think that many blogs will lose its luster over time. Much ado about accomplishing nothing. Might as well live it up while we can. All this teeth-gnashing is merely a waste of time and energy.

  63. MorticiaA says:

    @Machiavelli999 says:

    “If you don’t believe me, remember the outcry from the right when he appointed a pay czar to regulate the bonuses of firms that were supported and only EXISTED because of the TARP.”

    My thoughts exactly. And to add to the mixture, the far right masses who equate czar with Communism don’t realize that czars were the MONARCHY which communism overthrew. An education is a terrible thing to waste.

  64. hue says:

    manny, i watched it with blogs back in 2004 and 2005, when they were going to overtake the world and put down the MSM, (which doesn’t really exist, it’s not a monolith but many different organizations). then with lefty blogs during the dubya years. i arrived at your position about the 75% apathetic masses earlier. i’m just here for the conversation, or to hear myself talk, um read my own posts.

    remember that those protesters in the 60s were young. today the angry ones are middle age, no drugs, too tired after work (where they spend all day reading blogs, tweet and facebook) to protest.

  65. Mannwich says:

    @hue: So true, but the youngsters may slowly be starting to get a little ticked off enought to do something about it. See the recent demonstration in Berkeley about the 32% tuition increases. Once it starts to affect THEM (in the 60′s it was the draft), they start to get a little upset. At least the ones that are not committing suicide and/or consumed by their I-thingies might ganyway.

  66. “…put down the MSM, (which doesn’t really exist, it’s not a monolith but many different organizations).”
    –hue, above

    Corporate Media Ownership
    The Project Censored team researched the board members of 10 major media organizations from newspaper to television to radio. Of these ten organizations, we found there are 118 people who sit on 288 different American and international corporate boards proving a close on-going interlock between big media and corporate America. We found media directors who also were former Senators or Representatives in the House such as Sam Nunn (Disney) and William Cohen (Viacom). Board members served at the FCC such as William Kennard (New York Times) and Dennis FitzSimmons (Tribune Company) showing revolving door relationships with big media and U.S. government officials.

    These ten big media organizations are the main source of news for most Americans. Their corporate ties require us to continually scrutinize the quality of their news for bias. Disney owns ABC so we wonder how the board of Disney reacts to negative news about their board of directors friends such as Halliburton or Boeing. We see board members with connections to Ford, Kraft, and Kimberly-Clark who employ tens of thousands of Americans. Is it possible that the U.S. workforce receives only the corporate news private companies want them to hear? Do we collectively realize that working people in the U.S. have longer hours, lower pay and fewer benefits than their foreign counterparts? If these companies control the media, they control the dissemination of news turning the First Amendment on its head by protecting corporate interests over people.”
    http://www.projectcensored.org/censorship/corporate-media-ownership/
    http://www.projectcensored.org/

    hue,

    really?

  67. emmanuel117 says:

    @Brett Tibbitts

    Moe: Oho, an English boy, huh? You know, we saved your ass in World War II.
    Hugh St. John Alastair Parkfield: Yeah, well, we saved *your* arse in World War III.

  68. hue says:

    hoffer, do you think the board members do anything except draw a paycheck? have you ever been inside a newsroom to what influence editorial decisions? i know people love conspiracy theories …

  69. DiggidyDan says:

    I would reply, but mine’s bigger.

    see:
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/11/the-galley-slaves-arent-feeling-it/#comment-233091

    FWIW, i have never been to europe, too poor. I have been to 38 of the states and 5 other countries. I like Colorado. I live in Florida. . . paradise is full of crazies(just go to Key West in Fantasy Fest Season if you don’t believe me). Also, i can pick up Spanish well enough from 2 years in HS and an understanding of Latin derivatives to kinda know what the hell is going on when listening in on a conversation, as i have observed in my previous travels. I’m not gonna tell anybody I encounter here in Florida that i can understand what they’re saying, though.

  70. DiggidyDan says:

    Also, Colorado is too effin’ cold for this native floridian in the winter. hahaha

  71. [...] Europe’s view of the ‘USSA’ – Big Picture [...]

  72. hue,

    two things..yes, as a matter of fact, I have been ‘in a Newsroom’, and…if you think that Corp. Directors are, merely, potted plants in the boardroom, you should see the inside of one, you know, for a change..

    or, IOW, if you, really, think that the dude(-ette) wearing the “Editor”-cardtag on his/her CubeFarm lanyard is freewheeling the ‘what to print’ decisions, by all means, show the Who&Where..

  73. Gene says:

    Obama’s Nice Guy Act Gets Him Nowhere on the World Stage

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,662822,00.html

    Translated from German. So much for the thesis of universal popularity in Europe…

  74. hue says:

    yes hoffer, you’re right, all newsrooms wait for talking points from corporate directors every morning to proceed.

  75. hue says:

    in newsrooms i’ve worked in, not havebeen in, the business desk can’t even coordinate with the city desk, but you know better since you’ve been in a newsroom.