Where would you rather grow up: U.S. or Europe?
From Tony Judt -- one of my favorite intellectuals:
"Consider a mug of American coffee. It is found everywhere. It can be made by anyone. It is cheap - and refills are free. Being largely without flavor it can be diluted to taste. What it lacks in allure it makes up in size. It is the most democratic method ever devised for introducing caffeine into human beings. Now take a cup of Italian espresso. It requires expensive equipment. Price-to-volume ratio is outrageous, suggesting indifference to the consumer and ignorance of the market. The aesthetic satisfaction accessory to the beverage far outweighs its metabolic impact. It is not a drink; it is an artifact.
"This contrast can stand for the differences between America and Europe - differences nowadays asserted with increased frequency and not a little acrimony on both sides of the Atlantic. The mutual criticisms are familiar. To American commentators Europe is "stagnant." The costs of European social welfare payments and public services are "unsustainable." Europe's aging and "cosseted" populations are under-productive and self-satisfied. In a globalized world, the "European social model" is a doomed mirage.
"To a growing number of Europeans, however, it is the "American way of life" that cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance - as material surrogates for happiness - is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand (or, more precisely, other people's money). Contemporary mass culture in the US is squalid and meretricious. No wonder so many Americans turn to the church for solace."
Read the whole article. In related news, Yale Professor Craphogger has a new study out that shows doggie-style sex on the uprise in the U.S. His theory? Under the impact of our shallow modern lifestyles, we are reversing evolution and reverting to our animal origins. Outraged Creationists urge the nation to fight back with the "Christian" missionary position.