's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions

Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )

Trash talk from the UK(40 posts)

Trash talk from the UKfiltersweep
Aug 19, 2003 9:57 AM
The following is taken from the Financial Times editorial discussions- from a random poster. Many would almost consider this sort of banter to be treasonous in the US, but these are rather common perceptions of the US from abroad.

I'm curious what people think of these types of criticism leveled at the US.

"Truth number one:

America is a second rate nation hiding behind a first rate army.

Truth number two:

America has the highest per capita number of prisoners on the globe.

Truth number three:

More people in America live below the poverty line than in any other Western democracy.

Truth number three:

America's public facilities like powergrids, roads, and other forms of transportation and utility are so antiquated that they are crumbling (like in England).

Truth number four:

More people live in America without health insurance than in EASTERN Europe.

Truth number five:

Measured by universally accepted Western accounting standards, the majority of American companies are corrupted by their ruthless drive for shareholder value maximization: A high cost to the consumer, the average worker, and society at large is the bitter result. Corporate stocks have lost unprecedented value in the process with the consequence that the life savings of average Americans was wiped out in a matter of two years in pensionportfolios. This defines the very nature of CORPORATE CRIME.

Truth number six:

Social solidarity is non-existent in America: This entity which calls itself a country in essence is a free for all inside a thriving casino-economy in which the winner takes it all and where the losers go home without savings. The only social service available to average Americans is social security and medicare and even that is being privatized so that the rich will have more and the poor less.

Truth number seven:

Americans highways and public roads are strewn with litter and blight because of a lack of public funds to clean up city streets and parks and what have you.

Truth number eight: infinitum....


Europeans should envy America's first rate army, without doubt - the rest of the trash America can keep! "
Sounds like somebody's jealous to me,TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 10:27 AM
As somebody who spends roughly 50% of his time on either continent, here is my take:

#1. Well, we do have a first rate army. I don't know what criteria are used to make us a "second rate" country - but we do also have the largest economy, both absolute and per capita (not counting Luxembourg).

#2. We do have the highest number of prisoners. It's not our fault that we like to punish people for committing crimes.

#3. Our facilities are nothing near "antiquated". We have one of the most advanced air travel networks in the world. Despite last week's events, we have one of the most reliable electrical grids in the world.

#4. 14% of Americans don't have health insurance. This doesn't seem a shockingly high number to me.

#5. I don't know what they mean by "universally accepted accounting standards" - but US GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) is more stringent than IASB GAAP. Britain has standards that are in some ways tougher, but in others more lenient, and the rest of the Continent has MUCH more lenient accounting standards than the US. Corporate Crime is not limited to the US; look at Elf, Vivendi, et. al. if you have any questions.

#6. This is true. I don't know what social solidarity is, but I know we don't have it. But we like the system we have, and we think your socialism is funny.

#7. Our public roads are significantly cleaner than those in France. I can tell you this just on the basis of number of flat tires I get riding my bike.

Bottom line, people who write this drivel are twisting statistics to try to make a point that doesn't need to be made. It's idiotic at best.
Aug 19, 2003 10:35 AM
interesting - both takes.

But I have to say I don't think the army is first rate.
The Army is first rate at having first rate firepower. Nothing more nothing less.
What, exactly, isn't the army good at?TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 10:57 AM
The Army may suffer from having to meet the impossible expectations of the public, and having its Commander in Chief send it into difficult situations, but I am not aware of any military in the world that is superior. On a pound-for-pound basis, maybe Israel, but that would end if we stopped giving (oops, I mean "selling") them weapons technology.
What, exactly, isn't the army good at?african
Aug 19, 2003 11:29 AM
Yeah, I would go with the Israel story there. I like your way of putting it too.

Anyway. I think there should be some major overhaul of the Army.

I am a foreigner and so have never served in the milatary here - so I am no expert but I do have milatary experience and have read loads of stuff so I basically just have some opinions.

To put it simply "what Hack said". Col. David Hackworth that is.

I am sure you have read About Face, if not I have a copy. I just tend to agree with a lot of what Hack says.
What, exactly, isn't the army good at?Spoiler
Aug 19, 2003 12:03 PM
Believe it or not, I agree with you here. We've improved a lot after Vietnam. Now we do a much better job of taking care of people after they get out of the Army with benefits, counciling, GI Bill, family support etc.

It's because I know we're capable of so much that I get so upset when we don't act accordingly.
14% is a small percentage, but....dr hoo
Aug 19, 2003 1:21 PM
... it is a large number. 40 million or so. Many of them children. Other countries have everyone covered. They also spend 30-50% per capita less on health care (canada, UK), but have equal or slightly higher life expectancies. When you realize that these uninsured people use emergency rooms for care (the most expensive form), and that the taxpayer usually ends up footing the bill one way or another, then that 14% seems like a bit bigger deal.

