16 February 2011

How things are going in the USA: Quantified


Just over 4 months ago I moved to America. It is basically pretty similar to England in many ways, which is perhaps why I notice the small differences so much. Naturally I decided to keep score.

I’m focusing on my entirely subjective experience of living here, and particularly on non-tradables, so there will be no thorny discussion of who has the best pop music or anything like that. I will gladly take suggestions but can’t guarantee to acknowledge or give any credence to them. And this is basically just a list of random stuff tapped into my phone over the weeks, with no reflection or analysis.

Without further ado:

Points for Great Britain

  • Ubiquitous chip-and-pin security for credit cards. Seriously America you can’t manage that?
  • (A decent) Minimum Wage. Meaning proper salaries for waiters, meaning I don’t have to worry so much about tip-maths in restaurants.
  • Universal (and simple!) healthcare coverage. Ugh, paperwork, thank god I never actually go to a doctor.
  • Sensible politicians. You all make the Conservative Party look really really nice. My first week here, the first bar I went to, O’Donnell was on the TV talking about closing the Department the Education.
  • Sensible people. Generally speaking, people get the representatives they deserve right? Far fewer crazies in England.
  • Liberalism. The proper, fully evolved grown up variant which includes social liberalism as well as economic liberalism.
  • Location. Being geographically closer to the rest of world, and foreign cultures.
  • Towns. That are walkable.
  • Public transport. The tube is way better than the NY subway in my opinion. And so are the buses. And there is a Congestion Charging zone.
  • Mobile phone contracts. For some reason there is fierce competition in the UK driving down prices but not in the US. What’s going on defenders of capitalism?
  • Better date formats. It obviously makes far more sense to start with the day than the month.
  • Better sports. We are not the only country who play our sports, therefore they are better. This is almost a tradable as its pretty easy to follow the Premiership over here, but not quite. You can’t enjoy reading the sports pages of a physical newspaper here.
  • Bank ATMs. Somehow Britain managed to get rid of fees for using other bank’s ATMs. It’s good.
  • No flags. Seriously, why are there so many flags everywhere? Are you worried about forgetting which country you are in?

Points for the Unites States of America

  • Turning right at stop signs. Definitely a winner.
  • Better usage of the phrase "public school." I could go on forever about grammar and spelling but that would be really boring. Here is a case where the American version is clearly objectively better.
  • Better weather. Hotter, colder, either way, at least there is actual weather rather than just cold grey drizzle.
  • Food. Enough said.
  • Ubiquitous Pizza. It is everywhere, and it is good. So good that it gets its own point in addition to the point for food above.
  • Automatic cars. Why do we still bother with manual transmissions? Aren’t automatics just a better technology?

Which makes it;

Great Britain 14

United States of America 6

Pretty damning. But I am genuinely trying to be agnostic here. Show me the evidence America! What else do you have going for you!


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