The United States of America

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  • 2009-07-13 Sweet-ass American Trends: charts showing the relative views of each state on a range of politically-related questions, based on data harvested from personal quizzes on OkCupid

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[edit] Cultural Differences

Some cultural differences between the US and much of the Western world (sources: [1]):

  • Americans tend to be extremely litigious and view any particular activity as either (a) illegal and absolutely forbidden or (b) an absolute civil right and therefore completely without restriction of any sort. This is so natural that Americans don't even realize that their way of thinking is peculiar unless they have spent a significant amount of time overseas. The following points are examples of this.
  • Private property: In the U.S., public land is public and private property is private and usually absolutely forbidden to the public. But in many other countries (like New Zealand and probably most of the British commonwealth) private land is often open to the public by default for hiking etc. It is quite clear that the British position is more rational and civilized, but for whatever reason Americans prefer to guard their private land with shotguns as if their lives depended on keeping everyone else off. (Is this perhaps because the aristocracy who own much of the undeveloped land in the commonwealth are part of the "ruling class", and hence quasi-governmental in some ways? --Woozle 11:51, 5 January 2007 (EST))
  • Alcohol: In the U.S., alcohol is absolutely forbidden until the late age of 21, at which point you are suddenly given a license to get schnokered at will without restriction, which many people do. In many European countries, alcohol is served to teenagers in moderate amounts, and a culture of moderation limits binge drinking. (In North Carolina, for example, the signs on the ABC stores state that you can come in with a parent or guardian until a certain age; above that age but below the legal drinking age, you are absolutely forbidden from being in the store under any circumstances – and then suddenly at age 21, you presumably have the maturity to come in unaccompanied and even make purchases.)
  • Public/private schools: In the U.S., public schools are rigorously made to adhere to the Constitution and the state science standards, whereas private schools can usually teach whatever they want; other countries do things in very different ways.
  • Religious establishment: The US Constitution forbids government-sponsored religious education, which in many countries is an accepted and supported practice and apparently does not lead to detectable religious oppression. In the UK, for example, there is an established state church (the Anglican Church), religion is taught in the government schools, and apparently parents have to check boxes on tax forms and school forms to classify their children as Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, etc., on the basis of which tax revenue is allotted to religion courses and such.

[edit] Notes

The US is often criticized for being by far the world's heaviest per-capita consumer of natural resources (natural resource consumption is often referred to as the "ecological footprint" of a given entity). However, some additional facts should be considered:

  • If the ranking is calculated in terms of consumption per gross domestic product, the US is far down the list and well under the global biocapacity per gross domestic product [2] The question then becomes: who is benefiting from all that GDP?
  • The US government contributes $27 billion in foreign aid, and "American charities accounted for $6.9 billion, or fully half the world's overseas private aid and relief donations." [3] So we are not just keeping all that domestic product for ourselves.
  • Much of what the US produces (and invents) is technology to help others use fewer resources over the long term, e.g. cellphones, solar power, the internet. (Consider also the Peace Corps, and other such exports.)

These bits of information seem like good cause for rethinking some things.

Related references: wikipedia:Chart of exports and production of oil by nation

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