"#2. We do have the highest number of prisoners. It's not our fault that we like to punish people for committing crimes. "

You assume other countries have similar crime rates. Is that a valid assumption? You also assume that those countries do not punish offenders in other ways, like fines and other mechanisms.

"#7. Our public roads are significantly cleaner than those in France. I can tell you this just on the basis of number of flat tires I get riding my bike. "

It depends on where you are. Some places are great, and others are filthy. It's a big country with lots of variation. But perhaps you have ridden in every state of the union and so can speak from personal experience?
I believe I have,TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 1:53 PM
I think I have probably ridden in every state of the Union. Except Alaska. Pennsylvania has the worst roads.

I'm also not sure that cleanliness of roads is much of a metric.

In terms of crime, Denmark has higher crime per-capita than the US, as does the UK.

The United States also has the best healthcare in the world. It's just not cheap. We could easily provide the same level of healthcare to people that Canada does, but that isn't good enough for Americans, so we go without.
The US SUCKS!Live Steam
Aug 19, 2003 2:38 PM
I guess that's what the leftists here want to hear, so lets' give them what they want. The US SUCKS. So does our healthcare, though many Canucks are literally dying to get healthcare here in the US. Our economy sucks, though most of the rest of the Worlds population are crossing our borders illegally to come her to live and work. Our system of justice sucks, though many who commit crimes here in the US are immigrants who get treated humanly and just as any US citizen would be treated. I say the US really SUCKS. Heck I'm moving to Italy. I can live like a king there with what I have. I don't know if I can make a living there, but heck, the US SUCKS.
The US SUCKS!lotterypick
Aug 19, 2003 3:25 PM
We won't even talk about the victim mentality that holds back certain minority groups themselves, whereas other more recent immigrants buy stores, go to college and just work hard...viola, they succeed whereas the whiners collect welfare and cry about discrimination.
The US SUCKS!filtersweep
Aug 19, 2003 3:38 PM
These are rather malformed and sweeping overgeneralizations here- I usually expect better from steam

regarding healthcare- it swings both ways- there are all sorts of senior bus trips north of the border to pick up cheaper medications... for a few years, people would even cross the border for Lasix.

"most of the rest of the world's population" are NOT illegally crossing the border. Getting a visa is more difficult than ever, and about the only countries involved with illegal immigration are south of the US.

immigrants commiting crimes? Need I remind you the immigrants ARE here legally... of course they should be treated as a citizen would... most of us have "immigrant blood" in us somewhere...
The US SUCKS!Live Steam
Aug 19, 2003 7:30 PM
The over exaggerated statements were in your original post. Also, there are far more illegal immigrants from other areas of the World than you might suspect. Asia and the Middle East are represented pretty well too.

My point was that there are problems everywhere. There are lots of problems here, but I would much rather be facing them here than pretty much anywhere else in the World.
what was that about twisted statistics?dr hoo
Aug 20, 2003 4:18 AM
Denmark does have more TOTAL crimes per capita, slightly. Around 1%. However...

The USA has over 3x the rate of rape per capita of Denmark. We have about 5x the murder rate. About 4x the assault rate. We also have over 2x the robberies per capita.

So what kinds of crimes do you think they have over there?

We do have the best health care system in the world ... for those on top that can afford it. People come from all over the world to have top notch health care here. Health care that 40 million americans don't get, and many HMO insured don't get approved by the bean counters.

We also have the best graduate education, and huge numbers of people come here for advanced degrees. Does that mean our education system is the best in the world, even though elementary schools are miserable all over the country?

By that standard, looking only at the top, you could say life is great in saudi arabia... after all, look at how good it is at the top!

The USA, the best place to be at the top. No argument from me on that point.
The reading scores do not reflect ...Live Steam
Aug 20, 2003 4:55 AM
the state of the education system. I think they more closely reflect the state of our society. If parents want their kids to learn, there are plenty of opportunities for it. We have a sever social problem that is degrading our society at all levels. We have parents in inner cities that do not give a damn about their kids reading levels. We have parents of kids in inner cities that smoke crack. In areas where this is not a population than any other Western country. The public education system works. Show me where it doesn't work, where these conditions are not present.

