Over the pond in Europe, America is the butt of many jokes. These generally tend to be fat jokes and jokes about ‘stupid Americans’. Then there are the snide comments about how America as a country is too commercial and lacks history, or about how everything is too big and loud. It’s a two way street of course – Americans also have a thing or two to say about the Brits, the French and the Germans – but nevertheless it can sometimes seem as though there isn’t enough respect for the US over in Europe.
But to say that Europe is in any way ‘superior’ to America would be a huge mistake. Just as there are many things that the US could learn from Europe about subtlety and graciousness, so too could Europe stand to learn a lot from America. In fact that’s one of the best things about international relations – the ability to learn from other countries and to meet somewhere in the middle so that only the good qualities are left. Here we will look at some of the things that America does RIGHT, that Europe could stand to learn a thing or two from.
America… hell yeah!
What Europe Can Learn From the US
Tourism: Europe has a lot of tricks up its sleeve when it comes to tourism and is blessed with things like the Coliseum and Stonehenge and Auschwitz (okay ‘blessed’ is the wrong word for that last one…). All these things though are historical though and were gifted to Europe simply because it was around for long enough. To quote Limitless: ‘those powers weren’t earned’.
So how does America compete? With Disney Land. With New York. With Vega. The point is that America has built some of the most amazing modern tourist attractions on Earth and this is something that Europe really can’t compete with at the moment.
Entertainment: In fact this extends to entertainment in general, with nothing in Europe at all comparing with Hollywood. It’s not just Hollywood that is impressive though, but also the stuff to come out of it. If you visit any European country pretty much you’ll find that it’s American shows that are on TV and American music that’s on the radio. Europe can’t compete with America in terms of awareness simply because there’s so much less output. And when you do hear the local Spanish ‘pop’ songs… well the less said about them the better much of the time.
Friendliness & Enthusiasm: Many Europeans will criticise Americans for being ‘loud and obnoxious’, but at least they talk to you. Head to England and you’ll find that everyone’s too shy to look up from their feet, while in Rome or Paris they’ll look up only to tell you to get out of the way. Visit America and you’ll be greeted by strangers and make friends on nights out and it makes for a much friendlier environment and greater variety of experiences. And so what if Americans clap at the cinema? Has anyone ever stopped to think that that’s actually a nice thing??
Politics: American politics is far from perfect – which can be said of any country in the world. However what America gets right is the fact that anyone can come to power in an election, and that anyone can become a governor (as Arnie aptly proved). Most European countries use the ‘First Past the Post’ system but with complex regional elements, which means that the party with the most votes won’t necessarily come to power. Everything’s a lot more convoluted and it results in a system that fewer people take an interest in and that’s less representative of people’s wishes.
Taxes: One of the things that Europeans are most jealous of is American taxes, and there are a lot of examples of Americans paying much less for things thanks to lower taxes. Road trips are barely even an option in Europe for instance thanks to the insane fuel tax, while many people will choose to buy their electronic devices and have them imported from the US just to get them cheaper.
Silicone Valley: Silicone Valley is one of America’s crowning achievements with one of the biggest reasons for its success is simply the support that the US lends to start-ups and to the tech industry in particular. America is a fantastic place for new businesses – so much so that many small companies will actually move out to America to enjoy the benefits (as well as the larger market). By supporting these interests the US has wisely invested in its own future and that has paid off in the dominance of huge companies like Microsoft and Facebook – for which there are few European equivalents.
In short, the US has some of the biggest man made attractions on Earth and dominates the entertainment and tech industries. We must be doing something right…