The Grim Truth

Americans, I have some bad news for you: You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin. If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.” (Escape From America Magazine)

5 comments

  1. Ulisse Aldrovandi

    Google this article and read the full screed; it is stunningly stupid and inaccurate. Example: “fully 70% of your tax dollars go to the Pentagon . . . .” In fact, for FY 2009, defense accounted for 23% of the US federal budget. I can say, as an Italian who divides his time between Milan, New York and San Francisco, that for all America’s problems, the US still presents people with the greatest opportunities for individual expression and economic success. Europe’s underlying economic fragility, rooted in an imbalance between the social welfare promises countries have made, and their inability to fund those benefits, is now becoming evident to everyone. (America, of course, isn’t immune to this.) What is Eliot’s point here?

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  2. Charles

    While the part about 70% going to the Pentagon is probably an extreme exaggeration, as an American, I can say that the rest of this article very accurately describes life here in the 21st century.

    If Ulisse has the money to split his life between Milan, New York, and San Francisco, he is probably not getting a very accurate picture of what it’s like for those of us who are not jet setters. Or maybe he just believes that the fairy tale life portrayed in American television shows and movies is what actual non-rich Americans experience.

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  3. Ray L.

    I agree with Charles. Though the article is a bit of a screed and irritating in tone, most of its points are valid. Numerous studies have documented that for the average person, the standard of living in the US is nowhere near the top, compared to quite a few other countries (many of them in Europe). As for Europe’s “underlying economic fragility”, it has as much to do with people not bothering to pay taxes (case in point: Greece) as it does with social promises. I speak as one married to a French person and who visits France every year.

    According to Aldrovandi, “the US still presents people with the greatest opportunities for individual expression and economic success”. Yes, we have all seen that with Goldman Sachs, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch, et. al.

    “Europe’s underlying economic fragility, rooted in an imbalance between the social welfare promises countries have made, and their inability to fund those benefits, is now becoming evident to everyone. (America, of course, isn’t immune to this.)” In other words, America is just as screwed as Europe. To paraphrase, what is Aldrovandi’s point here?

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  4. acm

    While the Pentagon may account for only 23% of the *budget*, you have to realize that the entire Iraq and Afghan wars are being run *off-budget* in some brilliance cooked up by Bush II. A much higher percentage of our total national revenues are going that way.

    Still, the screed makes many good points. Unfortunately, most people *don’t* live in fear of medical bankruptcy, because everybody thinks that their own coverage (like their own schools, their local politicians) will get the job done — it’s only as their world is falling down around them that they see otherwise.

    Really, life in America feels pretty good because it is possible to just go about your daily life — ignoring risks, corruption, and all the problems that Somebody Else should be dealing with — and be pretty happy without too much crisis. Eat your breakfast, play with your kids, watch TV, rinse repeat. No worse than Manilla, probably better. With apathy and inaction built right in!

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