As for our crime rate vs other countries, I think it's an unfair comparison. Other countries have a more homogenous makeup to their population. I believe this effects how people interact within their community. Our population is varied in it's makeup. I think this is a contributing factor to our crime problem. We also have a much larger illegal alien problem. I believe that many who are willing to break immigration laws are also capable of breaking civil laws. I think there is less fear for authority and less respect for civility here in the US because of the social divergence and cultural differences.

I say we keep trashing the US. Isn't that the American way?
reading scores?dr hoo
Aug 20, 2003 5:48 AM
and math scores and all sorts of other scores, none of which I mentioned, are a topic for a thread all their own. The education comment was more a comment on the *logic* of the argument being made regarding the evaluation of health care than an educational argument per se.

I did not bring up other countries, but if they are brought up you should do as careful a comparison as possible. Thus the breakdown of the denmark vs. usa claim.

Did you notice that the notion of non-prison punishment was not touched? I did.

The homogeneity of a population is a good point. That is very well supported by the research literature, but NOT as the only factor involved. Consider that there is still plenty of crime of the black on black, white on white sort. Diversity of a community or state is not the best predictor. Population density is a far greater predictor for violent crime, iirc. Population diversity is a significant factor, but not a huge one.

The homogeneous populations of europe have been one of the biggest factors in explaining their higher level of welfare state programs. That and the fact that those programs tend to go to everyone instead of being targeted. (though it has been 12 years since I looked at the literature, so I could be wrong on this)

Your beliefs about lawbreaking illegal immigrants are just that, beliefs. Do you have any data? I believe that if getting pulled over for a speeding ticket can result in your being thrown out of the country and losing the life you have built, you will be VERY law abiding. I don't have any data on that either, but I like my belief better than yours.

Trashing america? If someone says your wonderful bike has a bit of rust on the chain, do you deny it? Or do you fix the problem? Does the critique of the chain take away from the frame, or the wheelset? There is always room for improvement, and turning a blind eye to the problems and denying they exist only lets the problem get worse.
I agreeLive Steam
Aug 20, 2003 6:11 AM
I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. I also just interjected my thoughts here vs somewhere else in the thread. I have no data to support the "illegal alien" supposition. However the argument can be made that if one has no identity within the community, no stake in ownership, no way to be traced, so thus no attachment to anything, there may be a feeling of disconnect that can result in taking liberties or in committing crimes. They are already law breakers by being here illegally. They probably had to break quite a few laws to get here to begin with. It may mean that they have no reservations about continuing to do the same since they have already had the compulsion to do so thus far. The higher density of the population is noted though I would suspect that there are similarly populated areas that have much lower incidence of crime.

I also agree that we should take a look at ourselves and correct what we see as falling short of the ideal. However, I read post here that come off more as some attempt to condemn rather than to criticize or point out where the room for improvement is. The initial post in this thread and many of the responses come off that way to me. Maybe it's just the way I am reading them :O)

You didn't respond to our permissiveness vs other countries. Does this come into play?
wow you should become a sociologistMJ
Aug 20, 2003 6:59 AM
but the better argument is that most illegal aliens work hard, stay out of trouble and are desperate to work in the west for better money, security and quality of life - and this POV is borne out by facts/figures/percantages for anyone who cares to investigate - it is something that I know about - but then again why would we expect anything other than a knee jerk response when you admit again you don't have a bloody clue - "I have no data to support the "illegal alien" supposition." - what a freaking moron

it's like shooting fish in a barrel

Post you facts fool nmLive Steam
Aug 20, 2003 8:42 AM
er, look up burden of proof in a dictionary, thenMJ
Aug 20, 2003 9:09 AM
reread my sentence posted above:

"this POV is borne out by facts/figures/percantages for anyone who cares to investigate"

I don't care to investigate - I've seen the numbers before from a wide range of sources

when one makes assertions such as you have the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate how illegals are involved in crime in a disproportionate way to legal residents - that's the starting point of the argument - and when you realise there's no such evidence then perhaps you will admit you, again, don't have a clue...


Live Steam.. here are some facts!Fender
Aug 20, 2003 10:14 AM
"And in the United States there was money, plenty of money, to be made from the Mexican illegal immigrant. It starts with the labor cost savings, as was pointed out by a Congressional study by the Department of Labor indicating that Mexican laborers are paid around 50-cents for every dollar paid to other laborers. The wire transfer service costs and exchange rate differentials eats up around 20 percent, which in 2002 will be around $2 billion of the $10 billion in remittances. In the barrios housing the illegals, the slumlords make a tidy profit renting cockroach and rat infested one bedroom apartments to cramming several tenant at four to five times market value. And in the local neighborhoods, there are Mexican-American ‘Notarios' promising to help with immigration, a false promise aimed only at extorting exorbitant fees. The local health clinics that invite the sick treating them for non existent ailments to charge the government at taxpayers' expense.

