General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

What's great about America and what's great about other countries?

Asked by mattbrowne (31557points) May 9th, 2009

Here’s a list I compiled. You’d like to add or change anything? How would your list look like?

So what’s great about America and what can be learned from it? A lot in my opinion!

1) More than 200 years of democracy (checks and balances made sure it never turned to extreme totalitarianism. Believe me even 8 years of Bush is like a minor hiccup compared to the Third Reich, Stalin or the aftermath of the French Revolution)

2) Immigation: Drawing the best talents from all over the world

3) Ivy league universities and the ability to think big – highest per capita rate of Nobel Prize winners

4) Pioneering mentality, visionary, innovative and risk-taking entrepreneurship (meant in a positive way e.g. Sun or Google in the silicon valley, not the corporate crooks creating speculative bubbles)

5) Applying self-help / community organization (Obama is a great example for that) instead of always waiting for the state to fix everything

6) Friendliness, openness, welcoming visitors

7) Optimism (I think the recent 4 years are the exception if you look at time spans of 100 years or more)

And what could the US learn from other countries?

1) Taking more interest in what other countries do better

2) Modesty, temperance

3) Mandatory teaching of one foreign language starting at the age of 10

4) Health care (analyze how Germany does this)

5) Challenge your assumptions – don’t assume the world ends beyond the borders of your country. Finally get rid of this outdated exotic non-metric system

6) Save more when times are good – think twice before applying for loans or using your credit card

7) Don’t use excessive advertisement everywhere especially on TV, most of the ads are of trash quality numbing the minds of many kids

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30 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

what the US could learn from other countries?
– build better non-rubbish cars
– drop the black and white, good versus evil worldview and see the complex nature of international politics.
– make it a national issue to teach evoluton and forbid the teaching of creationism in science class
– drop your unnatural love of firearms
– start to see violence and war as a last resort, not as a tool á la “one size fits it all”
and most importantly:
– free higher education
– interest free loans for everyone who wants to pursue higher education (to pay for living)
– abolish the death penalty nationwide.
– switch the judiciary from a punishment based system, to a rehabilitation based one
– stop with this jury nonsense. this is mob rule, not justice. let specially trained judges, in more serious cases aided by advisors, make the decisions

Tobotron's avatar

@ ragingloli Spot on I think you got it all there, a few things everyone should listen to on an individual basis as well there! I would say that ALOT of US prize awards are because the EU didn’t look after there own minds enough and the US stole them, fair enough to be honest…also European Democracy is far more advanced we’ve been doing it longer but the US is gonna face it’s own democratic problems in the future if it doesn’t find a way off of it’s HUGE dependence on oil and its quite so consumerism orientated way of life, you can blame Edward Bernays for all that.

BookReader's avatar

…some self-healing would not hurt…

_bob's avatar

Good things about…

Germany:
– Most taxis are Mercedes Benz.
– Beer.

Holland:
– Kaassouffle.
– Dutch chicks.
– Amsterdam.

Italy:
– Monica Bellucci.
– Real pizza.

Spain:
– Football (or “soccer”).

England:
– Fish and chips.

Mexico:
– Tequila.
– Tacos.
– Salma Hayek.

Brazil:
– Caipirinhas.
– Picanha.
– Giselle Bündchen.

Argentina:
– Beef.

Canada:
– The word “eh”.

Japan:
– Electronics.

China:
– Most other stuff.
– Sweet sour chicken.

mammal's avatar

apart from the freakishly rare anomaly…there is nothing good about America

Tobotron's avatar

@bob_ Russia:
– Siberian girls!!
– Mil Mi-24
– AK47

hitomi's avatar

While I was living in London, I decided on a lot of things that are really good about the US. A lot of people in Europe were really anti-American when I first got there (it was before this last election), but my American friends and I were still pretty proudly American and we figured out that America is really patriotic and not in always in the annoying “we’re better than you” way.

I was all over Europe and I never saw as many national flags anywhere else as we have here in the states. In general we’re sorta – to quote Team America we’re kinda just “America, Fuck Yah!” It’s not about being BETTER than everyone else…we’re just proud of us and our history (which IS pretty impressive).

mammal's avatar

@hitomi killing off an entire indigenous culture and then proceeding beyond the American continental borders to the world beyond, in exactly the same vein, is something to be proud of…?

ru2bz46's avatar

Great about America? America technically has all the natural resources she needs to survive if she was suddenly walled off from the rest of the world.

Great about other countries? I don’t really know since I don’t need to go outside America to get anything I desire.

I’m not trying to be a dick, it’s just that I’m proud to be here.

ragingloli's avatar

@ru2bz46 only for a limited amount of time and then only if americans turn their style of living away from wasteful consumerism.

ru2bz46's avatar

@ragingloli ALL resources are finite. Having access to the rest of the world would make the resources last longer (assuming nobody used their own before we got to them), but they would still run out if we just pissed them all away. I’m saying that our variety of resources would serve us well if we didn’t have access outside of the US. Naturally, everybody needs to use their resources wisely.