Even the anti-illegal immigration groups profit from the phenomenon. Through fund raising, selling of books, videos, speaking engagements, and dues for membership to their organizations, millions are collected for the benefit of the ‘movement.' Anti immigration politicians receive far more donations they would otherwise get unless they belong to and are senior members of Congressional committees in high demand by cash-contributing lobbyist. And the border security government agencies are also recipients – thousands of jobs are created, hundreds of millions allocated to the annual budgets, for payroll, benefits, and equipment to the Border Patrol and INS enforcement division."
Hi FenderLive Steam
Aug 20, 2003 3:58 PM
Your post certainly shows how illegal aliens are exploited, but it says nothing about the topic we were discussing. MJ likes to spout off, but never supports his argument. I at least admit when I have no data to support my thesis, and many times go back to find supporting data.

It is a shame that these people are exploited because they have no recourse. They cannot use the usual channels to protect their interests because they would expose themselves to the authorities.

I employed Mexican girls in my laundromat. They all had green cards and a few were first generation Americans, though in many cases, their siblings were not. Very nice people. Hard working, very loyal and trustworthy. I have a warm regard for them and their families. I never exploited them and I paid them a very fair wage and they appreciated working for me. I always treated them well especially around the holidays.

Look, illegal immigration is a problem from many perspectives. At the most basic level it endangers those that are here illegally. It also put them in a position of being exploited by others. I have to point out that I never made a specific reference to illegal Mexican immigrants. I believe there are many Asians as well as Middle Easterners here illegally as well.
and according to youMJ
Aug 21, 2003 12:36 AM
there overwhelmingly mixed up in crime

seriously - you must be the slowest and perhaps meanest person on the board - with your personal experience of employed legal aliens you think you would have reached a different conclusion

here's some hard numbers - can you admit when you're wrong and ignorant and prejudiced?

"In the 1980s and 1990s researchers have concluded, or at least have lent support to the conclusion, that immigrants commit proportionately no more than and possibly even fewer crimes than native-born citizens. The General Accounting Office, analyzing FBI records, found that foreign-born individuals accounted for about 19 percent of the total arrests in 1985 in six selected major cities.8 The foreign-born represented 19.6 percent of the aggregate population. While "foreign-born" can mean refer to citizens as well as aliens,9 the study makes an implicit case that immigrant crime is in line with the rest of the country."
Looks like your slow and ...Live Steam
Aug 21, 2003 4:32 AM
ignorant. This says nothing about "illegal aliens"! You do remember that is the topic of this conversation that is ending now, don't you? You do your own work and find a reference to "illegal aliens"!

Meanwhile I'll be off making some mo' money while I'm ridin' my bike today so's I can keep little people like's you down and oppressed! :O) Later!
we are permissive in many ways true.dr hoo
Aug 20, 2003 7:25 AM
so are other countries. Canada seems to be getting WAY permissive, for example. I can't think of a single country that is more permissive in terms of political protest, and that is a good thing imo.

As for this... "However the argument can be made that if one has no identity within the community, no stake in ownership, no way to be traced, so thus no attachment to anything, there may be a feeling of disconnect that can result in taking liberties or in committing crimes. "

You are making a basic Durkheimian argument about Anomie. That is a well supported proposition.

However (you knew this was coming, right) illegal immigrants are MORE connected to their local communities than many Americans. They tend to be highly religious, and tied to the religious community. They tend to be highly family oriented, and maintain contacts with extended families, who often help them get established in the us. High degrees of connections to social structures tend to decrease criminal behavior. Or so Durkheim (and a 100 years of research) says.
Aug 19, 2003 10:40 AM
I'm sure we could easily come up with a similar list of "criticisms" for just about any other country on the planet. If it makes people in the UK or elsewhere feel better about themselves in spite of their own problems, that's great.

Anyone with intelligence should easily raise questions about any of these, since they are at best half truths and misleading statements. For instance, Americans highways and public roads are strewn with litter not because of a lack of public funds to clean them up, but because people are throwing trash out their windows!!! Isn't that the source of the problem? Or does the source not matter, only how a nation throws money at the problem? A good example is in France, where there are state employees on the payroll to clean up the sidewalks. We used to call them Speed Racer because they have special suits and ride motorcycles. Their job is to clean up the dog crap left by French people, who never clean up after their dogs! Don't you wish American tax money went to clean up dog crap?
Aug 19, 2003 11:03 AM
I'm curious why you'd call that treasonous. It's pretty much all true, isn't it? And even if it wasn' I get this kind of stuff from my European cousins all the time. But they have plenty of problems of their own, and I still rather live here than there...
We have a loose definition of 'treason' these days. nmOldEdScott
Aug 19, 2003 11:13 AM
Trolls are all over the globe.MR_GRUMPY
Aug 19, 2003 11:05 AM
I'm suprised that he didn't end with ....."And BTW, both Campy and Shimano suck.
Which is exactly why....lotterypick
Aug 19, 2003 11:22 AM
People come to our country instead of theirs.