Darwin's avatar

I am still trying to figure out how the French cook with real butter and cream but still stay thin.

I know, it has to do with no elevators and fewer cars, but it is nice to dream…

_bob's avatar

@Darwin Also, with how much they eat after cooking.

Tobotron's avatar

@ragingloli So you have never left the states? I can’t imagine a life without travel, experience of other cultures, you say you don’t need to go outside America to get anything…isn’t that because China, Vietnam, Japan, Germany etc are all exporting to you…I think without them the US overnight would actually be in a bit of a panic! As would any other Western country.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Tobotron I think you meant to direct your comment to me. I am only saying that the land on which the American people reside has the resources we need. If we were suddenly walled off, we could actually start using our own resources, instead of importing.

Darwin's avatar

The only other thing that I can add is simply that if every country did everything the same way, what would be the point of being separate countries?

America has been thoroughly isolationist in the past, but I think has benefited greatly today by being aware that there actually is more than one way to do things. We need also to remember that sometimes a particular way of doing things doesn’t work equally well in all cultures and under all circumstances.

And actually, I believe that, except for coin-operated pinball machines, you can get just about anything you need made almost anywhere in the world.

prasad's avatar

I found Americans generous, they helped me a lot from time to time.

hitomi's avatar

@mammal I never said that everything we’ve done in our history is something to be proud of, but there isn’t a society in the entire scope of known history that DOESN’T have things in their past that they’re ashamed of. We also didn’t kill off an “entire indigenous culture” I also think that other nations throughout the world that are STILL STANDING would take offense to the declaration that we’ve done the same to the rest of the world…

America has made huge strides and accomplishments and I am proud to be an American despite the shame that exists in some of our actions. I even acknowledge the mistakes of recent years and don’t agree with the decisions made by the American government sometimes, but I do believe in what my country stands for and the intent of some of the great men and women of this nation.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Tobotron – You said ‘US prize awards are because the EU didn’t look after there own minds enough and the US stole them’

I would rephrase this: disappointed European researcher went to the US by their own choice. US academic institutions create a stimulating and interesting environment.

You said ‘European Democracy is far more advanced’, but I would say it depends on the country. Look at the wars over the past 20 years: Bosnia, Kosovo, Armenia, Georgia… Look at countries like Belarus (part of Europe). But even for countries like the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Denmark. I would say democracy is somewhat different compared to that of the US, but not necessarily more advanced in every aspect. We can learn from each other. Germany is underway changing the academic institutions to create a more stimulating and interesting environment for example.

mattbrowne's avatar

@hitomi – Some of the people in Europe who might be perceived as anti-American are actually anti-bullying or anti-unilateral-interventionist. A few, yes, they are truly anti-American. Interestingly almost none of them have ever traveled to the US and equal soap operas like Dynasty with the whole society. They have a pretty distorted view of America.

German rediscovered their flags during the summer of 2006, but yes, you won’t see as many as in the US.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ru2bz46 – If you want to grow in your life you need to see other countries eventually. Otherwise your perception of the world will remain limited.

ru2bz46's avatar

@mattbrowne Actually, that second part was a bit of a joke, playing off the first part. My main point was that we don’t need to leave.

I have not had very good luck getting to visit other countries (other than Mexico and Canada). I’ve planned several trips to various countries (Egypt, Armenia, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc.) that keep getting cancelled for one reason or another. Someday, I’d even like to visit France, where I was born. I had to absorb six weeks of rent that my tenant just skipped out on, which derailed my trip to Greece in July. I know there is a lot to learn from other countries’ cultures, and a visit is worth more than months of book/video study. One of these days, I’ll get past Mexico and Canada…

mattbrowne's avatar

@ru2bz46 – Glad to hear it. It surely will work out one day. It’s worth the money!

hitomi's avatar

@mattbrowne I know that people weren’t really anti-AMERICAN, but we did have people walk up to us and say things like “Did you know America’s the most hated country in the whole world?” Or “Every person on this train right now is smarter than any one American”...then we elected Obama and suddenly people were all “Yay America!” it was bizarre.

I didn’t get a chance to go to Germany while I was in Europe, but the countries I did visit definitely didn’t have as many flags as we have here in the states. I hope that they do rediscover national pride and start flying the flag more!

mattbrowne's avatar

@hitomi – People who utter things like “every person on this train right now is smarter than any one American” should not be taken too seriously. Either they aren’t smart themselves lacking education and manners or they are completely dulled by their anger. It’s a sad reality almost everywhere.

susanc's avatar

@mattbrowne: lurve for “dulled by their anger”.

hitomi's avatar

@mattbrowne That entire situation was worth it for the man who caught up with us after we got off and apologized for the other dude – we reassured him that one inconsiderate schmuck wasn’t going to make us think that all Brits were that way.

DREW_R's avatar

The best is that we still have the freest nation in the world, at least until Obama and the dems get done with us. ;)

DREW_R's avatar

@bob_ Pizza is inall actuallity is a Chinese invention.

_bob's avatar

@DREW_R I meant real as opposed to the one sold by American chains.

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