America is a great country because despite our woes, we have something none of them can offer. Freedom and opportunity.

If anyone is interested in a great read on the subject and the rebuttal of such, check this out: 1st chapter can be downloaded. Great book.
Which is exactly why....filtersweep
Aug 19, 2003 11:37 AM
"we have something none of them can offer. Freedom and opportunity. "

huh? Most Europeans enjoy much more freedoms than we have in the US... unless you consider carrying a handgun to be an essential need...
Which Europeans are those?TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 11:50 AM
"Most Europeans enjoy much more freedoms [sic] than we have in the US".

Which freedoms might those be?

The freedom to be locked up without being charged?
Which Europeans are those?filtersweep
Aug 19, 2003 12:14 PM
You can't tell me that we don't have a rich history of legislating morality in the US...
We also have a rich history of striking those laws down,TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 12:27 PM
I was recently in Washington D.C. with a European colleague, and we were outside the Capitol, which had its usual gaggle of [peaceful] protestors. My colleague indicated that it would be good entertainment to wait around for the police to come and break up the party. He was dismayed to learn that people were actually ALLOWED to protest, on Government property no less!

Many European countries (Germany, for example) have strict limits on speech, others have less than optimal court systems (France, for example). France has all kinds of outlandish rules about things, I can't come up with a great example right now, but the police are always telling me what I can't do. I got in trouble a few weeks ago for letting a bunch of kids swim in my pool (it has been unreasonably hot in France this summer).
We also have a rich history of striking those laws down,filtersweep
Aug 19, 2003 12:52 PM
I'm talking about morality- the US- where all sorts of european books (that we now consider literature) were banned and seized as recently as the 50s... or even "being granted" a divorce was relatively difficult and cumbersome until the 1960s- where overturning an old sodomy law was very recently controversial...

There are still all sorts of blue laws from the 1800s and early 1900s on the books... alcohol is insanely regulated in the US. Non-violent drug offenders can draw harsher penalties in the US than some murderers receive in Europe (although they often have their own outrage at maximum sentencing guideline- the opposite of what we have in the US).

In all fairness, it is no fun to drive in most of Europe due to the very slow speed limits and the strict enforcement...
Do you have black and white colored glasses?lotterypick
Aug 19, 2003 1:05 PM
You still haven't answered why immigrants from all over the world strive and fight to get into the US, blue laws or no.

You're not seeing the big picture which is in the US "if you work hard, you can be rich and live differently".

If people say I get stuck on evolution, I had to say you get stuck on morality, we're talking freedom to be different, to use your intellect and hard work and have a life that is different than that offered in any other place in the world.

Despite what the world says, the actual data supports the US, not France, Germany, Africa, etc.

If the US sucks for black then why don't they go back to Africa? Same for the French, Germans, etc. The answer is clear. Although we have our shortcomings, life here is way better and offers a future for our kids that is way better than the rest of the world.
Do you have black and white colored glasses?filtersweep
Aug 19, 2003 2:02 PM
There are all sorts of immigrants in Europe as well. Many blacks DID go back to Africa- to a country called "Liberia"- FWIW.

You don't get out of the country very often, do you?
Yeah, and they're welcomed too,TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 2:17 PM
Just ask the Turks in Germany.
Yeah, Europe has none of that,TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 1:15 PM
Divorce was illegal in Ireland until November 1995. And now, it is quite difficult to be granted a divorce - you can't even FILE for divorce until you've lived apart for 4 years. Sodomy laws in Ireland were similarly recently repealed.

Alcohol is quite regulated in the US - but drunk driving is a freedom I can live without (but buying beer on Sundays would be nice...). Selling crack is another freedom I can live without.

Europe is not the utopia Europeans like to think it is.
Which Europeans are those?Tri_Rich
Aug 19, 2003 12:16 PM
"The freedom to be locked up without being charged?"

Thanks to the PATRIOT ACT we have that freedom too.
Which Europeans are those?TJeanloz
Aug 19, 2003 12:20 PM
Only in extraordinary circumstances. Ask Alex Zulle about what it's like in a French prison.